I released Hilda from the broody cage yesterday, fairly sure that she had got out of her broody psychosis. She was no longer chuntering, and when let out in to the garden spent several hours having a leisurely dust bath and hunting for bugs. So you can imagine my displeasure when I went to close up at bedtime and found the grumpy white one back on the nest and growling. Insert expletive here.
Anyway, Hilda will just have to get on with it for now. The cage currently has another occupant. Celia is ensconced in a corner of the cage. She is as flat as a cowpat and periodically ends up sitting in her drinker. She is deeply in the zone. Gladys is taking up space in the Palace's choice nest box, so hunched up that I literally can't tell her arse from her metaphorical elbow. I just waggle my fingers in her general vicinity and see which end tries to peck me. Vera refuses to share the serama nest with a still laying Betsy. Poor Betsy ends up laying on the floor in an effort to prevent a fishwife battle of 'Jeremy Kyle' proportions breaking out. All in all, the broodies are taking over.
Winnie and Flo are enjoying half of the flock being out of the equation. For a start, it means that there are less established flock members to give them a hard time. Somehow, though, I don't think that's the most enjoyable part of it for them. The two newbies are proving to be a mischievious pair. They have taken to sitting on top of the broody cage and pooing on the unfortunate occupant's head. Celia is now fairly well decorated, and looks more like a town square war memorial than a chicken. I repeatedly chase the youngsters outside, but as soon as my back is turned they're back to torturing the prisoner. Broody hens are rubbish at defending themselves against such underhand tactics, so it's left to me to use baby wipes on the afflicted hen and to flap tea towels at the naughty chicks. Celia is utterly passive. But deep down, I suspect she is taking notes. I doubt this mistreatment will be forgotten.
I am constantly turfing the broodies out of their respective nest boxes to make sure that they eat, drink and generally take care of themselves. They oblige me briefly, dashing from feeder to drinker to dust bath, all the while chuntering with anxiety that their non-existant eggs will come to harm. As I clean out the coop, there is a broody queue forming on the ramp ready to hop straight back on to the nest as soon as my human meddling is over.
It's been a long summer.