Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Guest Post by Michelle Mather
A few weeks ago Cam and I shot a video of our chickens, showing their coop surrounded by bales of hay for insulation. The chickens used the bales like a "chicken jungle gym" and loved to jump from bale to bale. If you missed that heartbreaking work of staggering genius, you can find it here.
In the video Cam explained that we had been told to expect egg production to drop over the cold, dark months of winter, but that our chickens had continued to regularly lay one egg a day each. Of course, our chickens are young (we only acquired them as 20-week old birds last May) and so that might account for their continued exceptional egg production.
A few days after we taped that video I went out to collect the eggs at my usual time and there was only one egg in the nesting box. I thought it was strange, but just figured that they were running a little later than usual that morning. I went out and checked a few more times that day but never found another egg. I was surprised and joked to Cam that the chickens hadn't liked us "bragging" about them and had decided to withhold their eggs to protest.
The next day the same thing happened. I went out at my usual time and there was only one egg in the nesting box. I went out a few more times and I was in the pen as Cam walked by and I said "Gee... only one egg again today." We both thought it was strange and then Cam said "They wouldn't be hiding them somewhere, would they?" I began to look around the pen and sure enough, tucked in amongst the bales of hay were 6 eggs! They had managed to snuggle in and make a "nest" and had decided that it was preferable to their nesting boxes inside their coop!
Over the next few days we noticed that as soon as we let them out of the coop, they would all run over to their "new" nest and fight for the privilege of laying the first egg of the day. Usually we would still find one egg in the nesting box. I guess one of them didn't want to get into "trouble" for being disobedient!
As the days have grown warmer (last week was much warmer than normal for this time of year!) Cam has been removing the bales of hay and so the ladies have lost their outdoor nest. I am happy to report that I have added extra straw to their inside nesting boxes and they are all back to using them.
Here's a video that Cam shot showing their "new nest."