End of the Dry Spell?

Feb 6, 2015 | 2 comments

Empty Nest Boxes

The thing about backyard chickens is that morning and evening, fair weather and foul, they need letting out and locking up. There are bears, raccoons, possums and who-knows-what-all lurking in the dark of night just waiting for an opening. I tell myself that the twice daily Chicken Duty is not unlike having a dog to walk and there’s an added benefit: eggs!

It’s a pep talk that I’ve used a lot but have found hard to buy into lately. That’s because our four girls have been on some sort of winter hiatus. The nest boxes have remained empty since October! I know I shouldn’t take it personally, but I did notice that it was on my watch (while Nyel was confined to quarters after his surgery) that everyone stopped laying.

It’s the first time in our six-year chicken farming experience that we’ve had such a long, dry spell. And it’s not that these four girls have grown too old to lay. These are all in their prime – or should be. They are not yet three years old. Two Americaunas and two Wyandottes – both breeds known to be good layers. I definitely think they’ve been on strike.

To make matters worse, all the other backyard chicken farmers we know are reporting fine egg production this winter – not a break in the numbers, you might say. So what’s with our ladies, anyway? Declining day length is the number one reason for a drop in egg production say the experts. So why just our ladies, not the neighbors? And why all of our girls? And why this year but not last year or the year before? It’s really hard for me to believe it’s the light level.

At last!

We’ve checked out all the other possibilities besides our shorter day length – their diet, fine; gone broody, no; molting, no; illness, no. Number one reason on my list is still Stubbornly Missing Farmer Nyel. And yesterday morning to prove me correct, Nyel found an egg in the north nest box! On the other hand, he’s been back on Chicken Duty for almost two months. But, maybe chickens take more convincing that other folks.

Perhaps it’s the end of the dry spell. Egg-wise, that is. There’s no perhaps about our weather. It’s raining in torrents out there. And it’s darker than it’s been in weeks. It will be a true test… will there be another egg this morning? The only certainty in the situation is that I’m glad Farmer Nyel is back in charge.





  1. Nancy Russell stone

    Our “suppliers”…Sarah’s hens, have resumed production! A dozen for us and a dozen for one of her clients plus eggs for herself and Leonaard. Although we have access to cage free, locally “laid” eggs, there is something special about knowing the chickens who produce for our pleasure. A reminder, though, fresh eggs, when hard boiled are impossible to peel.

    • sydney

      We keep one egg carton in our fridge especially for the eggs destined to be hard boiled. Three weeks seems to be the optimum amount of time. There are lots of other “tried and true” methods (salt in the water, etc.) but we’ve found that time-to-age-a-bit is the best way. It helps to remember that Mother Earth News did a study that said fresh eggs, unwashed, can be safely kept in the refridgerator up to six seven months…


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