Candling Eggs–and a Little Surprise from Juliet

Day 9 of 365

I have such a great story to tell today.

It was a big day because it is day 8 for Ruby’s eggs, so I decided to candle her eggs to see which ones were developing and which ones were duds. It’s good to remove the ones that aren’t developing, as they will go bad and just take up extra space. Ruby was sitting on 8 Salmon Faverolle hatching eggs from Why Not Farms, and I was hoping we would have at least 4 or 5 eggs developing so far.

I waited until Ruby was taking her break this morning and decided I would just scoop up all of the eggs into my son’s old Easter basket and candle them quickly in the house. It’s important to be gentle when you candle, so as not to disturb the developing chick. It’s also important to try not to candle too much, as it is just more disturbance. Historically, this has been a challenge for me. I think I candled my first batch of hatching eggs 4 or 5 times. That’s not a good idea. I will probably candle Ruby’s eggs just one more time in another week. I probably don’t need to do it again. I probably will anyway.

When I started putting the eggs in the basket, I counted to 8 and then had 1 more in the nest. I counted again. There was a total of 9 eggs under Ruby. I paused. I wondered if I had been mistaken, but, no, we had just 8 eggs at the start. Then, I looked more closely. The last egg in the nest was not a cream Salmon Faverolle egg. It was an olive egg from Juliet! Oh, she’s a clever girl!

Juliet is our most special hen. She refuses to hang out with the flock–unless she’s in the mood to hang out with the flock. Every morning, she leaves the coop and heads for the driveway and garage. She used to fly over the fence, but we now just let her out when we open the door in the morning. She’s always waiting and ready to go.

She sneaks into the garage where she gets a special treat, either some sunflower seeds or scratch; then she either hangs out in the garage and driveway doing her own thing or she heads to the dog crate with straw I have set up for her to lay her eggs. I did this because I realized last year that she was not going to lay her eggs in the nest boxes. Instead, she laid her eggs in the woodpile, under trees, in the shrubs. I normally would not find them until it was too late. I started to try to train Juliet to lay her eggs in a box in the garage.

It took just a few times. When she laid her egg in the nest in the garage, I was there immediately with a treat. Within three days, she was trained. And I set her up with a nice dog crate. This became our routine. In spring, summer, and fall, when Juliet is laying eggs, she lays her eggs in her special nest, and when she’s finished, she gets a treat from me. It’s the deal we seem to have.

A couple of weeks ago, I forgot one morning and closed the garage door. About half an hour later, I heard a chicken hollering at the front door. It was Juliet. I apologized, opened the garage door, and she made a path to her dog crate.

Juliet is wicked smart. Still, how she managed to sneak into Ruby’s nest and lay her egg during one of Ruby’s short breaks is a bit of a mystery to me. I always check on Ruby while she’s on her breaks and never once saw Juliet in Ruby’s nest box. I don’t know when she did it, but she did it. “Cowbird,” I thought to myself when I saw that adorable little olive egg.

I am happy to report that 7 of 8 of the lovely Salmon Faverolle eggs from Why Not Farms were developing! Those are very good numbers. I am also happy to report that Juliet’s egg is developing too. She’s such a fantastic little stinker. NOW, Ruby really has 8 eggs.

If the egg continues to develop and a chick hatches, it will be the first and only baby we have from Juliet.