Saturday, June 18, 2011

Treasure Hunt

The benefit of having free range hens versus keeping them in a chicken run is probably obvious to most. Healthier chickens, more nutritious eggs, and fertilized pasture are the most obvious. There is a down side however, if you see it that way. For the past 3 days egg production has seemingly come to a halt, with only a couple of eggs each day in the usual places. The usual places are probably most unusual as we have let them pick their favorite nesting spot: some lay in the coop, some in the shed, and some in the garage.

Hidden Nest

The Hidden Entry

Blackberry Ensconced Quince
After combing the place several times and coming up empty, the local raven flock became suspect number one in the egg disappearance. No eggs in any of the nooks or crannies I could think of. This afternoon however, after watching "les girls" toddle off toward the tall grasses near the quince bush that has become ensnarled by blackberry vines, it dawned on me where the eggs had to be. Sure enough, a hidden cache of one dozen eggs lay in a nice little divot scratched out by the hens. On hands and knees, reaching deep into the brambles, my hand alighted on the very cool smooth surface of an egg.

Their choice of spots for a nest is impeccable. Not only is it completely invisible to the human (or raven) eye, the quince bush provides the element of refrigeration that has kept the eggs fresh until I could find them. I am thankful to have hens that can free range, carefully choose their nesting spots, and provide me with an entertaining Saturday afternoon treasure hunt.

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