Just as I was plotting to prevent my chickens from laying eggs in the woods, four more chickens started laying eggs this weekend. We got 9 eggs over the weekend. Five one day and four more the next. Of course, all that excitement wasn't without tragedy, one of the Rhode Island Reds has vanished. It happened either Thursday or Friday. Bryon noticed it looked like there were only eleven (they are hard to count!) and then we finally confirmed it when they roosted. Definately eleven now. I was out of town all weekend with my friend Dawn when he called to tell me he thought the skinny Aracauna had laid a light pink egg and to tell me at least one and maybe two chickens were missing. Thankfully it was only one.
I had decided I was going to keep them cooped up a few days this week before I left to try to find out if more of them were infact laying eggs around the woods somewhere. Turns out they may have been because our friend Aaron stepped on an egg out by the camper. They did decide the hen house was a better place though because that was the only one we have found outside so far. Today, I kept them cooped up until I got home at 5 pm. They were NOT happy about that and were complaining loudly this morning. They sure were happy to get out and chase those grasshoppers tonight and when I looked in the hen house I had FIVE more eggs.
We had so many eggs I took out the little basket to carry them in. Yes, I had all my eggs in one basket. I see that folly in that now, but it does make them easier to carry.
It boggles me WHY they won't lay in the nesting boxes. I even had fake eggs in there already so they'd get the hint. I took them out finally last night trying some reverse chicken psychology. It didn't work. Now all five of them are laying on the hen house floor UNDER the boxes. I can't figure them out.
We mowed tonight (things were getting pretty whooly out here) and Bryon killed a copperhead going into the barn right where Grace had just been playing with her sidewalk chalk while we mowed. Yuck. Bryon showed her the snake so she would know what to avoid. I hope it works. We've only killed about one a year out here which is pretty amazing really I suppose. I just don't like them at all.
While I was mowing I came across what was left of my vanished chicken. A couple of piles of feathers right out in the open in the back yard. Now I don't know what got her. We have seen a bobcat out there once, sneaking out of the edge of the woods AND we've seen a big hawk swoop down and eat a bird from our feeder so there are several possibilities. A dog could have gotten her too. It makes me hesitant to let them out while I'm gone. Once they are out there's no herding them back into the coop until they roost at night.
I don't know what do do about them. I suppose I'll just keep letting them out and if another one gets picked off that will make it easier to justify leaving them cooped up until I get home at night. I have to say with just one less chicken in the hen house, they DO have more room to roost. Maybe it was meant to be.