CALLAWAY COUNTY - Each morning Ben Maddox climbs a ladder up his tree, where he keeps a mailbox. He once planned to chop down the tree in his backyard, but in the fork of the branches of this soft maple, Maddox found something hard to believe – chicken eggs.
“Most of them go up the ladder. Some fly up,” Maddox said. “They won’t go up every step but they go up two steps at a time.”
Maddox is now an 82 year old chicken farmer.
"They day he called and said he had chickens laying in trees. I knew… he had chickens laying in trees,” said Maddox’s son, Dale.
Ben agreed, saying he did not expect the new house guests. "I've never heard of it. And most of the people I've talked to have never heard of it," he said.
Maddox senior operates one of the last remaining egg delivery routes in Callaway County. Most of his hens lay in the coop, but more than a dozen prefer the loftier tree address.
Dale said his father doesn’t throw much away, if he thinks he can still use it.
“He hung onto the old mailbox. The only mailbox became a nest."
So, Maddox added roofing tin to the 12foot high birdie bungalow, and soon saw his new roost boost his special deliveries.
"I've got as high as 13 eggs so13 hens go in here," he said.
Maddox added as a joke to the “city folks,” he plans to teach the hens to raise the flag on the mailbox when they’re finished laying their eggs.