The trials and tribulations of chook-keeping this week – a theme that, inevitably, as a chook-keeper, I often return to.
First event of the week was discovering that we suddenly had about a million broody hens. OK, OK, that is a he-yooge exaggeration.
There were five. But in a flock of around 30 hens, it has quite an impact on egg production.
Especially when my regular egg buyers decide that they like the eggs so much that they don’t want to play the usual “will the red box be out at the gate today? And, if so, will there be any boxes of eggs in it?” game, which can be quite a lottery. But without the big win.
In fact, some customers who don’t get here early enough leave totally empty-handed. I suppose in that way, we are like the Lottery. Kind of.
There has been a trend of late (if, as a one-Gamford, 30-hen operation, I have a business concern large enough to actually have, or spot, trends. Hardly ICI, is it?) for The Disappointed to get an order in.
They honk at the gate or leave pleading voicemail messages asking for two, three, four boxes at a time.
One of the lovely Yvette’s customers requested four boxes on arrival and four boxes on departure, at the time of booking their holiday cottage.
I did wonder if they were going to spend every waking hour practising for the Great British Bake-Off. The mind boggles.
As I type, three boxes are on their way to a camping holiday in Devon. Perhaps they will be ready just to crack into the pan and make omelettes by the time they get there.
Soooo, anyhoo, back to the broodies. Five hens lying growling in nest boxes (especially as we only have four nestboxes, not five) is downright crackers.
Those who want to lay are hopping crossly in and out of the coop waiting for the interlopers to lay something or sling their hooks.
Being very full in all of our small coops just now with our lovely chicks in one and Sergeant Murdoch with his three-hen harem in the other, we made a wee nest for one of the broodies in a pet carrier and popped her in it with eight eggs.
We then placed her atop the huge shelf in the turkey shed that covers the two ginormous nestboxes there. Sadly, the turkeys don’t lay that often, and the nestboxes are way too big and light for the hens, so they are pretty much unused. We reckoned that she could be parked, in effect, up there out of harm’s way until we had space for her... somewhere.
And there she stayed for a week, poor wee soul, until we decided what to do. In the end, we decided to liberate the two hens who had been such excellent mums to our one and three chicks respectively, and put all four chicks together. At seven weeks old, they will be on proper, grown-up chicken pellets very soon, so it will be handy if they are a gang of four when they join the big flock in 10 weeks or so, a bit like having mates when you first go to high school.
After a few days in her pet carrier to get settled in, we shoe-horned our new Mrs Broody out of her temporary home and put her on to a nice nest in her very own coop. Not forgetting to pop her eggs back under her.