Every morning when I go out to feed the animals the chickens are waiting to be let out of their pen. I usually drop some feed outside the pen so that the five small ones can come out and peck around without being bullied by the bigger ones - most especially the cockerel who really rules the roost with a charging peck. I've given up putting the feed in the feeder on dry days. I just scatter it around for them and they form groups - again, this avoids the cockerel beating them all up!
For the past couple of months we've been a little disappointed that we've only been "given" one egg per day. We are eagerly awaiting the adolescents reaching egg laying age (not long now) but in the meantime we still have the two original hens who should still be laying. Being novices we assumed (hate that word!) that either they were laying every other day or that one of them was no longer laying at all. It never occurred to us to look elsewhere for the reason.
This morning as we were walking back I absent-mindedly kicked a half an egg shell - rather like kicking stones on the path. Two strides later I realised what I had done so Max went on the hunt. Two minutes later he called me over and we found a wonderful pile of eggs - there must have been forty or more but the ones at the bottom of the pile had broken (yuck!) and soaked into the ground leaving 33 still in one piece.
Working on the basis that some of them must still be ok so we gathered up 30 of them and I put them all in a bowl of cold water to see if any of them would float. None of them floated to the top and only one or two looked as if they'd be floating in a day or two. I got rid of the latter, cleaned and dried the rest and then put a pen mark on them so that we use them first and only in things like cakes or omelettes where they are broken first. This way we'll know if I've missed any bad ones.
The chooks were already out of the pen by this time but for the next couple of weeks we're going to leave them in until lunchtime to see if we can get whichever hen it is to start laying inside again. The hen house is inside a large enclosure so they still have plenty of room to run around and to feed so they won't be deprived too much!
Omelette for supper and carrot cake for tea...