We all figured that once they "looked" like adults, they would begin to behave that way as well. I lovingly tended their hen house and yard and cleaned and filled their nesting boxes with fresh pine shavings...hoping that one day they would reward me with a nutritious, brown egg. It became apparent that one was older than the others. Her feathers arrived faster, her comb was more full and she was much larger than her "sisters."Daily, I would trek out to check their food and water and be sure that everything was as it should be only to be saddened and disappointed to discover that no egg was waiting for me. I began to wonder if perhaps something was wrong with my chickens. Maybe I was feeding them an incomplete diet. They were now eating a laying crumb that was supplemented with dried corn. They had a wonderful yard full of grass, grit, rocks and bugs to round out their diet. They have fresh, clean, clear water available. I just knew they did not like their house. Maybe it wasn't big enough. Did they like their roosts? I just knew they needed an outside roost. Keith and Austin put one up outside for them and they use it often. According to the books, and my chicken loving friends, they had everything they needed to be happy and healthy.
Maybe they were laying eggs somewhere other than their nesting boxes. Oh, what a site it was for me to be crawling around the chicken house...over and under searching for eggs!!! What a laugh that would have been for all of you! I checked the corners where they love to dust bathe...no eggs. I checked under the hen house where they hide...no eggs. In the hen house on the bottom level where the food and water is kept...no eggs. Over and under...around and through...no eggs! Oh no! I had cannibal chickens who were eating their young! It does happen...rebel chickens who crack open their eggs and down the contents. Or, perhaps the over achieving, competitive chicken who would eat the eggs of her sister to remain the favorite in hopes that those who failed to produce would meet the stock pot! Oh...the places my mind goes! I was desperate for eggs!
I could not stand the quest for eggs any longer! I went to a very reliable source. You see...many of my friends who have chickens get them as adults who are already egg producing. They had no idea when chickens fully mature and begin to lay. I had to find someone who had raised hatchlings...and then it came to me. Kennedy's horseback riding teacher had more than two dozen chickens! I was sure she had to raise some from hatchlings! She reassured me that everything we were providing for our little brood was just exactly what they needed. And if we had cannibals? They would certainly be leaving evidence in the form of broken shells. Oh, but what about the notion that they were some how hiding their eggs? Nope...would find those too with the lay out of our chicken yard. If they were constantly free roaming that could be a likely scenario but not for these girls. So...what was it? They simply weren't old enough. What??? Is that all??? I...me...moi...was being too inpatient??? Yep! She figured if they were hatched the beginning of May, it would probably be November.
So...I gave up the quest for eggs...for now, and moved on to more important matters like fattening up the pony, working with Cooper, catching the goats and dealing with the rampant Pigeon Fever that has plagued our other three horses. And I gave up searching for eggs...no more Easter hunts for me...no, no, no...I was done and I would just worry about all the other matters. Ok, secretly...I was still checking but keeping the obsession under wraps. When....what should Keith discover on his way out to feed animals??? An EGG!!! All my searching and worrying and HE finds an egg!!! Ugh! The kids and I squealed in excitement and Austin wanted to cook it right away. What is it with boys? They want to hunt it, capture it and devour it...I wanted to revel in it's beauty and completeness. But, it was cracked and cooked before I had a chance to get the camera.Of course, I went out of town the next day but guess what? The eggs keep coming. It appears that only one hen (our oldest) is the layer but I imagine the others are soon to follow. So...now I'm back to pampering and worrying about them again and what the shorter days will mean for their egg production. I'm getting on Keith about installing some artificial light (in addition to the heat lamp) with a timer to help them through the winter...and guess what?? I'm already planning on adding to my brood next year...Rhode Island Reds, Araucanas, more Australorps, Plymouth Rocks...so many choices and only six months to figure it out....