We’re eggless again. I still can’t find Cynthia’s and Madge’s eggs and Grey Chicken is brooding. She’s taken up residence in the concrete rabbit cage in the garden, which even though we evicted its last residents – the guinea pigs – last summer we’ve left in place as a rain shelter for the cats. They still use it and it’s not unusual to see three or four cats curled up in there together with the chicken when it’s wet.
Here’s a photo of our broody hen. I’m including in case you’ve never seen a broody chicken. They somehow go all flat and kind of ooze over their eggs. Grey Chicken is actually quite upright in this photo. She felt threatened when I pointed the camera at her.
You’ll see in this next pic her tail is up even more as she’s crosser. I’ll admit it, I gave her a very gentle prod! Broody hens growl at you too and their gimlet eyes fix you with an I’ll-get-you stare that you really have to take seriously.
She’ll sit there, only getting up for a quick potter around to find something to eat, for up to three or four weeks. However, I may debroodify her sooner than that. If you’re not trying to hatch eggs then I’ve read it’s best not to leave them brooding unnecessarily. Some hens can starve themselves to death in their dedication to staying put and protecting their eggs. Apparently you can stop hens brooding by removing anything comfy and warm around them so they get chilly, or by dunking them in a bucket of lukewarm water a few times. This cools them down a little – their temperature goes up when they’re broody – and gets them out of the sitting-on-eggs mindset.
Other bird news is that there’s at least one swallow in the stables. It zoomed past a few centimetres from my head when I went in to feed the sheep this morning. And, I’m pretty sure I heard a distant cuckoo.
Could it really be spring at last?
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