Is there anything harder than waiting for that first egg?
It can be excruciating, especially the FIRST first egg. Pullets can lay their first eggs anywhere from 15 weeks of age to 26 weeks, or even longer, depending on the breed, the environment (cold and darkness are deterrents to laying), and the individual.
Our FIRST first egg was laid in the run, and I wasn’t looking for it when I found it. The first few eggs can be challenging to find, not because the pullet intends to hide them, but because she doesn’t have full control of her laying yet, much like a toddler during potty training. It can be pretty funny watching a beginner layer make an hysterical dash for the nesting boxes; one can almost see the thought bubble above their heads that says: “I gotta goooooooo!!!!!”
Our FIRST first egg was laid by Alexia, which gobsmacked me. Light Brahmas are famous for their long, slow maturation. I was expecting one of our Production Reds to be first, and then little Alexia popped one out. Her eggs may be our smallest to this day (barring Trixie’s farts), but she will always be the first.
I’m much more relaxed about our SECOND first egg this year; it’s easier to wait when one is reaping gorgeous eggs every day. I feel quite the jaded old hat with all my months of experience. Still, it’s fun to watch 2.0 tiptoe into womanhood, little knowing what lies ahead.
Or do they?
The FIRST first layer of 1.0 had no model whatsoever, and she freaked. Poor Alexia! A day or two before she laid her first egg she paced and panted and cried and jumped on my lap for comfort, a decidedly un-Alexia thing to do. There was nothing I could do to help her.
The other nine girls of 1.0 had Alexia’s example to follow, and 2.0 has 1.0. It can’t be a coincidence that 2.0 is taking a keen interest in all things nesty, just as they approach point of lay (or “POL” as we chickeneers call it).
Until Sunday, I would enter the barn during the day and find 2.0 all sitting on the barn floor around The Annex, as Pip laid. After she left, they’d enter the nest, one by one, to inspect what she had left behind. The thought bubbles, again, write themselves:
“What is that?”
“No idea, dude.”
“I saw it come out her butt.”
“Shut. UP. That’s disgusting.”
‘Do you think that might happen to us?”
“I’m not doing that. No way.”
Sometimes, when I enter the barn, I’ll hear Alexia protesting in The Baby Box, a sound not unlike the screech of a hawk, because one of the Silver Laced Wyandottes is perched on the lip of the box, observing her laying process from eight inches above her. How rude!
Today, however, was the final straw.
Nest trends come and go at Heedley’s Hens, as you know. We are in a Hideaway phase, currently, where everyone who’s anyone lays in The Hideaway. Out of (now) nine laying hens, six lay there. This causes several screaming matches a day, and the arguments are to be expected. Today’s logjam, however, was completely unexpected.
Loud complaining brought me into the barn to find Buffy, perched on the tractor’s basket screaming in the direction of The Hideaway. I turned to find not Haley, as per usual, not Coraline, not even Trixie, but the three bad girls of 2.0, Scarlet, Jezebel and Dalila, all jammed in The Hideaway, checking it out.
Off with you, harlots! Let the Buffster lay her egg in peace! Poor Buffy.
That said, this is all a very good sign that 2.0 is thinking about thinking about laying. They’re sixteen weeks old now, almost as big as the 1.0 girls, and their wattles and combs are getting bigger and redder. They’re nowhere near squatting for me just yet, but the day is coming when they will become my willing slaves. Heh, heh, heh.
And, although no egg will ever be as exciting as the First first egg (except possibly, the FIRST first green egg), I know the SECOND first egg will be cause for great rejoicing.