Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Hormonal Harpies

Spring is definitely in the air. I am averaging one egg a day now, so laying has recommenced. Maude and Doris are definitely in lay, and one of the silkies was, I suspect. Probably Kiki, as she has once again decided to go broody.

Maude is an intensely private chicken, and likes to lay alone. She will tolerate Mabel in an emergency, but gripes about it. Therefore, she is not impressed with Kiki's best russian hat impersonation in her favourite nest box.

There was much bokking and grumbling from Maude yesterday, which is quite unusual. She strutted around the garden beaking off, quite clearly narked about something. Every time I go outside, she crouches in front of me. Very inconvenient when you're carrying heavy feed bags or young chicks. I have barely avoided stepping on the brazen hussy on a number of occassions. She isn't generally noisy with her hormonal upsurge, though, so I realised that something was afoot.

The rest of the flock were interested in Maude's singing, but not enough to investigate. That would mean moving from their 'flattened from above' sunbathing positions on the decking. I noticed that Kiki was missing, and found her pancaked in the nest box. Now, a flattened, broody pekin still leaves room for a determined, non-broody flock mate to squeeze in beside her to lay (and deliver a few disgruntled pecks). A broody silkie does not. Kiki's prone form oozes in to the very corners of the nest box, and she will not move.  Maude kept wandering in to the coop, yelling at Kiki, pecking at her a bit, then storming off down the garden, with much bok-ARK-ing and flapping of wings.

Sometimes I intervene in these matters, but I rarely do any good. So, I decided to let them get on with it. A good hour later, there arose an almighty clamour from the Convent. Maude had finally given in, and gone in to the least favoured nest box to lay. The militantly broody Kiki had attempted to steal the egg before it had totally left Maude's rear end. There are some indignities not to be borne, and not surprisingly Maude went a little bit velociraptor on the daft silkie. I rescued the egg, removed Maude's talons from Kiki's fur, and deposited both hens on the ground. Maude grumbled, strutted, and delivered one more swift peck on Kiki's bouffanted bonce, before stalking off.

Kiki ignored all of this, she is so deeply in the zone.