January 29, 2013

Chicken Stalking

All chicken owners know the anticipation of the first egg. As time grows closer for  hens to lay, we get the nest boxes ready, we put in "false" eggs to encourage laying, we push oyster shell for great egg shell strength. We continuously count back to when the chickens were hatched. But when it all said and done, it simply comes down to waiting...and waiting. Just when you think your have a bunch of infertile hens, an egg comes. Our first egg arrived on January 25-------------------->

I could not believe it! I went out to feed and water our ladies, and just be some chance I happened to look in our nest box. (See above regarding my thought of infertile hens) There next to a plastic Easter egg was a smaller "twin." At first I thought my mind was playing tricks on me. Then I thought I was just seeing double due to the fact that it was so cold and my eyes were watering. Upon wiping my eyes, and sticking my head deeper into the coop, it was in fact our first egg. Quickly I scooped it up and ran yelling my husband name into the house. Poor guy thought something was really amiss! Our egg, a sage green, cracked from freezing, but our egg. Unfortunately, the children had already left for school and missed out on this. But that was alright, I have been the major chicken keeper and was able to bask in miracle of this gift. Then my hubby asked, "Well who do you think laid it?" Huh? I did not know. So I took a scientific stance and began my investigation.

The process of elimination:

We have five chickens. Two of them grew into beautiful young men, so they went out to live at my friend's farm. We did replace the men with two girls that were hatched during the same time. So I started with obvious what type of bird/color of egg.

Thyme: Barred Rock=Brown egg
Mrs. Babcock: Rhode Island Red=Brown egg
Miss Prissy Fluffinbottom: White Leghorn=White egg (she is a new lady)
Luna: Marans/Ameraucana mix= Colored egg
Ebbie Loo Who: Marans/Ameraucana mix= Colored egg.(our other new lady.)

Since the first three ladies will not lay colored eggs, they were eliminated as the layer. Leaving only Luna and Ebbie. Honestly I thought Ebbie laid the first egg because there was one of her fluffs on the egg. But as I thought more, I was not sure.

Immediately I Googled "how to tell which chicken is laying?" No luck. So I went to my fellow contributing bloggers and friends at Farm Chit Chat. They should know, or at least give me some advice.  Here is what they said:

1. Stalk them and see who is in the nest box.
2. Put food coloring or Blue Kote on around their vent.
3. Put lipstick around the vent.

Needless to say, we had great laughs regarding #2 and #3. My neighbors already think I am nuts having chickens in the city, what would they think if I am out there "violating" my chicken with lipstick! So I opted for #1!

Let the Stalking Begin!

I figured out a round about time that the said "egg layer" was giving me her egg just by the average time I found the first 3 eggs and when I go out to feed/water. That gave me from 7:15 a.m to 9 a.m. I was determined to figure this out.

 Oh, did I mention it is Winter? Oh, and that I live in Northwest Ohio? If you have been following our nation's weather, it has been very, very cold here. I was not looking forward to being out in the cold, but I was on a mission.

Stalking Day!

Early Morning destination, The Coop!
Here I am! Bed head, make-up smeared, and puffy eyes! Sorry for the scary picture, but it was 7:15 a.m and I literally jumped out of bed, threw on my coat, and scarf. I realized later that I had my Pajama pants on backwards and inside out to boot! Yeah, I am hot!

I proceeded to slowly walk out to the coop. Trying to be a quiet as possible. That was not happening! Even though our dog Willow is good with the chickens, she does not like it when "Mom" spends anytime near them with out her. Let the whining, barking, and jumping on the backdoor commence. That put a wrench in the whole using my stealth Ninja skills to stalk with! Grrr!

After getting Willow relaxed with a bowl full of food, it was now 7:45 a.m. and every second counts when you have a mission such as mine. When I did get to the coop, the ladies knew I was coming and were all at the door to be let out. No egg, no one in the nest box. They wanted FOOD! Grabbing my gloves I went about the chore. I cracked the main door on the coop to be able to sneak peeks at the nest box. I went back into the house because I was starting to get cold. Time was 8 a.m. I stood at my back window watching and warming up. Then I saw Luna go up into the coop. She was then followed by Ebbie. Really? both colored egg layers in the coop? *Sigh* so much for warming up! Out again I go. I stood outside of the coop for another 20 minutes. During this time Luna kept coming up to the main door squawking at me and Ebbie sat on the roost. This was not proving to be easy. About 8:45 Luna entered the nest box. Finally! I watched her move around, peck at the straw and she finally laid down. Grabbing my camera out of my pocket I figured an egg would be arriving an minute, I fully opened the coop door. Luna stopped her fussing and stared at me, as if to say "Do you mind Lady?" Snapping off a few pics, she gave me a harder stare and a low growl,  I told her "I know, I know, I don't like to be bothered when I am ovulating either." But somewhere in my mind I was not convinced that she was going to lay. Why? I don't know, maybe it had something to do with all these months of waiting, maybe the scientific part of my brain needed a conclusion, but I was determined to see this egg laying up close and live.
My determination lasted to 9:15 a.m. Chickens like privacy when laying, I get that, but I think it had more to do with the fact I could no longer feel my fingers and toes. That was all I needed was to get frostbite and have to explain to the doctor how, "Well, Doctor, I was stalking my chicken you see..." So off to a hot shower I went. The whole time I was in the shower, I knew, just knew Luna would lay that egg while I was in there. Guess what? She did, and has continued to gives us her beautiful green eggs daily.

Do you mind????


My chicken stalking days are over. I have come to the acceptance that the other ladies will lay. I have them set up for success. Kind of like in the movie Field of Dreams, "If you build it they will come." Our ladies have been given a place to be happy and productive layers. My advice for first time chicken owners waiting for their first egg, it will happen, when it will happen, regardless. Remember the old saying? "A Watched Pot Never Boils."Learn from my insanity, but if you too want to be a chicken stalker, may I suggest doing it when the weather is warmer.

Good luck!


Jamie said...

This is terrific! Chicken stalking, I love it! Mine are coming in June and I can't wait.
Great blog!

A Daughter of the King said...

That's precisely why the food coloring comes in handy. This post was fun to read.