Home Birth for Laying Hens

I checked for eggs several times yesterday because on Sunday we only got one egg but we have two chickens laying.  Most chickens are on a 26-hour cycle, so they lay an hour later each day.  I figured that if I didn’t get that second egg before we retired on Sunday it would be there Monday morning.  Yes, it was.  But that meant that there should be two more over the course of the day, so every time I passed the coop (on my way to the deep freeze or compost bin) I flipped the lid up on the laying boxes.

Stewie prefers the box on the left and has gone broody over a white plastic Easter egg (dimpled like a golf ball) that we got from Matt’s mom last year.  She is determined to hatch it and has to be forced off of it when I want to check for real eggs.  In the right box is a smaller orange Easter egg we got at an espresso stand (on Easter, oddly enough).  Nobody sits on it.  Until yesterday, I didn’t know if they didn’t like the box or they didn’t like the egg, or both.
At some point during the day I heard cackling and ran out to see if someone had just laid me an egg.  I flipped the lid up and saw that Stewie and little Cordon Bleu were both crammed into the left box.  I managed to dislodge them, but it wasn’t easy and I had to actually lever Stewie out with a stick.  I stole the one real egg they had been sitting on and then decided to see if Stewie’s preference was really for the left hand box or for the dimpled egg.  I put the stick across the entrance to the boxes so that the hens couldn’t get back in and switched the eggs so that the dimpled one was in the right hand box and the orange one was in the left hand box.  Stewie just ruffled her feathers and growled in my general direction while she glared at her own feet.  Cordon Bleu watched my every move, bobbing her head manically like a pigeon on crack.  When I removed the stick they both rushed forward – Stewie to the left hand box (That answers that!) and Cordon Bleu to the right hand box and the dimpled egg (Aha, another preference!). 
Then came the funny part.  I watched an egg being laid – and it was not at all like I expected.
Cordon Bleu pranced in place like she was doing the pee pee dance, all the while staring up at me in terror, willing me to leave her alone now that her hour was upon her.  When I didn’t budge she went for it anyway.  No cackling, no squatting, no straining – she just stopped in mid dance, bugged out her eyes, and let it drop (thunk!) onto the bare floor of the unused next box.  Without a trace of sentimentality, she then fled the coop to hide near her sister, Lemon Pepper, out in their enclosed yard.
I could swear that in the next box over old Stewie shook her head in disapproval.
– Amanda
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