Today’s five eggs confirm that five of the six hens are laying; until today, we had thought the number was four. Egg laying is, given the coop’s nesting box and roost area configurations, a private event, though it is common for one hen to stay in the run, to abide a sisterly and supportive-appearing proximity to the layer for the duration of laying.
The eggs referred us back to the Rural King labeling on the day we purchased the chicks, April 19, because we had thought we purchased two cinnamon queens, two black sex-links, a buff brahma, and a calico princess. As Bitumen and Lightfoot (who now also goes by Lightning, because she is the fastest to exit scene for the deep woods any time a predatory threat presents itself) have matured, their plumage and personalities have distinguished them, especially the brown RBG-like “dissent collar” on Bitumen, and the pearl-hued ears on Lightfootning. We are not entirely sure whether or not Bitumen or Fluffy Foot (the buff brahma) is the last to lay, but we suspect it is Bitumen. And with this comes some genealogical suspense, in that the eggshell hues thus far have suggested Bitumen and Lightfoot are different breeds after all.
Bitumen bears out all of the features and mannerisms of a black sex-link, and particularly the Black Copper Marans rooster she would, if she could, call dad. Bitumen’s ancestor Marans (and contemporary cousins) tend to lay brown-shelled eggs there along the mid-coastline of France. But Lighfoot, on the other wing, lays blue eggs, and this suggests she is a Black Ameraucana whose ancestry is therefore Chilean. Whichever of the other four are laying or not, their qualities map to what the Radford Rural King sign-posted: Cinnabon and Tiny Honey are cinnamon queens who lay nearly every day, Fluffy Foot is a buff brahma, and Big Sweetie, a calico princess. We’ve learned more about this—and care more about these distinctions—than we could have anticipated four months ago. Chickens have been relegated by most to a certain kind of skewed global food mythology as an abundant, homogenous, if largely inobservable (before market), source. This mixed flock is a patient, persistent, and nuanced teacher, affirming every day that our avian imaginary has fallen more toward the consumptive-extractive, less toward sustaining kinship-mutualism, than can (or should) last.