When the old hens stop laying - they are consistent for about 3 or 4 years - it's time to make a decision. Similar to the decision to be made when, as new enthusiastic first-time chicken owners, you realize you bought a mix of hens and roosters. And roosters are noisy. And they don't lay eggs.
For you city slickers, yes, you can have hens and no roosters and still get perfect eggs. No problem.
In the beginning, we did the boil-pluck method to take care of the unwanted roosters. Then we tried the cut open-and-just-keep-the-breasts method. I quickly decided that when chicken is on sale for about $1 per pound, it is well worth stocking up. More power to you ancestors, but it is too much trouble and mess for me. "You can take the girl out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the girl . . ."
We've lost chickens to disease, electrocution, hawks, racoons, and foxes. We've lost eggs to some of those predators, as well as to snakes. In the realities of farm life, it happens. If you are reading this as you think about joining the growing backyard chicken movement, be prepared to consider those realities. And be prepared to make tough decisions.
Today, husband asked me what I wanted to do about the hens that were no longer laying, as we head into a winter of feeding and caring for them for no return on our investment. We have a decision to make.
So, where's the chuckle? It's the chuckle of satisfaction from eating fresh eggs. It's the chuckle of satisfaction that my kids have experienced farm life - knowing where food comes from, the hard work, the fresh air, and the realities.