Our ten new hens have settled in well. They are now out and about, roaming the fields around the farm, scratching for and eating beetles and worms. They come back at dusk and go into the hen house and although they are together with my old hens all day in the fields they still go to bed on their own side of the hut even though the door between is left open.
They are now using the perch at night and laying in the nest boxes - nine of the ten are now laying - so we were happy in the knowledge that they were 'at home' here.
So imagine the farmer's surprise this morning as he went to get on his tractor. (He had already let the hens out and fed and watered them). As he walked towards the door of his tractor he heard that particular cackling which means *I have just laid an egg* and there, on his tractor seat, were two deep brown pullet eggs - both still warm.
He came in with them in his hand chuntering that the 'flippin' hens had started laying away. I had to remind him that hens have small brains and that embedded in these brains deeper than anything else is the phrase 'propagation of the species'. In other words try laying your eggs somewhere where the man with the egg basket is not going to find them.
Mind you, I did say they had small brains - the tractor seat is hardly a place where he is not likely to find them - more likely to sit on them I would have thought. However, he has told them in no uncertain terms that once more and they will be left in in a morning until they have learned their 'nest box lesson'.
We did once have an old hen - one who loved to nurture chicks - who went away and we presumed the fox had got her until one day she turned up with a flock of chicks behind her - she had hidden her eggs in the hedge bottom and hatched them off there.