Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Free Eggs and Cheap Laughs

I realize that it has been exactly 4 weeks from my last post.  I feel as though this loss of momentum is detrimental to my career as an unpaid chicken blogger.  I do not want disappoint the half-dozens of readers that I have. 

You would think that I could have at least found the time to post on Monday, July 9, 2012.  What was so special about July 9, you ask?  Well on that day we got our first egg!  This was very exciting for Bryan and I and, again, should have yielded a blogpost.  But life is busy. I am not going to whine about how busy life is, because I reserve my complaints exclusively for facebook and face to face conversation.  But I assure you, I would blog daily if I could figure out how.

As usual I digress.  Bryan found our first egg in one of the nesting boxes in our coop. I was a little surprised at how small it was, but these are pullet eggs (and no, I do not know what that means) and will get bigger over time (and no, I don't know how).  Since July 9 our production seems to be up to at least four eggs a day.  So far we have been keeping up with our hens.  Annabelle likes scrambled eggs, bryan has made himself a number of egg dinners late nights when he gets home.  I have used the eggs for baking, and since the eggs are smaller than others I can use quite a few in one baked good.  

A Meal Provided by our Hens and Garden

If Bryan had his way I would be a stay at home mom/novelist (secretly he knows how much I enjoy writing and would therefore like to see my writing career flourish), so he took the time to calculate our cost savings earned by no longer buying eggs but by utilizing the eggs provided by our hens.  He figured out that at best we are "saving" approximately three and a half cents a week.  I was informed that was not quite enough for me to retire and write my novel on.  I asked how many eggs a week we would need to eat and sell in order for me to embark on a full time writing career, and I  am still waiting to get that answer.  I get the impression it is more than four eggs a day though. I did suggest he also factor in the garden items we have grown, but again....we're still waiting for those numbers to come in.

I have to say that collecting eggs twice day is somewhat charming and quaint but has yet to result in the Normal Rockwell picture I envisioned.  I somehow thought Annabelle and I would walk hand-in-hand to the coop, each with our own basket.  I suppose the biggest flaw in that vision is that Annabelle does not walk yet (though it is coming!)  And what is perhaps more important is that for the most part, since we started getting eggs, it has been over 100 degrees.  The extreme temperatures create a not-so-desirable environment in which to make magical lifelong mother/daughter memories.  So while it is very exciting and it is the goal we wanted to achieve when we decided to become chicken farmers, it is basically just another item on the to-do list.

There is also another chicken development that has been in the works for a while too: Our roosters are now crowing on a regular (and continual) basis.  Again, I was very excited for this milestone to occur and now feel the novelty may have warn off.  I don't know if you know this but roosters do not crow exclusively in the morning. They crow pretty much all the time and for no particular reason.  I am certain my parents thoroughly enjoyed the majestic wonder of our roosters crowing at 6:00 in the morning right outside their window when they were guests at our home a few weeks ago.

I have provided a very short sound bite of one of our roosters crowing.  You need to turn the sound up, and it is very very short. Even though they do this NONSTOP it is a hard thing to capture on video without Annabelle shouting in the background.

I especially enjoyed the roosters this evening when I was vacuuming and heard a siren coming down the road.  Sirens out here are extremely rare so I shut off the vacuum and ran to the window, only to discover it was not in fact a siren but one of our roosters crowing. 

Annabelle is, of course, growing right along side our hens and roosters.  She has reached a stage in her development that I find to be....quite exhausting.  She is 10 months old and is all over the place.  I have heard this described as being inquisitive, or curious, and my personal favorite....as her "finding her personality and becoming an individual." So often since pregnancy I have wondered what type of person she will become. Will she have her father's patience and my incomparable wit and sense of humor?  I spent hours contemplating this while pregnant and watching her grow.  You can imagine how overjoyed I am to discover that she is...a royal pain in the ass.

I began this post last night with the hopes Annabelle would simply play quietly on the floor. And she did. She quietly played with my cookbooks, completely shredding and eating a portion of every page.  When I consult other parents, blogs, or websites for advice on how to teach your busy 10 month old not to destroy (and inevitably eat) all of your personal possessions they all provide similar advice: positively redirect, explain in detail what it is about the behavior you do not enjoy, make sure to provide her plenty of opportunities to explore, don't limit...etc. etc. etc.  I assure you I have done all these things.  And what I have discovered is that when I tell my baby "no touch" or "that's mama's beer" or "ah.ah. ah." she looks at me and laughs in my face. 

Annabelle's favorite food, hands down, is dog hair. I do not understand this.  I have seen her put an entire fistful of dog hair in her mouth and smile and make num num sounds as I attempt to retrieve the sopping wet clump from her face.  And on the rare occasions that I am able to retrieve it, she cries as if I have taken her bottle away.  And when I see her with dog hair and attempt to sneak up on her to yank it from her angry fists, she runs  away. I didn't know this was possible. She runs on all fours at a speed that I simply cannot compete with. 

"I claim this dog in the name of Spain"

Oh and please do not sit there wondering why I have so much dog hair rolling around my house. I assure you I sweep and vacuum daily, often more than once a day. it doesn't matter.  There are clumps of hair everywhere.  And heaven help you if you turn on a fan when then windows are open, tumbleweeds of fur fill the home.  it's just the way it is. I have given up trying to fix it. Short of shooting the dogs or shaving them bald, this will always be the case.

So I have gotten desperate for entertainment. The dogs used to occupy Annabelle for very large spans of time but in her advanced age she doesn't enjoy sitting and watching them anymore. She prefers to saddle them up and ride them around the house while knocking everything off my shelves with her riding crop.

And you may laugh and think I am kidding but my mother can attest to the fact that this baby is freakishly strong.  She has hulk-like strength and is not afraid to use it.  At night when she gets sleepy and fussy she
Muscles McGrenie Bottom Attempting Escape

doesn't cry and whine, she prefers to cage fight. The punching, pulling, slapping and maniacal laughter always starts out as cute but then becomes a fight for my health and safety.  I dont' know what it is but her strength astounds me. 

So desperation is allowed to supercede rational thought and responsible parenting.  In an attempt to blog last night I stripped Annabelle to her diaper and put her in high chair. I gave her a popsicle.  I cut it up thinking this was a fantastic idea.  She had never had one before and is rarely allowed to have such sugary goodness.  So I cut the popsicle into chunks and placed it on the tray.  She LOVED it.  And this entertainment lasted approximately 47 seconds. It was over 80 degrees in our kitchen so what she did not eat immediately melted in a matter of seconds. I thought she would enjoy splashing around in the popsicle juice, but I was wrong. Do not misunderstand, she did make the effort to rub the juice all over her chest, face, and hair, but the entertainment was short-lived and stained her hands green (I would go so far as to say it was Incredible Hulk Green).

Another form of cheap entertainment I stumbled upon was the flyswatter (two words? one word? I don't know).  Another unanticipated side effect of chickens is chicken poop. And a side effect of chicken poop is flies.  Our deck and home is overrun with flies.  So I have gotten in the habit of keeping a flyswatter with me.  Last night while supervising Annabelle's dinner I sat at the counter swatting flies and Annabelle thought this was the best thing ever.  She laughed and laughed at each THWACK of that flyswatter. And every time I would swat I would say "sonsabitches" and that made the whole activity even funnier to Annabelle.  So the truth is out. You know my secret. Annabelle and I spent a large amount time of time swatting flies and cursing last night, and she was the happiest she had been all night.

So this is where we're at.  Cursweords, fly-swatting, and naked popsicle eating. 

Please do not misunderstand my account of life with a 10 month old Annabelle. I am not so naive to not recognize on a daily basis how this little girl has changed my life and made me a better person. Despite her recently-found discovery phase, and her inability to sit still, I know we are so lucky to have sweet Annabelle.  But that sort of sappy admission is not my style, and is certainly not nearly as entertaining as how she is able to make her mama absolutely crazy.

I can only hope that in a couple of years Annabelle will walk with me, holding my hand, into the coop to gather eggs in her little basket topped with a pretty white satin bow.  Actually, if I am being truthful I hope she can just go into the coop without me and get the eggs FOR us while I sit on the deck drinking a glass of Riesling. Until then I will resort to whatever tricks I need to make Annabelle laugh and smile.

And if any of you would like to sample our farm fresh, free-range, organic eggs you just let me know. The first half-dozen is free.  As of press-time we are now getting FIVE eggs a day.  I am working my way to a writing career one egg at a time.


  1. Yay! So awesome you guys are getting eggs now!! No advice on the crazy babies, Jamie is still just as insane as he was a.year ago. He makes up in cuteness for all the shit he does, though. It's an even trade...

  2. LOL. Oh my gosh. Annabelle and Alaina sound like they are related. Alaina loves to eat dog hair and sand. She also likes dog food. What is it with these girls? They are like goats!

    I am very excited for you to have eggs! I hope they make more, so you can stay home and write. ;)