Our baby son hasn’t shown any signs of appearing after 42 weeks so we’ve had to change plans from a home birth to being induced in hospital. Meanwhile, our usually trusty hens have decided to start generously spreading their laying efforts throughout the garden. They range so freely these days, over the best part of an acre, that a waddle back to the coop is clearly too much of an effort for most – so the birds are adopting new cosy spaces in which to leave their much sought-after eggs. The diminishing yield in the nesting box was the first clue that this was happening – then our dogs’ sudden enthusiasm for certain spots in various outbuildings around the plot. Especially popular is their old kennel, which is still straw-strewn from housing Poorly Pig when he was unwell back in the autumn is one such hunting ground – it combines warmth and darkness, two qualities much favoured by laying hens – and the bales that are stacked under the lean-to on the back of our brick barn. Labradors Megan (pictured above, observed by Beau the Bengal, top left) and Amy and German Shepherd Darcy love nothing better than a freshly laid egg, which they eat shell and all. In order to outwit these scrumpers and reclaim the supply for ourselves and our families, we’ve taken to keeping the flock in the confines of its run until early afternoon when there is a decent yield in the nestboxes to satisfy human demand. Then the hens are free to peck and scratch on the plot for the rest of the day to their heart’s desire. Naturally, our foraging canine companions are disappointed and can’t quite work out why there are no longer any of these convenient snacks scattered about the Smallholdings for their delectation. Meanwhile, once again we’re collecting enough eggs to feed us, plus our relatives and friends each week.
Happy henkeeping all.