Thursday, June 30, 2005

Secret egg deposit revealed

No wonder I thought the hens had stopped laying.

My husband had put some excess hay in a big box, to get it up off the ground while he hosed down the shop porch. Then, as things tend to happen around here, it just got left there.

Somebody else (it might have been me) put some more empty boxes on top, to keep them above Jasmine-munching level. Said someone then never actually got around to moving the boxes the next week, after the near-overflowing garbage can had been emptied.

Turns out that was much more inviting than some old lovingly handbuilt nesting boxes in a super-deluxe chicken coop.

But now that someone moved the boxes that made the roof of this cubbyhole, it's apparently not so inviting anymore. They've moved the secret stash somewhere else. I haven't found it yet.


We've been losing critters again, I think to coyotes. One of our muscovies and several chickens. My favorite chicken. The only one we had left who was laying the green eggs. We have lots more Easter Eggers but they're still young pullets.

Leghorns start laying incredibly fast, at about four months of age. Our Ameraucanas/Easter Eggers were late bloomers, not laying until they were six to eight months old. Now that they're all gone, it'll be two to four months before we see green eggs again.

I've come to the conclusion that Jasmine thinks her job is to guard us instead of the animals. The chickens make it worse by insisting on staying in the woods, where it's cooler, but where Jasmine can't see them, and where the coyotes can pick them off with ease.


Anonymous said...

I've read that Pyrs are most effective as livestock guards when they are raised with whatever creature they're supposed to guard. E.g., Pyr puppy lives with lambs from the time it's weaned, etc. Apparently the dog then thinks of itself more as a sheep than a dog, and guards the sheep because they are its "pack." Did you try that with Jasmine? Probabaly not - who could stand to leave an adorable Pyr puppy (is there anything cuter on earth?) out in the chicken coop.
I've also read that Pyrs work together naturally and efficiently as guards when you have several. There's an excuse to get another adorable Pyr puppy!

swamp4me said...

Have you considered foxes as the culprits in the chicken disappearances?

roger said...

the loss of chickens vs the cost and effort of fencing. i once had to put a chickenwire roof over a medium large chicken yard to foil a hawk who saw the place as a cafeteria.

i think that even modern chickens have some urge to keep their eggs hidden. they aren't very smart but day after day of laying and never getting to keep any might mount up to frustration.

Karen Schmautz said...

Oh, I'm so sorry about your green egg layer. The eggs are so pretty. Reminds me of Dr. Seuss "Green Eggs and Ham".

I've seen a couple of coyotes on my property, but since I don't have chickens and they don't eat my flowers I mostly just yell at them to go away...or make my Jasmine bark at them. She's also part Pyr... but was abused as a young dog, so she's not a very good guard dog when it comes to guarding me from mean people.

swamp4me said...

On a totally unrelated note...

My soap order is on its way to my mailbox at this very moment. I'm so excited, it's just like Christmas :)

Happy and Blue 2 said...

I have never seen a green egg. At least not one that was green on the outside.
How very strange..

Anonymous said...

i'm sorry to hear about you losing chickens...i've had my own experiences with Pyrs and their protective tendencies. i went to idaho as a volunteer "wolf guardian" - the point being to keep the re-introduced wolves and the sheep (from grazing allotments) apart. there were packs of Pyrs that had been raised as puppies with the sheep. they sure did a good job of keeping everyone and everything away from "their" flocks...maybe you really DO need to consider a new puppy....i mean, you can't have TOO many can you????? can you?????

shannon said...

We found a secret egg stash too last night - our two remaining Americunaas were "not laying", but it turns out they, and a few friends made a nest on the second level of the inside coop and are laying when they fly up there to sleep. Sorry you're losing birds mom is pushing me to free range everyone again but after losing so many I still am more comfy with them scrathing around in their covered yard, ramshackle as it may be.

Rurality said...

Y'all are trying to get me into so much trouble, asking for another Pyr!

Jasmine supposedly did grow up around goats, chickens, and cats. (We got her at about 3 month old.) And she will guard them if the sees something else going after them.

Swampy we've seen lots of coyotes here but only one fox. (Actually we didn't even see that one, someone else did!) Not sure if that means anything, of course, but this area is just really overrun with coyotes. (Hope you like the soap, by the way!)

I think one chicken may have been eaten by a hawk - we found feathers everywhere. But that was several months ago. With coyotes, no tell-tale feathers!

DPR if we didn't have such expenses right now on other things, we'd spring for fencing I think. It'll just have to wait a bit.

Hick I don't know if Jasmine would protect me from a mean person or not... I would hope so though! The meter reader is certainly afraid of her.

H&B, they are the same on the inside... like people I guess LOL. Some chickens lay blue eggs, or blue-ish anyway. But those are pricy and hard to find, I think.

Wolfie I guess I should be glad for my chickens' sake that there aren't any wolves around here. :)

Shannon, I've been gone a lot so I think that has something to do with it. When I'm here I try to walk Jasmine into the woods several times a day and that really helps. It's too hot now to keep them in the coop all day so I more or less have to let them out.

Rhodent said...

Sorry about you missing chickens :o(

I do love you posts about your chickens, though. They sound like hours of entertainment! ;o)

R.Powers said...

Coyotes certainly are adaptable. They are probably not what most people picture when they think of Florida, but we have them in large numbers. Personally, I've lost more chickens to raccoons and oppossums, but we see the coyotes from time to time. This is watermelon country and coyotes are actually a big problem for those farmers. The coyotes will go down a row of melons taking a bite out of each one. I never would have expected that.
I like free-ranging my bantams, but they seem to prefer roosting on the porch, making a mess of it, and freaking out my dogs who consider the porch "theirs".

Suzanne said...

Sorry about your lost chickens. The eggs are beautiful (and delicious I'm sure), especially th green ones.

Rurality said...

Rhodent, they really are great entertainment. I think I'd like them for pets even without the egg benefits.

Floridacracker, I can't imagine why coyotes would take a bite out of each melon! Maybe they think the next one will be better...

Zanne the fresh eggs really are good. I'll miss my green eggs for a while!