Colour coding (corrected)

OK, so yesterday’s supposedly educated guesswork actually turned out to be far less accurate than our rather more blatant guesswork from before.  And I hold my own hands up to this, since my wife Jane stuck to the previous guesswork throughout and insisted she was right.  She was.  Mea culpa.

Fully aware that yesterday’s post might be howlingly inaccurate, I was determined to work out beyond any possible doubt exactly which hens were laying which eggs, even to the extent of concocting an elaborate plan involving an iPhone, a time-lapse photography app, and a lot of parcel tape to stick it to the pen out of beak range – the idea would be to take photos at sufficient intervals to get a good idea of who was in the hen house at particular times,  check for eggs every half an hour, and match up the photographic evidence with the physical kind.  But this plan was only practicable on a day that could be guaranteed rain-free, and we haven’t had many of those of late.

But today, I was able to match one specific hen to one specific colour quite by chance.  When I did my regular noon(ish) check, I found two of the nesting bays empty, and the third occupied by Pearl, who reacted much the same way that anyone would react if you burst in on them on a private moment.  So I discreetly shut the hen house, went to the kitchen, sliced up an apple, and tossed the pieces into the pen.  The other three chickens predictably went mental, but Pearl remained in situ, thus proving beyond any doubt that she was too busy to come out – under any other circumstances she’d have shot out to wonder what the fuss was about and whether she could get a share in it too.

And then, when she eventually emerged about ten minutes later, I checked the nesting bay again and found a small medium-brown egg.

Pearl and one of her eggs

Which simultaneously proved that:

  1. Our assumption that Pearl was the first hen to start laying (based largely on her size and seniority) was correct;
  2. She must have been the one to lay two eggs on Monday – presumably one literally first thing;
  3. Yesterday’s guesswork was hilariously inaccurate.

As for the other two (excluding Ida, who’s still too young), we always were reasonably sure that Queenie was producing the pale brown eggs with darker speckles.  She’s essentially the same breed as Pearl (they’re both Rhode Island Red X Light Sussex chickens), which means that their eggs should be similar in colour – so even if Pearl had been laying the creamy white ones, that still meant that Queenie’s would be the pale brown ones, on account of being closest.  Further evidence came when we realised that the last remaining shop-bought eggs in the fridge were also produced by Columbian Blacktails like Queenie, and a quick comparison revealed the same speckly pattern.

Queenie and one of her eggs

Which means that Vi must be producing the creamy white eggs.

Vi and one of her eggs

As an interesting footnote, although Pearl and Queenie’s eggs have remained similar in size (on the small side), Vi’s have steadily increased to the point where her third one would comfortably qualify as ‘large’ in a supermarket box.  We still had all three of her eggs, so here’s the evidence:

Vi's first three eggs, in ascending order of laying

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