The Bright Day is Done


This one thinks she’s the Queen Chicken.

She likes to get up on her perch over the door between the chicken yard and the chicken house and oversee her domain. Sometimes she lets another hen join her.

But not for long. It’s her perch and all the other chickens know it. How she maintains her supremacy, I don’t know. She’s a wee thing. A banty hen. And she hasn’t laid a single egg so far, but that doesn’t stop her from playing head of the hen house. She’s downright regal, a genuine Cleopatra.

Doesn’t she look like an Egyptian queen etched in stone?

Cleopatra: “Give me to drink mandragora that I might sleep out this great gap of time. My Antony is away.”

Spartacus, her Antony: “Finish, good lady; the bright day is done and we are for the dark.”

Okay, that’s enough Shakespeare, chickens………

However!! They are for the dark. They have stopped laying. Not that Cleopatra was ever participating to begin with, but whoever was laying has now ceased and desisted.

So I cleaned out the nest eggs I’d been saving, hoping one hen might choose to sit. (None are showing any intentions. And it’s cold and these eggs are old now.)

I took them inside and cooked them up. I took 20 eggs out of that nest. Made me wish I’d gone ahead and picked them up all along when they were still fresh.

I saved the eggshells to dry and crumble and give back to the chickens. Nothing goes to waste on the farm. (These eggs were really dirty because they’d been sitting in the nest a long time. The eggs I have been picking up don’t have time to get this dirty, but if they are dirty at all, I wash them when I take them inside so I don’t risk getting dirt in food when I break them open. These eggs are for Coco, though, so I didn’t bother cleaning them up.)

Coco didn’t mind a snack of scrambled old dirty eggs.

And so the chickens appear to be retired, for now. Young as they are, maybe I’m lucky they laid for me even a little while before the short days of winter hit them and put them in “sleeper” mode. I’ve tried it all, good layer feed, a light in the hen house to “lengthen” their days, leftovers from the farmhouse table, etc. It’s just time for them to take a rest, I suppose.

And so, my beloved chickens, we will not be disappointed but rather we will look forward together to spring! I wish you more eggs, fluffy chicks, long days, warm sunshine, and straw full of bugs!

Spartacus: “I wish you all the joy of the worm. What’s brave, what’s noble, let us do it after the high Roman fashion and make death proud to take us. Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have immortal longings in me. Here is my space. Kingdoms are made of clay. Indeed the tears live in an onion that should water this sorrow–”


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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on November 26, 2008  

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  1. 11-26

    TO keepth them layingeth, they needth a lighteth in the houseth!!! LOL sorry, I couldnt resist. If you want them to continue to lay, try putting a light in the coop. They need more daylight, which this time of year we lack. Just a thought to try it. We have one in ours and it works great through the winter.

  2. 11-26

    Get a couple of red sex links… my Isa Brown pullets have not missed a day for weeks now. My EE hen has resumed laying after a long summers rest. No extra light in cold, cold Michigan. Your’s don’t look done laying- those combs are looking really red!

  3. 11-26

    Heidi, we have a light! We’ve been using a light in there to extend the daylight for a couple of months.

  4. 11-26

    If you can get the goats to do Jane Austen, I will be yours forever.

  5. 11-26

    Oh, my gosh – red sex links? For chickens? Somebody please explain. Not knowing anything about chickens other than they lay eggs and some roosters can get mean, I truly want to believe that chickens don’t do the “porn” thing (snicker). I LOVE your stories about all your animals and their personalities.

  6. 11-26

    Mine have slacked off but not stopped laying completely. Although that has happened in years past. Don’t give up though! Keep your light on and you many have some start back up.

  7. 11-26

    HaHa, Lena! Red Sex Link chickens are a cross between a Rhode Island Red rooster and a New Hampshire White, or White Rock, etc. The pullets can be sexed at birth by thier color. They are winter hardy and will often lay eggs through the winter. They are usually really friendly birds, great for meat or eggs.

  8. 11-26

    Mine quit laying for over a month, then one or two started back up. I get 2 or 3 eggs a day, but it is better than none. I just make sure that they have at least 12-13 hours of light. Some people say they should get 14. I am not sure, but it has worked for me.

  9. 11-26

    Chickens and Shakespeare?
    Suzanne you are so funny. I never would have thought to put those two together. But I’m not a writer either.

  10. 11-26

    Shakespearean Chicken Theater. I love it!

  11. 11-26

    When I read the first post about Red Sex Links, I immediately thought you were supposed to put a red light inside the chicken house!!! Oh, well, what do I know? I think the Queen Chicken is getting ready to perform Romeo and Juliet – be sure to keep poison out of Spartacus’ reach, as surely he must play Romeo! :catmeow:

  12. 11-26

    I know why the red hen is the Queen … she’s a red head w/Short (wo)Man’s Disease! It’s all about attitude! :whip:

    Happy Thanksgiving!!

    Blessings from Ohio…

  13. 11-26

    methinks thou hast readeth an excess of shakespeare! LOL

  14. 11-26

    I’m with Nita: Jane Austen for the goats…or maybe one of the Bronte sisters.

    And there is never enough Shakespeare!!! My grey cat hears he is the “Greymalkin, witches’ cat…all the time (Macbeth of course).

    I’m excited…Saturday I am going to an auction to bid on A CHICKEN HOUSE!!!!! I fervently hope no one else wants it.

  15. 11-26

    After years of practicing chicken husbandry in my formative years, I know that if the chickens get too cold, they won’t lay eggs either. We always had a 3-4 lamp brooder lamp running in our coop (with 2 red & 2 white light bulbs). Hens were toasty, so we got eggs to go with OUR toast. :D (And we live in the USUALLY cold and snowy wilds of Alberta where it gets down to -40C…we don’t have snow yet).

  16. 11-26

    happy Thanksgiving. many blessing to you and your family.

  17. 11-26

    I thought Spartacus would say, “Stop it with the Shakespeare already, and prepare to die!” I crack myself up! :) xxoo

  18. 11-26

    I love your photos. Please,please tell me how you made the one that looks like stone. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  19. 11-26

    Chickens and Shakespeare – what a treat! Thanks so much for just being yourself.

  20. 11-26

    Nancy, in Photoshop Elements, go to Filter on the menu bar, then click on Texture, then Craquelure. It’s VERY simple. I don’t do anything complicated!

  21. 11-26

    This time of year in Michigan I pull all my “girls” into the coop and shut out the outside run. Then the heat lamp is on for 14 – 16 hours. We still are getting an egg a day from each. Maybe their buns are just too cold!! But we did have our Americana stop for a month and now she is back to a one a day production as well. You will be rolling in the eggs in no time – it sounds like you are doing everything right. Very cool texture on the picture BTW.

  22. 11-26

    I know how that little Banty maintains her supremecy! Her motto is “the bigger they are…the harder they fall!”. LOL

    Coco…come to my house! I’ll give you treats and lovies and cookies and hugs and …. :mrgreen: I promise NO DIRTY OLD EGGS!!! :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

    Suzanne, I am LOVING YOU this am…I rolled out my piecrust and it was a BREEZE – the Never Fail piecrust that you shared with us. I am using this one from now on – so easy too, on waxed is baking in the oven as I speak. No more MIL flour/lard piecrust that flakes to death and sticks to the counter when I roll out! :fryingpan:

  23. 11-26

    P.S. – I know my husband thanks you too – he doesn’t have to hear me whine, cry, complain and gripe about his mother’s piecrust!!!! The rolling out catastrophe!!! Too bad he is at work now…he didn’t get to see me rolling yours out, HAPPILY. LOL

  24. 11-26

    Awesome Shakespeare application–banty hens are like that! You DO NOT want hens sitting now girl! You’d have a living room full of chickens for Christmas! Hens are too smart to sit in the winter. They’ll know when it’s time and it’ll be the banties that want to sit, on lots of full-sized eggs. Put those shells in your compost!

  25. 11-26

    I don’t care if they’re not laying eggs anymore. *G* They’re still pretty.

  26. 11-26

    I also run a rest home for the older girls (hens). Great photo’s and writeup.

  27. 11-26

    I love Spartacus.

  28. 11-26

    :chicken: Absolutely beautiful pictures of adorable (can chickens be adorable?) chickens!! Love your blog.

    I’m tagging you so we can all learn more about you. Come on over to on see how to play.

  29. 11-26

    Love the chickens!
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  30. 11-26

    I’m amazed that a heat lamp is enough in this cold!

  31. 11-26

    We have a timer in our chicken house. The light comes on at three o’clock in the morning and goes off at 8a.m. This gives the hens the extra light they need to keep laying through the winter. Also, too many roosters will wear them out and could break their backs and ribs. Your roosters look really large. Just a word of caution..we have one Silver-spangled Hamburg rooster for 13 hens.

  32. 11-26

    Whew! You had me worried that you were going to EAT those old, dirty eggs!!

    Many years ago, we cleaned some duck eggs out of a nest near our apartment, and apparently, they were older than we thought. They were waaaaay far gone. And exploded! They sounded like bombs going off the moment we touched them. Stink bombs! It was not a pretty scene! So, the moral is…gather ye olde eggs carefully!

    P.S. Your chickens are soooo beeeutiful!

  33. 11-26

    I love Shakespearean chickens! :chicken:

  34. 11-26

    Oh I just saw the cats photo! I love how they sit and wait like that. The grey one is so regal looking. I have 4 cats, and it’s so funny how the old declawed one is the first to eat and the big rough tomcat sits and waits. I think they telepathically have a battle of wits to see who gets food first. The tomcat isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. hehe :catmeow:

  35. 11-26

    :biggrin: Suzanne, Thank you for all the happiness your blog brings me everyday. And as to the egg and chicken laying problem.. I would like to share something that worked for our chickens :chicken: . This year our chickens were molting to such a degree that some of them were bald in spots and they were taking forever to grow new feathers (months and months) …we even had one 1/4 naked chicken. But they continued to lay eggs everyday and had all winter! I thought that if they stopped laying eggs for a bit they might instead grow some feathers. So, I put some wooden fake white eggs in their nest boxes and :snoopy: yea! the chickens stopped laying eggs …or there were just a few eggs a day… and they now have feathers! Except for the naked chicken, but she is almost clothed again. It is time to take the fake eggs away in a week or two. The fake eggs evidently fooled the chickens into thinking they already laid an egg?… I must have really silly chickens. I wonder if there are any chicken experts out there who could explain this behavior? I have also read that chickens do not lay after they have started setting. Evidently leaving eggs in the nests can be good for getting broody chickens to sit on a clutch and then hatch them out. (you can take out the fake ones and put fertile eggs under her when she starts setting) Soooo, you could try taking the eggs out of the coop every night, make sure they have lots of chicken lay to eat, (if I run out of lay and just feed scratch they pretty much stop laying) (Duh :fryingpan: … I could have tried that instead of the fake eggs!… oh well,) and maybe you will have eggs all winter too. Your chickens look so beautiful and healthy! And, I love these little icons :heart: Sarah Jane

  36. 2-10

    No No!! There can be no such thing as too much Shakespeare! Please continue with the Shakespeare even if combined with chickens… or is that ESPECIALLY if combined with chickens! Surely the bard would have understood how their clucky little undertones, their mutters and ongoing commentary while they putter around the yard, are but poetry to our ears!!!

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