Our flock is a mixed flock. I’d love to tell you that the breeds were picked for their superior laying ability, but the truth is it came down to appearance, availability and egg color. Yes you read that right, egg color. You’re probably most familiar with the quintessential white egg. Here in New England we have brown eggs (sing with me now, brown eggs are local eggs and local eggs are fresh). Some of the fancy breeds lay beautiful pastel color eggs, but A-Man and eggs have not always had the best relationship. In college he experienced salmonella poisoning and a reaction so severe it required an ambulance ride and hospitalization. It’s only been relatively recently that he started eating eggs again.
Despite the fact that the perpetrator of his illness was a western omelet, something about the fancy eggs brings back bad memories. So our girls will only lay white and brown eggs. The majority of our flock are reds 6 New Hampshire and 6 Rhode Island. Our next largest population are the barred rocks then we have 3 Leg Horns and 3 sex-linkeds. well, we had 3 sex-linkeds.
Last week the circle of life continued. One of our flock became another creature’s lunch. One of the other Mother Hens (the human kind) was nearby at the time, but the exact details of the demise are unclear. The girls were out and about foraging for bugs and at one point there was a big kerfuffle that involved the dogs throwing a ginormous hissy fit, a flurry of feathers and lots of squawking. Things settled down pretty quickly, so no one thought much of it at the time. When we did our nightly headcount we discovered that one of the sex-linkeds was gone. A search was conducted but every other hen was in the pen and the saying “birds of a feather stick together” is true. Not to mention, that no bird EVER misses out on a bowl of dinner scraps. Holding out just a smidgen of hope, we waited 24 hours before before we broke the news to our respective flocks, but she didn’t return.
So now we’re down to 23 birds. I suspect this will not be the last time this happens, nature of the beast as they say. The birds go off in the woods to forage. The collies have decided that the birds occasionally need to be herded. If the hens move too far away from home base, Mork, the older one will circle them back in with calm and patience. Dory, the younger one demonstrates no finesse whatsoever and just runs at them barking until they move back to where she thinks they should be. However, the dogs are limited by an electric fence. If a chicken strolls beyond the fence they will lose their protection detail. “Oohhh I’ll take a jolt in the neck to chase a chicken”, said no dog ever.