The correct answer is inside the comfy, safe nest boxes Hannah and Susan built. That’s where I find at least four brown eggs every day. However, the Ameraucana (which lays blue eggs) has decided she would rather dispense hers somewhere in the woods. It’s been two days since I have found a blue egg. Looking all over the place, under rocks, inside sheds, even on the ground, her eggs are nowhere to be found. My hens have lost their full-day outdoor privileges. They will stay inside their coop until noon, or after they have laid some eggs. It’s so hard to be mad at the beautiful ladies.
We bought six laying pullets from a nearby farm: 2 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Barred Rocks, 1 Ameraucana, and 1 Buff Orpington. The flock is very tight and sticks together as they scratch and peck on the forest floor. They also recognize me and come running over whenever I come by to check on them.
Other than the blue egg layer’s game, they are wonderful chickens. Each egg has it’s own color, texture, and size. As they get older, the eggs will get bigger. They each lay about an egg every day or every other day. I share the gifts with Susan and Glynis and they bring up food scraps for the girls.
I don’t have to haul my big bucket of food waste to the compost anymore—I can hardly keep up with what they will eat. Inside their coop they have organic grain from Lightning Tree Farm in NY State, water, oyster shells, 3 nest boxes, 2 roosts, and I bring them whey from our cheese.
We bought electric poultry fencing from Wellscroft Farm in Harrisville, NH. They fly right over it, so it turns out to be useless for our set up. Also, any predator could climb a tree or the roof and jump in to the fencing easily. So, we will use it for the meat birds this summer. Alas, they are truly free range chickens going anywhere they please.
So far, the woods have been kind to us and we have not lost any of them to predators. I try to be home when they are outside and I always lock them inside at night. As soon as the sun begins to set, they gather on their roosts and wait for me to shut the door and say goodnight.
I love the noises they make. I feel so calm sitting nearby on a rock watching them happily peck and scratch the ground. What are they finding in these dense woods? Insects? Worms? Larvae? It’s another lovely exchange between humans and livestock. I take good care of them and they provide my eggs. They are slightly different than a conventionally raised egg in several ways. High protein, fresh, never been refrigerated, high in Omega 3’s, lower in saturated fat, lower in cholesterol, and school bus yellow yolks.
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