Late yesterday evening, I did a headcount and one of my 8 month old Buff Leghorns was MIA. All 7 of my hens are free range on my 4 acres (surrounded by other large yards and a few hundred acres of woods behind our house) so I started a very methodical search of all their favorite hiding spots. None of them ever stray more than 100 yds or so from their coop so I thought she would be super easy to find. After about 4.5 hours of hunting, it was pitch black and we ended up giving up for the night. I honestly assumed she had been snatched by a fox, hawk, dog, etc at this point but we tried to be hopeful. We left our garage door open with the inside lights on so hopefully she would find it during the night. If not, I hoped she would show up the next morning if something had just spooked her and she hid herself overnight. No such luck on that either. This afternoon, I figured I'd give it one more shot and did a full search for 3 hours or so for any evidence of a predator (loose feathers, etc) or her wandering in the woods (not likely given that they tend to hate trees like that) and we still didn't find her. My fiancee came home and we went out again for a little bit to do one last circuit of the property. We have a huge dead brush pile to the side of our front yard and we walked by it for the 3rd time and nearly stepped on her as she had tucked herself underneath in such a way where you could only see her from directly overhead and even then, there were branches above her so she had cover. Here is a photo of what we found when we picked her up: 17 eggs in all. We have 2 Leghorns but I "thought" we had been only getting 1 egg a day from them as its still early spring for us in N. Vermont but in reality, she's been hiding them out here in her own nest and decided last night that she was ready to lay on them. Now I have the joy of trying to break her broodiness as we dont have a rooster and these aren't fertilized. Also, we have no room for more chicks so I dont want to give her fertilized eggs nor do I want her hiding in the woodpile like this as I'm shocked she wasn't taken out last night with the amount of foxes & raccoons we have. So, she's back from the dead but this was a shocker to say the least. Anyone ever have something similar happen like that? I'm stunned she went from using the nesting boxes in the coop to this imprompto nest in the edge of the woods in a dead brush/wood pile.