I have two Production Red hens, Haley, of the bare bum, and Hermione, of the lays in wacky places. I brought home three production Red chicks last spring, but one went roo, and was rehomed. Sniff.
Above is said rooster, Jack, at sixteen weeks, on the day he left us for his new home, where he was killed by a fox in the process of defending his new ladies. That was a very sad day for me. Jack and I were tight.
Anyway, that left Haley and Hermione, who have both, as one would expect, been egg-laying champs for us. Why would one expect it? Because they are production hybrids, hens engineered through breeding to maximise egg production and minimise broodiness. As a bonus, they lay our darkest eggs, eggs that are the glory of the carton, to my eye.
So, as hard as it is when a hen stops laying for a while, I find it harder still when it’s one of the Reds.
In this egg drought we’re enduring (I mean, really, two eggs yesterday, from ten laying hens, on one of the longest days of the year. Really?!), there are a variety of causes. Two broodies and one fart egg machine bring us down to a maximum daily output of seven. Then Maisie and Haley went on the fritz, and the other five are only human.
Maisie’s back in action, laying every day, but Haley’s eggs are still AWOL. She laid a gruesome soft-shelled egg for me in the Hideaway two days ago, and the chaos in the barn being what it is, she managed to lay this gooey mess directly on top of one of The Man’s golf gloves. Shhhh…..
So, Something is wrong with Haley, and it may take some time to get back to rights. What’s Hermione’s story?
The last egg I collected from Hermione was on June 8. I know this because, on each egg, I write the name of the hen who laid it and the date it was laid, and I just checked with the customer who got it.
I’ve been looking in strange places, because, this is Hermione we’re talking about. But I haven’t seen her missing from the group for any period of time, and came to the conclusion that she simply on lay away, like so many of her sisters have been.
I was walking toward the coop hallway, as I do a dozen times a day, seven days a week, when my Spidey senses began to tingle. Something wasn’t right:
See that silver pegboard to the right? That’s the opening of the first pony stall. I’ve worked very hard to block it off, ever since the mice opened up a bag of grass seed there last winter, as attractive to the hens as it was to the mice. I’d seen Hermione express an interest there but…she wouldn’t, would she? She couldn’t. Non è possibile.
I drew closer:
And looked over the barrier to get a closer look at the junk beyond:
And over just a little bit more…:
And…there is is. There they are. SIX gorgeous Hermione eggs. A full half dozen. Laying like clockwork, just hiding them very, very well.