Three very small but perfect eggs!
Just when we were wondering if our hens weren't going to lay until spring (having your chickens reach laying age during the shortest and darkest days of the year is maybe not the best plan ever), they have given us our first completely homegrown eggs! I'm ridiculously excited at the moment- opening up the door to the henhouse and finding these little treasures waiting there for me just sent me over the moon! I'm so proud of our girls, even if they haven't figured out the nest boxes yet --all of these were in a little nest made on the floor of the main henhouse. Our original four pullets just turned five months old on on Thursday, so at least one of them is laying right away after hitting the five month mark. We hadn't checked the henhouse in a couple of days, but I'm pretty sure that these eggs are from more than one hen- I don't think it's been so long that a single chicken could have laid three times, but I could be wrong.
I'm almost entirely confident that one of the ladies who laid these is Penny, our Barred Plymouth Rock pullet. She's been far more docile than usual lately, and a couple days ago I noticed her hanging out in the area of the henhouse where I found the eggs, well after all the other chickens had headed out into the run. I knew she was up to something! Also, today I tried the old timers' trick of getting behind a hen and putting your hand out over them- if they stop and squat, that means they're ready to lay. Penny did exactly that, as did Vivian, the two-year-old Ameracauna. Maybe now that one of the younger ones is laying, Viv will go back to laying. I couldn't get behind any of the other hens, they're all too skittish still. Luckily I don't have to go anywhere straightaway tomorrow, so I'm going to do a stakeout of the henhouse early in the morning and see if I can figure out who is laying us eggs. I brought two of the eggs inside but put one in a nestbox, and ruffled up the original nest, to see if I can't convince our mystery chicken to lay in the box.
I'm so pleased that our days of buying eggs are over. We've put in five months of work raising our ladies from wee chicks, feeding them and building them a coop, adopting two more chickens and making sure they all stay well fed and watered and enjoy ranging around the backyard. I love having them around regardless of whether they are laying, but receiving eggs just feels like such a gift right now.
And just an update for those of you who were concerned about Mimi, the younger chicken we adopted a couple months ago, she is fully integrated into the flock and is no longer being bullied. She gets pecked and chased occasionally, but most of the time all six chooks go around happily as a flock. Our remaining mystery is to figure out how old Mimi is- she's about the same size as the other four young ones, so we think she's pretty close in age, but it's hard to tell! We did have to clip everyone's wings last week, because we kept finding them all flying up to the sit on top of the coop, which is a dangerously short flight from the neighbors' fence and a yard with several dogs.
Good job chickens, and thanks for the eggs!