I was there when it happened!
I went out the door to check on the girls, and I thought I heard an egg song so I dashed inside for my camera before walking over to the garden. I looked in the nest box. No egg. Big circular hole in the straw, though, with the linoleum showing through. I went and got some straw to add to the nesting box, but when I got back One Patch was already there–fussing and making swirlies in the straw and playing with the wooden dummy egg. No more complaining, just quiet clucking.
Then she settled in and just sat. I took a picture or two. Lumpy and Two Patch came up to visit and watch her. After about 10 minutes of me watching them watching her, I was ready to head inside and leave One Patch alone for a while.
I took a look at the other birds, who were hanging out in the downstairs of the ark. I inspected the 4th Barred Rock for distinguishing marks–they’re quite hard to tell apart. Just as I’d decided it was Jumpy, two more Barred Rocks came down the ramp. And then another. Drat! I thought, now I have to figure out who you-all are too. And then Wait! that’s 4 Barred Rocks! Who’s minding the nest?
I went round to the egg door, opened it, and there it was, a beautiful light brown egg exactly the size of the little wooden dummy egg sitting next to it, but speckly and yes! still warm!
The flock is exactly 21 weeks old today.