Maybe you’re wondering why you haven’t heard about our hens for awhile? Well, they peck and scratch, lay eggs, file into their house at night … it’s not the makings of breaking journalism.
But these girls will be in for a big surprise soon. They’re going to get a chicken run of their very own! That means they won’t be able to devour my vegetable garden like they did last year, and it will also save our porch from their profuse droppings. (Seriously, chickens poop a lot, which is great for heating up the compost pile, but not so great for enjoying a nice meal out on the patio.)
I’m not sure the hens are as thrilled about the news as I am.
But they’ll still have plenty of room to roam in their run, and we plan to let them out occasionally to explore the yard.
If you’ve been following along with the Hen Diaries from the beginning, you may remember that I knew nothing about rearing chickens when we brought those four little peeping fluff-balls home from the feed store. That wasn’t entirely an accident. I can get a tad carried away with researching things, so I decided that the only way to make room in my life for chickens was to not spend hours combing through the Backyard Chickens Message Board or reading tomes on chicken-keeping. Instead I’d just jump into the experience, ask my chicken-keeping neighbors for help, and refer to said Message Board and books as needed. And that’s worked out just fine.
But recently I was glancing through The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan and came to the part about chicken-keeping. Her explanation of “Lazy Layers” caught my eye. Madigan says you can tell if you have a lazy layer, because she probably has a smaller comb and wattle, and of course, doesn’t lay as many eggs as your other hens.
Hmmm, that sounds a lot like Gertrude…
What does Madigan suggest you do with these low egg producers? “You can improve your flock’s overall laying average by culling and slaughtering the lazy layers,” she writes.
Oh my. Well, I suppose if my neighbor can turn his yard into a duck sanctuary, we can keep one slightly lower- producing hen around. Besides if we ship any of the hens off to the chicken farm, it might be Charlotte. She’s started pecking our legs, just when we least suspect it.