Routines. There have been a lot of them that we've been a part of ... fallen into, happily participated in and fulfilled out of pure necessity ... here at the farm. One of the most prominent - by way of learning new things, need-based, and pure entertainment - has been the chickens. There are about 400-500 organic egg laying hens here and each morning someone heads out to feed them and collect the eggs. Each afternoon is more collecting, after which there is egg counting, cleaning and packaging. All in all, we process about 500 eggs per day ... sometimes all four of us are on the task as the clock nears 5pm and we turn into a well-oiled egg moving machine. It really is amazing to be witness to and part of a small group of humans, who are so used to an act and one anothers' movements and roles, be able to churn through work - particularly with things that need such delicate handling.

Thus, the chicken process documentation!

It all starts here with the quad, trailer, egg trays and six bags of feed:

You can see Bess there, waiting patiently. She is about 12 years old and jumps up to join whoever is making the run as soon as the quad starts up. Down a dirt path and few a gate or two and you are riding alongside the chicken pasture. In the morning, they all crowd toward one end when you enter and run along side of the quad, excited for food - but also contributing an integral part of the morning ritual. They look positively comic when doing this:

The thing about chickens is that they are a peculiarly rude creature. All the pushy hustle and bustle and collective crow/groaning follows you and the feed right to the troughs. They are on the warpath for consumption:

While the crowd is busy with filling their little chicken bellies, you start collecting the eggs. There are usually a few hiding places in the hen houses, so you try to hit those first - this way you're not surrounded by mad hens in a somewhat warm hen house, clucking loudly about you stealing their babies. Since the eggs are unfertilized, I don't feel so bad:

Some make bold moves during the process:

There is always a lot of interest in what you're doing, though I'm not entirely certain it isn't purely self serving for them, since they downright riot if you happen to let an egg fall to the ground. They will eat all parts of it in seconds and start waiting around for another false move.

Of course, they aren't exactly piranhas. They are fairly docile and goofy - and the whole scene is quite bucolic, especially if the weather is as good as our day in the pictures. In between the collecting, you check that the watering system is running well, that the solar-powered hen house doors haven't trapped any inside by not working, and make sure the trays of oyster shells are full (for helping digestion and providing calcium for strong eggs!). After all of that, you head back to drop off your bounty and begin watering the polytunnels ... which is another routine unto itself.

Note to future hen having self ... the older they get, the less there will be fresh eggs for breakfast:

Location:Ardersier, Scotland, United Kingdom