Urban Homesteader Problems

We have another broody chicken. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this yet, but about a month ago, Noodle became broody. Broody is when they take to sitting in their nest box all day thanks to a biological response to hormones in their system that manifests as voices in their head that tell them to SIT ON THE EGGS AT ALL COSTS SO THAT CHICKS ARE BORN. Chickens brains are the size of a pea so this is not too much of a surprise.

I’m a chicken. Deal with it.

When you have a rooster manning the coop, the eggs are fertilized and in 3 ish weeks, POOF out come chicks, and your hen snaps out of her trance to go about the business of caring for her little flock. But when you don’t have a rooster, or even a reasonable clutch of eggs, what you get is a pecky, mean, stupid(er), non-producing hen who gets confused and won’t leave the nest box. This also generally means they don’t do a good job with the self care (like eating and not plucking their own chest feathers out to make a better nest) and so, they tend to die. See also: small brains.

She also guards whatever eggs come her way (in our case, one a day from the other chicken) with a ferocity that can be admired. I’m telling you, you haven’t lived until you have seen your chicken use her breasts to scoop the egg back under her while you are poking her with a stick to get her out of her milk crate / nest box.

Ah’m a settin’ whether or not there is a box.

We snapped Noodle out of her broodiness by using the dunking method (that is, dipping her overly warm chicken butt into cool water to cool her down and trigger a hormonal change), but it took us a while to clue in. We had a few weeks of broken eggs from the other one laying where ever she could because the nest box was “occupied” or removed entirely, and a whole lot of “I dunno, what does Google say?” before we came up with the dunking idea and after two dunks over two days, she seemed to come around.

So when Giblet developed a certain snippiness and refusal to leave the nest, we knew pretty much instantly what to do and decided to try the other method recommended by the backyard chicken forum people and stuffed her into solitary confinement. Someone dropped off a wire cage to our back door (who knows who?! – this remains a complete mystery!) and so Gibs, as we tend to call her, (like “jibs and sails”, not like Barry Gibbs) got stuffed into the wire cage almost immediately with a lovely selection of carrot tops and a sippy cup (hey, we repurpose!) full of water. Take that, Snippy Britches.

I am not sure I like this – ooh look, carrot tops!

We kept her in there for four nights, each night bringing her sorry fuzzy butt into the basement because we worried the raccoons or coyotes around here might be smart enough to get into the wire crate. Each morning, we dutifully took her outside and set the cage beside the coop so she could see her pal and on the fifth day, no more broody! When it rained, I am not ashamed to admit I set up an umbrella beside her, and when it was scorching sunny one day, I also set up a sheet on the clothesline to shade her. Our chickens are hella spoiled. I admit it. This is okay. They make me eggs. Mooki doesn’t do that for me and she has a fluffy bed.

I am not sure what this place is – ooh look, grass!



9 years ago