There is something quite satisfying about finding a warm egg in the henhouse on a blustery 15*F morning.
I tried something new to help me wake up a little earlier this morning. It wasn’t until 5 a.m. when the strange noises began that I’d remembered what I’d done, though. Fresh coffee brewing in the bedroom, just what a body needs to motivate it out of bed, right?
When I got downstairs to turn on the heater and put my insulated bibs in front of the fire to warm up before I put them on for feeding rounds, I checked the temperature. I had already heard the wind rattling the house and outbuildings, so I knew it would be blustery. 15*F on the thermometer.
I was pretty surprised to find not only one warm egg this morning but two. One hen has been going into the old house where I store the square bales of hay. She goes in through a broken window. I didn’t find that nest until yesterday, because I’d been using the round bales and hadn’t gone in there for a while. But yesterday I wanted to put hay in the hen’s nest boxes and the dog houses. So when I found the nest it had several eggs in it. I threw those out.
The hen won’t usually set eggs right now anyway. But if she did act broody, I might let her go on and see how that works out. When a hen wants to hatch out a clutch of eggs, she’ll stay on the nest and “set” them. But she won’t start doing that until she’s collected several eggs. It doesn’t have to be only her eggs. The other hens will often lay eggs in a broody hen’s nest and she adopts them without a blink of an eye.
Usually those other hens do that while she’s off the nest getting food and water. So they act as babysitters and leave a bit of a gift behind, ha.
The mother only gets off the nest to eat and drink water once a day, and toward the end of incubation, not even then. I usually will bring food and water to her. The only threat at this time of year would be the cold. In spring and summer it’s the snakes that are the biggest cause of loss in the chicks around here. Maybe the mother hen could keep them warm enough to survive.
Hens usually lay less eggs in winter because the days are shorter. But we have two or three hens that lay an egg every day, regardless of weather or season. The only time they don’t is during molting. I wish I knew which hens had laid the eggs this morning – I’d give them an extra special treat for being so diligent!
Warm eggs on cold mornings are like little pocket warmers – if you’re careful.