Backyard Chickens

Laying It Down

Iman in her nest box

Despite many chicken-keeping sources claiming chickens like to share nest boxes — up to four of them per nest — each one of my divas prefers her own throne. Go figure.

Kimora is the only chicken that lays in the actual nest. It’s a dark, cozy cubby where she can do her business in private but still keep an eye on things.

Gisele lays in the space originally intended as the attic. It has a nice bay window where she can relax, smell the flowers, and feel the breeze on her beard.

And Iman? Iman still hasn’t decided where her domain should be. She sometimes shares the nest with Kimora. She sometimes lays in the middle of the coop. She sometimes lays in the middle of the run. Her first week, she’d just let one drop right into the poop tray. We’d find eggs in the corner, by the feeder and under the ladder. It’s like an Easter egg hunt, only she’s not an Easter Egger.

The other week, I had a slight panic when I couldn’t find Iman in the yard. The flock always sticks together like the three amigas. When one goes missing, the other two crow and call out to each other until they’re reunited. That day, I heard Kimora and Gisele crowing incessantly, getting louder and louder with each passing minute.

I made my rounds around the yard but there was no sign of Iman. I peeked over the fence in case she had accidentally flown over it. I crawled under the oleanders. I checked up in the trees. No Iman.

I heard a rustle in our compost area and thought it was a bird. And it was — a chicken! There in our leaf compost, nestled comfortably in her “nest,” was Iman.

Making a nest in the leaf compost

We have three open compost bins that hold piles of leaves, roughage and straw. They’re merely plywood panels screwed together, with the front panel 3 feet high. Iman had somehow discovered this cushy little corner, hopped over the front panel, and settled into a makeshift nest in the mound of rotting leaves. No wonder she ditched the other nests — her new hideaway was a good 3 feet all around, with plenty of room to stretch and spread her wings!

My Cochin getting ready to lay

I left her alone for a bit as she tossed and turned in the leaves, waiting for her contractions to start. She laid one way, then laid the other way. She picked up a few leaves with her beak and tossed them on her back. All of this went on for at least 20 minutes. Then she started panting, her beak wide open, and I knew she was getting ready to push. Can you imagine doing this three, four, even six times a week??

Iman getting ready to lay an egg

After a few minutes, she stood up and fluffed herself. Look closely and you’ll see her freshly laid egg!

Look closely and you'll see a freshly laid egg

Iman laying an egg

Iman’s eggs are the most inconsistent of the three chickens. Sometimes they’re light, sometimes they’re dark, sometimes they’re speckled. But that day she gave us a perfectly smooth, signature pink egg. She was in her element!

A pink-tinted egg from my Cochin

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »


  • JimS
    February 2, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    I wonder if heat generated by the compost had anything to do with why she chose that spot!?
    Just stumbled upon your blog & loving it.

    • Linda Ly
      February 2, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      I’d guess it’s partly the heat and partly the coziness of the compost pile. They like laying in enclosed spaces.

      And thanks for being here!

  • Earleybird1
    September 22, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Iman is almost as beautiful as you! 🙂 What kind is she? Where do you live? I mean is it hot, cold, humid south, dry…… what are her breeds characteristics? Egg bird, meat bird, ….
    Do you have a facebook site?

  • Kristina
    May 11, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Ha! Too cute!  I have 3 chickens that are 3 years old and have 2 month old chicks that I’ll be combining with the big girls at the end of Summer.  My young ones won’t be laying for a few months, but the big girls all like to lay their eggs in the same box.  We built them two boxes out of plywood and made a nest for them out of straw on the bottom.  If one is laying an egg and the other two are needing to lay, sometimes they’ll all jam into one box (hilarious) or the two that are waiting will line up facing the one in the box and start clucking and squawking ha!!  They are fun pets!!

    • Linda Ly
      May 11, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      They are! I want to install a chicken cam in their coop and see what they do when I’m not around.

  • AshleyWaterstradt
    May 7, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    What breed is she? I think our little man Nugget is the same breed, the coloring is very similar, but he has a crown like a silkie, I have no clue what he is!

    • Linda Ly
      May 8, 2012 at 1:33 pm

      She’s a Cochin, which is known for having feathered feet, but a few other breeds share this same type of coloring – it’s called Golden-Laced.

      Could Nugget be a Golden-Laced Polish? The Polish breed has crazy hair too – starts off like a mohawk and turns into a lion’s mane.

  • Sally
    May 7, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Iman is SO beautiful! They all have their own personalities don’t they? I had chickens (unfortunately they were killed by raccoons recently) and I loved sitting in the coop and just watching them. I even painted their portraits! They’re such wonderful creatures. Looking forward to getting more once we’re done trapping all the predators and strengthening the coop. In the meantime, I love seeing and reading the stories of your beautiful girls. Love your blog! I’ve already put to use many of your gardening tips.

    • Linda Ly
      May 8, 2012 at 1:36 pm

      Thanks Sally! Yes, the chickens are wonderful pets… I’m endlessly entertained by them. They almost have dog-like tendencies… one of my chickens, especially, will just hop up into my lap when I’m sitting in the yard. If they didn’t poop so much, I’d let them into the house! LOL

      Have you seen my post on building a chicken coop? It shows a few things I did to strengthen my own coop against predators – we have raccoons and skunks.


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