Monthly Archives: December 2011

Esmerelda, the Queen Bee

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Esmerelda rules the roost. She’s a Golden Comet, easily recognized by her unusually dark red feathers. She enjoys classical music, romantic comedies, and cozy weekends curled up with a good book by the fireplace.

Actually, she’d more likely be into action movies and kickboxing. She is nobody’s girly girl. She’s named for another memorable hen I had years ago, and like the first Esmerelda, she knows how to handle herself.

Last month, another hen was being picked on a little bit — nothing serious, but the others pulled out a bunch of feathers in front of her tail. I slathered some pine tar on the area, and the bullying stopped.

A few days ago, I decided to check on the girl who’d been henpecked. All of our Golden Comets are very tame — they spent about two months indoors before we got our coop and run moved from our old house, and they enjoy being petted and held. But I guess I startled this one, because as soon as I touched her, she sounded the “A-vicious-predator-has-seized-me-Save-yourselves-Farewell-cruel-world!” alarm call.

The other hens scattered. But not Esmerelda. She rushed to the rescue, neck feathers ruffling just like the USC Gamecocks mascot. I got a little warning peck to begin with, the kind that just leaves a smudge of dirt. But when I refused to let go of the other hen, Ezzie got serious. She grabbed the back of my hand and hung on until her feet left the ground. When she finally let go, I was actually bleeding.

Before I left, I gave her a little lecture about how she could be in charge of the flock, but I was still in charge of her. But truth be told, I love that she’s so spunky. I like knowing that she doesn’t just boss the rest of the girls around — she’s willing to fight for them, too. She’s one tough chick.

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Fresh Start (and Fresh Eggs)

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I’ve written several times about the joy of hens on my other blog, October Girl, but it seems like our girls deserve a site of their own.

A little background: my husband and I both grew up with chickens. He, on a farm in Prince Edward Island, where they raised both laying hens and meat birds, and I, on a little farm in South Carolina, where I had 45 layers and an egg business by the time I was a teenager.

Someday, we would love to have enough acreage to increase our flock size and raise our own meat chickens as well, but for now, we have 15 happy hens in a tidy backyard coop, where we get an average of a dozen eggs a day. There are few things as satisfying as walking outside and coming back with a basket full of beautiful fresh eggs, many still warm to the touch.

After stockpiling so many eggs in the fridge that we couldn’t find space for an extra gallon of milk, we’ve finally gotten confident enough in our hens’ laying consistency to start sharing them with friends.

That’s where this blog comes in. I want the friends who enjoy our eggs to be able to see what’s going on with the ladies who provide them and the little experiment in self-sufficiency of which those ladies are a part. So keep checking back for updates, profiles of the girls themselves, and behind-the-scenes glimpes of life on our mini-farm.