The temperatures here are in the low 30s today. It’s snowing. It’s blowing. My fingers are so numb from working outside cleaning the chicken waterers, I can hardly feel them. But despite the cold, the snow and the wind, one courageous little chicken mustered up the courage to lay her first egg today.
Along with the daily collection of six eggs from the red, black and leghorn chickens I found a small, bluish-green surprise. It could only have been from one of the two Easter egg chickens.
Now the question is, which Easter egg chicken produced this winter surprise?
Was it Meredith?
Or was it Dorothy?
The chickens aren’t talking. They’re wily that way.
Once again I am renaming the small garden area on the side of the house.
Back when Winifred, our sweet Belgian Malinois, was still with us, we called it Winnie’s Poop Garden. It was not a place where you wanted to spend your free time.
Last year, desperate for more vegetable growing space, I planted tomatoes and cucumbers there and dubbed it the Other Veggie Garden.
This year, the Palazzo di Pollo and the auxiliary chicken coop, the Eglu, now reside in that area. And since I was dividing what seemed like hundreds of hostas this spring, I began transplanting them into the shaded area beside the coops. Naturally, I added more hostas as I fell in love with them during visits to garden centers. I called it the Hosta Garden, but just as easily could have called it the Slug Garden, since the slugs and snails moved in to partake of the expansive hosta buffet—their fav.
Now that the baby chicks are old enough for some supervised walkabout time, I am calling this the Chicken Garden. This is where the big chickens and little chickens are currently engaged in their nightly meet-and-greet leading up to the merge of the two tribes.
Miss P adores the chickens. She would, in fact, love to eat the chickens. But being a smart cat, she understands they are off-limits and has ceased making predatory moves in their direction. It doesn't stop her from looking though.
You cannot just toss little chickens in with big chickens because they will be pecked on and could be injured. It is best for chickens to get to know each other a bit, work out their differences in relative safety and begin establishing the new pecking order prior to being thrust under the same roof. Using the Eglu as the temporary home for new chickens allows the chickens to see each other but not co-mingle until they are ready. This also allows us to ensure that the new chickens are disease- and pest-free before introducing them into the flock.
Now that the Polish and Easter egg chickens are about 11 weeks old, it’s just a matter of days before we attempt the big move. Until then, they peck and scratch in the Chicken Garden under close supervision. After all, we don’t want a repeat of the incident that took Johnny Cash.
I SWEAR I am still gardening. I have the photos to prove it. More soon.
You can see the whole chicken photo album here. Click on the photo for a larger image. There are more photos in the albums from the photos sign at the top of this page.
Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening and has a cookbook in development. Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. She is on Twitter @robinripley. Welcome! Thank you for visiting.