Here’s a thing that didn’t even exist when I was a kid: Backyard Chicken Internet Forums. Nowadays, one can get all kinds of free advice from fellow poultry hobbyists without ever leaving one’s sofa! And since I live by the motto “believe everything you read on the internet”, I recently found myself blowing the contents of an egg into the sink and filling the empty shell with yellow mustard.
Right now you’re thinking, if that’s the answer, what the heck was the question? Well, Alex, I’ll take Chicken Remedies for $2000: “This tangy trick will break your backyard chickens of the gross habit of eating their own eggs.”
Some background: Over the last year, egg production from our three girls had plummeted from more than fifteen eggs per week to almost zero. According to the Google, chickens – especially sick chickens – occasionally develop the somewhat repugnant habit of eating freshly laid eggs right out of their nests. The girls, especially Laverne, had not been looking well lately, and there was some evidence that eggs were indeed being cannibalized in the West Main Street coop.
Enter the mustard egg. Working from the theory that the offending bird will taste the mustard and decide fresh eggs are no longer tasty, I stealthily placed the trick egg in nest number two. Egg yield increased immediately! Success! Thank you, internet!
The following Thursday, Laverne was discovered lying in the coop, barely breathing and unable to lift her head. Not wanting to see her suffer (and not wanting to waste time or money on a chicken) I acted decisively and ten minutes later Laverne’s body -and her head – were buried under the magnolia tree next to Guinevere the former inside cat. As I put away the shovel, I asked my wife when she had removed the mustard egg. A chill crept down my spine as she responded that she hadn’t. Exchanging a panicky glance, we both headed for the coop. There, on the floor beneath nest number two, were remnants of a dried yellow blob. Laverne had died of a mustard overdose.
Our grief came with a mixture of emotions: guilt, anger, sorrow and regret. We skipped the denial, bargaining, and depression, and were pretty much over it in about three hours.