Gateway to Breakfast

Mar 4, 2011 | 1 comment

A Case of Open or Shut

       On the theory that our chickens would rather be out foraging in the garden than cooped up in their run at this muddy time of year, we open their gate in the early morning and leave it widely agape until evening roll call.  That way, they have access to their feed and water and also to their nest boxes.  Usually, about mid-day, I make a trip down to the coop to collect eggs.  But not always.
     On these blustery days of late winter, I sometimes wait until the end of the day to gather eggs and, at the same time,  to close the gate and wish the girls ‘good night.’  Throughout the day, I glance out the windows now and then to see if they are all right and when I see that they are, I reassure myself that they don’t mind the occasional rain squalls or even a bit of pelting hail.  They can duck under the rhodies or, in some places, under the house.  And, after all, they’re just chickens.
     The other day, though, when I let them out in the morning, one of the two little red hens was busy on her nest, so only six girls toddled forth.  Knowing she would join them as soon as she finished her work, I propped open the gate as usual and left the others to their foraging.  Several times during the day I looked out and saw only five of the hens.  Not unusual.  They often split up – two or three going to one part of the garden and the others to another corner.  It didn’t occur to me to take note of which five I was looking at.
     Apparently it was always the same five because, when I headed for the coop at the close of day, I found that the gate had blown shut.  The little red hen, cluckingly distressed, chided me from inside the run.  Her “twin” little red hen and constant companion, paced outside the run making noises of commiseration.  Apparently, they had spent the day together, separated by the chicken wire fence enclosing the run.  The other five appeared, all of a-flock, eager for their evening scratch.  Very eager.  They had been locked out all day long, away from their food and water.
     Now it was my turn to be distressed.  No eggs.  Only the one that the little red hen had been busy producing in the early morning.  I have no doubt that the other girls laid their eggs that day, too.  But where?  Without access to their nest boxes, I’m sure they were creative.  I took several turns about the yard, looking under here, poking around there.  No luck.
     I imagine some of the night critters will make happy discoveries.  I hope it’s soon, before there’s a chance we’ll get treated to the smell of rotten eggs coming from under the house.  Now that would definitely put us all off our feed!

1 Comment

  1. sandy stonebreaker

    And have you had your daily quota of eggs since? Oft times chickens quit laying for a bit after being distressed. (I’m an old farm “girl” from the midwest).


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