“When are you expecting your babies?”
“Soon, I hope, Jemima. I’m expecting five, you?”
“Six, I believe. Not long to go now, Flo.”
At this point, Dottie shakes her head in impatience. It is the silly season again and there are no eggs, no chicks, no pregnancies, no potential fathers in the vicinity and yet three of her friends have, once again, gone ‘broody’, sitting around all day in the nesting area, clucking about nothing except their invisible pregnancies.
If you read my blog last year, you would have encountered a post called Brooding Buddies. I was hoping that situation would be a one-off but no, once again, we have a similar scenario.
For one day and one night earlier this year, Dottie was showing signs of broodiness.
Then she snapped out of it.
But Florence, after a hard-working spring, laying eggs every day, decided that she would like to become a mother.
So she sat down all day, every day – or she would do if her cruel leader of the pecking order – i.e me – didn’t keep taking her out and putting her next to water and food.
That’s the thing with broody chickens, all sense flies (pardon the pun!) out the window and they don’t eat or drink unless they’re taken out of their broody spot.
I separated Florence, put her in a hutch for a few hours, gave her a bath – none of these worked. Closing the pophole meant she would look for somewhere else to brood – like a plant pot.
And Florence hogged the nesting area unless I closed the pophole. Yes, there are other places to lay eggs but hens being hens, they like things just-so and just-right. That particular nesting area was for all of them and Florence’s behaviour was beginning to irk them.
Jemima started giving her little ‘I am the boss and you should behave yourself’ pecks.
Mabel started giving her dirty looks – which escalated to pecks when she came near her.
And then Jemima started ignoring Flo, and seemed to be more easy-going but actually it was only a precursor to having maternal feelings herself.
And you guessed it, the next morning she was huddled next to Florence in the nesting area.
Jemima had it bad last year so I was not surprised by this change from ‘head hen’ to ‘mother hen’.
So instead of Florence being given a ‘behave yourself’ or ‘snap out of it’ peck by Jemima, the two of them would now comfortably nestled together under the tree (after being ousted from their broody area).
So now there were three sensible girls – Dottie, Ava and Mabel.
Mabel was still angry at Florence but, oddly, ignored Jemima, who she still respected.
And then one day, I went to the coop to let/take the bantams out and Mabel, up on the top as always, fluffed her feathers up and made an angry sound at me. She even moved her head around to see where my hand was, was Mabel going to peck me?
Not you as well, Mabel?
I have resigned myself to a summer of lifting the three broodies out and keeping an eye on them to make sure they are eating and drinking. Little Ava and Dottie are, so far, behaving themselves … so far!