Going to the Henhouse to Prove Husband Wrong

February 26, 2014



Every morning, when I approach the pasture gate I can hear fifteen chickens and their male mate, Pretty Boy, cluck as they pace inside the pen. When I pull the metal gate the handle squeals and clatters. The chickens quiet and stretch their necks to peer over the short wall and look my way.

By the time I have reached the running pen the hens have clustered by the little hatch door. I get a kick out of their eagerness to wander the pasture for GRUB. What a life. And it is a good life for domestic fowl. Unlike chicken farms where layers are confined to a tiny wire cage or overcrowded “grower houses,” my chickens free range from sunup to sundown.



As it happens every winter, the older hens went through the normal molting period. This is when they lose their feathers, grow new ones, and stop producing. (The young hens will experience their first molting next winter.) I should explain that hens need 14 hours of daylight to lay eggs. When the days become warmer and longer, they start lying again.

I have one young, white Leghorn, a breed that produces 280 – 320 eggs per year. While daylight was still short, the Leghorn started producing for the first time. All winter, I gathered one or two eggs per week. When my husband, Joe, saw how few eggs I had gathered, he complained the chickens were useless. I knew better. I also knew better when Joe said the Leghorn would never be a good layer because she has a limp. I had faith in the little gal. One flaw doesn’t mean two flaws. Now that the days are longer, my young Leghorn is producing nearly every day.




I waited through the molting phase, short wintry days, for the old hens to start producing and the young hens to begin their first egg lying season. I waited to prove Joe wrong. I was like a fox in the shadows, watching and anticipating the right moment. When the hens started lying, I waved the basket filled with eggs in front of my husband and told him to never criticize my hens again. “Everyone needs a vacation,” I said. “And the young hens hadn’t earned theirs yet. But they are now. SEE!”

Lately, after I have let the hens out of the running pen and opened the coop door at least one hen is eager to settle into a nesting box, usually a first-year layer. They are doing a good job. For six weeks now, I have gathered seven to eight eggs a day. One day, Joe gathered nine! Another day, I gathered eleven! The hens will be more consistent as the weather gets warmer and the sun shines down on my flock.

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  1. 🙂


  2. As always, I just love your stories. Sue


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