Some hens begin their egg-laying career with little fanfare, while other hens require extra encouragement. Generally speaking, I do not fuss over my hens a great deal. It's true they have fabulous living quarters and excellent organic, locally-milled food, but I do not hug them, or hold them on my lap, nor do I sing to them, or read them poetry or write poetry about them (although I love the folks who do all those things). My girls are members of the urban farm team, and when their time is up, it's good that I'm not too attached to them emotionally.
Andromeda (the Barred Rock pictured above) arrived at maturity and began laying a few weeks ago with nothing more than a happy little crow. It's easy to see when a pullet is ready to begin laying eggs. She'll begin hanging around the nest boxes, quietly watching the older girls. Andromeda prefers to be left alone to accomplish her morning ritual, dutifully giving us one medium-sized light brown egg. She minds her own business and rarely calls any attention to herself.
Evidently, not all the girls understand the working rules around here. Cassie (the Easter Egger in the photo above) has been like Velcro for the last couple weeks. She's always underfoot, rubbing against my ankles as if she's a kitten. She crouches down and waits for me to stroke her or pick her up. She jumps into the hen house to help me clean. She talks to me constantly, the happy clucking of a contented bird. Even when I'm picking beans outside the chicken yard, Cassie is right at the gate, chattering away some fantastic story. I knew she was getting ready to lay her first egg, and the blessed moment finally arrived over the weekend. There was a fair amount of squawking and drama, including a few hours in the nest boxes while she worked out the timing.
Until a few years ago, I never imagined that chickens have such unique personalities, every bit as distinct as their lovely eggs. We still have one more pullet to arrive at egg-laying maturity this fall. Since she's already a loud talker, I expect there's more drama to come.....