The egg situation was becoming dire. The day's collection had amounted to two eggs - one hen and the other duck - and there were four hungry guests anticipating breakfast the following morning. The girls, all twenty of them, had obviously made a collective decision to take a rest.
It had been coming on for a long time. In the dim and distant past, otherwise known as last spring, we had been inundated with eggs. I turned the surplus into cakes and custards and lemon curd and sold them to the neighbours but still, for a short while, there was the beginnings of an EU egg mountain.
But after a few weeks the girls began to tire of their industry. Some decided they needed new feathers, and a girl can't be expected to lay eggs when they're growing those. Some of the ex-battery hens, worn out by the demands on their systems, started to lay very thin shelled eggs which invariably got squashed by the next incumbent of the nest box. Others got the wanderlust and started to lay away. But mostly they went broody - big time - and a hen that is in the family mood doesn't want to lay any more.
So one way and another the production system began to drop alarmingly and never fully recovered.