Regarding chickens, Mark Twain once said, “Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she laid an asteroid.”
I can vouch for the truthfulness of this statement. It doesn’t matter if it’s small, large, or somewhere in between; when our hens have done their duty, they absolutely want everyone to know about it!
(We even have hens who spend time in the nest, never lay an egg, and still “pa-caw” like they have laid the most fabulous, invisible, egg in the world — it is a rather hilarious sight!)
Ever since one of our hens began pecking at eggs and eating them, listening for this egg-laying, celebratory cackle has become a major part of my daily morning chores. Once that familiar sound is issued, it’s a race between me and the offending hen to see who can get to the prize first. If I dally, for even just a few minutes, she very well may be the victor!
In fact, she often lies in waiting for the other hens to abandon their eggs after laying. Once done, she quickly marches in and starts pecking and feasting on the egg, herself.
So, as I go about my other morning duties, I always keep one ear glued to the outdoors. That way I’m ready to spring into action whenever I hear that boisterous “Everyone look here! I laid an egg!” cackle.
Some people, including authors on the subject, say that we need to get rid of the culprit…that once a hen gets the taste of an egg, the cannibalism will never stop. That may be true. But, schlepping the hundred yards, or so, back and forth between the house and the hen house to collect individual eggs, three to four times a day, (instead of only having to go out once, later on in the day, to collect them all) isn’t that bad –unless I’m in the middle of another task, like writing this blog post, and I lose my train of thought!
Ah, well…whoever said life would be easy? In the Bible, James says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4) It has been said, about this verse, that “Afflictions, perhaps more than anything else, [will complete our character], and we should therefore allow them to do all that they are adapted to do in developing what is good in us.” (Barnes’ notes on the Bible) I have far greater “afflictions” in my life than our cannibalistic hen. However, if God sees fit to use her to complete my character, then I will rejoice in it!
As for Mr. Twain’s remark about hens, while I agree with him, on the point that they sometimes cackle as if they’d laid an asteroid (when they’ve actually done much less), I don’t agree that their “noise proves nothing”. As you can plainly see, at our homestead, when the noisy cackles of the hens start, it proves that the race is on to see who’s gonna get their hands (or claws) on the egg first, and that the one who listens better and acts quicker is, most assuredly, going to end up with the prize!
If you raise chickens, how do you deal with egg pecking and eating?