Sometimes it just seems like the days blur together. And other times they actually blur together, as in yesterday and today, which were linked, in my world, by only two hours of sleep. Instead of a visit from the Sandman, I had a dreaded 1 a.m. appointment with the Arch Ghoul of Insomnia, who pulled up a chair and sat awhile…until 5 a.m., actually, when I finally had enough of parrying with that uninvited guest and excused myself to start the day. It’s a yesterday-and-today sandwich, with a very thin slice of nap in between.
I’m not complaining. I don’t really want to miss a moment of these languorous July days anyway. Summer weather finally kicks in here just as the sun begins its post-solstice retreat; we can shed our sweatshirts at long last, but dawn has already slapped on the snooze button and dusk intrudes a minute earlier each evening. I can almost hear summer holding its breath, sensing that its brief moment center stage is about to pass.
As it turns out, I’m not the only one up at 5. Little Miss Nugget is already hard at work when I arrive to open the coop door for the day. She is our first Rhode Island Red and, bless her heart, she is everything that people brag about with this breed. Gentle, alert, curious and such a great layer – up at the crack of dawn almost every day and hard at work on the nest tucking her precious golf balls beneath her for good luck.
Did you know that egg production is directly correlated to the number of daylight hours? A hen’s endocrine system responds to the change in seasons, triggering increased egg-laying in spring (Easter eggs, anyone?) and summer and tapering off in fall and winter. Commercial egg production hums along in the winter because those farms keep hens under artificial light to simulate a year-round summer. Talk about the days blurring together!
Nugget and Ava began laying in June, kindly bestowing their first eggs on us the weekend before we left on a trip. They must have been watching the calendar; Ava laid on her 6-month birthday and Nugget the day after. Bella, the Buff Orpington followed up a few weeks later. We are now awash in eggs!
Ava is still working on her form, egg-wise. Some days her eggs are lighter, some days darker, some days smaller and some days larger. She’s such a beauty:
But she does need to figure out this egg thing. Hard to believe these two eggs came from the same Australorp:
Bella is in a class by herself. She missed the memo about Buff Orpingtons being calm and stately. Bella is less belle and more banshee when she’s on the nest:
All this egg-laying makes the girls of summer hungry (well, in Bella’s case, more hangry because she’s such a grump!). They are ravenous for treats, foraging in the underbrush for juicy bugs and bugging the humans for any juicy morsel they might offer up. The CE can never have a solitary snack with them around:
Which reminds me to remind you that when you see a “vegetarian fed” label emblazoned on an egg carton, pass it by. Chickens are not vegetarians! They are omnivores, so in addition to grain and fruits and vegetables, they love to munch on bugs and worms and anything that flies or crawls or that can’t out-run them. Oh, and our hens particularly love cheese, as sister-in-law Jean, visiting from Florida, discovered during our chicken yard cocktail hour yesterday evening. We “baited” them with some nice aged cheddar in order to get this photo op. Yes, they are wondering who moved their cheese:
It’s a new, if blurry, day and we’ve had two fresh-laid eggs already this morning from those hard-working hens. I say everyone has earned a mid-morning nap. Me first!