Saturday, September 15, 2012

a 4 egg day

When I got our 5 hens and one rooster back in April from their winter vacation headquarters at our Amish friends' farm, Minerva, our Black Austrolorp was "broody" and looked as if she had already been half plucked. Poor Lovina was beside herself with apologies for her condition. In fact, all of our hens had been "hen pecked" while away. (It's to be expected when strange birds are introduced to an established flock.)
I had read that the hens need extra protein in order to regrow feathers while they are laying. I found several suggestions for foods to add to their organic layer feed. Freeze dried mealworms are their absolute favorite. But all summer they've been eating out of the garden too. Kale, split tomatoes, corn cobs after we've eaten our portion, squash and cucumbers that hid and got too large and overripe for us to eat. And now apples, apples, apples. Watermelon rind is a favorite, too.
Back to the broodiness factor. Poor Minerva had been sitting on a nest of eggs at the Amish chicken house but only one of the young sons knew it and the word didn't get passed along to Lovina and then to me until too late. Following an ancient urge, Minerva would sit in the nest box here, on anyone else's egg or no egg at all with her chicken hopes high.
Minerva then
Then after several weeks of this, Rosie became broody as well. While chickens are sitting on the nest they do not lay eggs. So I had two out of 5 hens nonlaying. And then of course we lost Amelia.
Minerva finally gave up the nest box and now has an insatiable appetite. Not too many days ago I found the darker brown egg in the nest box and knew she was back into production. And wouldn't you know, her feathers are beautifully grown in once more. A bit of R & R and unavailable to the rooster's attentions had worked magic.

Poor Rosie, our Buff Orpington, the proverbial mother hen, had been sitting on her empty nest for weeks and has lost weight and feathers in the process. Just about a week ago she began being out of the chicken house for full days once again. And today for the first time since I brought the chickens back home all the hens layed eggs on the same day.
This won't happen often, as they are molting now and feathers are all over the chicken house and yard.  While molting egg production drops a bit.

The egg which looks white in this photo is actually light green blue. It is the biggest egg from our smallest hen, Ladyhawk. She is the only hen who does not like to be picked up and won't even let me get close, with or without the camera!

 So far Phoebie, the Barred Rock, has been the best layer.

But even a no egg day is ok.  Their cacophony, hilarity, and friendly dispositions are pure joy.

And though our rooster, still called big boy, mr polish, and assorted silly names, is aggressive in his ministrations to the hens, he has learned that I am not a threat and though he is always on guard so I don't take one of the girls away, often presenting himself between one of them and me in the yard, he has not attacked me in a long while now. In April when they first came home, I was tempted to give him back to the Amish family to do whatever. But all has settled down. He is a marvelous watchdog for the flock and I guess if they can tolerate him, he has a place here on the ridge meadow farm.


  1. I'm really fascinated by what I've read, Sharon. I don't know very much about chickens, but this is a great insight into their behavior! And they are all so different and so beautiful!
    Love the photo of the eggs and also your warm and inviting blog header!!
    Congratulations to all on a 4 egg day!!

  2. I miss my hens. There is nothing like a freshly laid egg. Mr Polish looks quite a character!

  3. Love that you count your days in eggs!!! If only we could all be so lucky. Today I'm counting my in glasses of tea... so far 6 (must be a sleepy Wednesday).

    All my love

  4. Hi Sharon!
    I really like reading the story of your hens!!
    They seem so happy to have an owner like you. You really love them!
    Their eggs are wonderful!