Back in November sometime the chickens all started molting for the first time, at about 1.5 years old. Now I'm fairly sure they had molted previously in turns, but never before had they all gone through a period where they were definitely all shedding feathers & really not laying. Then with the failing light and cold temps, they stopped laying altogether. It was a sad time.
Actually, it was even sadder because around Christmas time, when we got our pork back from the butcher, and as I started really having a huge appetite as the baby decided that food was a good thing - give me lots - now, we started eating serious breakfasts again. Eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns. Yummy. But not with our own eggs! Sad to be supplying the bacon & sausage from the home-grown pig, the hash browns from the home-grown potatoes, but not the eggs due to our winter chickens!
Well sometime around New Years I had enough with the lack of eggs and decided that we needed to supplement their light situation. So I ran a couple extension cords over, wrapped an indoor timer in a plastic bag (we do have an outdoor one but I wasn't able to locate it... not quite sure where it has gotten itself to), and I dusted off the old heat lamp we had in the coop from when the chickens were little chicks. I added about an hour or two before daylight and an hour or two after dusk, in the hopes that that additional light would convince them we were coming out of winter and into spring.
Sure enough, yesterday my husband found a (frozen) egg in one of the nest boxes! YAY! I'm now pretty curious as to which of our hardy breeds is the one laying first, but will have to wait until the weekend to sneak over there repeatedly and try and figure it out. In the meantime, hopefully whoever it is keeps it up and we start getting some eggs to eat! Not only do I hate to buy the store-bought ones when we're feeding our own laying hens at home, but they just aren't anywhere near as good (and fresh!) as ours are!