Without explanation three weeks ago egg production dropped down to almost 20%. Hens will naturally decrease their laying each fall as the the amount of daylight decreases, but this was way beyond the seasonal slowdown. Something else had to be going on. My first hunch was that they might be laying them inside the vine thicket that’s covering the giant fallen oak tree behind their coop. I showed up with a set of loppers and hacked my way into the vine-covered fortress the best I could, but being 6 feet 4 inches tall I can’t go into all the small spaces that a chicken can. I found no eggs but at least I left with something: a multitude of thorns embedded in my skin from all the brier vines and raspberry canes. Not easily deterred I showed back up at night with a powerful flashlight so I could once again (from a safe distance of a million thorns) crouch on the ground and scan for hidden eggs. Still nothing. I chalked it up to a slower than usual fall egg-laying season, and that was that. Until a few evenings ago. We noticed some of the chickens were missing from the coop at night and with the assistance of the previously mentioned flashlight, found some of them roosting inside the thicket. While we searched for more hens something caught our eyes…dozens of dirt-covered eggs all over the ground, far inside where no human could reach. The following day I came back with my loppers and harvested what I could. I could only reach fifteen but I’m convinced there are many dozens still hidden from our sight. Once I move them off this pasture I’m going to mow down all the vines, collect the rest of the dirty eggs, and let the dogs have them.
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