No more baby chicks. Not even awkard teens. Now we have full grown chickens and they are amazing. Two of them, the Buff Orpingtons, are laying now, so we are getting about a dozen eggs a week. The silkies are not laying, but in their defense, I'm not sure they are real chickens. More like chicken-muppet hybrids. What they lack in egg-production, they more than make up for in entertainment. The Buff Orpingtons are my favorite though. They come running up when they think you have a treat, and then nestle down in the grass to let you give them a pat.
Surprisingly, all of the chickens have decided that stink bugs are delicious. Another tick-mark in the pro column. And no, the eggs don't taste like stink bugs, although I wonder if there is a tipping point. Speaking of the eggs, they still aren't full-size, but pretty close. They are, however, delicious. When we make scrambled eggs, you really notice how yellow they are. I think it's from the free-ranging. We let them out of their run whenever we are home and they can roam around the fenced yard. There is still a certain risk of predators. We definitely have hawks. But so far so good and I have promised myself that if a hawk comes then I will forever tell myself that my chickens lived a good (short) chicken life.
So what's next? We hunker down for winter. I'm not so sure that winter with chickens will be a-okay. We will have water to keep unfrozen and cold chickens to worry about. There are a few theories about how to keep chickens comfortable through the winter, but the one that make the most sense to me is discussed in the book Fresh-Air Poultry Houses: The Classic Guide to Open-Front Chicken Coops for Healthier Poultry. It's a pretty simple idea. Protect the flock from harsh winds (think west and north), but don't trap in the moisture that naturally happens from respiration. I'm hoping it works.