The Cottage Smallholder

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I never, ever thought that I could get angry with a chicken

Wyandotte hen named Hope

Wyandotte hen named Hope

But I did. I was so angry with Hope that I wanted to rip her apart with my bare hands.

Hope has been toying with being broody all summer. She’ll sit for a day or two and then decide she doesn’t want to sit on eggs any more. If a hen stops being broody there are various tricks that you can do – such as putting her in a dark box for a day or so. If you’re going to try this don’t forget to give her food and water.

Hope would have nothing to do with a dark box. She screamed and screamed until I felt sorry for the rest of the flock and our neighbours. When I opened the box she flew out and marched round the pen, still shrieking away. She “went broody” vaguely twice. Irritating but forgivable.

About two weeks ago she went broody again. She seemed serious this time. In fact she sat for 10 days, pecking me hard when I topped up her food and individual water fountain. She refused point blank to leave the nest.

Each day I pulled on my thick leather gardening gauntlets and whipped her off the nest so that she could relieve herself and stretch her legs. She stomped about the hen run clearly screaming at me in chickenese. She really was rather frightening. She nipped back to her nest quickly and hurl a few stringent clucks of abuse as I walked back to the cottage.

Then on the tenth day I booted her off the nest and she didn’t go back. In fact she took a dust bath, lay in the sun for a while and eventually went up to roost. I opened the chicken house door and she glared at me with gimlet eyes.

Her nest of eggs was quite cold by then. I couldn’t stop thinking about the partly formed chicks in the eggs – four lives just snuffed out by a wilful hen. I was furious with her and I’m embarrassed to admit that I picked up the perch that she was roosting on and shook it hard.

Needless to say she held on tight. Although she seemed a bit surprised.

I felt like a cross between King Kong and a medieval knight – lance in hand.

Then I realised that my behaviour was absolutely ridiculous. I gently replaced the perch with Hope still attached and walked away. Later when I’d calmed down I collected the eggs from her nest and threw them away. Chickens are not thinking creatures – they are not the brightest sparks in the fire. Like so many warm blooded creatures they act on instinct.

I reckon that you might be wondering what has happened to Hope since then? Hope has remained taciturn but I still love her and I think that after this incident I care for her even more. She is also such a pretty hen and she lays the sweetest eggs that I’ve ever tasted.


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  1. Dear owner of Hope, Please if you get a broody hen again do not disturb her in any way at all. She knows what she is doing better than we do and disturbing her alters her feeling of safety for the unborn chickens so she doesn’t let them hatch.
    Also if you have a broody hen and you don’t want her to brood an old trick we used to do on our farm was hang the hen in a jute sack on the washing line for an hour. Because of the movement on the washing line she will go off being broody.
    Hope you have better success with Hope in the future. Dutch farmer…

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