Chicken eggs fall fast at Stuchlik farm
The chickens arrived in early May. They were three weeks old. They had their own chicken coop that they stayed in at night while the skunk slinked by and the coyotes howled.
Ken and Malinda Stuchlik bought the 14 chickens to make eggs. They knew it was a 16- to 18-week cycle before any chickens produced. So for the first few months there was not any expectation of finding eggs.
The single young rooster found his voice in the beginning of August, and soon afterward, the Stuchliks began checking the coop for eggs.
But the chickens did not lay eggs. Instead, they barreled out of the coop in the morning sunlight, fanning out over the property on their rural Marion farm. The fowl picked the ground clean of grasshoppers and grubs. They had to be shooed away from pecking at the young flowers surrounding the house.
The chickens also pecked at exposed toes and black walnuts that fell from the tree and cracked open. They ate plenty of chicken scratch tossed to them by the Stuchliks and their young granddaughters. In other words, the Rhode Island Red and Plymouth Rock hens ate and ate. And routinely Ken and Malinda checked the nests in the coop for eggs. They found none.
August was nearly over.
“These chickens,” said Ken Stuchlik, who retired from a career in engineering to farm. “If they don’t start producing, we’ll going to have a chicken dinner.”
The chickens did not seem concerned. They took their dust baths and found their favorite shady places on the property during the day. And the Stuchliks kept checking the coop.
Then one day something smooth, round and warm appeared. The first egg had arrived. Word of the great discovery spread throughout the family. The young granddaughters visited and picked dozens of eggs over the next few weeks.
The yolks seemed more deeply colored than those in the stores did and there were more and more every day. Egg sandwiches were made for lunch and egg casserole for dinner. Immediate and extended family soon received eggs, as did visitors.
“We have so many,” Malinda Stuchlik said while placing a full egg carton in the refrigerator. Even when one of their young granddaughters dropped a full carton of warm eggs and broke several, the production level did not take a significant hit.
“That’s just how it goes,” Ken Stuchlik said. “They all come at once.”
Last modified Nov. 5, 2014