At the end of last month, I stepped into the chicken coop to tidy up and came upon a most welcome sight—the first egg of 2018.

Chickens often take a break from laying in the winter months. The shorter days and cooler temperatures trigger the birds to turn their attention from reproducing (winter is a rotten time to raise chicks) and put their energy and resources into molting—the process of losing old feathers and regrowing new ones. This can take a few months—often just long enough for the days to start getting a bit longer again. I was told that the chickens would start laying again sometime in February. Sure enough, a few days after the first one, we found two eggs in the coop, then three. The last time I was there, I collected four.

And so begins the fun of trying to figure out just who is laying and who is still on “winter break”. We keep a variety of chicken breeds at Donker Farm: Black Australorps, Black-laced Wyandottes, Barred Rocks, a Welsummer and few others, each with their own distinct looks, personality and eggs. Narrowing it down to a small group of suspects is easy, but pinpointing the individual is a bit more of a challenge.

I took the picture above during our first summer on farm, and we still collect a similar rainbow of colors during the peak of laying season. It might not feel like spring yet, but the chickens insist it’s coming and so are the eggs!

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