So When Will YOUR Chicken Lay?

By far, one of the most asked questions in the “chicken world” is “When will my chicken lay eggs?” You have done everything right, you have raised your fluffy chicks to be adorable spunky young chickens, you have invested in the cost of the coop, the food, the time, and the love, (just to name a few things!) and you can’t WAIT for that first egg!  Trust me, I know how the waiting is!

When I was much younger, well, around 20-23 we had about 3 dozen chickens, Rhode Island Reds, Leghorns, and Black Sex-Link, they were free range because we lived on 5 acres of land, so I honestly couldn’t tell you who laid what first!  They roamed the yard, and came back to roost at night and every day was like an Easter egg hunt!  We had a LOT of eggs, so many that we gave them away every week and only kept what we needed.  But I didn’t really pay much attention to it, one day it just happened, I did not “get to know” my chickens back then.

But now that I am older I have a much smaller backyard flock of 4 hens (plus my 2 silkies), Sophie, Freckles, Camilla, and Penny.  The only one who hasn’t laid yet (aside from those adorable little silkies) is Penny, and she is my “Easter Egger” and of course I am (im)patiently awaiting her first egg so I can see what color they are!  Her ears are mint green, so I am thinking we might get mint green eggs from her but only time will tell.  I can tell you that I am about 99% certain she won’t lay tomorrow.  So lets get to it, when will she lay, and for that matter, when will yours?

So if you are waiting for your flock or your pets to start laying their first eggs, and you have, of course, googled it and read up on it and gotten 1000000 opinions and still no eggs!  You have looked at their combs, their wattles, maybe they are big, maybe they are bright red, maybe they are not, and those are some of the signs listed when you google “when will my chicken lay her first egg” and they are in many cases signs that your hens will indeed be laying their first eggs soon, but it is unreliable, at least in most of my experiences this past year with two separate flocks.

After much “chicken watching” and hanging out with the girls (hens) I have come to know one thing is absolutely certain, if you walk by your hen or bend to pick her up and she stiffens her wings and squats I would bet the farm that within a day or 3 she will absolutely lay her first egg.  This has been true with every single one of my girls, and yes, even my silkies.  Penny is still not squatting.  She is holding out!

Now I know this isn’t the answer everyone will want because there is no telling when your hen might start to squat, and almost as soon as she does, she will start laying as I mentioned above, you can kinda get a feel for a time frame by checking the combs and wattles, and of course the age of the hen, but as soon as they squat, it is time to get eggcited because that egg is coming its a sure fire way to know!  I always get super happy when I walk by a hen who has been “on a break” due to molt, or cold weather, and she instantly squats, then I know she will be starting back up again and it lets me know I can count on her in the coming days.

I currently have one “on a break” and of course stubborn Penny who I keep hoping will do the little squat squat when I walk by, but nothing yet!  So we wait, we wait to see the color of her eggs, but again, my bet is on that pretty mint green color!

Good luck with your hens and your eggventures with your backyard chicken flock!



All About “Gabbie”

So I thought I would do a few articles introducing each chicken because as the keeper of the coop you notice each chicken, just like any animal has their own personality.  I decided to start with Gabbie the Silkie first because she is the newest addition (aside from the two little ones she came with) and we got her as a friend for Maggie (little dark partridge colored silkie.). Gabbie is just about a year old, she is a mostly “buff” silkie, but she looks more orange/ginger color, with a splash of black on her wings and because of that she probably wouldn’t win any major awards (coloring is very important with show chickens!) however I’ve been told she might do OK in a local small show despite the black color on her wings.  She’s still a beautiful bird with a nice stance, puff ball, and poof tail!

Now, sure, showing chickens sounds fun I think, but she caught my eye on craigslist because she is adorable!  Maggie just seemed a little depressed lately (yes chickens can get depressed!) When we got Maggie – we should have also bought her friend she had in the same pen but we didn’t and we didn’t know better that we should.  So we just had Maggie and she became very friendly with people and we enjoyed her company and watching her antics.  Silkies have a tendency to look quite dumb, there isn’t a whole lot going on up there and they are extremely easy targets for predators, so when we let them out we have to be close by to stand watch.

So when we found Gabbie on Craigslist I was super excited.  Silkies in general are hard to come by in our area especially really pretty ones.  So we rushed over there the next morning to pick her up.  The lady who had her had a lot of animals!  Little adorable piglets, geese, ducks, rescue dogs, cats, etc. so we talked for a while and I promised her the little buff would have a wonderful home.  So then she handed us a little blue silkie baby and a little white one and was like “here take these too!” Well you just can’t say no to fluffy silkie babies??!!  They are about 11-12 weeks old now and although we can’t exactly tell their gender we think they are both girls except maybe the blue we think it might be a little roo, we named him Eddie!

So flash forward we needed to expand, quickly, and we built a larger rabbit hutch for the garage because silkies don’t like the cold and especially the babies they would die in the current weather outside.  So all four of our fluffy butts live in the garage currently and we keep a small heater on during the day so the garage warms up.  We let them out on nicer sunny days to free range (under supervision only!) any of them would make a very tasty snack for one of or local hawks!  Sometimes we even put paper down and just kinda let them roam the garage – because they only move a few feet per hour lol!  Andrew built a small ramp for their hutch and they are learning to use it slowly.  (Silkies do not do well with ramps either lol). They don’t usually roost on perches, they dogpile sleep on top of each other and it’s really quite adorable.

So we have Gabbie, and although she seems to be “head hen” in the pecking order, and picks on the babies from time to time, she’s just a total sweetheart with people.  She will actually stand by your feet if you are sitting in the garage and “beg” until you pick her up and place her in your lap.  She seems to like the attention.  

Now the other day we left the ramp on with the little door open, not expecting anyone to use it because it was still “new” and again, silkies don’t do ramps well at all, but I did show her once how to go down the ramp not really thinking she would retain this “training session” at all!

So about an hour went by and we came back out to the garage to check the silkies and have a cup of coffee or whatever it is we do out here, it’s a place to sit and have a break, our garage has posters up and Christmas lights so it’s like a hang out spot during winter.  We have a little cheap card table, a few chairs, and for some reason I’ve taken to sitting on the blue and white cooler, (less places for spiders to hide on a cooler!) So the cooler is my “spot” and every day this is where I take my coffee, and this is where I sit on my breaks.

So we come out to th garage and I open the door and there is Gabbie… Sitting ON the card table in MY spot!  She had used the ramp like I showed her, jumped to my seat on the cooler, and then jumped to the place on the table where I put my coffee or soda lol!  She was having a nap and waiting on me!  It was the cutest thing!  It really warms my heart to know you helped train a chicken (of all animals!) to do something they normally wouldn’t do, and to find them waiting for your return… so she got what she waited for she got to sit in my lap for a while before going to bed.

Silkies make great pets.  They are docile enough for children, they are slow, they don’t mind sitting in your lap, or sitting in a small basket while you work at your desk, they are good company, they can be chatty, but not too loud, they sometimes sing a little trilling song or make funny noises, they are cute, fluffy, and interesting to watch… what more can I say?  They steal your heart and won’t give it back.  If someone asked me why do you have these funny looking silkie chickens?  I would simply say because they make me happy, they make me laugh, and they warm my heart.

A few pictures of our Gabbie, including the pic of her waiting for me to return to the garage lol

The Egg Song

“BAWK BAWK BAWK BAWK BAWKAWK!!!”  Or otherwise known as “I JUST LAID AN EGG!!” I think almost everyone who keeps chickens probably has an opinion as to why they do it, and why sometimes they just don’t do it even if they have just dropped off an unborn in the box, granted our eggs are infertile, so they are never going to hatch, but do the chickens know that?  Some say it’s to alert predators away from the nest after mother hen has just popped out an egg, ok fair enough but she’s right outside the nest box… she’s still calling loudly to any predator in the area that “HEY! I’m a chicken!  Eat me for lunch!  Spare the egg!”  Some say it’s joyous as in “whew I just popped out a biggun thank the heavens that’s done!”  Or maybe it’s “I lay eggs, what’s your superpower??”

Soooo as a keeper of the chickens in my own flock, having woken up by loud BAWK BAWK BAWKING as if the world was on fire, (and they say roosters are loud!) I have my own little (probably incorrect) theory as to why my chickens are bawking and why most of the time they are quiet and you don’t even know they have done their faithful duty of egg laying unless you go check the box 100 times a day.

Freckles, aka Miss Piggy, aka Fatty Fluffy Butt, aka all-the-food-and-treats-are-mine, usually just lays her egg and goes back to chickening, dust bathing, eating (good lawd this chicken can eat) I call her the beast.  She’s a Speckled Sussex about 6 months old now, and she’s been laying since Oct 2016 (I keep a record in an app called “Flock Plenty”) she’s a big hen, probably our largest aside from Sophie but I think Sophie is mostly feather, Freckles is just built large and heavy, she’s a sweet sweet bird who allows you to pet her while she scratches for food, she’s not afraid and she will eat right out of your hand, she loves green sunflower seed sprouts.

So getting back to the world being on fire this morning my hen started going off around 9:30 (yeah yeah I already hit the snooze button at least once) and from outside our bedroom window I hear this awful BAWK but it sounds more muffled through the window so it comes through as a light honk honk honk with a loud Canadian goose HONK at the end and I jump out of bed like wtf is going on??  I turn on the chicken coop cam and it’s Freckles. Ok well no one is dying so maybe I’ll just go back to BAWK BAWK BAWK BAWK BAWKAWK bed – nope.  Not going to happen.

Maybe this is not unusual behavior for most people but Freckles just doesn’t normally go off for 10 minutes because of an egg.  She’s too interested in eating – trust me – she doesn’t care about her eggs I would be shocked if she ever “went broody.”  So I watch the chicken cam for a few minutes and eventually she stops and goes back to eating and by that time I’ve made my coffee and may as well have laid my own egg.

So I turn on what I call the “silkie heater” in the garage, to warm things up a bit, it’s probably the coldest morning we have had yet, 30 or so, and I start to thinking about why Freckles would be so loud about her egg today on the coldest day yet. I make my way out to the garage with coffee to watch my silkies (thanks to Maggie for sleeping IN the water bowl its now a nice muddy brown color) and I came up with this little theory…bear with me here this is long winded.

It’s cold outside.  We don’t have a broody hen, thankfully, we don’t need one or want one because we do not have a rooster we are not raising chicks right now, does Freckles know this?  I don’t know. In the “pecking order” I have read that in the absence of a rooster another hen will play “Guard” I do believe that job is currently held by Camilla (aka Tiny) our white Leghorn.  Also there will be a top hen (Freckles I think) and a bottom hen (Poor Penny) and one of them would be the “egg sitter” – in my previous flock that was lost to the dog attack the sitter was Miss Priss (rest in peace Prissy) and the top hen wouldn’t allow her off the nest box.  In this flock we have no sitter (thankfully because that would mean someone is being a real bully) and again, not hatching eggs here!!  So Freckles lays her egg, in the cold, and comes out and BAWKS for 10 minutes but in my mind I hear (in my best imagined opera voice) “I’VE JUST LAID AN EGGGGG, ITS COLD OUTSIDE, PLEASE IF YOU WILL, GO SIT ON MY EGGGGG!! IM NOT DOING IT BECAUSE ITS NOT MY JOB!  “IM GOING TO EAT NOW IF YOU WANT TO HATCH THAT EGGGGGG GO SIT ON MY EGGGGGG!”

But nobody sat on the egg.  In fact there was two eggs (one from Sophie one from Freckles) that were cold and so I collected them to pop in the fridge in the house.  Thanks girls.

(Or maybe she’s just saying “HEY LADY! COME GET MY EGG! I did as you asked! My job is done for today! Bring me treats as a reward!” (And of course I did))

Sophie’s egg is the slightly larger one.

Cracked Egg

Welcome to the Cracked Egg, random posts about random things but probably mostly about chickens, birds, art, and other wonderful amazing things you won’t want to miss, really, I promise….How could you stand to miss one adorable story about the fabulous lives of my chickens?  We currently have 4 (normal size) hens, and 4 (not so normal, totally fuzzy, really adorable) silkie chickens.  The silkies live separate lives from the larger hens, so its really like two micro flocks.  We love them.  They are spoiled chickens.  They all have names, below is Maggie Chewbacca Feet and Gabbie Crabbie Ass, shes a little cranky from time to time, her and the two babies that came with her are the newest additions, Maggie was lonely, and I had what I like to call “chicken guilt.”  So off to a small chicken farm we went to collect Gabbie, who came with two free babies which we have named Princess Lilly Loony Toons and Eddie Retard.  (I know I know so non-PC of me.)

So that is it for now, but there will be lots more to come as we have many adventures with crazy bird lady aka CrackedEgglet (instagram), Sveva (Renderosity), cosmosue (almost everywhere else since 1998.)  Welcome to the coop…