the birds and the bees (and the chickens)

We thought Beaker was the first to lay, but now we think Hawkeye actually had her beat.  We saw several brown eggs in the coop a week or ten days before Beaker started laying, but assumed that it was one of the dominiques because they lay brown eggs.  But Hawkeye was snuggled in a little nest on the ground early one morning a few days ago and finding a brown egg there several hours later meant that she had started laying, too.  And now those earlier eggs, especially the ones that had been laid smack in the middle of the coop (not a good idea, hen girls!), took on new meaning.  It was probably Hawkeye, not Pippi or Nony.

The brown color had fooled us because “Easter eggers” are supposed to lay blue-green eggs.  Turns out they can lay rainbow colored eggs.  Well, not a rainbow of colors in a single egg, but the breed has a range of colors.  For the moment, only Beaker is laying green eggs.  Hawkeye lays brown ones and we don’t think Cleo has started laying yet.

So, turns out two of the newest hens have hit chicken puberty.

As has Scruffy.

Which means, of course, that it’s time to talk about the birds and the bees and the chickens.

Scruffy’s recent affection for Hawkeye is, well, shall we say, highly motivated.  We haven’t caught them in the act, but we suspect they have started mating.  Hawkeye has a small patch of feathers on her back that are all downy under-feathers and the mature, beautiful hawk-like brown feathers are missing.  This can be, alas, a sign of an aggressive rooster.  However, Hawkeye was also up on the roost day before yesterday when Ron was cleaning out the coop.  Four of the older hens were up there and really annoyed by Hawkeye’s presence.  They ended up picking on her–which means pecking at her.  So, the missing feathers could be due to the other hens, not Scruffy.  But maybe not.

Scruffy’s future is, once again, uncertain.  He isn’t doing much for us.  If we were purely functionalist about the egg-raising scheme, he would have been in a pot of stew a month ago.  He’s big and he eats a lot, especially now that it’s winter.  If he’s generally gentle with and protective of the hens, we’ll put up with him.  He’s handsome and entertaining.  But if Scruffy turns into a mean rooster, he will end up in the soup pot.

Another story of life–and possible death–on the farm.

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