We spent Christmas week in Texas, and got back on Sunday night. Our chicken sitter had a pretty easy time, since all she had to do was check their food and water every few days. We decided we could just leave the door between the coop and the run open while we were gone, and our chickens would put themselves to bed. Our chicken run and coop are so well fortified against animals and the elements, that they were quite safe.
On Monday morning, the coop needed to be cleaned out, so I set about washing the removable floor and changing the shavings. The hens free ranged for a while, and then I shut them in their run with the coop door closed while things aired out. I was up inside the house for a little bit when I heard some very loud clucking. I went down to see if there was something scaring the chickens, but they were all fine. I went back in, and, moments later, there was very loud clucking again.
After some sustained loud clucks over at least an hour, I decided to test my hypothesis that they were mad about not being allowed in their coop. So, I finished adding new shavings, closed the roof and opened the door between the coop and the run. Immediately, Peggy ran inside the coop and into the nesting box.
Ah ha! I thought. Peggy wants to lay an egg. I watched her mess with the shavings a bit and change positions a few times, trying to get comfortable, and then I decided to give her some privacy. About 20 minutes later, I came back and Peggy had laid her first lovely egg.
I had hoped that Peggy and Tina might start laying soon since they are 24 or 25 weeks old right now. Lisa laid much sooner than that, but I've heard the short winter days can keep hens from laying. I'm happy that Peggy decided to start egg production despite the lack of daylight. Perhaps Tina will follow her lead.