Some of my chickens are ready to lay. Their combs and lobes are flush red. Some have not begun to change over yet- but several are ready. I watch them throughout the day to see where they are laying their eggs.
They peck through the compost heap, first landing on the rim and then diving down into the refuse and leaves that are rotting. As they break down, they become the compost that will feed next year’s tomatoes. The tomatoes will turn into fodder for the hornworms and us. I hate the hornworms. The chickens love them however.
They climb on top of the brush pile and waddle back and forth on the maple stripling like an overweight gymnast on a balance beam. They do not disappear into the body of the pile, electing to remain in plain sight. They are clearly not laying there.
The flock begins to break into smaller groups. Some of the chickens head into the woods. Some go down to the orchard. Some for some inexplicable reason take to the road. Why did the chicken cross the road? Probably not to lay an egg, as far as I can surmise.
I follow after and watch them a bit. One resents the invasion of her privacy and she lets me know. She makes guttural noises at me that let me know I am not welcome. I am bigger than her though so after a few minutes she seems resigned to having me there and goes about her business.
They drift further into the woods. Zuzu, the mediocre farm dog, takes issue with them and chases them back towards the clearing. They register their disgust at this perceived slight. They will not stand to have Zuzu’s order imposed upon them. They wait for me to admonish the dog for riling them up, and then they continue on their voyage.
They peck at the exposed insulation around the foundation. I chase them off. It is a Sisyphean task, and I am outmatched. I have a job to do, and I always leave. They simply bide their time until I am gone and go back to pecking at the side of the house.
I do not have the time to stay all day. I have other things I must do, or should do today. I take one last sip of my coffee before heading out to start the day. I will check the woods when I get home, but the chances of me finding an egg are slim. Tomorrow, I will just lock them into their coop.