A crescendo of shrieking cackles accompanies the arrival of each hen’s daily egg. They work themselves up into such a state. Maybe it’s not an easy thing.
We are eating a lot of good, fresh eggs and giving some away too. The work that has gone into creating these little packets of nutritious and delicious food has made me more aware and careful with household economy in general, particularly in the kitchen – where things come from, where they’re going, how not to waste effort… and animal lives.
This is the blue egg layer, Ella Fitzgerald. I also call her Peanut and, sometimes (I’m embarrassed to admit) Cutey Pie. She is small and compact, with comparatively stumpy legs. She has fluffy cheek feathers, avoids the other chickens because she is lowest in the pecking order and, as she busies around, talks to herself constantly in a very birdy little voice that reminds me of a blackbird’s almost-musical rusty-gate-hinge call.
I have two each of four breeds except for solo Ella. Her flock sister turned out to be a crowing brother and went to live with another flock one town north.
Ella is an Ameraucana, or probably actually an Easter Egger. Ameraucanas are a specific breed of colored egg layers. Feed stores like our local Agway are more likely to be carrying the mixed breed “Easter Eggers” from big hatcheries, even if they are labeled “Ameraucanas.” Or so I’ve read.
Fun fact: brown eggs and white eggs are both white on the inside of the shell, because the shell is white and brown is a color added to the surface of the egg before laying. But blue eggs are blue all the way through because the shell is blue too. Sometimes they are greenish or olive because a brownish tint was added on the way out, especially if the chicken is a mixed breed Easter Egger. Blue shell color is a dominant gene.
Marilyn Monroe – on the other side of the sliding glass door from our cat, on the back deck where she doesn’t belong because of chicken poop – is a Buff Orpington. Orpingtons are an English breed that come in several colors, golden “buff” being most common and popular. They are calm, confident, super friendly, fatly fluffy and they like laps. Chickens are soft to pet, and almost cuddly except for their big clawed scaly scratchy dinosaur feet that get in the way. Also, they peck at freckles and other imperfections.
My seven chickens are ridiculously tame because I have always handled them and because they see me, and other humans, as a delightful source of tasty leftovers and treats. They follow me out to the mailbox, they follow me into the garage, they hop up on the arm of an adirondack chair and stare at me with their beady little bird eyes.
But we are doing other things around here besides having chickens, I’ll have you know. Some minor home improvement projects are being checked off the list, satisfyingly. (Today I have some interior painting work to do.) We are selling things on craigslist – used items to downsize, and services too. We are also being supportive of our daughters in their various endeavors in and near Boston.
I used to blog about them a lot more when they were younger. But I feel they “own” their public image now and I try to be respectful of that. Maybe I should have been more respectful of that when they were younger too – but then what would I have written about? Heh.
Much of our time is spent reading about and discussing politics – with each other, or close friends and confidentes. I have become much less inclined to share my political opinions publicly, for a number of reasons. Number one, there are enough people doing it already. Number two, it has become too rancorous for me. Everybody’s talking and nobody’s listening. The comment section on a local online newspaper has become so ugly and unfriendly and full of insults that normal people learn to avoid it. It’s not the way I want to live, or how I want to live with others. Still the most important expression of political views is voting. We are all equally powerful individuals in the voting booth.
We are waiting for this election to be over, so we can all get on with our lives. Waiting/ hoping for the economy to improve. Waiting for ugly bankruptcy to be over, one way or another, at my husband’s airline. Waiting to have the ability to plan the future a bit.
Meanwhile there are perfect beautiful eggs each day. I can hear some hysterical clucking and cawing right this moment, in fact. Time to collect.