Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

‘Tis the season

Posted on | April 19, 2010 | 7 Comments

It’s that time of year.  When the chickens’ desire to procreate overrides their desire to provide me with fresh eggs for market.  The entire 4 acres of our farm becomes the battleground for a strategic game of  chicken-hide-and-farmer-seek.

Bad chicken.  This is not the nest box.

Neither is this.

There are varying skill levels of the participants in this game.



I probably wouldn’t have found the white egg tucked in the seashell mulch.  But the hen who laid the brown egg gave both of them away.  Why is it that no matter how carefully you choose your friends you always end up with a tag-a-long like her?

(Huh?  What is seashell mulch?  Well, when you have 4 kids and take frequent trips to the beach you have to do something with their beachcombing collection.  You didn’t want another seashell angel ornament for Christmas, did you?)

This would be cute if they hadn’t killed two of my Double Red Ruffled Tulips in the process.  Somechicky owes me $5.00.

This would be clever if they didn’t try hiding eggs under the generator every single year.  It worked well for the first year until a  hen started clucking loudly from underneath the cover.  Since it sounded so much like the joyful and boastful clucking that accompanies a freshly laid egg, I went to investigate and discovered a clutch of 37 eggs.  Which I quickly confiscated.  Pride goeth before a fall, ladies.

This egg was on top of a round hay bale in the goat barn, just a few inches from the ceiling.  You couldn’t even see the depression of the nest from the floor of the barn.  Luckily, Pretty and Big were climbing the bales and discovered it.  I have spies everywhere, my little chicken friends.  Everywhere.

I’m not afraid to reach in between the slats of a pallet to retrieve eggs.  Even though there could be snakes or black widow spiders hiding out of sight, ready to  seal my doom with their venomous bites.  I’m not afraid, I’m not afraid, I’m not afraid……on second thought, I’m sure my hand is too big to fit in there.  I wonder where the kids are……

The hay rack is a favorite spot.  All the popular girls are doing it there.

One hen risks death and destruction to lay her egg in the sandbox each day.  In the backyard.  Where the dogs are.  I assume she sneaks over the fence in the gray early morning dawn before I have dragged the dogs off the kids’ bedroom floor and put them outside to do their business.  I also assume that I will eventually be sitting in the window seat, sipping coffee, hoping for a quiet day, and see the dogs having chicken for breakfast.

I’m not sure what this hiding place says about me and the chickens.  Are the chickens so stupid that they think I won’t find their eggs next to the nest box?  Or do the chickens think I’m so stupid that I won’t notice them there.  Hard to say.  But I do hear them chuckling sometimes when my back is turned.

P.S.  You’ll notice that there are some wooden eggs in the nest boxes.   Farmers use fake eggs to show the chickens where to lay and encourage them to lay in the nest boxes instead of other places on the farm.  It works.  Usually.  Sometimes.  Well, unless they find a place they like better.  Or if they hate you.

In the end, I gathered 31 eggs from 36 hens yesterday.  Not too shabby.  Better bring your A game, girls.   Because I’m…oh no.  Look at that.  Bruno!  How could you let them do that to you?  Bad chickens!


7 Responses to “‘Tis the season”

  1. Erika Robbins
    April 20th, 2010 @ 3:52 am

    I had a chicken once who came up on the porch to lay her eggs in one of the cat condos. At least we always knew where to look!

  2. Tanya
    April 20th, 2010 @ 5:03 am

    That is amazing. I didn’t know chickens could be so creative.. I love the picture of the dog.

  3. Annabelle
    April 20th, 2010 @ 8:39 am

    have you considered more “private” boxes? like something with a cover, and apple crate on it’s side? just a thought. We have 6 rogue hens out of 35 that roost and nest out of the coop. I have to get to their nest before out egg sucking dog does! we also have ducks that will drop eggs all over the place if let out too early, it’s quite the egg hunt.

  4. Sandybee
    April 20th, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

    Oh the fun I’m missing by being a chickenless city girl. Very funny post! Thanks.

  5. Duane Keys
    April 21st, 2010 @ 8:29 pm

    Our chickens seemed to prefer the a bit more privacy (and straw over shavings). But, I still find the eggs everywhere like you do!

  6. Autumn
    April 26th, 2010 @ 6:41 pm

    The dog picture is hilarious. Also, where do you get the wooden eggs? I used a golf ball and it worked okay until they decided to actually golf with it. I think they even scored (a birdie?). What’s crazy is that recently they’ve decided to sleep in the nesting box. Nastiness in the morning! *sigh* How do I discourage that?

  7. admin
    April 27th, 2010 @ 2:40 am

    I got my wooden eggs from eNasco when I purchased my egg baskets. I used golf ball for years, too. Every once in a while the chickens will go through a stage where they sleep in the nest boxes. I have the ability to block off my nest boxes by hanging a sheet over them in the late afternoon after I collect the eggs. After I do that for 5 or 6 days it breaks their habit. Guess it depends on how your nest boxes are set up.

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