Pullets who are just starting to lay + ranging ground that's a bit far from the coop + a daily egg count that seems a bit lower than it should be = ...
The other day Kim was putting the chickens to bed in the late afternoon (it's getting dark really early these days) and she couldn't find one of the pullets. We hunted high and low, tromping through the bush, pacing the fence lines. We even checked both neighbouring properties, and there was no sign of her. Kim was distraught, and dusk was falling. If a raccoon hadn't nabbed the pullet already, one certainly would if she was left outside overnight.
And then the bushes a little ways from the house erupted in the feathery, squawking buk-buk-bKAAAAW that is a chicken's announcement she has just laid an egg. Kim dove into the bushes and found a perfect, round, soft nest, with nine perfect, round, brown eggs. Nine, one of which was so fresh it made a lovely hand warmer as I carried it to the kitchen in my pocket.
Based on the colour, shape and size of the eggs, CSI Kim has determined there were probably three pullets laying their eggs in that nest. Which means three chickens that need some retraining.
The pullets are part of Gump's flock, and when they started to lay a few weeks ago they had to brave a gang of teenage cockerels (now starring on dinner tables across southern Vancouver Island) in order to get from their preferred ranging grounds near the house back to the nest boxes in their coop. Sensibly, they opted to start laying their eggs in the dry dirt under the verandah.
So Kim moved the portable next boxes to where they were laying, leaving a fake egg in one of the boxes to give the pullets the right idea, but they were having none of it. They haven't laid a single egg there. Now that the cockerels are gone some are heading to the coop for their egg laying, but Kim had a hunch there should be more eggs, and she was right. It just took us a while to find them.
"Just be grateful we're giving you eggs," Bertie says.
Here's another equation.
Bedroom temperature about 10 degrees + the world's most comfortable bed at the end of the day + flannel pyjamas + puffy feather duvet + sweetie beside me = cold nose, full heart, perfect happiness.