Here are just a few photos illustrating what's going on this time of year in the animal pen.
Delilah taking a bath. That water was clean not too long before I took the picture. Ducks have a way of getting water very dirty quickly. This shot is in between splashing like mad, they get everything within a several foot radius very wet, which is why I thought it would be smart to plant the sugar cane on the other side of the fence there. After the ducks take a bath, they hop out and run around the pen full speed with their wings flapping, it's hilarious to me, but I think the chickens would prefer to not have giant ducks zooming at them.
All of the older birds are now laying, the last one to start was Cosmo, the white-crested blue polish last week (at around 24 weeks). We're averaging 6-7 eggs a day between 9 birds that are currently laying. It's gotten noticeably louder, mostly with the "Get out, I want to be in that nestbox" noise, which is not my favorite thing to hear. Here's Pizazz (named after the Gem and the Holograms character), our australorp in one of the boxes. I leave the plastic 'training eggs' in the boxes in the nests even after the chickens begin laying just for fun, also, it can't hurt to remind the chickens...
The compost was in bad need of turning, and I was feeling lazy about doing it, so I opened the little gate to the compost bin and for the past few days the chickens have been doing the work for me. They love it and do a far superior job. Now I'll sift the finished compost into a separate container and shovel the rest back into the bin.
Finally, I decided to build a potato bed in the chicken pen. There isn't any grass in there, so I don't have to worry about sprouts of bermuda popping through the potato patch. The chicken wire has so far kept the chickens away from the sprouting potatoes and the newspaper lining has done a good job of keeping the soil in. For seed potatoes, I just went to the farmers market and got some organic red potatoes, yukon golds and fingerlings. This also gives me a good place to dump dirty water when I'm cleaning the waterers instead of having to haul it around the yard or wasting it.