In the beginning we bought four chicks for our backyard flock. One turned out to be a rooster, so we ate it. But it was part of our plan that if it turned out one was a rooster-we would still have three hens. (If two were roosters then we'd just be outta' luck!) Chickens are social and so three is a good minimum to have. And we really thought that the products of three hens would be quite plenty enough eggs to have as well.
Well, when we move from here and set up a new "homestead" we are officially getting more chickens. We need more eggs. We've started buying eggs from the store again. There's a number of reasons.
The first time we bought eggs in a year and a half was at the end of this summer during the hottest 2 weeks of the year. The chickens couldn't take the heat and their laying almost stopped. It picked up again once it cooled down a touch. Also, Buffy is molting, and has been for a little while. This is common in the fall. The other day I saw quite a few of Super Girl's Feathers around and wondered if she might be starting as well. The decreasing day length in the fall can also be a reason for slowed production.
But the most annoying reason of all -- the stupid chickens are pecking their eggs!!! It makes me want to say threatening things to them like: "What do you think we keep you around for? This ain't no chicken resort. you'd better start pulling your weight around here or I'm gonna turn you into chicken stock!" But that doesn't really fit with our feelings about a respectful slaughter, and probably isn't a good sentiment for my boys to repeat, so I restrain my tongue. But it does make me really mad.
Egg-production does naturally decrease with age--but most chickens lasting a good 2-3 years. So maybe the answer for next time is not more chickens initially- but a chicken rotation. Start out with a few chicks, and get a few more each spring. Then turn the 3-year-olds into soup.
Sounds like a plan.