I’ve already mentioned that we inherited 15 laying hens with the purchase of our house here. And that it was the icing on my cake. Well, we soon learned that the “all-about-chickens” learning curve was a steep one, indeed. Neither of us knew a fig about chickens – how often they layed, what roosting was, how the eggs got fertilized, etc. (sad that we made it through our levels of higher education without picking up any of this now-crucial info)
But we inherited a turn-key setup, which helped immensely. The coop was there, in operation, with nesting boxes, roosts, and everything else you need, so we were able to squeak by for awhile without knowing everything you need to know about chickens. And, (the best part) there is a motorized door that opens to their run (outside play yard) that’s on a timer. It promptly opens at dawn and closes at dusk, keeping all the predators with a chicken dinner on the brain safely out. And there’s also a light on a timer, too, which makes sure they have at least 13 hours of daylight and tricks them into laying year round.
For the first two weeks, all we had to do was take the egg basket out, collect the eggs, and top off the food and water. During this time, however, we had an additional 7 hens, which the previous owners were going to take with them, so the egg output was pretty high. Like 6-10 per day! Soon we had an entire refrigerator shelf full of egg cartons bursting at the seams and were starting to accumulate names of potential egg customers. And then the 7 boarded hens went off to their new home in Minnesota and our remaining 15 ladies went into a tailspin. We found ourselves lucky to see 3 eggs per day. Then 2 eggs. Then none.
Panic! What’s going on??? I RAN to my all-about-chicken book for help, then RAN to the computer for help. Found Mad City Chickens, (what a fantastic logo they have!) joined the Madison Chicken Chat. (giggle) Long story short, it seems they were molting – regenerating some feathers and taking a little R&R. I tried reasoning with them: “NOT the best time to be without your feathers – it’s frickin’ COLD!” “Really. A record-long cold spell right now.” and “Pleeeeaasssee. If this keeps up, we’ll have to buy eggs at the store…”
And it was a sad day when the uniformly-brown eggs rolled by on the conveyor belt and landed in my canvas grocery bag. Sad indeed. For a month this went on. Then….
1 egg! Then….2!
And it was only 2 weeks ago that we experienced our first 3 EGG DAY! (which was a little like winning the lottery)
And now, here we are at 4 today. If this keeps up, I’m going to have to dust off the egg basket again.