High summer, indeed. Here we are in the longest days of the year, and apparently they aim to be the hottest, as well. Yesterday hit 105°, and currently it is 85° inside. The house is gloomy with our passive cooling measures — blinds and windows shut this morning, after the night spent wide open. It’s been four days of 100+ though and things are not getting so cool overnight as one might wish.
We’ve been sleeping in the tent in the back yard the last few nights, enjoying crystal-clear skies and cool breezes. We’ve been meaning to test-sleep the tent in preparation for some overnight bike trips, and this finally got us to do it. It’s not a new tent, but we are needing to think about what it needs to make it bike-friendly, as we’ve only car-camped with it.
We’ve been so focused on eat local month for the last while, y’all are probably wondering if we ate our chickens! Well, we didn’t. The girls are growing up, as you can see here. And they are hot too — you can see their little beaks hanging open as they pant in the heat. The one on the left is pretty much ready to lay. She has starting “assuming the position” when Patrick approaches to pick her up. This involves crouching low and sticking her butt up in the air. When he touches her back she sets there for a second and then moves on. I was mentioning this to someone at the co-op the other day and he said a friend’s rooster had once mounted his leg, flapping about for a few moments and leaving a bit of sticky residue. Chicken sex doesn’t take too long, I gather.
The hen who is closest to laying has a lovely comb and wattles, displaying a nice, healthy red. She’s also showing the most green iridescence in her feathers. The other two are bigger than her, but not as mature, with just the beginings of bright red showing up on their smaller wattles. They are about four months now.
As they get older, the chickens get chattier, and are now greeting the day with some cackly clucking. This morning one of them almost sounded like she was laying — but no egg. It’s pretty cute, whenever the girls hear us outside they start up a little conversation, hoping for some dandelion greens. Since we’ve been sleeping outside, as soon as we wake up and say something to each other the chickens start speaking up, asking to be released.
It looks like our hens are going to be on the Portland Tour de Coops, on July 29th. Yikes! We still haven’t placed the final fence-post for their yard, so the gate is being held closed by a rock. We’re hoping to get to that before the tour, though it probably involves getting a flexcar to pick up the 4×4, which is hard to convince ourselves to do. There is nothing worse than getting into a hot car in the summer. Ugh.
We went on a sustainability bike ride when we lived in Oakland that included a visit with an experienced backyard chicken raiser in Berkeley. At the time we were in our planning phase, reading and agonizing. Seeing someone else’s set-up was a great chance to see that people really were doing this crazy thing we had been thinking about. This tour is self-led — you pick up a map of coops and then go visit during a set period of time during the afternoon. Hopefully we can encourage some fledgling city-chicken folks — and take some time to go visit others in our ’hood.