Night moves.

According to the laws of aerodynamics, a bumblebee can’t fly. Its wingspan and the beats per second of its flight are insufficient to propel its size and mass. But the bumblebee doesn’t know that, so it flies anyway. So goes 20th-century folklore.

Chickens don’t lay in the dark. They only lay during daylight hours, which is why they produce so many more eggs in the spring and summer than they do in the winter. Want more eggs in the winter? Give your hens artificial light.

Haley and Abby laid late yesterday afternoon, so I assumed they’d skip today, and lay again early tomorrow morning.

I’ve already experienced a few adventures in egg laying at dusk (I’m looking at you, Trixie), but I wasn’t expecting to see Abby in one of the coop nesting boxes when I went in to put Tallulah up on the roost. It was almost dark, and I wanted to pull the outer coop door shut. It’s one thing to leave this screen door open on a balmy spring/summer night, quite another when lows are forecast to be below freezing. See the girl’s screen door below, before the occupation.

I looked over at Abby and thought, “Girl, you need to abandon ship and get up on the roost while there’s light to do it, or, you need to lay FAST.” She’s a smart girl, I thought. She’ll work it out. She the most sensible, reliable, undramatic of hens.

I returned just twenty minutes later, after darkness had fallen, to check on her progress. I was hoping to open the outside nesting box lid to find an Abby egg. That way I would know that she had made it up on to the roost, and without a unlaid egg to make her uncomfortable all night. What I found was…Abby.

Oh, dear.

Now, I could put her up on the roost, no biggie. But if she hadn’t laid yet, she was going to have a rough night. I crossed my fingers and reached under her…phew. An egg. A beautiful, large, oblong Abby egg, curiously speckled, for her. Perhaps she had rushed the job?

I told her to hold tight, and closed the lid. Poor Abby. It was pitch dark in there, and she’d been caught off the roost. Every instinct she has was telling her to sleep high up, not on the ground. Fear not, Abby; Mommy fix.

I went around to the coop entrance, set my iPhone on an upright log in the coop with a light app on (true, I swear), and gently lifted Abby from the sunken nesting box, placing her on an empty space on a roost. I retrieved her egg and left the coop.

I was ready to close the door behind me when something caught my eye. Haley, also the most sensible, reliable, undramatic of hens, had her head poked down through the two roosts, so about 4 inches of her neck was visible from below the roost bars.

Haley? What on earth?

It was dark in there, but I trained by light of my iPhone toward where she was looking to find, undamaged, resting on the pop pit chicken wire…an Haley egg.

So, long story short…chickens don’t lay in the dark. Except when they do.


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