As you know, the Easter Egger girls began laying two weeks ago. They began with a bang – three eggs in one day – and we were off to a great start. Er, sort of. Since then, we have been getting almost one egg every day. That is, every few days, we have no egg.
Well, I thought something had to be wrong. They are new to this, so there will certainly be days with no eggs, but with three girls laying, there should be some days with two eggs. I asked about this on the Backyard Chickens forum, and people asked me if they freeranged. They suggested that the girls might be creating their own nest to lay in and that we might search for it.
So, we searched. We searched the brush and under bushes. We walked through gardens, looking under maiden hair grass and behind fallen logs. We searched the mountainside. No eggs. Still feeling that they were laying elsewhere, I refilled the fluff in the nest boxes – where Olive does lay an egg nearly every day – and put more wooden eggs in place to encourage them to lay there. Basically, they will think that a place with eggs already present must be a good place to lay some more. Luckily, Olive is a good girl. More about her another day.
This morning, I heard Penelope singing the egg song (more about that later, too) as I walked up to the coop later this morning, being Sunday, than I would on a weekday. Well, when I let them out, she made a beeline for the far end of the coop, flew over the 7′ fence, and ran down the hill towards the house. (They love being around the house. I think it feels safer there.)
Anyhow, I put two and two together and followed her. When I saw where she was headed, I was shocked.
Please do forgive us for the mess. We take our own trash to the dump, and there is a reason it looks like this at the moment, but there is no reason to go into it here. Back to the story….
And so – I had found it! Penelope had seven eggs hidden behind the bush amongst trash. I wanted to encourage her to lay in the nest box, so I pulled her out, carried her back up the hollow and into the coop, and set her in the nest box beside Olive’s warm egg laid this morning. I petted her and told her she was a good girl, but the minute I left, she was out of the coop, out of the run, and back down to the trash pile. We really have to get a lid on that run.
I took her stash of eggs inside. Many were muddy and stained from sitting on wet leaves, so I washed them with hot water. Washing eggs removes the “bloom,” which is a protective coating that helps to prevent bacteria from entering the egg. Cold water actually pushes bacteria into the egg, so if you are going to wash, you need to use water hotter than the egg itself, the hotter the better. Even though these eggs have been sitting outside for up to a week, they are most likely fine because, while they may be fertilized, Penelope has no interest in sitting on these eggs, so they have not been incubated and the weather has not been hot enough for this to begin. Still, I will use these eggs first and crack each into a little bowl to make sure they are okay before adding them to my food.
And – look! – nearly a full dozen at the moment!
Now to figure out how to keep those birds in their run…