Monday, June 12, 2006

Chicken Secret

There were no eggs from the five naughty chickens at Te Horo for weeks. Even before I left over a month ago their nesting box was empty day after day, and since then there's been nothing.

We speculated that they were getting too old, that they were laying somewhere in the wild fringes of the property or that they were just taking the winter off from production.

Al gave them many stern talkings to, and even went on a hunger strike, threatening not to eat anything until he could eat one of their eggs. Naturally the girls called his bluff. No eggs and eventually (after two or three days- while I fretted from afar) Al started eating again.

Then it came time to change the straw in the chook house. Al and the kids shooed the chickens out, counting heads: one, two, three, four... where's number five? They looked in the laying boxes and in the corners, they speculated about stoats or other predators and then finally they thought to look on high. Up above human eye level, on a stack of straw bales over the nesting boxes was the recalcitrant hen. And underneath her, the egg mystery solved. A lovingly guarded cache of seventeen brown eggs appeared.

The chickens, as usual, were highly suspicious of their new straw (creatures of habit) and no doubt mourned the lost of their incredible nest. And Al and the kids had scrambled eggs for breakfast.

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