Remember my chicken worries, Boppity the slightly addled broody hen that fixated on the nest rather than the eggs? Well, we didn't eat her, I couldn't be bothered with the idea of killing and plucking (especially plucking) it's alot of work. So I continued to collect eggs armed with a ladle with which to fend off the hen and then... Another hen went broody so now I had TWO annoyed chickens cluttering up the nest box all day!
We moved Black Speckle into the 'maternity' wing and gave her six eggs to sit on. And sit she did! The eggs are due to hatch on Thursday this week. Not counting my chicks beforehand but any that turn up are destined for the pot.
But that's only two I hear you say. Yes, well, yesterday, Bippity (sister to aforementioned Boppity) went broody too. Thankfully she settled into the Broody coop! Hurrah! We put two hopefully fertile eggs underneath her and have left her be. 21 days incubation period for hens, though I'm never sure whether day 1 is really day 1 - I mean what if she starts sitting on the eggs at 6pm? Does that day still count as day 1?
Why would we let them breed when we have more than enough hens for our needs? Several reasons. Once they go broody they don't always return to full egg production anyway and so we should be looking to replace the barren hens. We try to give them as natural a life as possible so this means allowing nature to take its course. We are sentimental and chicks fill us with joy. The addition to the freezer is welcome. Home grown chicken has a wonderful flavour quite unlike the chickens from the supermarket.
So. Black speckle is about to become a mum and is in the most appropriate place for it. Boppity continues to be happy to sit on an empty nest. Bippity is in the Broody coop which is currently in the main run. Before chicks arrive she will need to be segregated from the others, however we can't put her in the maternity wing as the presence of Black Speckles new chicks may cause her to abandon her own eggs and try and steal them! It's the universe in miniature, keeping hens.
They squabble and fight with no inhibitions, they have distinct characters, likes and dislikes. The way the cockerel finds titbits for them and calls them over to eat and then stands guard, watching for predators. The way he chases them when he is of an amorous inclination and oh how they run! We do laugh alot. Yes keeping hens is great!
And now I must go clean the hen house as one of them has dropped a soft egg which has burst and the nest is full of ants! Never a dull moment at Finca La Reina!