i know what comes first (and it's not the egg!)
Our chickens are pumping out a couple of eggs almost daily now, but contrary to my initial reports of joy and anticipation... it's been a long time coming. I don't know. Everyone made it sound so easy. Just buy a few chickens, plonk them in the backyard, let them wander around, feed and water them and eggs will surely flow. Or bounce. Or lay. Or something.
Nope. Not here. It did not happen like that here at all.
After the chickies arrived there were a few eggs to begin with. I suspect their poor little bodies had been in mass production for so long they didn't know how to stop. Then they realised they didn't have lights coming on at an unearthly hour and they could take a well earned break. So they did. Production dropped dramatically.
A little while later Frank was offered a free rooster by a customer who had too many. 'He will make your chickens lay more' they assured him, so he snapped 'im up. Hector, we named him, for Hector the Protector, but all he did was send the chickens into a clucking fit every time he so much as moved in their direction. They were not so enamoured by his adolescent rooster beauty. The eggs stopped altogether.
For a week or two we let them be. They needed a rest. Perhaps they were moulting. Maybe the shock of moving away from the flock had put them off the lay. They were supposedly free range where we bought them, but in reality were stuck in a shed - did the great outdoors scare them too much? Were we feeding them enough? They weren't sick were they?
I scoured the internet for details, joined online forums, pleaded for help over the phone lines and chewed the ear of the local pet shop owner. 'Just wait' they all said, 'Those chickens will come around. You'll have eggs soon.'
But we didn't. Instead I came home to find not an egg, but a dead chicken in the nest. Poor little thing. She was the bottom of the pecking order and had been poorly and weak from the beginning. We presumed she just couldn't cope with all the stress, although if we'd been really into it we might have conducted a chicken autopsy to identify the cause of death. As it was, we buried her with minimal ceremony under a tree.
And then it happened. Eggs. One here and there, then two every couple of days, now a regular two eggs. Not only that, but their feathers are glossy, their combs red and moist, they wander wherever they want without fear or favour. And Hector? He crows quietly and joyfully at a reasonable hour, has his merry way with the chickens and everyone seems happy! Meanwhile, Frank and I are enjoying eggs in increasing quantities.
A happy outcome all round. (Except for the poor little chickie who died of course)