I often ramble on about how my chickens are entertaining, how they make me laugh, how they have such silly and sweet personalities. But I don’t often talk about one of the most rewarding parts of bringing chickens into my life. Eggs!
The four Polish and two Easter egg chickens are not yet laying, although they are mature enough. I suspect that the fact that they’re not laying and that the weather has turned cold means they have decided to extend their responsibility-free youth until spring, when they should take up their mature hen duties like the rest of the birds.
My senior hens—Myrtle, Maude, Marilyn, Madelyn, Harriet and Hillary—each push out an egg a day. When they were younger I would often hear a noisy ruckus in the chicken coop, an escalating “Bwak, BWAK, BWAK!!!” as one of the hens neared the end of her apparently painful chore. Frequently, T. Boone Chickens, our lone rooster, would stand next to the hen in distress and honk along loudly, “HONK, HONK, HONK!” Big helpful male.
Now, the hens have become accustomed to their daily efforts and hunker down silently in the nest boxes. Often I’ll peek in during the morning. (They all do their laying before noon each day.) There are usually a couple of hens sitting in side-by-side nest boxes, shoulders up by their ears with meditative looks on their faces and glassy eyes. I like to think their little chicken minds have learned to go somewhere happy while their bodies do what nature commands. Frolicking in fields of earthworms? Rolling around in my lettuce patch?
Hens need about 14 hours a day of daylight or their egg production drops or stops altogether. My hens continue their daily chores year-round thanks to a light on a timer in their palatial chicken coop. Honestly, I feel a little guilty about manipulating them into laying when nature’s cycle is telling them to stop laying and other people’s hens are on vacation.
And, as you can see, those eggs add up pretty quickly.
I may adjust the light timer to give the girls a little extra sleep. If egg production falls, well, I just won’t be giving away as many eggs. The girls deserve their rest too, I suppose.