After the fox snaffled our last two hens last autumn, leaving a lonely bantam cockerel widower, Susan bought two replacements - a 'full-size' hen and a pretty little black bantam. They're both good layers, and pretty soon little black hen was broody - sitting on about a dozen eggs. It was time to move her and the eggs into the 'broody box' - our mini-maternity unit where she could care for the chicks undisturbed until they've grown a bit.
She went crackers. Obviously upset at being separated from her mate, she shrieked and fussed - almost cried. A seriously distraught hen - it was heartbreaking to hear her. Usually a hen will settle back down in an hour or two - this went on for two days, at the end of which she scattered the eggs in all directions and would only sit on two. One hatched and we now have a fine hen that's the spit of her dad as far as colouring's concerned - the hens all went back together. But what a waste of potential life.
Come early November, little black hen started staying in the coop and rarely emerging. I was worried - thought she must be ill. After a week I thought she must be on the way out.
Then my wife spotted four eggs under her. Hens are supposed to get broody in spring, not winter.
She hatched one a week ago and abandoned the other eggs - we moved mother and baby into the broody box with no complaints this time. The chick will be tough if it lives - the garden thermometer hit a minimum of 12 Fahrenheit (-11 Celsius) yesterday - bare metal was sticking to my fingers. It's quite balmy this morning at 25 (-4 Celsius).
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