My long time friend, Makenzie, sent me a message the other day saying she enjoys reading my blog, but usually goes really fast past the posts about the chickens and turkeys. She has always had this fear of birds, and when she sent me that message, I had a flashback. We were in high school, I was dating her brother, we were at their house.. long story short, her brother and his best friend had chased poor Makenzie into her closet and were scratching at the door with pheasant feet while she cried for them to leave her be. This (poorly told) story doesn't really have anything to do with this post. What I'm getting at is if you are like Makenzie and were once held hostage in your closet by pheasant feet, these photos may be graphic to you. They contain chickens. And their feet.
I did share a picture of our first chicken egg on Instagram, but I never mentioned it here. We've been enjoying fresh eggs for a while now. It was really exciting when Tyler into the house with that first little egg. We eventually started getting 2-4 eggs a day, chickens lay approximately one ever 25 hours. We have 10 mature chickens and not a single one is a rooster... so something just wasn't adding up. We should be getting almost ten eggs a day. We figured our hens just needed more time before they started to lay.
One night, Tyler came back from putting the birds in for the night and said one of our Rhode Island Reds was missing. We didn't know if it had been eaten or lost or just roosted in a tree for the night like our turkeys seem to enjoy doing. Later that evening, I was scanning through my Instagram feed and came across a post of a huge secret nest that Botanical_Harmony had found.
I was like, whoa! Wait.. chickens can have secret nests? I showed it to Tyler and we joked about how our chickens probably have some secret nest somewhere.
Well. The very next morning, I was up by the chicken house doing something or other and found one of our Reds in the tall grass, about 20 feet from the chicken house. I was like, hooray, I found the missing chicken! I had the very unhelpful dog and a child with me, so I dropped them off at the house with dad, told him I think I found the missing Red, and I had to go back out because I thought she was stuck or injured and needed my assistance.
I went back and there she lay, still, but alive. All our chickens run away when you approach them, she did not. I wondered how she was stuck, so I got closer and pet her a bit. Luckily the Reds are so docile compared to the other hens. I picked her up and hello, secret nest. She wasn't stuck or hurt. She was just laying on eggs. You can read and read about things (like keeping chickens), but sometimes it takes experiencing it to actually learn.
I took pictures and went back to show Tyler, who laughed immediately seeing the irony in the timing of our previous night's jokes. We collected all the eggs and cracked them into the cat food bucket.
Since then we've witnessed the Barred Rock hens laying in the chicken house. They each have their preferred nesting spot, which of course is not in the nesting boxes. Zero eggs have been laid in the nesting boxes. One is in a corner of the room we keep them in at night. Another is right outside the door of that room. And, the other is up on a board, which is really not the smartest place. So, we know the eggs we've been collecting are from these hens, especially since they are all in the same place each time.
Another week or so goes by. Guess what. Still getting only 3-4 eggs a day. Those silly hens! We looked in their old nest: vacant. Tyler searched all around the chicken house and couldn't find their eggs. Mason and I were outside checking the tomatoes in the garden and I decided while we were out, we should go on an egg hunt (way better than Easter). We looked down by the barn, behind grain bins, and in tall grass, but found nothing. So, we went to our mini forest of evergreen trees, thinking maybe they were nesting under one because they all hang out under an evergreen tree right by their house during the day and seem to enjoy it. So we walked through the trees, dodging stinging nettles, and finally I spotted one of the Reds, laying still, in tall grass under one of the trees. Bingo! There were so many eggs, she couldn't even lay on all of them at once.
This time, I wrote x's on five of them with a sharpie and put them back in the nest. If they are going to refuse to lay in the chicken house, we at least want to know where they are laying, so it wouldn't be bad if they kept that nest, for now. I went and grabbed one of the Reds and took her to see the eggs were still there. I really can't tell them apart, so it may or may not have been the same hen I found on them earlier.
Today, we found one new egg in the nest. Hopefully they continue to lay there, but who knows. I'm sure they are plotting their next secret. Those sneaky hens. And don't even get me started on the Ameraucanas or the ducks. We have yet to discover any eggs from them!