I stepped out the back door on my way to the hen house and shivered as the cold winter wind hit me. Just back from sunny Florida, I had yet to adjust to the frigid Missouri air. I hurried down the steps and into the coop, anxious to check the flock. As I turned the latch and peeked inside, they rushed to me, clucking and squawking as they came. "Ladies and gentleman, I'm back", I announced as I grabbed a scoop of feed and poured it into the feeder. And just like that, I was forgotten. The lure of fresh scratch won them over and they scurried to the feeder. I turned my attention to the nest box and what did I see? Among the colorful eggs nestled together in the straw-lined nest was a beautiful creamy white egg. "Yippee!", I hollered. "The Lavender Ladies are laying!" When I left for Florida my Lavender Orpingtons were teenagers, but while I was away, they turned into young ladies. Finally I could begin stage two of my Lavender Plan--to incubate and hatch the chicks so I could have lavender chickens roaming throughout the lavender patch. I gathered up my bounty and turned to my handsome Lavender rooster who was perched on the roost, surveying his flock. "Keep up the good work" I said, and headed for the door. I smiled as his musical response echoed behind me--it was without a doubt, the most smug "cock-a-doodle-doo" I've ever heard.