I’ve tried to figure out if the chickens are squawking lately because they hear the sounds of the screen door, me puttering around in the kitchen at lunch time, or what. OR, are they just squawking to squawk? Well, the answer appears to be twofold:
1) They squawk to squawk, though it’s usually around egg-laying time. Mabel seems enormously bothered by the fact that Goldie or Marguerite is NOT outside in the run with her. How dare they be in the coop? Worse yet, how dare they be laying on their newly-laid egg in the nesting box? The squawks erupt. The others join in so she doesn’t feel like she’s belting out a solo. It’s loud, it’s intense, but it usually stops within several minutes.
2) It’s me. (PS: The de-sensitizing thing didn’t seem to work.) They hear me; they hear the door slam; they hear a dish rattle in the kitchen; they squawk. Images of spaghetti noodles and brown rice and string cheese must dance through their little brains, triggering the squawk monster inside them. Should the back screen door slam, look out. What starts as a few low-pitched repetitive bwaaaawk-bwaaaaAAAWKs turns into a full-fledged beak-fest. Goldie cranes her golden head toward my back door. Mabel rushes up to see what the fuss is about. Soon, there’s a duet of demanding calls from my beloved ones’ beaks. (Marguerite usually sits quiet and considers the chaos.)
New strategy: close the back door and windows, crank the Grateful Dead channel and pretend I’m hearing crows. They’ll settle down. And like my sister says, most people probably can’t hear them. We hope.
Other than the squawking, things are pretty much rockin’ in the hen house. All three are laying about once a day, though Goldie is a little slow on the uptake–I’ve found a few sacrificial eggs broken that she’s dropped from the nighttime roost. Probably a little bit like a potty-trained toddler not making it to the bathroom juusssst in time.
Some of my chicken-raising books recommend checking the nesting boxes for eggs a few times a day, to clear eggs out in case someone else needs to use the box to lay another one. I’ve found that this is not practical for a couple of reasons: first, my going out there 2-3 times a day creates situation #2 above; second, these chicks seem to treat the eggs like gold (with the exception of Goldie’s few misplaced night drops) and like to lay on them before depositing one of their own. Could one egg be the catalyst for another? We can only hope. I’ll get to them by the end of the day, of course, when I give the girls their evening supper.
I’ve officially got a full baker’s dozen eggs in my fridge now. Time to start the gift baskets!