Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Point Of Being Broody

The weather is beautiful here at the moment. The sun is shining, the wind is virtually non-existent and the days are lengthening towards summer. All in all, it puts everyone in a happy, lazy mood. The pekins alternate between basking in the sun and retreating to the shaded border to dust bath and look for bugs. They are getting used to sharing the garden again, as the children batter hells bells out of the swingball and tear about the place on bikes and scooters. Already the hens have stopped running in terror as a flourescent yellow tennis ball whizzes millimeters above their combs or a bike stops inches from their prone, sun worshipping forms.

Hilda is alternating between joining in with the flock, and having a go at being broody. When I returned from my travels, I found seven eggs on the side placed carefully by my chicken sitter. I thought at the time that the yield was down a good bit, but it was a passing thought and I was soon buried under the washing mountain generated by travelling as a family. It wasn't until after my last post that I went outside to find Hilda sitting grumpily in the nest box. She raised her tail and glared at me as I approached, so I knew that the hormones were high. In fact, Hilda herself seemed a little high. On closer inspection, she appeared to be hovering several inches above the wood shavings. Now I'm no physicist, but even I know that chickens can't levitate. Taking a broom handle, I gently shoved the stroppy hen off of the nest. With a defiant splatty poo, Hilda stalked off out of the coop grumbling. She left behind an egg mountain. I have never seen a hen sit on so many eggs. I had to fetch a bowl to collect them all. In the end, it turned out that Hilda had hoarded ten eggs, which is a record here. I dread to think how she was managing to balance, but at least I now have an explanation as to why egg production seemed to have dropped off. Since removing her clutch, Hilda is only playing at being broody. She occassionally spends a few hours zoned out in the coop, but then seems to snap out of it and resumes rampaging around the garden with the rest of the flock.

Vera is not snapping out of it. If I lift her from the nest, she mutters in that anxious, panicked way that broodies do, gulps down some pellets and water and then legs it back to the nest. I am currently dithering over breaking her brood. Because Tuesday I purchased a dozen serama eggs, and they are hopefully on their way as I type. I am considering giving the little hen three eggs of her own to sit on. I am still debating this, however, as I have never used a broody before and I am a little unsure of how best to house her and any tiny chicks she hatches. Still, it is an intriguing idea.

When the eggs arrive, the adventure begins.

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