In the picture above, there's one unseemly corner of our yard, by a dog house which currently stands unused. I've been telling my husband we should get rid of this board and those rusty barrows, but quite unexpectedly, our chickens began to favor this spot above all others. Here they rest in the shade and take dust baths, which is great fun to watch.
If you look carefully, you can see our black rooster. We now have two roosters, one older and more sedate, and another who only recently started crowing. There's quite a lot of rivalry between the males, so we are thinking of giving one away. Initially, when we only just started out with our chicken adventure we only wanted to keep females, but it turns out roosters fight away stray cats the way hens don't do.
The stray cats are another bit of trouble. In our old home, we had a harmless kitty in the yard who kept the other cats away and never touched a chick. Here we have savage-looking huge cats who come at night to prowl around the chicken coop. They set our dog to barking, of course, but once they figured out he's on a leash and can't harm them, they just ignore him and remain in the yard until I get out and shoo them away.
Here's one of the first eggs we got from our hens. I couldn't tell you the breeds we have, they are cross-bred most likely, but each hen lays eggs of a slightly different shape, color and shell texture. Some are pointy and glossy, other more rounded and velvety to the touch. Either way, all are a delight to collect, all have bright yellow yolks (we have plenty of free range space) and all taste way, way better than store-bought eggs, not to mention they are infinitely superior in terms of nutrition.
Once the nights get warmer, we plan to let our chickens brood and grow chicks, which of course means we will need to find a better solution to the cat problem (a small chick is so much easier to snatch than an adult chicken). Another thing that puzzles me is this: my husband built several "nests" for the chickens to lay eggs in, all nice and snug and covered in straw, but for some reason they all prefer to lay in one nest. Yesterday I found two eggs from different chickens right next to each other. I wonder if a chicken will go broody over another's eggs, and whether they can "co-operate" while hatching and raising their brood. I've heard this happens with other social birds, but I suppose I will need to research this further.