Mums in short 
supply at Shoogly Towers

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The ‘Are they? Aren’t they?’ broody hen saga (a farce in three acts) seems to be playing out to its conclusion. Hopefully, by the time this column comes out, we will have some chicks. Yes, real, live, new little chickens.

This is the first year we have bought in eggs to hatch under broodies, rather than just used our own. The late, beloved Bruce (RIP) is very much missed in this respect.

So far, not so good. These ‘shop bought’ eggs have just had to be thrown away. Remember the Old English Pheasant Fowl eggs that our own broody rejected, which then necessitated us ‘borrowing’ Brenda the broody from the lovely Tracy Henmummy down the road?

Well, Brenda suddenly decided that she wasn’t really broody after all, and that she actually couldn’t be bothered with the whole ‘sitting on eggs until they hatch’ nonsense, and simply jumped off the eggs and shot off, putting as much distance as she could between herself and our lovely eggs (which cost a not inconsequential £11). Motherhood, moi? No thanks.

So we were left looking for another candidate before the eggs went cold. There was a potential mum around, thank goodness. She had been squeezing into the coop and raking eggs out of the nest boxes in order to sit on them.

Sally the turkey.

Not wanting to deny Sally her shot at motherhood this year, we decided to give her a go. She is unlikely to be hatching any turkey eggs any time soon.

Vic, the boy turkey, is pretty rubbish at his job. No, let’s be honest, he’s hopeless. He fluffs up and makes a great show of hissing like a garage air line, shimmies about in front of the girls, then goes to the wrong end and dances about a bit before giving up.

The girls sit patiently as he treads on their heads and necks with his big clod-hopping feet. Tragic to watch. And pretty gutting for the girls.

Sadly, Vic isn’t the only clod-hopping turkey, and every few days or so the over-eager and fairly hefty Sally would squash one of the eggs and, come the day they were due to hatch there were only two left. And this day passed, with the eggs very ‘slooshy’ inside, which means no chick. So we took them away and gently lifted Sally out of the broody coop and watched her waddle sadly back to the the turkeys. Bless.

After this sad episode, we were delighted that one of our home-bred hens was suddenly broody. Wasting no time, I ordered some more eggs from a hatching egg Facebook group. Just two days later they arrived.

Broodiness can be catching – Jean’s Chicken (who is a fantastic mother) caught it first, then passed it on to Lily (Savage), who is the meanest, peckiest chook ever. Last year she started pulling her chicks’ feathers out. Why? Because she could. When Gamford went in to check all was well, she flew at his face.

We currently have three hens sitting on three different types of eggs, obtained over the interweb. Will keep you posted.

A footnote: A Girls Day Oot at the marvellous Manderston House for Aunty Rupert, the Young Mistress and myself. YM suddenly points to an object and pipes up: “What’s that?”

Me: “Well, that’s a record player, of course.”

“What’s that?”

“Well, that was before cassette tapes were invented.”

Blank looks.

“Erm, that was how they used to play music.”

“Well, that would be ages and ages and ages ago. Like in the 1990s. When you were really little.”

I just found myself saying: “Yes, that’s right.”