I had a really nice surprise when I went out to the coop today to collect Ethel's egg, there were two! Lucy has started laying them too! I should have been tipped off by the tell tale "squat" that she started doing last weekend. You know it when you see it. Instead of slinking under your hand when you try to pet them, they'll squat down, spread their wings out and lift their butt in the air and enjoy a good, rough pet. I think they think you're going to mate with them or something. I don't know... None of my books really cover it in detail, but they do say that eggs are on the horizon when your chickens start squatting.
My girls are THE BEST. Seriously, I had no idea that chickens could make me so happy. They are so friendly now and I just love how the come running over to me when I walk out to my backyard. If I sit down with a treat, they'll even jump on my lap or my shoulders to eat it. I know, I'm this close [pinching my fingers together] to being the crazy chicken lady. erhum. I've been pleasantly surprised by how curious they are and how much they like attention. Not only that, but what clowns they are. Their chicken antics are just hilarious to watch. I can't imagine life with out them.
Jon's opinion, however, is a little different. He's warming up to them, but he does get annoyed with their poop. There is a lot of it, but I don't find it any worse than if you had a dog to clean up after. Honestly, I find their poop a whole lot easier to deal with than big ol' stinky Labrador poop.
The kids love them, too. They love collecting the fresh eggs out of the nest, feeding them and being followed around by them cracks them up. They're even starting to appreciate eating the eggs. It's funny how a cheese covered egg that came from Lucy or Ethel can appeal to a child who not to long ago would rather eat his shoe.
Anyway, I can't imagine now why anyone wouldn't have chickens. With the exception, of course, if other animals or their property didn't allow for it. After initial set up cost, it's kind of ridiculous how easy and cheap raising them really is compared to what you get in return. A constant supply of FRESH EGGS! My Great grandma knew this. Heck, I bet most of you reading had a relative who had chickens at one time or another. Sadly, when the 50's suburban sprawl and industrialized farming came about, backyard poultry lost popularity. Since then it's been associated with poverty and hillbilly folk and buying eggs from the store is for some reason considered more civilized.
I'm really happy that times are changing and it seems to be making a come back with the whole "urban homestead" or "locavore" movement. Even here in Los Angeles it's becoming less of a novelty. For example, I recently joined a Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiast group which gets a bunch of us crazy chicken people together once a month for socializing and seminars.
That said, my neighbors still seem to be mystified by the whole thing. One of them actually asked me if I'd get any chicks from the eggs and I was all, "without a rooster? um no, that's not how it works", and had to basically explain the birds and bees of chickens to him. It's shocking how many people don't know how the whole reproduction thing works. I mean, it's really not all that different from us humans, or any other thing on this planet that can reproduce, with the exception of seahorses which are sort of backwards being that the male gets pregnant.... but I digress. The whole immaculate conception egg thing is actually a common misconception.