Tuesday, 7 April 2009

First Broody

I knew it was coming, and I even knew which hen it was likely to be, but I'm still not happy about it. Belinda has gone broody. Maude, Doris and Mini all laid this morning, and Belinda sat tight on her flock mates eggs for a good two hours. I gave her the benefit of the doubt, in case she too needed to lay, but it soon became apparent that Lindy had other ideas.

A broody hen flattens herself out over the nest, until she resembles nothing more than a feathery cowpat with a small head. Chicken mama hormones flood her system, giving her a crazy glint in her eye and a baaaaaad attitude. Belinda sat on those eggs, and she wasn't budging.

Tentatively, I reached in to the nestbox and stroked her back. She growled at me. A definite undulation of her vocal chords told me in no uncertain terms that if I pushed it I'd end up with less fingers than I started with. Mabel bobbed anxiously in the coop doorway, needing to lay her own egg but nervous of approaching the shrieking harridan within. My top hens nerves told me that I had to break the broody.

I propped open the nest box door, letting a cruel wind blow all over the sitting hen. A broody hens body temperature sky rockets, and cooling her down again can break the broody spell. Belinda glared at me, and dug herself deeper into the wood shavings muttering obscene chicken oaths. Ten minutes later, my youngest son tried to lift 'his' hen out of the coop to play. He got a solid peck on the finger for his troubles. Now it was personal.

Taking a steadying breath, I reached in quickly with both hands to lift her. Chickens are easily confused, and faced with two potential pecking targets she froze in indecision. I plonked her down in the run before she came to her senses and chewed my fingers off. The poor hormonal hen looked a bit bewildered to find herself doing her best cowpat impression in the open. Doris wandered over and used her as a stepping stone to get to a particularly green blade of grass. This was too much for Belinda, who shakily stood up and staggered off to eat something. After stretching out her legs by walking about in circles for a while, she took off up the garden to chase Mini.

She's broody, but so far, easily distracted.

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