by Elizabeth Jardina, Sunset researcher

Excuse me, ladies.

The nesting boxes are hopping. When I went to check for eggs on Friday, I accidentally found Carmelita (on the left) and Ruby doing their business. I snapped a photo, checked for eggs, and let them back to their privacy.

(When I lifted Ruby up, I found a one of Alana's blue eggs and her brown one. Carmelita laid a little later.)

As our weather becomes spring-like, warm and sunny, our egg production has picked up. Five of our girls are laying now — although our Buff Orpington Charlotte is having a bit of trouble starting up. Her eggshells look thin and chalky, and one of them broke on Thursday.

Speaking of broken eggs: We've had a few. We were worried at first that Carmelita (or maybe Ruby, jealous that her fellow Rhodie was laying?) was pecking eggs. This could potentially be serious — egg-eating chickens do exist. And once they've developed a taste for eggs, it's hard to break them of the habit. Some veteran chicken-wranglers swear that the only solution is the stew pot.

But after careful analysis, we think that Carmelita just started laying really thin-shelled eggs, which got knocked around in the box till they broke. After all, the eggs appeared to be pecked, but they were not eaten.

Our egg-production problems are slowly working themselves out as the ladies mature. We ate 10 eggs (slow-scrambled, with mushrooms and truffle oil) on Wednesday, and we still had all these on Friday.

When we first got our baby chicks, we were thrilled at the idea that we might get a couple dozen eggs a week, but it was hard to believe it would happen. Now, collecting a couple of eggs every time you check the nest box seems like no big deal.

Next: The games chickens play (and do not play)

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