Hello, how was your week?
I am feeling somewhat ruffled. Let me explain. A few weeks ago, a fox came into the garden and ate a cockerel and my favourite big black hen. Hard to not hate foxes (though actually, even I am appalled that there is a suggestion we might legalise fox-hunting again – but that is a different issue).
Anyway, at about the same time as the above massacre, one of my other hens started to get broody, to collect the eggs the other hens laid as soon as they left the laying box, and to refuse to budge. I collected the eggs every day (because most of them were bantam eggs, and I don’t want more bantams) but she was very fierce. Have you ever encountered a cross hen? They fan out their tails, and fluff up their wings, and when you come within striking distance, they zoom in and peck you. Very hard. Enough to form a red blood blister, even through gloves. Scary.
Also (if that isn’t bad enough) one broody hen tends to remind the other hens that they too want to be mothers, so they all stop laying and you have no eggs, whilst still having to pay a fortune for their food and cleaning up stinky poop each day.
So, I decided I would move said broody hen into the duck aviary (as I think I mentioned in a previous blog) and give her the eggs I still had, from the lovely big black hen which had been eaten. Good plan. Except, that was several weeks ago, and chicks take 3 weeks to hatch. Exactly 3 weeks. So something was wrong. Scary hen was still firmly on her nest, but there was no sign, whatsoever, of hatchlings.
So this morning, I decided I needed to act. I donned my protective Marigold gloves and a thick coat, and went to discuss the issue with the hen. She was not impressed and still refused to let me investigate. I left her for a few minutes, while I fed the ducks, and noticed that, because she thought I had left, she was no longer sitting on her nest. I dashed back and managed to corner her. Catching her was loud and violent (towards me, she was completely unharmed if somewhat cross). I was cheered on by the cat, who was watching on top of the cage and at one point reached through and patted the top of my head for encouragement. The dog was less helpful, as she chased around the cage barking, which did nothing to calm the situation. All the chickens in the other cage squawked their disapproval, and I had a row of ducks on the bank who were trying to watch.
Managed to catch her, only one deep wound (now covered with a Mr Happy plaster) and she was carried, still trying to peck any available flesh, back into the chicken coop. I checked her nest. There were bits of shell, and one remaining egg, which was cold. I think she must have eaten the others.
I like having chickens, but only when they are free. I love being in the garden when a flock of birds wanders through it, I like that they come to watch me garden, will investigate anything new, and spend hours digging through the compost heap. I do not like animals in cages. Until the foxes stop being randy and doing daredevil raids past the dog into the garden, the chickens have to stay in their cage. Am not enjoying this at all. Ducks are so much nicer.
Hope your day goes better than mine has so far. Time for my morning coffee now. Thanks for reading.
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I am pleased to announce that JOANNA is finally available as a Kindle book. If you search for JOANNA by Anne E Thompson in whichever country you live in, it should be available. The UK link is below: