The egg holder on the window sill above my kitchen sink has been bleakly empty for the last few months. While my backyard hens molted and staged an egg strike, my family had to eat store-bought eggs, like regular schnooks.
A few days ago, as we wrestled egg cartons in and out of the refrigerator, I told the kids to be patient, that we would have fresh eggs again soon. I even went so far as to specify this weekend as the likely date for the return of eggs, because last year the birds got back to business on December 21.
It stands to reason: If egg-laying cycles are dictated by daylight, then something should change around the shortest day of the year. Because after the shortest day of the year, the next day is, by definition, longer. And if you’re a chicken with a brain about the size of a popcorn kernel, you probably process the world in binary terms — food…not food; worm…not worm; hawk…not hawk — in which case, you register December daylight in terms of waning…not waning. The solstice functions as your light switch, so on December 21, your popcorn-sized brain figures you’re supposed to do something different. And since my popcorn-brained hens have been consistently sitting on their fluffy butts for the past few months, not laying eggs, the sudden uptick in sunlight must mean it’s time to do the opposite of not laying eggs…LAYING EGGS!
That’s exactly what my hens are doing again, and just in time for the holidays. That reminds me, it’s time to renew my Domesticated Hen Permit before the end of the year. Twenty-five dollars is a small price to pay to see Nature work its magic in the backyard.