by Elizabeth Jardina, Sunset researcher
Answer me this: Is this not the cutest card ever?
As far as our real, three-dimensional chickens, they are not crazy about the rain. Well, I'm not crazy about visiting them when it's raining. Even though they have a covered yard, the dampness of February rain gets into the straw under the coop and makes the whole area smell ... pungent. We're tossing straw into our compost bin as it gets soiled, but when the whole mess gets wet enough, there's no covering it up with fresh, clean straw. (A few hours of dry weather are enough to eliminate the smell entirely, though.)
The rain is terrific for the weeds, which continue to pop up all over the test garden at a tremendous pace. I pull them out — roots and all — and feed them to the girls, who gobble them up enthusiastically. We can't let our chickens free-range, but I like to think of my offerings of annual bluegrass and crabgrass as bringing the pasture to them. They snatch the tender blades first, often swallowing them in one, long, green ribbon, and then they use their feet to sort through the roots, nibbling on any earthworms, slugs or other critters unlucky enough to end up in their pen.
And despite the drizzly weather, they're settling into a thrilling 5-eggs-a-day pattern. The eggs have gotten notably fatter and darker too.
Our girl Honey is our last chicken to lay, which is not entirely surprising, considering how immature her comb and wattles are. She's squatting though, so it's just a matter of time.
Compare Honey (above) to Charlotte (below, right). They're the same breed — Buff Orpington — and the same age. But Charlotte looks like a fierce adult, while Honey still looks like an immature teen. (It may be my imagination, but Honey also seems to act like an immature teen. If I bring in a handful of greens and crouch down to feed them, Honey is always the one who waddles around behind me and takes a peck at my lower back. She's laughing at me, I swear. Maybe I'm getting too involved with these chickens.)