Sneaky Nest!

Last Thursday morning, when I opened up the coop in the morning and released the flock, I noticed a little hen beelining it for the North end of our property. I wondered what she was up to, and sauntered up to the little circle of pine trees that I thought had been her destination, but she was nowhere to be found. The next morning, I saw her do the same thing. I figured she had a nest somewhere, and was anxious to get back to it after all night in the coop. This is one of the facts of life when you free-range your chickens – they may opt not to use the nest boxes that you provide in the coop. While most of ours do lay in the coop (thankfully), I’m diligent about keeping track of how many eggs are laid on a daily basis (I keep a spreadsheet with daily counts. Yes, I am an AgNerd), and I watch the chickens behavior throughout the day, so I usually have a good idea if something is off.

Yesterday, I decided to give chase as soon as she left the pen, so I hauled my asthmatic arse up the hill, keeping her in my sights. She ran into the field bordering our property line, and I discovered her under one of our Spruce trees, in a cozy Pine needle nest. She was not feeling like giving the Paparazzi any real photo opportunities, but I did manage to snap a photo of her before she quickly laid her egg and then ran off.

There were obviously more hens than just her that had been laying in the nest, as indicated by the color variations in the shells, as well as the differing sizes of the eggs. I found their sneaky nest!

The little hen ran away as quickly as she had ran to the nest, so it was hard to get the camera focused in time enough to capture her escape, but I did manage to snap a shot as she ran underneath our son’s playscape, back toward the coop.

I’m not surprised that several different hens are laying in the nest, because that happens in the coop, too. I’ll notice that a particular nest box will become the favorite of the day, and a dozen (or sometimes more) girls will choose that particular cubicle to deposit their cackleberry.

I found a total of nine eggs yesterday. I brought them inside and did a Float Test and candled them, found them to be fresh and added them to our personal stash of eggs. I think the sneaky nest only started sometime last week, based on my observations. At least some of the girls are still using it, however, because while out walking the goats this morning, I checked in on the nest, and found two lovely eggs, freshly laid this morning. I’ll be checking it a couple of times a day from here on out.

What’s the Float Test, you ask? Well, you can test the freshness of an egg by placing it into a glass or bowl with water. Watch what the egg does:

  • Sink­ing to the bot­tom means that egg is really fresh!
  • Eggs that are about a week old will sink, but bob slightly.
  • Eggs that are about three weeks old will sort of stand up on end. These are great hard-boilers!
  • Eggs that float should be dis­posed of and not eaten.

You can read more fun facts about eggs in our FAQ section.

I hope you enjoy my blog and the antics of our farm. Please consider becoming our fan on Facebook, and if you use Twitter, by all means, please add us there!

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