April 28, 2010

The egg assembly line

bantam hens, La Ceiba, HondurasAren't they cute little hard workers?

I rule my flock with an iron fist. "Produce! Or else!" is my motto. Or else what? You don't want to find out.

Pffft. Yeah, right. Don't let the photo fool you. Al contrario! My chickens have me so well trained that I cook for them. El Jefe swears that his family had better not find out about that!

We've had our egg supply ups and downs for the past couple of months. I have six hens of egg-laying age (and five more who soon will be). A good month went by with nary an egg to be found. Then we had a new load of wood shavings spread around for mulch, including the empty built-in jardinera in the photo above. The hens loved it. More comfortable digs is what they were waiting for. Eggs started appearing the day after the mulch did.

SIX eggs a day! At last, I thought, my visions of generously gifting farm-fresh, organic eggs to friends and neighbors was about to come to fruition.

But no, the egg bounty was short-lived. Three or four days later, the count went to three eggs a day, then one, then none.

Then three of the hens decided to go broody at the same time, even though they had no eggs to sit on. I bothered them enough that they gave up after a few days, but it still takes them awhile to recuperate and start laying again.

eggs, La Ceiba, HondurasI didn't want to bother them too much because I want them to use this jardinera and feel safe there. It is protected from the rain and dogs and very convenient to collect the eggs from.

About 10 days had gone by with no eggs when we left for Utila. While searching for treasure on the beach, I discovered an egg shaped piece of coral. When we came back, I put it in the nesting box and Wallah! We started getting three eggs a day again.

Check it out for a closer look. The size and shape is perfect! Of course, one of these same hens was sitting on two flat, grey rocks a couple of months ago.

real and fake coral egg, La Ceiba, Honduras
Now three more of the hens have decided to go broody again and they are fighting over who gets to sit on the rock.

I've been trying unsuccessfully to catch Pancho the rooster to get a photo of his foot − but that says something in itself, doesn't it? He is doing great, not even limping anymore.

Sorry....I have to go now. I think my chickens are calling for their afternoon snack and I don't want to be late.
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