When I went to close the big chicken coop last night, I found the first four eggs from this year’s chickens, all together in a nesting box. The first eggs ever from these chickens! Four perfect light brown eggs! Chickens have a special cackle right after they lay an egg, and I had my own squeal of delight, and joy, and pride, upon finding such a deposit.
As the preK-5 educator at Land’s Sake, I have been doting on these chickens since they arrived day old in a box large enough to hold a pair of men’s size 10 running shoes. It was the day before St. Patty’s Day, when the evaporator in the sugar house was still steaming and the snowpack, though present, was ever diminishing. They were fuzzy and peeping and perfect themselves as they ran to and from either end of the brooder in a pack, just like five year olds playing soccer. By the time the cherry trees and lilacs were blooming, they were at the main farm, living in the refurbished horse trailer and going outside. And then they grew, and they grew, and they grew! They had the diet that any chicken would dream to consume! Overripe strawberries and split Sun Gold tomatoes, week old pastries, earthworms dug up from the compost pile and slugs by the thousands after the rain….oh, do they feast on an embarrassment of riches! First, they were celebrities for a parade of school children on field trips, and then, over the summer, Farm and Forest Explorer participants spent countless hours petting, holding, and caring for them.
When I saw the rich orange yolk of one of the eggs, I thought of all of this. Chickens generally start laying eggs at 6 months, though some chickens start earlier and others start later. I am not sure who was the mystery mama who laid those eggs. I think it was one hen, though it could have been several. Chickens are inclined to lay eggs where there are some already, which is why you can use wooden eggs to convince them to lay in a certain place. Some of the eggs may have been laid over the weekend. Nevertheless, all the chickens will start laying in their own time.
You and your family have lots of opportunities to be involved with the Land’s Sake flock. As you may have noticed when you visited the farm stand, up front we now have one of our chicken tractors and two hens, currently Sassy Lassie and Fancy Boots. Land’s Sake has A-frame chicken coops that can be rented for two weeks so that you can test the waters of owning chickens and enjoy delicious fresh eggs (until more of the Land’s Sake flock is laying, we have a partnership with a local chicken owner to borrow already laying chickens). For more info on chicken tractor rentals, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Chickens are an integral part of both Farm and Forest Explorers, an afterschool program for fourth and fifth graders at the farm, and Greenpower, a work-based program for middle-schoolers. Information on these programs can be found at http://www.landssake.org/education. Finally, Land’s Sake is partnering with the Weston Recreation Department to host a Chicken Open House on September 19 from 10am-12noon. This will be an opportunity for your family to learn more about chickens up close and personal as you will be invited into the chicken yard to pet and even hold a chicken under the supervision of a Land’s Sake educator. Registration for the Open House is through the Rec Dept.
See you at the farm!