As usual, our four laying hens arrived in the garden a few weeks ago. They’ll stay through November. Students provide much of their daily care while exploring the birds’ roles in history, agriculture, and the food system.

Ancona families are invited to sign up to care for the chickens on weekends. The hens love treats in the form of human leftovers that would otherwise be thrown out: stale rice, fruit scraps, expired salad bags or yogurt, and so forth. This is a cost-effective way to turn food waste into eggs.

For the first time this year, we have two hens that were with us last season (ie, in 2020): The silver-laced wyandotte and the cinnamon queen. Like children, each bird has her own personality. The barred rock is, at least for the moment, the most timid of the bunch, while the wyandotte is always the first to investigate visitors.

Graphic by Wren