Over the last couple of days we have had chirping in the dining room again, as sixteen chicks made their way into the world.
We set them – due to the broody hen.. the one that gave up half way. But no problems.. we had another broody in the interval.
Henrietta.. not the best broody in the world.. as she seems to lose eggs. She was our first broody.. and she nested the first time in the hen house.. we blamed the other chickens…we bought a coup. The next time she lost some we blamed it on vermin….so we super vermin proofed her coup.. and still eggs vanished. We realised some were broken, so super padded the coup. The next time after that.. we worked out it was her. OK – so we didn’t want to believe it. Cos she is broody.. often. Too often. And all the time she is broody, or getting over being broody, or raising chicks, she is not laying. Throw in that she is not laying lots these days anyhow.
So.. we said.. next time she goes broody. Into the pot.
But clever Henrietta (you can tell she was an early chicken.. she got a proper name.. since chickens have been called things like ‘Big Comb’ ), saw a reprieve, and cunningly went broody just as the other bird gave up. Well, we said, raising chicks is useful, she can have a place in the flock after all.
Tonight we took out the chicks, at dusk, and popped them under her one at a time, hand concealing the chick, sneaking them in. Unlike last time, she did not cluck motherly clucks, but instead squwarked defensively. The chicks nestled in. Henrietta fluffed up.. but not in a motherly way. We replaced the lid and peeked through the gap. She reacted as though some parasites had invaded her nest. She pecked each one if they showed themselves..
We took them out again. We lifted her off the nest and offered her one chick. She ate, drank, pooed.. and carefully walked around the chick. The chick sidled up and tried to sneak in. She attacked.
And we brought the chicks back inside under the heat lamp.
It’s not looking good for Henrietta.
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