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

Linda Ly 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 »