Oh, thank you, Lisa! I will admit they cheer me often - I am so happy my kitchen window offers a good view. When they are chipper in the mornings they are so active, hopping and fluttering up and down their runs on a whim.
The eggs are getting larger and more regular/attractive in coloring. We got 4 yesterday, and for the first time dd changed her mind on carrying and took a basket back out to get them. When we see a dark brown one we know the layer is a New Hampshire Red. I think the Buff Orpingtons were first to lay and right now laying most - that will change when the Black Australorps mature completely, as they are egg-laying champs of the heavy breeds. It also could be due to temps - Buffs really are as cold-hardy as the catalogs say. The other two breeds huddle together for the night on the higher roost. The Buffs ignore them and go to the other side of the house where there is a lower roost. In the hot summertime, I'd better pay extra attention to the Buffs.
The 2009 catalog came from the hatchery. I was interested to see they give an opinion on the Disposition of each breed. Several were deemed, "Friendly", but only 2 breeds received the comment, "Affectionate": the Salmon Faverolles (impractical for us because feet are feathered) and our choice of Buff Orpington. I definitely agree. The Buffs are always the first to approach dd10, content to be petted, and accept her completely even when she moves too quickly for the others. I just call all 3 "Alice", but she seems to know them apart.
In the catalog, our Black Australorps have a better disposition comment than our New Hampshire Reds - for me that remains to be seen. The New Hampshires probably deserve the "Usually Quiet" comment - they can be skittish but will calm down and hang out with you for petting. It's the "Docile and Quiet" comment for Black Australorps that I'm not too sure of. They are our dominant hens and will go into flurries of discipline toward the other breeds. So even if they do allow our petting, you can't help but frown at them. I'm thinking the comment refers to them at an older age! I guess if they start laying as much as they are purported to do, they will just about have to calm down to conserve energy.
If you don't believe in miracles, you're not being realistic.