Today I watched my entire flock of hens hustle out of the coop, hitch their skirts high and run like a coffee drinking mom whose husband refused to stop at the last four rest areas on the interstate and bladder mission critical had been reached.
Where were they all off to?
To lay their eggs in entirely inappropriate places of course. 😑
Starting in the spring, I have to lock the girls in 24/7 in their (roomy) coopfor about 5 days every 6 weeks to remind them where their eggs belong. Feeling the urge to raise a family, they tend to begin laying eggs in a variety of difficult to find, dog-friendly and just plain terrible places for eggs such as:
-The bed of the pickup—we don’t drive the farm truck that often but when we do, we typically need to put things in the bed of it. The bed now filled with 1,671 eggs.
-The middle of the round bale hole the sheep are currently eating into—crunch, crunch, crack and egg slime hay it is.
-Mama Pig’s stall. Mama Pig is smart. She knows to never disturb a hen singing an egg song. Not only might she get a nasty peck, she knows the hens deliver breakfast.
-The dog house. THE DOG HOUSE. Obviously this is a poor choice to try to raise your future children.
And so I lock them up to rehabituate them to the proper places eggs must go.
Typically I try to choose a period of poor weather when they don’t want to roam much anyway (I’m nice like that) and so with few days of cold rain upon us, I locked the coop after bedtime last night and much to their rage, did not open it again this morning. Our girls are used to roaming the entire farm all day long and so despite large indoor and outdoor coop space, the locked door is taken as a direct assault on their chicken liberties.
Which is why at about 3pm today, with a bunch of sad and angry hens, I relented and opened the coop, all the while saying to myself “It’s late afternoon, they are probably done laying today’s eggs anyway”.
And that’s when I watched the greater portion of my flock burst from their confinement, shimmy across the yard and proceed to find their umpteen inappropriate egg hidey-holes. In the garage. In the hay shed. In the behind the barn junk pile. And yes, in the dog house. They were fair to bursting to get those eggs set and they were damn well going to leave them where they pleased, thank you very much.
It was very instructive to learn all their spots and I was able to retrieve most (much to the chagrin of the dogs who did a full yard scan later looking for snacks) but I now know that no matter how sad they look, they must sit and wait inside for the full 5 days before being given their freedom back for this is a very zealous group for hens who will simply not be denied their rights.