Saturday, June 14, 2014

Why Does the Chicken Cross the Road?

To lay an egg. My daughter and daughter-in-law, who live in a pretty little brick house in the tiny rural town of Wolflake, Indiana, had told me about their neighbor's hen, but the story didn't really take, until I saw it for myself, while visiting with grandchildren. I had thought it was a one-time occurrence, but turns out it happens daily, and has been going on for more than a month.  Some time during every day, the hen escapes her own fence, marches across the street into Hannah and Lisa's yard, settles into the same corner against their house, and lays one enormous egg. Deed done, she cackles and marches back home. So far, she has given them over three dozen eggs, for which their good neighbors will accept no payment.


 Why DOES she do this? She has a perfectly lovely place for laying eggs in her own yard, which seems to suit her yard mates just fine. Is she smarter or not as smart as the other chickens? Is it simply that she, like me, craves silence and solitude in a busy chaotic world? Perhaps to seasoned raisers of laying hens this is not unusual behavior. Still, it is a remarkable thing, made more so by the size of her eggs. 

Too large for standard egg carton
One egg, double yoke, fills entire ramekin

It's a surprising and special phenomenon for my city grandchildren, too. When ten-year-old Makayla collected one of the eggs immediately after it was laid, I thrilled to hear her catch her breath and whisper, "It's warm."

The neighbors haven't named their hens, but Hannah and Lisa call this one Red, after the cook on their favorite TV show, Orange is the New Black, who said in a memorable episode, "All I wanted to do was eat a chicken that was smarter than other chickens, and absorb its power."

I'm hoping to absorb Red's creative energy, having eaten her eggs. dkm


Jane Robertson said...

Wow! - on so many fronts!!! Those are seriously BIG and beautiful eggs. Must take a lot of energy to produce and lay, poor lassie.

I too had a hen (from Oxkids Niki and PG) who insisted on getting under a fence, crossing a public paddock and laying in the grounds of Cholmondeley Children's Home. A good 100 yards+ from her abode.

What is really unusual is that Red is laying in full view - well it seems that way from your photo but maybe foliage is held aside.

I love the photo of Makayla holding the egg. A warm egg is such a little (or big in this case) miracle.

Thanks for sharing Deb.

dkm said...

Thank you, Jane---I knew you'd know more about this than I do! Interesting to note you had a hen that did the same thing. But why don't they all do it? Are they like people---in that we all have our unique styles and ways we like to do things?

You guessed right---I held the camera inside the row of bushes for the kodak moment :-) but it's not so well hidden. The sun gets back there just fine. Might she have chosen that spot for its warmth?

Believe it or not, the warm egg miracle was a new experience for me---I'm so glad the kids got to discover it for themselves.

Jane Robertson said...

:-) From my observation, hens have very different personalities. It may be to be with breed. The aracanas for example are shy and retiring; other breeds much friendlier and extroverted.

Something that intrigues me with my current bunch... Five of them (mother and daughters) insist on roosting in the trees inside the chook enclosure while the others roost in the (relative) warmth of the hen house. The tree dwellers roost in the open through the worst of weather. My guess is they feel safer, being higher up.

As in the human world, diversity is a wonderful thing :-)

dkm said...

Yes! Here's to diversity.
Tree dwelling chickens? Had no idea.