The Cottage Smallholder

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Hope has finally gone broody!

The gimlet eyes of Radio Hope

The gimlet eyes of Radio Hope

When The Chicken Lady and S gave me two black and white Wyandotte bantam hens for Christmas three years ago I was delighted. They were so pretty and it was a present that would give me pleasure for years to come.

We were also told that this breed has a tendency to go broody.

These two plucky little bantams, Hope and Peace, were characters from the word go. They refused to associate with the rest of the flock, would rather spend the frosty nights on the roof of the henhouse rather than join the others on the perch inside.

Peace was a gentle creature who was easy to lift and put inside the hen house. Hope was a completely different character. She fought beak and nail to resist being moved into a warmer and more comfortable spot. She really was rather frightening and even though her beak was small, her peck was painful.

Luckily I had a pair of leather gauntlets to wear when handling the hens. The shrieks of abuse needed a level of courage that often wavered a bit with me!

Since those early days, Peace has moved to that great chicken meadow in the sky and Hope has continued as she began. Independent and feisty. Generally preferring her own company to that of the lowly hens in the flock. She is as prickly as she is pretty – a real character.

She also is a good layer. Producing a dinky daily egg, during the laying season. These little creamy white eggs are the sweetest eggs that I have ever tasted. I’m wary of Hope but her delicious eggs have made me persevere with her.

Most hen keepers face a dichotomy. Either they want a few broody hens to raise some more stock, or they battle with broody hens as they do not want to increase stock. In the latter case a broody hen can take over the nesting box and gradually put the rest of the flock off lay.

Deep down inside of me, I wanted Hope to go broody. Over the past three years I’ve been disappointed when she didn’t succumb – perhaps she just bucked this broody tendency along with any attempts to socialise? Maybe she was just a lone gun in our flock?

Imagine my delight when I opened the nesting box lid and I discovered that she’d gone broody a few days ago. She’s taken over the nesting box and was sitting on a vast nest of eggs. Her aggression had ramped up considerably. She had the broody look – sitting like a fluffed up tea cosy that has been flattened at the bottom and she screamed at me. This shrieking didn’t stop as I pottered about the run tending to the rest of the flock. It was just like her own radio channel – I’ve christened it Radio Hope.

I gave her own water and food supply and left her for a couple of days – just to make sure that she was really broody and in for the possible duration of raising a new batch of chicks. Every time I opened the gate into the hen run, Radio Hope screamed from the nesting box. Perfect.

So yesterday I started to prepare.

We have one diminutive cockerel – Beatyl. His wife is Queen Zeb – our black bantam leghorn. Once in a while I see him also mounting Hope. He leaves the rest of the flock alone – well they are about four times his size and he clearly isn’t attracted to the Junoesque. The bantam eggs that Hope is sitting on may be fertilised but the eggs from the standard sized hens definitely will not be hatching eggs.

So I ordered six bantam hatching eggs from eBay – a mix of three ‘new to me’ bantam breeds. These are winging their way from Aberdeen as my fingers fly across the keyboard.

Meanwhile I’m busy with the circular saw and loads of chunky tongue and groove lengths of wood. I’m repairing The Emerald Castle (our maternity and isolation wing) so that I can transfer Hope and her nest of eggs to a quite and safe place where, if all goes well, she will hatch out and care for the latest additions to our flock.

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  1. She may be prickly but what a beauty!

  2. Liza Thomas

    She does look really cross! Hope you’ll be able to safely move her to the new place – without getting pecked too much in the process!

  3. steve h

    I wouldn`t try moving her till the chicks arrive, especially if she`s kiesty!
    She knows the Emerald Castle is not her chosen nest site, and will not sit, but try to get back to home. Once she has her chicks you can move her anywhere and as long as she has her brood she will stay with them. Try it, but be prepared to provide alternate nesting for the other girls, if she wont settle, dont try to force her!

  4. How very exciting.

  5. I await your news!
    Jille xx

  6. You lucky lady! She’s a gorgeous hen. I’d love to have some bantam Wyandottes of my own, they’re such pretty birds. I’m curious to hear what bantam breeds you ordered off eBay. Hope it all goes well!

  7. freerangegirl

    Good luck with the broody – she’s a beautiful colour, it sounds like she has the spirit to be a great mum x

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