If you haven’t noticed, those tiny little nuggets that were living in my spare bedroom just a few months ago are now full grown chickens.
I expected they would start laying eggs around late July or early August. Not because I know anything about chickens, but because I read a lot of chicken message boards when I can’t sleep. Which, uh, maybe I shouldn’t be admitting to the entire internet.
Anyway, back when I built the coop I was trying desperately to just get the chickens out of the house, so I held off on some of the fancier features like, oh, nesting boxes.
Just in the last couple of days I started to get nervous about the lack of nesting spots in the coop. The Nugs spend a lot of time out under the pine trees, and it occurred to me that they could just be laying eggs out there willy-nilly without me ever knowing. On a whim I checked under all the trees and bushes where the flock hangs out… I didn’t find any eggs, but thought I should get my ass in gear on the nesting boxes so that when the time came they wouldn’t start laying eggs all over the yard.
So I started this project at about 10 AM Sunday morning.
First up was a cheap and easy prop for the lid on the nesting boxes.
I just took a piece of scrap wood and drilled an extra large pilot hole in it…
Then fastened it in snugly (but not too tight) with a deck screw…
Simple. It leaves both hands free for cleaning this part of the coop, or collecting eggs, and then folds right back down so the lid will close.
The dividers took a little longer, partly because of that time I “lost” my pen and later realized after an intense search of the surrounding area that I’d shoved it down my shirt for safekeeping (facebook followers know what I’m talking about).
Basically I cut a few nailers for the floor and side.
They’re really just privacy dividers, not structural, so a couple of nails each did it.
The actual sides of the boxes were cut from scrap luan, which is about 1/8″ thick.
And just like that, ready for eggs.
I used straw in the boxes and regular pine shavings for the rest of the coop.
This took about two hours, and as I was walking between the coop and shop, one of the Nugs was acting strangely. She kept following me around, and even ran in the back door of the house and took off for a closet before I managed to shoo her out. I actually started to get a little nervous about how long it was taking me to get the thing finished, and then realized I was being ridiculous. I mean, it’s not like she was going to lay an egg right this minute.
Even so, when the boxes were done I picked her up and put her in the coop to let her check it out. I also immediately headed in to town for a pack of golf balls.
Did you just blink ten times? Yeah.
Well, make fun of me for reading the chicken message boards if you will, but one thing I learned from them was that you should put fake eggs (or golf balls, in a pinch) in the nesting boxes so the chickens know where to lay.
Who am I to argue with the chicken message boards?
So, one quick stop in town for fake eggs then I head immediately from the car to the coop to put the golf balls in the nests, and I find this…
Are you effing kidding me?
You guys, I was so amazed I was speechless.
I mean… really? Either I literally timed finishing the coop to the exact cycle of the first egg down to the hour, or there are some eggs hidden on this property that I haven’t found yet. I did a pretty thorough search of all the places I’ve ever seen a Nugget and came up with nothing more than a new appreciation for the term “easter egg hunt.”
So. That was pretty incredible.
Once I got over the shock I did a little comparison against the store-bought free-range eggs in my fridge.
The egg from my Nug is on the left. It’s a little smaller, but check this out…
Now that is a yolk.
I feed the girls an antibiotic free, all vegetarian pellet that contains flax seeds so that the eggs contain a healthy dose of Omega-3, but I hear that kind of yolk color comes from letting them free-range and eat all the greens they want. Plus they always get my cucumber skins, salad leftovers, and (their favorite) the pulp left over when I juice (a combination of kale, spinach, green apples, celery, and ginger).
And I’ll admit, even though I eat eggs all the time, thinking about eating something that just came out of the body of one of the chickens I personally know gave me a moments pause.
And then I had eggs for dinner.