11.03.2019

How about a chicken roundup? Our pullets are laying regularly now, so “gather eggs” has been added to the daily homestead activities. I can’t bring myself to call it a chore, though, because it is really pure delight. Dean pointed out how it is similar to the mail for me. It’s rare that I get really good mail these days, but the anticipation of checking for it never grows old.

How many eggs are there today? Which nest box did they all use? What color? Any tiny ones or giant double-yolks? All the delight without any of the annoyance of junk catalogs.

Our egg supply has been just matching our demand the last couple weeks, so that we had to make a giant frittata to use up the last of the store-bought ones languishing in the fridge. We use an egg skelter on the counter, and it’s been an interesting mirror into my scarcity mindset. By the end of many days, we have been down to just a few, and I find myself thinking, “oh, we’re almost out of eggs, I should save them” But we get more. Every day.

They don’t come by the dozen, so it hasn’t felt like we are awash in eggs. We have had a dozen or more in the skelter several times, but then we top dinner with a couple and bake a banana bread and suddenly it looks perilously low. Until mere hours pass and another handful get added to the supply.

It’s such a different experience, to trust this steady daily replenishment of a resource, instead of the abundance/scarcity cycle that I am so much more accustomed to.

I am also appreciating how good chickens are at cleaning up the scraps. This pumpkin was especially good entertainment as they transformed the face into increasingly creepier versions of the original. But we’ve found that they are happy to peck at all sorts of things that the pigs scoff at, and it’s a special kind of satisfaction to watch them turning kitchen castoffs into the treasure of fresh eggs in nearly real time.

In other chicken news: We culled three roosters a few weeks ago and roasted one right off. (Perhaps my first never-frozen chicken meal?) Seeing the difference from the meat birds we’re accustomed to was educational – the roosters had big ol’ thighs of rich dark meat but comparatively tiny breasts. And the skin inspired conversations about rendering schmaltz.

We still have a few roosters to send to the freezer when we get a chance. But maybe a couple fewer than we thought. Two of the Barred Rocks that we thought were slow-developing roosters seem to be leaning hen. The joys of being novices!

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