That first egg

The little chicks that we brought home in March 2011 were growing. And I was getting anxious for that first egg. Every day, I would go out to feed and visit my little chicks. Of course, they weren’t so little anymore: the cockerels were getting big and bossy and the hens were getting fat and fluffy. They would still come sit in my lap when I went to visit and sometimes get up on my shoulders. Which is a habit I don’t recommend you letting your chickens start! I lost a pair of diamond stud earrings when one of my roosters decided those earrings were very pretty and looked edible. I didn’t notice one side was missing until I felt him yank the other side out, too. But it was too late – try finding a diamond earring in a chicken coop!

All my research on the web told me that the average age for hens to begin laying was about 6 – 8 months, depending on the breed, the season, the weather, what color shirt you’re wearing… But I just knew my hens were special and would soon proceed to present me with a basket full of omega-rich fresh eggs at the earliest age possible. So each day I checked the nest boxes and each day I came away empty-handed.

June 20 – “Miss Gussy” RIR hen

The hens’ combs were all a vivid red: a sure sign they are getting ready to lay, I thought. I added ceramic eggs to the nest boxes, so the girls would know where to go when that urge hit them. I added a tray of oyster shell to the coop, so if they needed any extra calcium, it would be available. And I waited…and waited.

Of course, I was still enjoying my roosters and hens while I waited. They were so entertaining! Just sitting and watching the interaction between the chickens was more entertaining than anything on TV. I think some folks even call it “Chick TV”. It was becoming very clear to me that these are not just “livestock” and are not here just to make my breakfast – they were creatures with personalities, likes and dislikes; they even played favorites! Who knew when we first brought those cute little fluffy bottom chicks home in March that you could fall in love with them? Who knew they would peep, peck, and pester their way right into your heart? But they did and they still do.

And on July 15th, I gasped as I opened the cover on the nest box and there it was! The first egg. It was broken on one end and had to be thrown away, but I knew that more would be following soon. And I was right – by the end of summer, we were getting nearly a dozen eggs a day. We were giving eggs away to the neighbors, the mail lady, anyone who needed some farm fresh eggs.

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