On Wednesday I went to the supermarket and bought a flat of eggs, like I’ve been doing for years. They go fast in my house. That’s one reason we got chickens in the first place, three growing boys. I told the cashier that this might be the last time I’d buy eggs at the supermarket, saying that my fourteen hens should start laying some eggs for me any day now. She asked me when we got them and I told her it was early May. They were about a week old when we bought fourteen hens and one rooster, who now has acquired the name Foghorn Leghorn, given to him by my husband. I generally just call the hens collectively “Ladies.”
“Well you should have eggs by now,” said the cashier. That’s what I was thinking, and that other people seem to have more experience with chickens than me. We’ve fed and watered them, cleaned up after them, and laughed at them too, for five months. But I was standing there at the register, like a virgin, having heard plenty of talk, read and looked at plenty of literature, but wondering if I was ever going to get the real thing.
Every time I come outside from my kitchen door, all the chickens start squawking with high expectations. They push each other out of the way to get to my kitchen scraps. I’ve gotten used to it. But lately I’ve been walking toward the chicken run with high expectations of my own. They look and act like grown chickens now, which really isn’t dignified at all. The rooster chases the hens around, grabbing them by the back of the neck. The hens always try to get away. The rooster is loud, but the hens make a lot of noise too.
That same evening I walked out after dinner to see our first egg, laying out in the open in the chicken run. They were all walking all over it. I have no idea which hen laid it either. I went inside the run to retrieve the egg, and they pecked at my feet, looking for a treat. But this time it was my turn. Excitedly I went to check the nesting boxes, but that was it, a lone brown egg. That’s been it, but now the whole family is watching closely.
Who ate the egg? Well there was only one, and I was the only one home this morning. It was delicious fried in the cast iron pan with a left over corn muffin. So naturally, now I want to do it again.