Hermione: 1. Me: 0.

You remember Hermione, right? Hermione who loves the barn and lays in the nesting boxes only as a last resort? Hermione whose eggs I love, but haven’t been able to find?

Yesterday morning, I was walking through the barn on my way to the coop, when I heard an odd rustling from one of the corners of the show room (the barn was built by a Russian carriage maker, who used the large fore area as his show room.) Walking toward the sound, I saw a very large wicker basket in the corner, with a galvanized steel tub on top. You know, the kind you fill with ice to hold the soda and beer at barbecues.

This corner of the barn had been used as a center of operations for the coop and run construction, and the tub was holding scraps of hardware cloth (which is devilishly sharp and dangerous stuff), and…Hermione.

Hermione!! (shakes fist)

I lifted her out of the tub to find…an egg. An Hermione egg. Dark, rosy, speckled. Ah, how I’ve missed ’em. I returned to the house, triumphant. I had a Hermione egg!

Odd thing, though. The egg was cold. Oh, well. Must be the cold-conducting properties of the metal tub. Right? Half an hour later, I came through the barn again with my elder stepdaughter to find Hermione in the tub AGAIN. But, why…?! She’d laid her egg for the day. Right?

When she jumped nimbly out of the tub, we peeked inside to find…an Hermione egg. This one was warm. So, the first one I found was…YESTERDAY’S egg.

But how was she getting into the barn when the front doors were closed? The Man and I watched from the kitchen window to see if we could catch her at it and solve the mystery. Sure enough…

The front doors of the barn slide from one side to the other on an upper track, but there is no lower track, which means the doors can be pushed into the barn from the bottom. It seems our little Hermione has been forcing her way into the barn by nosing (beaking?) the door at the bottom and squeezing though. Now, these doors are HEAVY. I can barely move them some days.

Short of locking up the front doors each and every time the chickens are out (an impractical proposition), there isn’t much we could do to stop this determined little hen. We threw up our hands in surrender. She had won.

We decided we should at least make Her Own Private Nestingbox (with apologies to River Phoenix) a tad more hospitable, so she wasn’t laying on razor-sharp wire in a freezing-cold bucket. I sent my stepdaughter out to the barn to line the emptied bucket with old towels, then we put several handfuls of wood shavings on top. Lovely!

But…chicken see, chicken do. And Maisie saw. Within minutes, she was settling in to the now-comfy laying annex. I could almost see the thought bubble over her head that read, “Sweeeeet”.

I would have loved to have had photographic evidence of all these proceedings, because they were very, very funny. But I never seem to have my camera with me when these things happen. Sorry.

Not long after, the whole family was to clean and clear out the barn in preparation for the storm we knew was coming, so we could get the vehicles inside. Maisie stayed in the new nesting annex as we cleaned, and left us one of her pale eggs as thanks, but now was the time that corner needed to be reorganised. The Man agreed to rig up something for them in that same corner. And thank goodness for that, because I, for one, was through fighting Hermione. She is clearly a better chicken than I.

So, in the end, the grass catcher (remember the grass catcher?) was placed in that corner, with the refurbished bucket inside, and there it will stay for the winter. Hermione can push her way into the barn and lay there in peace and complete privacy whenever the girls are free ranging.

Today, the barn doors were fully open all day, and the two girls did not forget. First Maisie:

And, later, I was left a gorgeous, dark, rosy, speckled egg:

So, it was one of those things where even when you lose…you win.

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