The Pecking Order

May 28, 2010 | 2 comments

Broody Ms. Red

        Two years ago, Nyel devoted most of the summer to building a chicken coop – and not just your run-of-the-mill chicken coop, either.  It boasts windows, doors, roosts, a full basement, and three roomy, elevated nest boxes for egg laying.  Our neighbor calls it “The Chicken Palace.”  The chickens, of course, could care less.
     Right now we have five hens, no roosters.  All five hens are laying so we get three to five eggs a day.  We are becoming known among our friends as the Egg People, since our hostess gift-of-choice these days is a dozen ‘farm fresh eggs’ rather than the usual bottle of wine.  No one complains.
     But recently there has been confusion in the coop.  Blondie (well, she was a gorgeous blond chick but has grown darker as blonds tend to do) has never used the nest boxes for egg laying.  She chooses to lay her light brown eggs on the Palace floor.  Since she won’t listen to reason, we’ve had to accept her decision.  All was well until her friend Ms. Red went broody and decided to sit on Blondie’s egg.  Never mind that this is a hen house – no rooster in our little flock – so Ms. Red’s patient sitting won’t get her anywhere.
     We quickly bought some fertile eggs from a neighboring chicken farmer, put six in one of the nest boxes and settled Ms. Red atop them. That worked only until Blondie laid her egg that day, whereupon Ms. Red abandoned her foster children, moved to the floor, and nestled onto Blondie’s single offering.  (Do they have some sort of fowl agreement?)   So, we put the fertile eggs back on the Palace floor and every day Blondie nags Ms. Red off the eggs and then adds her light brown egg to the other six.  As soon as she is done she waddles off and Ms. Red hops back onto the nest.  And, every day we remove a light brown egg from the others, leaving the six fertile eggs.  We hope. 
     Meanwhile, Nyel has begun building a separate brooder coop-let – a Mini Mansion for mom and chicks. He thought it was good-to-go and moved Ms. Red and her eggs to their new quarters but clever Ms. Red quickly found an escape hatch and again went back to Blondie’s spot.  We’ve watched her like a hawk and, with each abandonment, have replaced the still-warm eggs under her; we remain hopeful that we’ll soon have chicks.   Nyel thinks that today he will complete a fool-proof Mini Mansion and make the final move.  We’ll see.  It’s hard to outsmart a broody hen.   

2 Comments

  1. sandy stonebreaker

    I suspect you won’t outsmart the broody hen. Somethings are just too complicated to figure out. I grew up on a farm and chicken care was part of my chores.

    And, add shrinking to the list of things that happen to we elderly people. I figured when you mentioned dribbling you were talking about another portion of the anatomy.

    Sandy

    Reply
  2. michelle chabot

    Chickens are funny little people, aren’t they? I have always enjoyed the job of taking care of my mom’s flock when they are out of town and often find myself just standing watching them after the chores are done.

    Reply

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