Back in early June (!), I promised to write more about the chickens. This week the girls, as they are affectionately called around here, are 17 weeks old.
When last I wrote about them, they were still chicks, but as you can see from the photo of Capitola below, they are now pullets, in poultry-keeper parlance. We've had no eggs yet, but I'm hopeful that they'll start laying sometime in the next month.
While we're still waiting for that first egg, the flock has experienced a fair number of "firsts" already this summer. Soon after moving into their new coop in early June, they had their first party--a "coop opening" for our friends and neighbors to get a chance to see them and to help us celebrate the return of chickens to Champaign. Many of our neighbors already knew of my interest in keeping chickens--some had even expressed their support to the City Council--and I wanted to be sure to thank them and give them a chance to see the hens for themselves. We also invited members of the City Council, and Lacey Rains Lowe from the City's planning office. Also in attendance were many of our long-suffering friends, who patiently tolerated a lot of talk about chickens this past year.
It was lots of fun--we had cake and lemonade, and the girls got coverage on the evening news, as well as a photo in the newspaper. My friend Lisa even devoted an episode of her Backyard Industry to the occasion.
In late June, we went to Colorado for a family vacation, so the girls also had their first chicken-sitter. It was a first for our friend Sierra too, who had never taken care of chickens before, but it worked out fine for everyone.
This summer the hens have tasted lots of new foods for the first time as well: blueberries, apple bits, tomatoes, cucumber, and kale have all been favorites. Nothing comes close to their love of mealworms, however, or any other live prey. The other day I turned over one of our flagstones in the back yard, and found an ant colony with lots of wriggling larvae. The chickens ate them so quickly I didn't even have a chance to get a photo, so here's one of me giving them some tomato from earlier today.
If you listened to the Backyard Industry piece, you'll know that I also worked with some other chicken-folk here in the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana to organize another first, our very own C-U coop tour. More on that in my next post!