Friday, 10 February 2012

Free Range Egg Collecting... the proper way

Take a suitable receptacle, (bucket basket shape,) pull on your wellies, [Lou checks that this tricky little word hasn't been spell checked by the computer. Computer is obsessed by sex and keeps changing wellies to willies, really annoying.]

Where was I? ...Oh yes.. wear appropriate clothing. Currently my appropriate clothing comprises two pairs of sox, one pair of saggy crotch thermal long johns, one pair of tight jeans, (to keep the thermals up,) several jumpers, a light windproof coat, a wool scarf, gardening gloves and my sturdy fake fur. I will, of course, put other layers on when I actually venture outdoors to collect the eggs.

Now, it's best to try to look innocent when egg collecting. We don't need to alert the girls to the fact that you're stealing their children, so practise sauntering. Imagine it is late spring and you are admiring the flowers. Walk in a zig-zag towards the coop so as not to be too obvious.

When you arrive at the coop exclaim loudly,

'Gosh, I'll just lift up this nest box flap and peer in, purely for the purpose of checking if the coop needs cleaning.' [Remember to smile in a nice way.]

To be honest, none of this am dram stuff really works. The girls are wise to the fact that chickens only lay eggs in the nest box when they have no where else to go. When they have access to acres and acres, it's much more fun to play hidey-seeky with the fat girl, [I'm not actually that fat, it's my coat, it makes me look poofy.]

In reality the nest box is usually the last place I check.

Ideally you need to 1.find bucket, 2. dress appropriately 3. make a coffee. All this to be done before you open the hen coop in the morning. Dressed correctly and clutching coffee and basket, pop outdoors and let the girls out. Spread a little food about and make sure they have fresh clean water, rather than a block of ice!

Then sit/stand back and sip coffee. Sure they'll all start eating, drinking and rooster will be doing his thang to the ladies, (urgh!) but sooner or later one of those girls will crave a bit of egg laying.

This is the time to employ your 'innocent look' and ideally you should appear lethargic.

She'll look surreptitiously around, probably give you a stare before picking her skirts up and running like a 6yo who needs the toilet. Here at The Larches the favoured spot for off-piste laying seems to be up behind the compost heap, so said hen, (usually Archie,) darts from the coop area, towards the house, past the front door and up the drive.

As soon as she passes me I launch into commando mode, lethargy forgotten. By tip-toe running up the drive after her, I soon reach the cover of one of the cars before she turns around to check if anyone is following her.

She stops. Checks.

By this time I am slammed against Dizzy Discovery, hardly breathing for fear of being exposed and therefore evade her beady eyes.

Off she goes again and this time I am forced to run for the cover of the Monkey Puzzle tree. Bloody spiky that tree! Again, I am undetected.

Off she goes again but this time it is clear that she has reached her destination; the hollow of the tree in the hedge behind the compost. Ah ha! I will return there later to collect that egg.

All in all, very successful, except I have 20 hens and there are approximately ten nests that are used on a rota basis. I don't need to join a gym really. Clearly the girls confer during the night in order to test my resolve. Last week they lay eggs behind the huge mountain of logs in the woodshed and the saying 'I saw something nasty in the woodshed!' has never been truer. I made it to the top of the unsteady pile and spotted 6 eggs but then the pile moved and I ended up on my derriere. Apparently country folk are taught from an early age not to climb bales or wood stacks, this wasn't mentioned in St John's Wood, London.

Anyhoo, I hope this egg collecting malarkey is now as clear as day. I shall look for an equally challenging subject shortly, possibly regarding hand-rearing lambs as I understand that the sproglets have finally worn their father down.

Till next time. Over, And. Owt! 

The Archers at The Larches

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Snowy and Moon

Snowy and Moon