The chooks are already about 22 weeks old – so they were due to start laying anytime soon. But I also read somewhere that Wyandottes do take a bit longer, and the Sussex pullets are still way too you – even though the big roosters don’t seem to think so. So we were hoping on the Scot Greys, even though they are a smaller breed, to start laying first.
In fact, the roosters have been thinking the hens must have been ready for a few weeks already. Quite rudely so, but I guess that’s what roosters do. So, even before they were 20 weeks old we already rushed out to get some wooden eggs in the laying boxes to show them where it should be done. They have no mommy hen to show them the ropes, so they must figure it all out themselves. And we just hoped it would work, because they have some nice cosy hidden away spots among the trees and native bushes. If they started laying out there we would have had to do some serious bush crawling to find any eggs.
But so since we put the wooden eggs in the boxes, every morning as we let them out, we religiously checked the laying boxes. Religious is the right word – a lot of hope and faith was going on. Nothing…. Nothing… Nothing… so I even started believing the posts where people told stories of their pullets only starting to lay in the next spring. I was already calculating feed bills for the whole winter with no benefit apart from entertainment and free manure.
And so, one morning towards the end of last week we did the normal let out and check routine. Nothing as usual… However when I went back at about 11:00 to clean their sleeping quarters and recycle the bedding hay through the compost, lo and behold, there it was! One small egg beside the two huge wooden eggs. If I hadn’t seen pigeon eggs before, I could easily have thought it must have been one of the wild pigeons that we used to chase out of the coop (when we were still feeding them in the coop). Well, we waited until the kids got home from school, so they could get the excitement of “discovering” the egg, while avoiding the roosters (that’s another story for another day!) Patricia broke that egg open to check that it was fine. It was small, but looking good and smelling well.
Since that day whoever it was that snuck back into the coop has been doing it consistently. She doesn’t lay overnight – she must go back and lay after they have been let out. So we’ve been quietly getting one small egg every day. Well, it’s a start, albeit a slow and small one. But what I’m really happy about is that they (or this one hen at least) finds the lay boxes more suitable than the bushes; and also, we changed our approach a few weeks ago to not feed them in in the coop anymore (in order to keep the wild birds out) and keep the little coop door open all day. So it seems we’re on a right track with all of that.
Well, from the first batch of eggs that Patricia hoarded up, she made her usual Sunday pancakes. She still commented on how much harder our own eggs’ shells are compared to store-bought eggs, even organic pasture-raised ones. I can’t say I tasted a difference, but it’s hard to improve on perfection – the pancakes were as yummy as ever before, especially drizzled with our own honey.
My “harvest” posts are supposed to be short, sweet and to the point… oh well, there goes that goal!