I stepped out onto the Mansion porch this afternoon, into the 60-degree temperature on this freakish December 3, and spied a curious sight.
Farmer H and The Pony were fishing for chickens.
I had intended to toss some old bread to the fowl. Normally, they peck around in the front yard. But today they were curiously absent. I attributed it to Juno, our adolescent puppy, who purely loves to chase after them all the live-long day while we're at work and school. She hasn't hurt any of them. They're like living toys. Sometimes I think that pup is not too bright. She gambols up to Genius, the most mild-mannered of our cats, and snaps at his legs. Genius is not into canine frolicking, and delivers a hissing right slash to Juno's nose for her insolence. Yet she comes back time after time. Genius stands his ground. He's a patient teacher of puppy lessons.
As I tossed hamburger buns, corn muffins, and the gummy white sandwich bread that teenage boys find so irresistible, the roosters came a-runnin'. But only the roosters. I saw a commotion in the smallest of the chicken pens, the one with a wire roof, where we keep the hens with young chicks. Not the baby chicks. They go in an old rabbit hutch, because the chicks will scoot right through the chain-link dog fence that comprises the chicken pens proper. That stresses the mother hens. They cluck-cluck and pace, while the chicks insolently traipse back and forth in dog-and-cat territory. But I digress.
There was Farmer H, wielding a large fishing net. It was bigger than a basketball hoop, but smaller than a hula hoop. The Pony was the border collie in this herding exercise. It was his job to channel the hens toward the pen, where Farmer H scooped them and deposited them into the lock-up. The purpose is to imprison the egg producers. Farmer H thinks they are holding out on him. He cannot discover where they've been laying. I told him that last December, they virtually quit as well. And it doesn't help that Tank the beagle has taken to sleeping in their chicken house. I think he's eating the eggs. Or at least making the layers nervous.
I figure it costs Farmer H about $.50 per egg when we're gathering eight per day in the summer, and $5.00 per egg during the winter. Of course, he doesn't want to hear that. Or get rid of seven superfluous roosters.