Since we’ve started our little farm, I sometimes find myself doing things I never expected I would; like gently herding little birds into their cage (with a broom no less!), or following a chicken around the yard to see if she was going to lay an egg. One of our golden comets had been exhibiting all the signs of being ready to lay, and I was convinced it was time, even though it seemed a tad early and unlikely.
Most pullets don’t start laying until 18-20 or more weeks old. Our girls just turned 16 weeks on Wednesday. This was Tuesday that this happened; but I had read that golden comets were one of the earliest and most prolific layers, and you could see first eggs as early as 16 weeks. This girl, who I now call “Mama”, is clearly an overachiever.
I read to watch for the comb and wattle to turn bright red, and for the chicken to squat down in front of you when approached. I’ve also heard they can make some noise before or after they lay. I was out checking on the guinea keets Tuesday morning when I heard some cackling in the pole barn. I found a chicken behind my potting bench just chattering away. She moved from there to behind the garage in a junk pile, all the while seemingly muttering to herself. (We bought our home “as is” – agreeing to clean out the previous owner’s mess, but it goes on and on…so we’re still working on that!). She also squatted down whenever I headed towards her, as she had been doing for several days.
The rest of the flock was nowhere around which also seemed unusual, because they usually stick together, at least a few, for the most part. Now I found myself telling her that I did not want her to lay her egg in that junk pile! She soon gave up on that, went back to the garage, barn and once to the flower garden. I picked her up and brought her in the coop to show her the nesting boxes we had put in over the weekend. She didn’t stay.
When she went back behind the garage, I gave up. Our cat Samantha had her annual checkup in the afternoon and I had things to get done before taking her. I keep my laptop on the dining room table now so I can keep watch out the window for anything that might go after the free ranging chickens. I kept one eye out for that girl as well (she had gone strangely quiet when I last left her too).
After a while, I saw her between the garage and barn, still being quiet. She wasn’t making any noise like I had read she might after laying so I wasn’t sure if she had or not. I went back behind the garage though, and sure enough, there it was – our first egg!! I quickly took some photos so I could send them to the Dadz at work, and found “Mama” (no need to tell her she probably won’t ever really be a mama!) and praised her. I also lightly scolded her for not using the nice boxes we had given her!
When we left for work Wednesday morning, the chickens stayed in their coop. They don’t free range when we’re working or gone from the house for long, so that is the norm. We wondered if she would produce her next egg in one of the boxes, and sure enough she did! Egg #2 was a bit smaller than the first one, but it is normal for their first eggs to be small. They don’t necessarily lay daily either, so it will be interesting to see what we get over the next few days, and if anyone else decides to join in the fun yet!
I’ve read some tips to get them to use the nesting boxes, and that now that one of them has used it, that will encourage the others to do so as well. But I’ve also been told by a reader that it’s not unusual for free range chickens to lay their eggs elsewhere, so we’ll still be keeping a close eye on things.
No one could wait to try our first eggs, so I got out a recipe I’d been wanting to try: Tomato, Kale, & Parmesan Baked Eggs. Not only could we add our own first two eggs to the fresh we had from another farm, but I was able to use kale and thyme from our own garden. By the end of summer, we should have almost all of our own fresh ingredients. Luke thought he should be in on this too, but he and Cricket only got to lick the plates. This recipe contains all dog safe ingredients, so next time I’ll make a little extra for them. 🙂
Some say the joy of waiting for the first eggs never gets old, so it’s probably a good thing we don’t have neighbors within sight that can watch the crazy lady following her chickens around the yard!
Do you have any favorite egg recipes? Please share in the comments below if so!
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