Notes from Windward: #62

Payment in Full

Heather talks about a special arrangement

Hens laying in the rhubarb
This year I have had two hens religously lay eggs for me everyday, for months at a time. First near my recycled cans and now in my mint plant.

I have always thought that the chickens were pretty smart. I swear the hen in the mint is laying me eggs in thanks for feeding her every day! My plants are all in big pots on tables on my deck and when I go outside she murmers to herself, or me, I'm not sure which. I always talk back to her and throw bread in a nearby planter. I leave her alone and later in the day I find a brown egg in my mint plant. She has usually eaten her bread and she's gone.

A few months ago Skinny Mini, another hen, was doing the egg laying honors. She and I have quite a history. A few years ago a hen had chicks in the dead of winter. We all ran around trying to catch them for a few days to put in the brooder but they were fast and their mother was smart.She stayed in the sheep pens most of the time and it was hard to run after them when she went under the shelters or changed pens.

We all decided if she had had her babies in the middle of winter and was so determined to raise them that she could. And she did! She had seven to begin with but ended up raising five for the long haul.

She was quite industrious. She would go under the shelters or anywhere the sheep had been lying where it was warm and scratch away and eat whatever she could find. She was independent and not too receptive in the beginning to being fed because she knew we wanted to chase her and take away her chicks.

There was no use in throwing food for her into the sheep pens because the sheep would mob the area. Thirty sheep charging the fences for bread is not a pretty sight if you don't have enough for everyone.

Anyway, a couple of weeks after they were hatched she started showing up ant my trailer in the morning. I feed all the chickens, ducks and peacocks at around ten. It was odd to see those little chicks in the snow pecking away for their share. They did seem to be thriving though so I decided to let them be.

The mother also found that if she stuck around my place she would get bread and scraps. One of the chicks, Skinny Mini, tended to stick around close to my home over the last year and this year she started laying under one of my tables near my recycled cans. She wedged herself between the bags and laid one a day on my deck for quite awhile.

At that time we had a skunk who was killing ducks and chickens at night. One night the skunk went after something on my deck and Savanah, our Great pyrenese, scared it and it sprayed. That was enough for Skinny Mini though and and she decided that spot was no longer okay for her egg laying duties. I did miss seeing her though. I really had enjoyed getting something back from one of the many birds I feed. I was disappointed and missed seeing the eggs everyday. She still came to eat in the mornings but had obviously been offended by the skunk's intrusion.

About a month ago a young hen kept sitting in my plants at night. She did this in different plants for about a week and I'd shoo her out every morning. I didn't quite get why she was doing this but it irritated me because my plants make me money and she was damaging them.

One morning I shooed her out and in my mint plant lay a beautifuyl brown egg. I was quite excited and hopeful that she would settle into a routine and stick to the mint plant. And sure enough she has. I have now received a little over two dozen eggs! I don't really expect her to lay through the winter but for now I'll just enjoy my fresh eggs and continue feeding the birds.

It's quite a nice arrangment.