Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Broody Hen

This hen has been sitting exactly like this for 21 days. I suppose she gets out to eat and drink when I'm not looking. But when I'm there, she's like a statue - a statue with sound effects when I poke under her warm, damp bare breast to assess the eggs she's sitting on. She takes a quick peck at my hand and emits a long raspy complaint at the disturbance.

The first chick hatched Friday. More on Saturday. Sunday she was still waiting for the rest.

I usually try to keep my hands off on the theory that she knows better than I do. But by 4:00 Sunday I couldn't stand it anymore. It seemed like that Friday hatchling must need a drink of water. So I eased the five little guys and a few unhatched eggs into a box. The hen grumpily followed as I set the box on its side on the floor. She deposited the biggest, smelliest chicken poop I've ever seen, suggesting she'd been stuck in the next for quite a while.

The chicks merrily tumbled out into the straw as she chirped instructions to them. She demonstrated drinking from the waterer and showed them where to peck for food. She had no interest at all in the remaining eggs. She periodically called the babies back under her wings and purred to them 'til they ventured out again.

Monday morning the chicks were exploring the entire floor of the hen house. I had placed a board across the outside door so that the hens can get out but not the chicks. I want to be sure she doesn't take them outside somewhere that I won't be able to find them when it's time to close the door in the evening. They'll be safer in the hen house for now.


Amy C. from Ithaca said...

I recently read a very touching account of a reptile researcher who'd seen a hatchling turtle that baked in the sun and died. The next time he was tracking turtle hatchlings and one approached, he thought of how hot the day was and how little it had rained recently. He poured water from his canteen into a lid and let the little critter drink. It drank for 21 minutes straight (it was a researcher writing this, after all) and then ambled on the way to rest of its life. Sounds like good interference to me.

Moon Over Martinborough said...

We've got a broody hen and I don't know what to do with her! My neighbor has told me I need either a bucket or a trap to get the hen 'off the cluck'.