We are getting anywhere from two to four times as many eggs as we did this time last year.
While our flock is constantly changing due to hatching, culling, and thievery (I’m looking’ at you, hawks and foxes), our numbers remain relatively consistent. The gang is always somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 birds, give or take.
So, in the heart of winter, when days are short and the sky is stingy with light, we know that the ladies aren’t going to be particularly productive. Last January, we would be happy to get five eggs in a day; more often than not, the take was much fewer.
This year is dramatically different. Having hatched a number of new birds over the summer, a good many of them are just now starting to lay.
Now, not many things are cuter than finding a hen’s first-effort egg.
As intuitive as egg-laying may seem like it should be, it is not necessarily so for everyone. Some of the girls have trouble figuring it out and, as a result, first-effort eggs may occasionally be malformed, have no shell, or sport some other imperfection.
In the case of the Perfectly Normal Neophyte Layer, little itty bitty eggs are how they tend to start.
And, boy oh boy, are they cute!
As luck would have it, our gaggle of greenhorns has decided to defy the limited light of winter and go ahead and lay a bunch of eggs anyway.
Which totally rocks.
As disorganized as we are (in general) as farmers, we have made it a point to track all of the eggs we collect on the farm. We’ve done this since we started keeping birds back in July of 2012.
With the exception of eggs laid out in the woods or in other hidden venues, we have kept notes on how many eggs were laid daily, monthly, and yearly.
By so doing year after year, we start to get a picture of what went before and, therefore, what to expect with each coming month.
Except that we don’t. Because there is seemingly no end to the variables at play.
What we DO know is that in October of 2013, the birds gave us 105 eggs. The previous October, we collected 220, and this past October we got 289.
The numbers are similarly all over the place month after month, leaving us feeling certain that keeping track of egg-laying is about as useful as keeping track of what foods my ten-year old loves or hates from moment to moment.