One of the chickens died.
A few weeks ago, I took over the ‘AM snack and water routine’ from my son who prefers to collect the eggs in the evening.
Early one morning, the hens, who always race to the gate, clucking and cooing in anticipation of their leftover goodies, were particularly loud. I normally greet them with “Good morning ladies; as salaam alaikum!” They huddle around my feet nearly tripping me while I walk to the middle of the yard to throw them their treats. However, Big Red, would not stop squawking and almost seemed to be purposely trying to make me lose my balance. I figured she just missed me (or was angry). I was a couple of hours late.
I emptied the bowl of food on the ground and watered the lemon tree making sure to leave a puddle for them to drink (they really like taking a large swig and raising their heads back to swallow a beak full). I gave salaams to the hens and the bees (they get really testy if you don’t acknowledge them), and turned to leave. And there was Big Red, blocking my path. She followed me to the gate, clucking non-stop. I salaam’d again and told her to make sure she instruct the rest the hens to lay an egg, and left.
An hour later, two hens jumped the fence. My son went to put them back, and found a New Hampshire Red, leaning up against the house, stiff as a board. He asked me how I could miss seeing her. I explained I only watch my step through the poop mind field and where to place the food and water. It then dawned on me that was what Big Red was trying to tell me.
Muhammad had already buried the bird, but something told me to ask where…I’m so glad I did. Turns out he buried it in the compost pile! I explained that only uncooked plants and left over cooked scraps go in compost, not “we don’t know what they died of” freshly dead, whole animals! He re-buried her alongside one of the feral cats that died a couple of weeks earlier.
I researched why the hen may have died. There was nothing definitive but raw rice and possibly any other uncooked grain can swell up in their stomachs and be fatal. Hubby had been throwing them both. No more.
So now we’re down to 18 hens but still don’t get 18 eggs a day even though they’re all of egg producing age. Sources say that each chicken lays one egg every 24 hours. We average only 15-17, and as little as 12-15 on cooler days. Muhammad says that some take breaks and do not lay them everyday. I wonder if they need more room…
Asiila Imani is a doula/midwife middle aged mama of two mainly homeschooled boys. She is also my auntie:-)
Graveyard picture from www.freedigitalphotos.net