Something to Squawk About

It’s hard to believe that it’s been eleven weeks and three days since we brought home our original flock of 4 hens and five weeks already that Beverly Clucky has been with us!  Eggwatch 2013 has been on high alert lately as Jane, the eldest of our hens, is now 23 weeks old.  All my sources indicate that New Hampshire red hens generally start laying eggs between 5 and 6 months of age so we knew it would be any day now!

Jane pauses from a busy morning of bug catching and weed eating to consider the camera.

Jane pauses from a busy morning of bug catching and weed eating to consider the camera.

I’m not exactly “up with the chickens” in the mornings.  I love my cozy bed and prefer to snuggle down in it as long as possible.  However, I decided this past weekend that I wanted to start getting up earlier to have time to read in the morning before I hit the ground running.  Yesterday morning, I headed out the back door to read and journal before the workday began.  Keith had gone out a few minutes before me and let the chickens out of the coop to free-range in the backyard.  Booger the cat and I curled up on the bench on the back deck and every few minutes I’d glance up from my book to make sure all my girls were ok.

Everyone is friends now...even at snacktime.

Everyone is friends now…even at snacktime.

[side note: for those of you keeping up with the Beverly Clucky vs. the “older girls” saga, I’m happy to report that the “temporary sequester” pen is gone and they are officially one big happy family.  We are SUPER thankful for this new development.  Also, we’ve been letting them roam the backyard during short periods in the day when we can be out there with them.  Booger the cat likes to follow the rest of the family outside and instead of attacking the chickens, seems to understand that it’s his job to protect his “feathered ladies” from any squirrels, vicious mockingbirds, stray cats or other potential ne’re do wells of the 12 South neighborhood.  The chickens, in return for his protective services, chase him around the yard at any given opportunity.  They need to work on their manners.]

Booger the cat: protector of chickens.

Booger the cat: protector of chickens.

Somewhere around 7:45 AM I looked up in time to see Jane make a beeline for the coop and clamber up the stairs into the hen-house.  She was gone for about 5 minutes and then came back down the ladder, got a drink and some feed, squawked loudly at me across the yard and headed back up to the hen-house.  On her third round of this I started to wonder if what we’ve all been waiting for was happening, and went and peeked through the “egg door” to see if she’d laid an egg.  Both nest boxes were empty so I returned to my reading.  After two more rounds of  henhouse-drink-food-squawk-repeat she wordlessly rejoined the other three who were rooting out small beetles under a bush. By this point I needed to get in the shower and was packing up my things to head inside, but I thought I’d go check again JUST in case.  And that’s when I saw it:

The cutest little egg I’ve ever seen.

The egg that started it all.

The egg that started it all.

I’d read that newly laying hens lay “pullet eggs” which are basically just a slightly smaller egg, and our girl Jane is no exception  (A “pullet” is any hen up to a year old…there’s your vocabulary word for the day.)  Depending on the breed, a hen might lay these smaller sized eggs for months right up to her first birthday, or the egg size might increase rapidly until it reaches the size that we’re more used to seeing in the grocery store (although the “jumbo” eggs aren’t really natural in any breed and come from birds who have been bred specifically to produce gigantic eggs.)  While some folks complain about pullet eggs being smaller, they taste just as yummy, if not better, than any other farm fresh egg…some gourmet pastry chefs even prefer pullet eggs to their larger counterparts claiming they have a richer flavor.

Jane's egg is on the bottom left-hand corner...smaller than the other three eggs purchased at the grocery store.

Jane’s egg is on the bottom left-hand corner…smaller than the other three eggs purchased at the grocery store.

New Hampshire Reds like Jane lay an average of 200-280 eggs a year and immature hens sometimes will go two or three days in-between laying so I’m not sure when we’ll get another egg from Jane {as of publication time this morning…there were no eggs in the nesting box}, but we’re pretty darn excited that the process has at least begun!  Sylvia, Louisa and Beverly Clucky are approximately 21, 18 and 12 weeks old respectively, so it will probably be another month at least before any of the others catch on, and of course I’ll keep you posted as those blessed events occur.  I’m still in awe of the fact that we got our first egg!  And that Keith and I were there when it happened!  It’s all just too eggcellent.

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About bethanybordeaux

I fiddle around a bit.

2 responses to “Something to Squawk About”

  1. Anonymous says :

    Momma Daniel says: Congratulations to Jane on her new status as – well, I was going to say Mother Hen, but I guess since she had an egg and not a chick, that isn’t quite right. Anyway, I’m excited for all of you that you are now official egg farmers. Let me add that you have some of the most photogenic pets around. I can’t believe that a chicken would pose for the camera quite like Jane did! (She looks so proud!)

    • bethanybordeaux says :

      Haha. Yes. I guess Jane has just officially become an adult so there’s celebration for that. We’re ever so proud of her. And yes! Our pets do seem to like the camera! Such funny little beasts they all are. Booger mugs it up whenever possible. He’s so vain 🙂

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