Hi, it's Celia again!
Our hens are kooky. They have a nice hen house and a safe yard surrounded by electric fence to protect them, and what do they do? They fly the coop. Every morning four of them climb high into a tree and fly over the fence. They spend their whole day wandering around the property.
Mom says this is both good and bad. Mom wants the chickens to have free range, just not all day. She lets all of the chickens out of their yard in the afternoon, after they are done laying eggs in the hen house. Because if you let them out before they lay, this is what happens:
They build a nest somewhere, and then we have to find it. This one we found in the woods. And this one we found under the porch:
Hunting for nests isn't so bad for us kids, because Mom usually offers a cash reward for finding one. But it's bad for her because she can go days or weeks without finding the eggs. When we find a nest, Mom follows this little procedure that she read about on the internet. She takes all but one egg out of the nest. This egg she marks with an X so she knows it is old. All the other eggs she either gives to the cats, or cooks up for the chickens. Or if she's mad at Dad she gives them to him for his breakfast. (JK Dad. She doesn't really do that.) Then she puts the egg with the X back in the nest. This way when the hen sees the egg is still in the nest, she knows it is safe to keep laying there. If all the eggs were gone, she would know something (or someone like Mom) took them, and the hen would build a nest somewhere else. And then we'd have to hunt for it again.
I think Mom thinks the hens are smarter than they really are. After all, there wasn't an egg in that spot when they started laying there, so why do they need an egg to continue laying there? And if they really felt unsafe when they find their eggs missing, then the WORSE place to lay would be in the hen house, where most of the hens do lay, because Mom goes in there a few times a day and takes out their eggs. You think they would be scared silly! But they keep laying there.
Anyway, Mom goes to the nests every day and gets the new eggs. Of course Mom could just clip the hens' wings and keep them from flying out in the first place, but she would have to go into the hen house at night with a flashlight and clip all of their wings, because she can't tell her hens apart. She doesn't want to do this because she's afraid the roosters will attack her. I told her if they did it would make a really good blog post, but she still said no.