I Broke Percy

Our chickens have always been unorthodox birds. And even more weird lately is the fact that 17 chickens have simultaneously stopped laying eggs. I know, from reading, that chickens will molt in the fall. I know, from reading, that when chickens molt they stop laying. I know also, from reading, that molting is obvious because they lose their feathers and become rather straggly. We had a grand total of about 3 chickens that went through the annual shedding of the feathers thing, and it wasn't really as grand-scale as I imagined it would be. I kind of thought the birds would have some bare patches here and there. It's more like a dog shedding. A random tuft or twenty sticking out, but no baldness. Thank goodness, really, because bald chickens are rather freaky.

So why are 17 chickens not laying eggs? Good question, really. I do know that they slack off in production when it gets cold, and also when it gets darker in the winter months. Adding a lamp to the coop will help with the light, and ultimately with the egg production. At least that's what the books tell me. But I argue vehemently that it's neither cold enough nor dark enough for the chickens to stop laying altogether. The time change hasn't even happened yet for the Fall Back period. It's still daylightish until about 7:00pm. And while we did have a hard frost last week, and a few mornings of upper 30 degree temps, the daytime temps got into the 70s. That is not cold. AT ALL. It's going to get a whole lot colder. And chickens live in all sorts of climates.

People tell me that fat chickens don't lay. People tell me that corn-fed chickens will slack off. People tell me all sorts of things that don't apply to my chickens in the least. The only reasonable explanation that I can come up with is the fact that we break things.

I also think we broke the cats.

We were so excited that the cats were hunters, bringing a varied assortment of dead things to the door of their previous owners. We have an abundance of chipmunks, mice, rats, and rabbits here that they could feast on. I am very much looking forward to being minus a few rodents.

There was a mouse in the dog food bag. A baby mouse. I'd have called it cute if it wasn't in my house, but no rodent in my house will ever be cute. It will always be The Enemy. And while I obviously have waged war against the rodents in the house, I also can't bring myself to physically kill them if a trap doesn't do the job for me. I had no choice but to catch that stupid thing live and release it outside. It must have been completely exhausted from trying to get out of that nearly empty 50 pound bag of dog food all night, because it pretty much was grateful for the dog food scoop lifting it out of there. I put a cup over it and carried it outside where I knew Percy the orange and white cat was eating. I figured Percy could do the dirty work that I didn't have the heart to do myself.

Percy jumped down off his seat when he saw me coming and headed my way, hoping I'd pet him. I set the scoop on the ground, lifted off the cup, and tipped the mouse out onto the patio. Percy saw the mouse, watched it scurry under the patio steps, and casually strolled over to smell where it had gone.

That was it.

Percy had no real interest in catching an easy prey that I pretty much put in his food dish. The great and mighty hunters that brought in squirrels from the former yard they lived in are now broken. We haven't even had the cats a week. I'm not sure we should be allowed to own anything nice.

No comments: