Our chicken Harriet has gone broody. She has parked herself in one of the nest boxes in the hen house and is determined to incubate eggs.
There are just a few problems with this plan. Chief among them is the fact that we don't have a rooster. No rooster means no nookie, which means that our hens lay unfertilized eggs that will never develop into baby chicks. The second big problem with Harriet's egg-hatching scheme is that neither she nor any of the other chickens have laid any eggs at all for over a week. Harriet is dutifully sitting on ... nothing. And her behavior has apparently thrown all of the rest of the flock into such an uproar that they have all forgotten how to lay eggs at all.
There is plenty written about what to do when a hen goes broody. The advice ranges from the bizarre to the downright cruel. ("Alter your chicken's hormonal urges by dunking her in a barrel of ice water!")
Robb and I tend to let animals be animals. If nobody's getting sick, if everyone is eating well and not acting too crazy, we tend to leave things alone. We do lift Harriet out of the nest box a few times a day so that she can drink and eat and do chickeny things.
Harriet is pretty grumpy about our interference. She keeps up an irate monologue of fussy clucking, and has her hackles raised. If you've ever seen a male turkey during mating season, with all of his feathers puffed out, you'll have some idea of how our chubby Harriet looks. Except that instead of having a majestic turkey tail to display as a symbol of sexual prowess, she has diminutive chicken tail-feathers atop an ample booty. Harriet is many things, but majestic is not one of them.
As Harriet's broodiness enters its second week, Robb and I are starting to consider buying some fertilized eggs or baby chicks to slip into her nest. We really don't need any more animals, but the lure of baby chicks is pretty tempting.
Hopefully, Harriet will come to her senses before Robb and I take leave of ours.
For a glimpse into other gardens around the blogging world, visit the weekly round-up at Daphne's place.