As many of our hens grow older they seem to enjoy laying us a few surprises. Younger birds are pretty consistent in their output – they tow the line and produce regular-sized eggs at regular intervals. Perhaps age and experience means that a chicken becomes a bit more experimental – just when we’ve given up all hope of any more offerings from her, she promptly rustles up something against which those normal little beauties pale in comparison, as if to say “I’ve still got it”.
Take this giant egg, which dwarfs the comparatively small offering from a fellow young bird. How any members of the flock lay one that size I’ve no idea. It turned out to be a beautiful double-yolker.
They may be laying less often but their produce stands out. Almost every evening there’s often a slightly unusual offering in the nesting box, just to keep us on our toes, from torpedo-shaped ones to the ‘jelly eggs’ as we’ve come to call them. When we head down to collect the girls’ produce from the coop in the evening, James takes great pleasure in handing me what looks like a perfectly ordinary shelled egg to place in the basket – only to enjoy my horrified reaction to the strange sensation of holding what feels like a baloon full of jelly in my palm.
It’s not as if the hens don’t get all the oyster shell, greens, corn, grit and, of course, layers’ pellets to provide them with the right raw materials for proper, hard shells, so I think it’s another age-related complaint – or perhaps just another practical joke from a wise old hen.