Last night, after sunset, as I was settling into my own dinner, I suddenly remembered we'd only gathered one egg from the nest during the day. That meant one egg was still in the nesting box and about to be slept on by both chickens and likely knocked out of the nest or worse.
I don't want to risk the girls' smashing their own egg and developing a taste for the yolk, so I grabbed the flashlight and quietly walked out to the Eglu.
As I approached the coop, I turned off the light and crept up to the nest-box door. I could hear the girls inside making coo-ing sounds which signaled to me they were either already asleep or close to it. Before turning the handle on the door, I reviewed my game plan: open the door, turn on the flashlight, the startled hens stand up, I grab the egg from under them and then shut the door tight.
Things didn't quite go according to plan. Turns out my chickens are a lot harder to startle than I thought they'd be.
I opened the door and turned the flashlight on, pointing it straight at the nesting box, to see two chickens, eyes wide open, frozen in place. Sophia had won the battle of "who gets to sleep in the nesting box tonight" so she was closest to the door, frozen in place. ZsuZsu was like a statue on the roosting bars close by. Not a peep of sound out of either of them, just the blinking of eyes trying to figure out how in the heck that bright light got inside the coop.
Perhaps a little coaching would help? My plea of "C'mon girls, move aside!" only persuaded them to settle into their roosting stances even more than before.
Time to use mechanical intervention. I pushed my hand underneath Sophia to feel around the (freshly changed) nest for the egg. Groping blindly, I just hoped there wouldn't be anything squishy at my fingertips. Let's see, chicken foot, chicken ankle, clump of aspen shavings, EGG!
I slipped the egg out from under Sophia and before she could even register a complaint, the nesting box door was back in place and the light was off again. As I walked back to the house (and dinner!), I could hear the girls rustling around a bit as they got resettled for the night. They clucked at each other as if to discuss whether that recent invasion had really happened or was just a dream.
And as I grabbed the door knob to open the back door of the house, it finally came to me: ZsuZsu's actually sleeping on the roosting bars and not in the nest! Small victories all around.