There is consternation at the hen coop. For the fifth day in a row there are only two eggs waiting for me instead of the normal three or four. My four “ladies” aka Mustard, Mrs Potsdam, the Gingernut Ranger and Bustle all avoid eye contact and studiously look the other way when I enquire which one of them has stopped laying.
It seemed a great idea at the time when Teenage Son declared that we “absolutely have to get some chickens”. I had visions of majestic free range hens wafting around the garden and fresh eggs for breakfast, and to be fair, the first two years were idyllic. There is nothing quite like going and collecting the eggs in the morning and then having them for breakfast. Not to mention the taste, they are delicious and shop bought eggs are now met with derision and scorn in our household.
Every night the chickens are shut in their hen house and are not allowed out until there are at least three eggs in the nesting boxes. (We discovered quite quickly that if we let them out early they would lay their eggs all over the garden and then our delightful dog would find them, eat the addled contents and throw up while we were watching Strictly). They are then let out to peck peacefully on the lawn and in the flowerbeds.
But recently, in addition to not producing enough eggs, our ladies have become slightly delinquent. They have taken to hopping up onto the large terracotta pots by our front door and scratching violently looking for tasty titbits and at the same time uprooting all the petunias and leaving them shrivelled on the ground or festooned on the nearby rose bushes. The petunias have already been replaced twice but I can never catch the culprits in the act, although there was a fairly startling moment when I returned home and found three of the four hens actually sitting in the pots like an advertisement for kitsch garden ornaments.
So, productivity is down and delinquency is up. Husband had a quick look on Google to look for solutions to low egg yields but all suggestions come down to the same thing eventually. ” Eat the culprit”. This is of course impossible as our ladies are now part of the family, so I have resigned myself longterm to owning four ornamental hens, setting up a standing order with the garden centre and buying my free range eggs at Waitrose.