Fall came, and the eggs we gathered each day gradually declined in number. When you raise your chickens naturally, this is a yearly occurrence. We deal with it.
Then the chickens molt, and look like they've been dragged through a knothole backwards for several weeks. Some molted lightly. Some seemed to lose all but a little fluff here and there. But eventually feathers began to return, and the hens once again started to look sleek and healthy. Molting chickens never look healthy, even when they are!
And gradually the daily egg count began to rise.
It always kind of surprises me that this happens right after the Winter Solstice. Like, within a day or two!
Conventional farming lore tells us that hens need 14 hours of light per day to lay well. That means hens in some locations would never lay well! And that it would take until May for them to start to do so in our location! We haven't even reached the Spring Equinox yet, so we are still at about 11 hours of daylight per day.
The majority of our hens do not care! About 3/4 of our hens are laying now, with a good number laying daily, and the rest about every other day. We are up to a high of 15 eggs a day, and not less than 9 eggs a day. The new high of 15 was reached yesterday. Every few days they hit a new high, and the low increases as well.
There is something about that, every spring, that never ceases to please me. We scold the hens when they slack, we praise them when they produce a lot. I mean, you just DO that. Even though I'm NOT really much of an animal person, and as a rule, I'm not sentimental about animals. But I find myself doing it anyway.
We go so fast from using every single egg that is produced, to wondering what to do with them all, that I am always caught off guard by that as well. This year, we are canning pickled eggs. But I have to find some more ways to preserve them also, because even though I LOVE pickled eggs, I really can only eat so many of them! 200 quarts of pickled eggs (one dozen per jar) is going to be a bit much!
The quail (outside this year) just popped out their first egg of the season yesterday also. We are still waiting on the pigeons, doves, and guinea fowl.
Our rabbits finally have babies again, after a long dry spell due to some contaminated feed which caused breeding problems.
The weather is its usual fickle self here in the Rockies, snowing one day, sunny and warm the next, but the animals tell us unmistakably that spring is coming.
And around the corners of the field we are spotting dandelions coming up, and a few other bits of green here and there. Almost, but not quite, enough to start foraging for the animals.
In the mean time, I'm off to work on figuring out more ways to make the bounty of eggs last all year.