Gloria has arrived!!!

We found her first egg this morning! It’s a slightly different color than Cleo’s, and a little smaller. And we know it’s not Cleo’s since we collected hers last night. Since we found it right before leaving for school, we didn’t have time to take it back into the house, so the kids fought over who got to take it to school for show n’ tell. Jonah won.



the plot thickens

I was debating what to do about the “case of the missing eggs”; whether to hold a stake-out, or mount a full blown investigative search of the laurel hedges. I decided that if there was no egg this morning, I would keep them in their coop until the afternoon, to see if Cleo would lay one by then. The hens must have gotten wind of my plan, because this morning there was an egg! So they got to run free all morning after all. There is still no conclusive evidence for what became of her eggs the last 2 days. I guess we will see if there are any further developments in the next few days. Mae was very excited that Cleo’s egg from this morning was actually taller than the large eggs we have from the grocery store. Maybe she just needed an extra day and a half to go up a size!

the case of the missing eggs

Cleo has been laying like clockwork every day in her nesting box… until yesterday. When we came home and checked the nesting box, there was a depression where she had been sitting, but no egg. And the same thing happened again today. Has she not been laying? Is she laying them in the bushes? (if so, they would be very hard to find… the laurels are so big and thick) Is it possible that some animal is sneaking up there and stealing them? (my husband mocks me for this theory.) We have also been having these crazy torrential rain storms off and on, could that be freaking her out? I was holding up my end of the bargain letting them free range all day, so what gives?

Our Kitten of Sorrows?

She looks pretty sad in this photo, doesn’t she? In reality Lola is quite the opposite: joyful, affectionate, cuddly, and playful. I’m falling more and more in love with her every day. She is just not very photogenic, not nearly as much as Madame Butterfly. But in person, she is the one everyone wants to pick up and cuddle. She is is continuing with her desire to play fetch with us, she follows us around the house, she usually needs a good “make-out” session at least once a day; her version of kissing is to rub her cheeks so hard against our face that we get a bit of gum rubbed on us, and occasionally a soft nip on the nose for good measure. And when she is calm she always wants to be parked on our laps, or our chest, whichever seems coziest at the time. She even likes her tummy rubbed. In short, she’s almost just like a dog!

Butterfly is more of a typical cat: very fun to play with, and also affectionate when she feels like it, but more content to lay beside us rather than on our laps. And she doesn’t do the “make-out” thing at all, except with Lola, who gets lots and lots of tongue. She does like to be carried around like a baby though, which is pretty fun. She and Lola balance each other out very well, and are definitely a bonded pair now.

So why “Our Kitten of Sorrows”? Well, when Jonah decided to name her Lola, I looked up what it means, and found out that it’s short for Mater Dolorosa, Mother of Sorrows, referring to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Also, her color is called “blue”, so we started joking that maybe she’s going to have a sad life. So far it’s quite the opposite. But then I was intrigued to learn more about the significance of Our Lady of Sorrows in the historical Catholic Church doctrine, and I came across this Eastern Orthodox liturgical refrain: “Rejoice, much-sorrowing Mother of God, turn our sorrows into joy.” And I realized that’s really what she’s doing in our lives. Our family is still in mourning for our dog Lucy, whom we had to put to sleep because of cancer last Autumn. The guinea pigs were our rebound pets, we picked them up the day after we buried Lucy, to soothe our kids’ souls. And the chickens we got Mae for her birthday have been a really amazing and surprisingly fun adventure for us. But this Summer, we started feeling ready for another, more affectionate animal in our lives. My husband and I longed for another dog, but now that I’m back to working full time, and we are all gone all day, getting another dog would just not be fair to it. The kids said they would rather get a cat, after we stumbled in to look at the 2-for-1 promo at the Oregon Humane Society. Mae constantly begged to go see them again after that. We went 3 days in a row! On day 1, I was thinking: “No way, this is not going to happen. You can look, but not touch, etc…” but by day 2 we were in the rooms playing with them. Mae quickly fell in love with Butterfly, I think mostly because of her name, but I was immediately drawn to Lola. I had always wanted a gray (blue) cat when I was younger, and though she seemed a little more shy and quiet than the other kittens that were clamoring for our attention, the minute I picked her up, it was like she belonged in my lap. By day 3, it was a done deal.

We’re all still a little in shock that we’ve actually become “cat” people, instead of “dog” people, but the kittens are definitely converting us, and making me remember how I used to be a “cat” person, and showing me that, after all, there really isn’t a difference in the amount of love they can give and receive. They can give us everything we were wanting in a house pet right now. They are exactly what I need. And I think we are exactly what they need too. Maybe our kittens would have had a sad life if someone hadn’t brought them to the humane society, and if we hadn’t adopted them. Maybe we’re all helping each other turn sorrow into joy.

chicken squats

I’ve been letting the hens free range all day now, whether or not we are home. My neighbor has graciously offered to check on them occasionally, and I think in general they seem so much happier, especially now that the rains have started and worms and slugs are plentiful, so I’ve decided it’s worth the risk. They seem very smart about heading for cover and hiding in the bushes when necessary, and I’ve tried to make sure that there are no places that a dog could get in. Raccoons can still climb over the fences, but we haven’t seen any in quite some time… fingers crossed!

Last night, when I went to herd them into their coop, Gloria did that funny squat thing that Cleo has been doing ever since she started laying, but I haven’t seen Gloria do it before. Maybe that means that she is getting read to lay as well? Does anyone know why they do that? Is it an instinctual defensive move in case they happened to have eggs or chicks to protect? It’s pretty nice, actually, because we can pet them quite easily when they do it, they just sit there and let us.



my babies

Too bad we couldn’t get the hens to come inside and pose on the couch as well! But I’m afraid the scene would have been not quite so peaceful.

We’ll have to content ourselves with this one instead:

And since today is my wedding anniversary, I need to give a shout out to the amazing man who embarked on this crazy journey with me 13 years ago. I’m so lucky to have married my best friend. 🙂

worried mama hen

I just couldn’t stand it… I let the girls stay out this morning when we left for school / work. It had rained HARD all night, and although their sleeping area and their food under the cover stayed dry, the rest of the coop just seemed too enclosed, soggy and depressing to make them stay in there all day, when they were clearly anxious to get out and gobble up worms. I’m hoping the rain will keep serious predators away, and they seem to have gotten very good at hiding in our huge laurel bushes that enclose our yard. They were fine all day yesterday, with minimal supervision. I still want to build them a bigger run for the winter, but I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get to it. So I’m a little worried, but I’m pretty sure they will be fine, and that they will be much happier than they would have been otherwise when we get home this evening. Maybe I’ll have my good friend / neighbor check on them once or twice to make sure.

totally unrelated to chickens, but so funny I just had to share it…

Tonight, Jonah and Mae came back from spending 2 nights at my parents’ house, and were literally bouncing off the walls (doing themselves bodily harm, I might add) with silly, crazy antics. I turned to Jonah, and asked “Who are you kids, and what have you done with Jonah and Mae?” Jonah promptly adopts a deep gravelly voice and says: “Oh, you will not be seeing them anymore.”