This summer (the hottest on record here, though they've only been recording for the past 100 years), one of our chickens decided she wanted to be a mamma again. I guess she got jealous of the other hen who'd recently hatched a brood (you can see her baby photos here).
But, the hottest summer on record, our little yellow half-silky hen decided she wanted babies.
We did not. We had enough hens (5, though 2 were/are still too young to lay eggs just yet) and two extra roosters was more than we wanted (we'll be <gulp> killing and dressing them this weekend). So we tried to make her NOT broody (broody meaning, for those of you who don't talk about chickens, sitting on eggs and trying to hatch babies).
We took the eggs she managed to steal every day. This did not stop her, and she ended up, some days, just sitting on a nest of chicken turds. Gross. And dumb, as she wasn't even laying her own eggs, just stealing everyone elses.
Phillip, at one point, spun her around in a circle, to mimic one way we'd heard about to make chickens go off being broody. You put the hen in a bag, hang the bag on the clothes line, and spin it around, making them dizzy and they supposedly forget that they were broody. Phillip only spun her around in a circle while holding her (not in a bag), so he probably got more dizzy than she did. This did not work.
We tried shutting the chicken coop door during the day to keep her off her nest of turds, but she just found a place in the hay cock to sit instead. Also, we had to remember to go up in the early evening to open the door again so the chickens could go in to roost, so that when we went up to shut them in for the night, we didn't have to carry each chicken into the coop. Chickens, by the way, get remarkably dopey at night when they go to roost. It's kind of funny to see.
We tried dunking her belly and backside in water twice a day, which is supposed to make sitting on a nest really uncomfortable. I think this didn't work because it was so ridiculously hot, and the dip probably felt more revealing than uncomfortable to the stupid chicken.
For two months, I debated with Philip about just putting eggs under her, since she wasn't giving up. No, we didn't need or want more chickens, but we had friends that did. And more roosters would just mean more chicken in the freezer at some point, and we could sell or give away hens to, well, anyone. And I had to go up to the coop twice a day to give this idiotic hen water and food so she didn't cook herself to death in the heat anyway. Might as well get something out of her sitting and my having to do more than sit in the ridiculous heat.
I ended up talking to our friends up the hill (the family of 11), and they gave us some eggs to put under our determined hen for them. And yes, she sat, like a good little mother, and hatched five of the eight eggs we were given.
We're calling this batch the Tiddly Peeps. Phillip assures me it comes from some song or another from some children's show (British, of course), but we can't find it. I still love to say Tiddly Peeps though (try it, it's fun).
|Chicks pretending to be ducklings.|
One day old.
At two months, we're pretty sure at least two of them are hens, which is good for the family we hatched them for. Hopefully a third is a hen. It's a bit hard to tell until the combs start developing more.