Thursday, September 9, 2010

The sabbatical approacheth

It's almost that time.
The time, that is, when Dottie, my White-Crested Black Polish hen, ceases to lay her pretty white eggs for an extended period of time. We've come to refer to it around here as Dottie's sabbatical.

Of my 9 hens, she is the sole ornamental hen of my flock and the only one whose egg laying I can precisely track because she is the only one that lays white eggs.

Here are her statistics for anyone nerdy enough to appreciate this sort of thing (I *love* this kind of stuff):

Dottie laid her first egg on July 27, 2008 when she was 20 1/2 weeks old.
From July 2008 until the beginning of her first sabbatical on 9/25/08, she laid a total of 10 eggs.
In 2009, she laid a total of 122 eggs.
And, to date in 2010, she has laid a total of 119 eggs.
Not too shabby for a little "ornamental" breed...
She has never laid a double-yolker, a thin-shelled egg or a "rubber egg" - I have never gotten an odd-shaped, bumpy or ill-formed egg from her. Every single one has been a perfect little oval of chicken egg perfection.

In 2008, she stopped laying on 9/24/08 and resumed laying on 1/20/09 - a four month sabbatical.
In 2009, she stopped laying on 9/09/09 and resumed laying on 2/18/10 - five month 1 week sabbatical.
In 2010, well, that's still TBD, but you can be certain that I'll keep you posted.

Dottie has a number of unusual (but endearing) qualities that allow me to call her my "odd bird". Among her other idiosyncrasies, lately Dottie has taken to wandering. She goes on excursions far beyond the range of the other hens:

I've begun to find her in very unusual places - last week I saw her run by my bedroom door (pay no attention to the unmade bed inside) on our upper deck. It's no small feat to find one's way up here:

She makes me laugh -literally- every day. She may think I can't see her behind this plant, but she's forgotten to stop chattering. Her endless stream of staccato "hooting" allows me to pinpoint with uncanny accuracy exactly where she is almost every moment:

And if she hears my voice, she will come to find me:

Oh sure, she'll hang with the other chickens when she has to...but you can see her discomfort:

I don't really blame her. It can't be much fun to spend time with girls who like to peck the feathers off your head at night when you sleep.

Although she simply stops laying for the entirety of fall and part of the winter, when she does want to lay...

... everyone needs to stand back, because there is nothing that is going to stop her from laying in the precise location she has chosen:

Even if it means someone else is already there:

...and if that someone else won't move:

well, no problem:

She'll lay her pretty, white egg and move on, leaving the lollygagger still sitting there in stunned silence:

So, let's see... today is the 9th and this egg in my hand below was laid on the's entirely possible this is the last Dottie egg of the season as I've not had any since:

Enjoy your time off, Dottie. You've earned it, you little sweet potato, you.

My girl's return to egg laying this year was heralded back in February here: Dottie returns to work


  1. I just LOVE DOTTIE. What a great story. Hens are the funniest creatures on earth. I had to laugh at the egg laying despite the other hen already being there. Thanks so much for this story. Just thinking, you may enjoy a cute hen story on my blog called "A Brighter Verde Farm" about Sunny. Tell me what you think if you get a chance.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Amy at Verde Farm

  2. What a dear bird, and a dear post!

  3. Do your other hens take sabbaticals too? Mine used to quit laying while molting, but not for very long.

  4. And a well-deserved Sabbatical it will be. Does she also molt at this time? Oh, Danni, you crack me up with your story telling. I think it's great that you are such a staunch record-keeper - I only hope to be half as good as you when I can finally get some chickens, which will probably be next spring. Dottie is definitely one of a kind, and I love that all animals have their own special personalities - something non-animal lovers never get a chance to experience. Have a good Friday and a good weekend, take care, from KY.

  5. ok....vicarious chicken egg laying going on here. i want chickens sooo badly!!!!

  6. Very cute chicken! Love the pics

  7. Too funny.....i never realized that chickens had such distinct personalities until I started reading your blog! Dottie sounds like someone I would like to be like.....adventurous, does her own thing without worrying about "what are they thinking", consistent, loyal (to you anyway), a great sense of style!

  8. Love it!
    My hens all lay brown eggs. If I want to know who laid what, I'd have to spend the day in the chicken coop.
    Since Dottie has taken to going on walk-abouts, could she be hiding eggs? One here, one there?
    Maybe not, she seems pretty dedicated to that one nest box.

  9. oh, Dottie is so precious! Such personality.
    On a personal note, I am glad I am not the only one out there journaling my chickens' laying habits and numbers and having that sort of info available at the tip of my fingers.

  10. You go, Girl! Dottie is someone I would love to hang around with. She sounds like a free spirit, full of energy and curiosity, who's not afraid to step outside her comfort zone. I like someone who knows what she wants and won't let anyone get in her way. And, she's quite stunning, too.

  11. I wonder if I get a wig for my head so that I look like Dottie if I might get more Peanuts? Sabbaticals are nice. I don't think Boo has ever been OFF of hers.

  12. Aww, Dottie is a special gal. As you know I have a special gal here too.
    Loved that pic of her behind the pot. What is it with certain chickens that we bond so tightly with!

  13. Chickens are a hoot. I really enjoyed reading this. We don't hav any ornamentals, but my Ameraucanas fly over the fence to make rounds in the yard. Dottie gets an A+ in the personality department.

  14. You cracked me up with this story! We've never know, until Jen got her 20 hens, what totally unique personalities they each have and how friendly they can be . . . like running up to greet you as you enter their yard. Great story and fantastic record keeping. Have a nice sabbatical, Dottie, see you in a few months, enjoy your winter!

  15. We were observing a server in a restaurant in Germany a few days ago. It was dinner time, many guests were waiting, and in hurried a woman with an earnest face and quick movements. After surveying the room, (just like Dottie does her surroundings), she got really busy. She darted back and forth taking little, quick steps, mumbling the whole time. I almost exclaimed, "Dottie!" Her demeanor so reminded me of Dottie, and I had a very hard time not to burst out laughing.

  16. Way to go're a real cluck...I mean hoot!!!

  17. That Dottie...she is such s sweet girl...and she very much likes things just the way she likes them...and will proceed to stand there and look at you until you make it just so...especially if you arent speedy enough with doling out her handful of scratch...:-)

  18. She sounds like my Isabella, who is an Egyptian Fayoumis, my only ornamental and my only broody. She just hatched her first clutch today.

  19. She reminds me of my Lucy, a white leghorn, and the only one of my girls who lays white eggs. So like Dottie, when I collect the eggs it's easy to tell who's slacking off when there's not a white egg in there!

  20. What a sweet girl Dottie is! Wonder how long before she takes her break? LOL!


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