This morning we slept in a little and when I went to let the ladies out of the coop Wynona made a bee-line for a grove of vines that grows along our fence. Normally, she’s very concerned about breakfast, so I was very suspicious. I’ve seen her disappear into these vines before, and I had a hunch that she might have a little nest in there.
Since I thought that she might have some business to tend to, I let her have her space while we went for a latte. When we got back, I headed out for a back yard egg hunt and this beautiful site is what I found. Apparently, she’s been laying for 2 weeks or more, since there were a total of 13 eggs in the nest.
I immediately called my mom and dad like a mom calls grandma and grandpa when her baby takes a first step. My mom reacted like a grandma would, excited and proud of Wynona, and I loved sharing that with her. My dad reacted like my dad, calm and reserved, providing lots of directions and asking logistical questions. I’ve come to understand and appreciate his funny way of showing excitement.
For those who don’t know much about chickens, here is a brief lesson on chickens and eggs: A hen lays 1 egg every 24-48hours, as long as she’s a happy camper. If she’s stressed or unhealthy, she won’t lay. She does not need a rooster to produce an egg. If no rooster is present then no fertilization will take place, and you’ll have a tasty breakfast food, instead of a baby chick. If you don’t collect the eggs, she will lay an egg each day and then go about her daily routine, and when she is happy with the number of eggs in her nest she will return to the nest and start incubating them.
Wynona and Belina are Polish Hens, which is an ornamental breed. Some resources I’ve found call them a Bantam size, others say they are a Dwarf. Either way, they are significantly smaller than a “laying” breed (large breeds that are consistent large egg layers).
Since we didn’t get to these puppies when they were fresh, we can’t eat this batch. I’m going to mark a couple of them and try putting them in the nesting box to see if we can train them to use it. Belina is at least 3 weeks younger than Wynona so I don’t think she’s quite ready to lay. It could be any day now, so I’ll be paying special attention if she starts playing Houdini in the coming weeks.
Backyard chickens are an incredibly easy pet, and they are so funny and interesting. If you don’t believe me, ask Capt. Picard. He was SOOO mad at me when I brought them home and now he really loves them.
If you like fresh eggs and want to have a lot of fun, I would definitely encourage you to find out of hens are allowed in your municipality. Some great resources are: www.backyardchickens.com or your local urban homesteading chapter. Also, Murdoch’s and other ranch and home supply stores will often have message boards where you can contact people near by with chickens, as well as poultry experts on staff.