Laverne came dancing out of the chicken coop singing her own praises, clucking in operatic form announcing the arrival of her egg. The other four rolled their eyes. Big deal, the biggest chicken laid an egg the size of a sparrow’s, they laughed. But Laverne was unperturbed in her singing and strutting about.
These chickens have brought us so much delight since we brought them home a chilly morning last April. At one day old, the tiny fluffs fit in our palms two at a time. They were precious and needy and we fretted over them so. They became teenagers in August and since then put out a pretty steady egg a day from each. So when Mahalia stopped laying last week, we got concerned.
Now, I prepare for new ventures (like getting my bee hives next Spring) by reading everything I can get my hands on. I scanned the files of my mind to retrieve each article and wisdom I picked up about chickens not laying. In the winter they do not lay as much, however, a red light can remedy that. Check. The girls are teenagers and should lay right through winter. Ok. So, the only logical explanation is….gasp…the egg is stuck.
I read the article before the girls came to live here with a little horror and trepidation but carried on reading just in case the day should come that the information would be needed. When your chicken is broody, not laying, sways her head side to side like Stevie Wonder, and doesn’t hang out with the other chickens as much, she may have an egg stuck. Which could kill her. My mother says matter of factly, it killed one of hers.
We already lost two chickies to early infant death. Then lost three more to an evil four year old and his dog from next door. So, I’m not antsy to lose any more of the girls.
She was sitting a lot. One time she wasn’t hanging out with the rest of the ladies. She sure ain’t laying. She is not doing the head roll thing, but I imagine I caught this early. With only five chickens I notice if one isn’t doing well. I would like to remedy this before it gets too bad.
I go back into my files and remember that if you simply set the chicken into real warm water the egg may slide out when the muscles relax. It seems weird and I am sure the neighbors wondered, but I took the soup pot out with the nice steamy water out to the coop. Set her little backside into the water and waited. Mahalia is quite patient and looked at me like, “Ok, I’m clean.” Nothing.
A few days pass, she seems fine but still no egg. I don’t want her to die. So, after reading more information on the internet (we are like first time parents where we read every medical journal then worry over every single symptom) and learn that we must lubricate the duct and feel for an egg.
Another day passes and we muster the nerve. My friend, Pat, gave me some disposable gloves and told me to man up in no uncertain terms and be a good chicken farmer. So, Doug and I traipsed out to the coop. I swooped her up sideways, Doug dipped his finger in olive oil and stuck it in her woohoo. She screamed, “What the f#@k!” That’s what is sounded like with all the flapping of wings and squawking, the other girls freaking out. “No egg,” Doug says matter of factly.
It seems that maybe it is just cold and she is taking a break from laying. We will keep watching her and make sure she doesn’t turn into Stevie Wonder.