Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Little Diversion

I know, I know...the last post was about the renovation projects, and now here I am with a picture of a chicken.

I will return to the renovation projects with future posts (when I have more time to write), but for now I'll provide this update: 1) the shower project is finally finished and is VERY nice and VERY much appreciated; and 2) the demolition stage of the house in town is complete, and we are beginning the rebuild. I have pictures of each project, and I do intend to tell those stories. It's just that those projects consumed my life for about two weeks solid, giving me no time or energy to blog. I'm completely serious.

But on to the hen.

A year ago, I bought some chicks at a local farm supply store and raised them to be laying hens. It's been really nice for the past several months to have farm-fresh eggs. And I'll admit, those hens are great stress relievers. They come running to the fence every time I go by their pen, for I've often brought them some kind of treat, usually dry bread or bread with a moldy spot. They do love bread. And I do love to watch them scramble for the crumbs, greedy girls.

Recently, though, one of the hens has gone broody, meaning she sits on the nest box all the time to hatch the eggs the other hens lay. Unfortunately for her, we have no rooster, so she could sit on those eggs for the rest of her life and she would get no chicks. For a while, we would lift her off the nest and take the eggs (or, my approach - gently hold the feed can over her head and reach under her soft, warm feathers to steal the eggs). She doesn't like that; if anything comes within four inches of her, she pecks, and believe me, she is quick (hence, the can over her head).

She persisted, though we stole her clutch of eggs every day. Finally, we decided it might be fun to see if she really can hatch some chicks. A friend at school is a more serious farmer than I am, and she brought me some fertile eggs yesterday, including a couple of green ones (which thrilled me! I wanted a hen that lays green eggs.). I marked them so we could tell the fertile eggs from the sterile ones when gathering eggs in the evening.

Cute, aren't they?

Of course, Broody Judy (as we've started calling her) was on the nest, so I fed the hens and went to get some fresh hay for the nest box. While I was gone, she came off the nest to eat, meaning it was easy to switch out the fertile eggs for the sterile ones.

When I checked back later, she was on the nest, and she was still there tonight when I went to feed the hens and gather eggs. Maybe she will get to raise the babies she is so determined to have. I'll post a picture if she does.

Being the word nerd that I am, I couldn't help thinking how very appropriate the term "brooding" is for a gloomy, depressed individual. Broody Judy sits on the nest with a sort of glower on her face (ha ha), and doesn't move unless someone tries to take her eggs. Then she will strike out at the offender. She is quite irritable, and last night I noticed that if any of the other hens tried to come in the hen house to eat while she was eating, she would run them out. I can just imagine the first time some farmer used the word "broody" to describe a human (probably the wife). I'm sure that went over well....