There is something about coming home, going in to the coop, and looking for eggs. It is such a peaceful feeling of satisfaction. A couple of Christmases ago, my mom got me an egg basket. I had never had one before and mostly used my shirt to carry eggs in. I didn’t have a big flock at the time – really just a very mean rooster (Roger I) and a couple of older hens. But after staring at the egg basket for awhile, I ordered a batch of hens.
Literally my only goal was to have a basket filled with various colored eggs. I ordered Ancona, Araucana, Whiting True Blue, Cuckoo Maran, Rhode Island Red, Silver Gray Dorkings, and Egyptian Fayoumis. The Ancona is a breed I will always try to include in every flock – someday I will tell the story of Destiny’s Chicken – as well as the Rhode Island Red. Black Astralorps always served me well in the past, and should I ever see them at the local farm store I might grab a few.
The truth is that I have more chickens and ducks than I actually need at this point. I have more than enough room for them, especially consider they spend 99% of their days free ranging, but I don’t actually need more. Generally by this point in a flock of hens, I have had a much higher loss rate. Prior to moving this flock to the coop, we built a brand new door and since then our losses have been relatively low.
I don’t cull the flock. Not like I should. No stew hens in my freezer. It’s not that I’m against that – I wish I had the guts to do it. But the truth is that I don’t really like chicken that much, and definitely not enough to harvest my own chickens. I don’t actually like eggs that much, either. It probably is hypocritical to be willing to eat chicken that other people raised and harvested, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.
What concerns me is that in a year or two I will have a large flock of retirement hens. There are a couple of retirement hens in the current crew, hens that are going on four years old. I don’t mind keeping a few retirement hens around. They’ve earned the right to have leisurely days. But having 15 or 20 retirement hens is a different story. It would be an expensive habit to keep.
In an ideal world, I would add a few hens to the flock every year. Enough to keep the eggs flowing even whilst the older hens age out of a good laying age. If I want to do that, now would be the time to start adding them. Or I could start hatching eggs from my own chickens. With two roosters, it could be an interesting experiment. I would have to get an incubator, but what a fun experiment!
I don’t know. This was just supposed to be a short post about how the Black Cayuga ducks are finally laying. Or one is, or they all are, I don’t know. I found this egg in the middle of the yard, so they clearly do not care about laying in the confines of their hay filled coop. It’s possible they’ve been laying for months and I just haven’t spotted the stupid eggs.
But you guys, I was so happy. I have wanted to see a Black Cayuga duck egg so much that I have actually had dreams – plural – about it. And now I have one, and I have walked by that filled egg basket and looked down and smiled happily. Because I can bake anything I want now. My egg basket overflows. And at the top of the eggs is a slightly dirty, kind of grimy, weird little gray egg. From a duck I raised.