Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Where Are All My Eggs?

There's a conspiracy going on around our farm. Somebody is holding out on me in the egg department. A lot of somebodies.

I got oh-so spoiled when our first group of hens started laying. I had billions of hens, and billions of eggs to go along. When you're feeding a crew three meals a day cooking from scratch, you need a boatload of eggs. Boy, did we live it up! Eggs for breakfast every morning, quiche for dinner some nights, custards for dessert, not to mention mine and the children's favorite: thick homemade eggnog.

Last spring we lost 24 hens and three roosters in one fell swoop when a pack of wild dogs came running through the farm in the middle of the day (when all the chickens were free-ranging). Now that one hurt. To make up for the loss, we picked up a few dozen pullets from a local store.

Our first encounter with hens-on-strike was last summer after the new hens had gotten integrated in to the clan. I turns out that the new ladies must have brought lice into the coop. We didn't figure out why the hens were getting so skinny until it was really bad. Since we didn't want any creepy chemicals covering our critters (catch the alliteration?), we treated the lice with diatomaceous earth. The plan was succesful, and their laying pattern picked back up again.

Our second encounter is happening now. My ladies are molting. I have never seen such ugly chickens in my life. (I know, being a city kid, that doesn't say much.) Those sweet, puffy mommas have recently become jagged, scrawny creatures that will never grace the cover of any magazine. I have been rationing eggs fiercely the last month or so, because it appears that molting and being on strike go together.

Since hope springs eternal even when grocery budgets do not, I'm on the lookout for an increased harvest from the nesting boxes. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" Hebrews 11:1.

Things not seen, huh? I think eggs qualify there.


It doesn't look like she knows, either...

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