“She is about this big (I hold my hands outstretched), has a fabulous lady beard and tends to trill loudly, if you see her please let me know!” I said over and over and over again a couple weeks ago as I sprinted up and down our neighborhood streets shouting out for our missing hen, Polla. Chris and I had arisen last weekend hoping to enjoy a slow start to the day– okay, I awoke hoping to enjoy a slow Saturday morning, Chris arose promptly at 6 am as usual with the sun and had already gotten breakfast and completed an assignment for his masters before I arose from bed (at 830 mind you, I am not that bad). Anyways, we were savoring the Saturday morning hours before errands, to do lists and phone calls got in the way of coffee, when I stepped outside, clad in my Saturday morning uniform of pjs and slippers to let the chickies out, and noticed there were only three birds. I counted again, three. I counted a third time, and realized that our fourth chicken, Polla was nowhere to be seen. Typically our most gregarious, if goofy, bird, she is always the first to take advantage of an opened gate, or grab the first morsel of treat we hold out for her, but this time, I couldn’t find her anywhere. For the previous few days, we had been returning from work to find our other three chickies munching away on their abundance of treats in their usual haunts, while their fourth pen mate was out and about in the front yard (having jumped over the 6 foot fence)– squawking and strutting as if she had outsmarted us all… which unfortunately would be accurate. Anyways, while I was running the streets searching for known sightings of Polla around the neighborhood, Chris doubled back to see if she perhaps had wandered home. Mid conversation with yet another neighbor I hadn’t previously spoken to, Chris began gesticulating wildly for me to return home. I almost sprinted I was so excited that he may have found Polla, but little did I know that what would meet me upon entering our wooden gate, was Chris beaming with a handful of 5 small blue eggs!! Such a treat! In addition to Polla being found safe and sound, strutting in fact- we were now officially homesteading. Never one to follow conventions, Polla had decided that our verdant fence line bushes were the perfect spot to start the next chapter of her chicken life instead of the lovely laying nest affixed to her coup. We immediately brought the eggs inside and had a little feast (with an emphasis on little, the eggs barely larger than the dollop of butter we used to fry them in). They were excellent. Decedent even. We ate them fried on toast, without additional seasoning or fanfare, and none was needed; the buttery orange yolk providing all the flavor we could need. Words inadequately convey the excitement of those first eggs. I was elated. Having dreamed of someday owning a mini flock of chickens while residing in a cinder block apartment in Hawaii, to actual hold an egg-still warm- in our little home here along the coast, I felt a satisfaction that harkens back to our more primal and in many ways simpler times of self-sufficiency in the human experience. Providing a home for four little avian lives in our small yard, feeding them scraps from the table, and allowing them to pillage many of the plants I grew from seeds in our garden, and having them reciprocate by providing breakfast somehow completes a cycle that has been broken in much of our modern society. I am almost equal parts excited to eat fresh eggs myself as to share them with friends and family.
Last week, we heard an addition squawking crescendo coming from the chicken pen and later realized that another hen, Chanclas also laid her first egg! At a pale brown, her eggs are somehow the perfect compliment to Polla’s blue beauties. Now to those last remaining two birds, Buff Orpinton’s touted as the “golden retrievers” of the chicken world, but somehow proving to be the most standoffish of the flock… hopefully they start to lay soon too, then we might be able to make a quiche from the backyard! As the season’s change and daylight shortens around these parts, making it difficult to get outside after a long day of work, I am increasingly grateful for the garden’s many delights which greet me when I come home around sunset. At least with our garden we are able to bring a little wildness home if not able to seek it outside our home as frequently this time of year! Now I am off to make brekky with the bevy of eggs stored in the fridge 🙂