I've been worried about declining egg production (posted about it, in fact). Fewer eggs. The Weatherdude hauls a few dozen off to work and I'm left with too few to cook with because my 'home' customers need to be serviced as well. So I get the 'older' eggs left, though they're still fresher than in a grocery store. There really is a difference once they're two weeks old. Nothing like a same day or next day egg. (I'm pretty fussy about these things...I like my bread crusty and fresh, for example.)
That's point one in the story.
The chickens have been enjoying the free range aspect of their life. I usually let them out later in the morning to encourage them to dump their eggs in the box before wandering off on their business. They congregate around the house, but occasionally wander pretty far away from it. The other day, one was calling me from the garden/nursery area which is on the edge of the property. Not a fear call, a "Where is Everyone?" call. So I went down to see what was up and she stopped. I never could figure out what she was up to or why, just that she felt the need to call me with short calls over and over.
Usually I only find up to six chickens during the day at any given time, but so far eleven are there when it's bedtime. And Walkabout likes raspberries as well as peanut butter crackers.
Point two is made.
It's the end of May. Open air burning is not allowed after May 31st. The Dude didn't mow much on the tractor last year. I did most of it and was constantly in danger of being scalped by various branches. You duck a lot on this property, learn to lean way over and still keep enough weight on the seat so the tractor motor doesn't stall out. This year, the Dude did the first couple of tractor mows because I've been trying to get my schedule straightened out now that I exercise. And he figured out about all the low branches. And he went and cut a lot of them. So the burn pile was pretty big. Maybe too big to be added to all summer until burning was allowed again in the late fall. So he and the old Volunteer Fireman also known as my father decided to burn this weekend.
It's been dry, so the idea made me nervous. Dry is relative, I know, but when we had a thunderstorm pass through at 6pm, I felt better about torching the pile. No wind so it was a huge column of flame pretty much straight up. Very intense.
There's this side image of E wearing only her underpants and a pink Hello Kitty blanket, dragging both a princess deck chair and a pink umbrella down to watch the bonfire. The Dude thought she should put clothes on. I said why? Why live on 10 acres if the kid has to put her clothes on all the time? Might as well live in suburbia. Me, I was running around in a state of deshabille the day before. As I said, it's about having 10 acres and going down to let chickens out in your pajamas, if you want to. Or yelling at your child to drop the cat because she's trying to climb out of a tree while holding onto it and you're in the middle of getting dressed at the time.
Point three is in there somewhere.
So there we are with a bonfire. And it burned down pretty quickly, but these things keep burning for hours. So when the Dude went down to put the girls to bed, he stirred the bed of 'embers' which were really still open flames. And I feel better going to bed if the fire is mostly out, it's drizzling or there's snow on the ground. So I pulled the hose over and poured water on the pile. And poured. And the Dude turned things over again. And I said "What's That? It looks like an egg shell" as if the Dude had thrown an old egg into the burn pile. And he said "An Egg? Can't be" so that meant he hadn't. And he came over to look and pronounced it was not one egg, but two. And they were pretty hard-boiled.
Ok, so now we know why egg production in the nesting boxes is down.
And we know why one of the girls called me to the garden/nursery area which is also where the burn circle is.
And that a chicken thinks a pile of brush is a safe place to put a few eggs. Not that she will remember where she put them.
And then E tells me last night that one of them has been laying eggs behind her sled in the barn and not in the coop.
A divine edict has been issued from the chicken gods. "Thou shalt remain in the run until thou hast laid thy eggs for the day." Walkabout excepted, of course.
It's 11 am, we've collected only 5 eggs so far and the girls are vociferously protesting the edict to anyone who comes near the run. Walkabout excepted, of course.