Monday, September 3, 2012

Chicken frustration

So the girls do, basically, whatever they want. They jump the garden fence, steal each others eggs, and get viciously cranky when broody.

My first broody hen acted exactly like I expected. She stayed in her nest for days squawking at anyone who came within feet of her. We swapped out her real eggs for plastic ones, forced her off the nest to eat, politely gave her space when sweeping up the poop, and looked out for large land mines when she came out for a dust bath. We finally got her off the nest by placing a ceramic pot in there while she was off bathing. She was done with brooding straight away. Thankfully!

The next day another chick showed the beginning signs of broodiness: cranky, egg-stealing, and aggressive.

Thankfully, it only lasted a day.

After the hens go through this they take a little break from laying while their hormones return to normal. They returned to normal in the middle of the night last night.

The girls like to cuddle upon a roost bar over the closed ramp at night. (our coop is small and portable. They don't seem to mind as they are only in there at night and maybe to lay.) Because its a ramp and not an actual floor, there is no padding or nesting material to catch eggs that fall during the night. So they fall, split open, are never snuggled to hardness, and result in a required thorough hen house cleaning. This has happened before when a couple days of dark storm clouds alters someone's schedule. But double eggs with a layer of poo in the middle is not my favorite "good morning" present. I'd rather have scrambled eggs, that have been cooked by a human, while laying in bed.

Plus I'm out two eggs and needed those to pay for my borrowed lawn mower later this afternoon!

This is frustrating, but not as frustrating as the fence jumping.

We have a high fence along the back of our yard. Like 8 feet tall. Yesterday I only saw three chickens in the middle morning hours; the two recovering brooders and Minerva. Ferdy, who got the worst of the pecking and egg stealing, was missing. I quietly check everywhere, trying not to wake the neighbors. But in frustration I started asking the chickens where'd she gone. Had they seen her? I cluck as if I was sharing treats and hear a ruffle of feathers, some scratching and the rustle of some leaves. Ferdy appeared on top of the back fence next to the fruitless pear tree! I quickly grabbed her foot and got her back in my yard. The rest of the day was spent double checking she was still around and trying to be grateful that she was honoring my desire for her to stay out of the garden...

Oh that garden and those chickens don't stand a chance of existing together if the hens can clear 8 foot high fences!

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