As all the hens approach adulthood, their personalities have changed. This transition coincides with my recent weeklong departure. Could it be that they just missed me and are happy to see me or is this truly some expected hormonal personality re-ordering due to egg production? I have personal experience with hormonal fluctuations and it isn’t pretty, so I prefer the initial explanation: my hens love me and just plain missed me.
Prior to my trip, the girls paid no particular attention to my presence, except when I gave them food. Just before I vacationed, they were introduced to a daily serving of old bread and oats rather then their simple ration of cracked corn, laying mash and veggie scraps. As an additional treat we drilled a hole in a cabbage and suspended it on a clothesline rope, so they could peck away at it. I read that it relieves boredom. Upon my return, my voice signals them to congregate close to the gate and cluck loudly making entry impossible. I carefully time my entrance, slowly opening the door, squeezing through an opening not wide enough for passage over the dirt threshold. Eventually, I risk their escape and push through a wider berth. Walking through the yard, I am surrounded by squawking chickens quickly closing in on me, no longer soothed solely by my sweet talk. They cannot possibly be hungry, but then again, I begin to argue with myself, they are growing and maturing chickens. Maybe they eat like our teenagers. So I proceed to get more grain or bread to suffice. This does not change their behavior. They continue in their crazy, obsessive ways. As I am standing motionless, observing their nesting instinct hoping to observe the actual laying or dropping of an egg, I feel a tap on my turquoise ring. While my arm was by my side, a hen hopped up and pecked the interesting blue stone with the gold colored veins. “That’s not food.” I respond in alarm. You can’t possibly be hungry, but then again I begin to argue with myself, this egg laying business is hard work. My girls have me just where they want me to be, in the center of their yard tossing bread, corn, oats and hanging crispy tight heads of organic cabbage. Well trained am I, but I must thank someone for the three fresh eggs I got today.