Archive for April 20th, 2011


Old-Time Ritual: A Real Egg Hunt

April 20, 2011

A long, dense hedge of potato vines encloses two sides of my perennial garden. The vines are a thick mass of woven stems concealing a four-foot pasture fence. In the pasture, a small flock of ten hens roams freely. Eight of them are young, in their first season of egg production. Recently, when daylight stretched further into evening they started lying regularly. Then without notice, the number of eggs decreased from five – seven to two or three per day.

Since the weather had been inconsistent and hens need 14 hours of daylight to keep producing, I hadn’t given the matter another thought.

A few days later, when I was in the garden, I noticed a hen walking on top of the potato vines. Immediately, I told her the rules—NO HENS ALLOWED IN THE GARDEN—then shooed her over where she belonged. Hens are grub connoisseurs. They can’t resist enriched soil with wiggly worms and insects. But hens don’t give a hoot about plant care. They love to nibble away new shoots and carelessly rip up small plants as they forage for food.

Everyday, I kept a lookout for hens on top of the vines or in the garden. One Saturday morning, when I was cooking breakfast, I looked out the window and spotted a hen walking—head bobbing—on the vines. Joe went out to shoo her away. Just as I flipped a pancake, I heard him holler for me. I turned off the burner and hurried outside.

“They’re laying eggs in the vines!” Joe said, excited. “There are at least a dozen eggs.”

I grabbed the egg basket and together we searched for nests. When I spotted one, I carefully spread apart a thick weave of stems and leaves. Inside was a cozy cave filled with brown and green eggs. I felt like ten-year-old Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden when she opened the hidden door to a world of wonder.

That morning we found 5 nests and 20 eggs (one was broken). I didn’t expect to participate in an Easter egg hunt this year. The egg hunt wasn’t a traditional hide-and-seek quest for Easter baskets, chocolate bunnies, and hand-dyed hard-boiled eggs. But the incident certainly felt like an old-time ritual. Copyright © 2011 Dianne Marie Andre

Happy Easter to Everybody!

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