Saturday, June 27, 2009

eggs and our pubescent chickens

About 10 days ago, the hens began a 2-day squawking and cackling festival. They were LOUD. We knew something was up, and it turns out, someone was fixing to lay an egg. When she did, rather than use the laying boxes Jason had built, she decided a cozier spot was here, wedged between a pile of fencing, a prickly broom, and a paper sack.

Now then. That first paragraph might sound all cool and relaxed, but the truth is we were out of our minds with joy when we found this egg. Watching the chickens and Zoralee and more recently our plants grow this spring, we keep having these surges of surprise over the natural life process. "Things are doing what they're supposed to do!" we keep saying. "That's insane!" We don't know what we ever did to deserve chickens who actually lay eggs, but it's witnessing a small miracle every morning.

Here we are exploring and tenderly loving our first egg.

We had learned that as the chickens got sexually mature, their combs and waddles would grow and become bright red instead of pale pink, and sure enough, we'd been observing it for a couple of weeks in our chickens before the first egg came. Again, we were incredulous that what we'd been reading about actually happened. See here the comparison between two hens at different stages (photos taken on the same day):

On day 2, we got another single egg on pellets Jason had laid in the box. But the weirdest thing is that the inside of an egg (no shell) had fallen from a chicken while she roosted at night. It was in the poop box below. This whole thing has the feel of chickens going through puberty. Hormones are all weird, they're laying eggs evidently on accident at night. Just like a period. We are so proud of them. They are growing up.

So, Jason filled the laying boxes with hay and shaped nests to make them more inviting. We set the mature hens in the boxes, to show them how lovely they were. The next day, there was another single egg, and this time it was nestled into the hay in a box! The next day there were two eggs in one box, the next day three.

What you see below is one of our eggs on the right and an average-sized grocery store egg on the left. Ours are starting out small, as is typical. They will grow in size and keep that rich coloring, an indication of their good diet.

Yesterday, we got four eggs (Gosh, it's cool!!) and found one of these water balloon, shell-less eggs. Here's a photograph, though by today the moisture has started to seep out of the membrane. Evidently this happens occasionally while the hens' bodies are still adjusting to egg-making. We are NOT eating this thing; it's right out of Alien World.
As you can see, we're pleased as punch about our eggs. They're little packets of protein, dude, in a protective shell that our chickens push out as little love gifts to us! It's just nuts.


Lindsay said...

That is very, very, cool Lori! Our chicken have a couple more months to go, but I imagine I will be just as excited as you when we get our first egg.

Rachel Clear said...

Daaaaaaamn, that is so cool!

Love the pic of Zor with the egg. Oh, who am I kidding? I just love any pic with Zor.

Elaine said...

Wow! I learned so much from this post! So glad about your eggs. :)