You’ll never know what to expect when you open a carton of eggs from Shell’s Little Greenhouse — with shells of blue, brown, pink and green, each carton offers a colourful and welcome surprise.
“Everyone who buys eggs smiles. It makes them happy,” said Shelley Lamb, who moved from White Rock to Lakeview-Arrow Creek Road in 2005.
The rainbow of shells is a result of the variety of hens she keeps, many with origins around the world. Among Lamb’s hens are Brahmas (India), Araucanas (Chile) and Minorcas (Spain) — a “smart, quick” breed — as well as her favourite, the Polish top hats.
“Polish top hats are a very soft, quiet, timid bird,” she said. “They’ll approach you if they’ve been raised by hand. They’ll let you pick them up and they’re quite content.”
Six years ago, she started out with five hens, and now has about 30, which are mostly free-range in the summer. It was an easy decision for her to begin raising them, although she knew very little about doing so.
“I’ve always thought they were kind of cool,” Lamb said. “I thought, if I’m living out here, why not?”
She’s learned a lot in the last six years, and is still fascinated by her chickens’ interaction.
“As a rule, chickens aren’t as dumb as people think,” she said. “They work as a group and they’re very social. You couldn’t have just one chicken — they need another to survive.”
Their family bond is strong, too, and just as evident as with other animals.
“They are amazing mothers,” Lamb said. “They just hunt for food all day for those chicks. They have a little call they make when they find food and the chicks come over.”
One hen is a brooding hen, and Lamb enjoys putting her to work, and the sometimes surprising results.
“I select eggs, put them under her and see what comes out.”
The rooster, a Polish top hat, also plays an important part in day-to-day coop life, besides crowing at the crack of dawn, something Lamb said she quickly became used to.
“The rooster watches for danger all day long. … He gives them food and nests. He loves them,” she said with a laugh, “some more than others.”
Raising chickens isn’t a difficult task, and is one Lamb strongly recommends, particularly to people with children.
“Kids love chickens,” she said. “They’re good for people who want to get back to the land.”
And the “sweet little creatures” make excellent companions.
“I enjoy coming out and just being with them,” said Lamb. “They’re very soothing.”
For more information or to arrange to pick up eggs, Shelly Lamb at 250-428-7274.