In search of ponies: Picking up after hen egg-sasperating

Sharna Johnson

Oh yeah, I’m sure the neighbors think I’m odd when they see me trudging around.

Head down, eyes to the ground, I sweep my foot through the few patches of tall grass that have managed to grow — incidentally sprouted near spots on my multi-patched hose where the mends have given out.

Some days I wiggle the toe of my boot up under the bent, long grass and there they are.

Other days I come up empty.

You see, everyday is Easter at my house. At least since I moved the round bale my hen Molly used to lay under.

Now it’s anyone’s guess where she’ll hide her eggs.

Initially she chose a spot and stuck with it for several days, so I tied a bit of bailing twine on the top of the long grass to make it easy to find.

We had a great system going, until I re-situated a horse pen so they could “mow” that area, then all bets were off.

At one point more than a week passed with no eggs, until one night when I was making my way to move a hose in the dark.

Crunch…

I stopped dead in my tracks and bent down, feeling around in the blackness only to have my fingers encounter the slimy mess I should have expected.

I poked around to see if I could find more in the dark, but no luck.

A few days later I found four eggs nestled underneath bent-over weeds.

They all passed the “float test” and got stuck in the fridge, but I haven’t seen a single egg since.

By my estimate, there’s a dozen eggs out there somewhere, but she refuses to lay her eggs in the predictable or logical places, like the loose pile of cozy hay in the barn, or the nook under the wood pile.

Oh no, not Molly. She has to be creative.

When I was a child I must have scurried around with my bonnet and little pink Easter basket and squealed with glee at the discovery of a brightly colored egg. And at some regretful point — like a moment of Shakespearean foreshadowing I couldn’t possible comprehend — I uttered the fateful words, “I wish everyday was Easter Mommy!”

And here I am, years later cursed to hunt for eggs hidden by a hen far more devious than any of the adults that ever orchestrated one of those long-ago moments of childhood fun.

It must be some such convoluted design of fate because such things have happened before.

Like the time I called my mother looking for comfort in some moment of parental frustration and she reminded me that at the wise age of 13 I declared children deserved far more credit than their parents gave them and when the day came that I had my own, I would be more understanding of my little genius spawn.

Oh yeah, I remember that… Ooops…

Yeah those little utterances do have a way of coming back around, don’t they?

If Molly is indeed hiding the eggs to be cruel, she is the most two-faced hen I have ever met (not that I have known that many).

Every day when she sees me she runs my direction in a zig-zagging waddle, ducking under fence rails like some basic trainee navigating an obstacle course on an adrenaline high.

And she follows me to the barn at a similar, high-speed bobbing waddle, chit-chatting the whole way like she has so much to tell me.

No, I don’t think she hates me, so it must be something else.

Perhaps that cat that hangs out in the barn — the one that just appeared about the time Molly came to live with us — makes her nervous.

Or maybe she just likes variety of scenery when she lays her eggs, kind of like a chicken’s version of lavatory reading.

Whatever the answer, the egg hunt is now part of my daily chore routine, as if there wasn’t enough to do already.

However this weekend when I take on my other chores and finally get around to mowing down those little patches of sanctuary, I bet I’ll end up making some scrambled eggs… just a hunch.