Moving a broody chicken

This morning I walked down to the allotment via the corner shop to pick up some biscuits for the clubhouse. The sun was out again but the breeze took the temperature down enough to remind you it is still early April.I swung by the clubhouse briefly on my arrival, waved to the gang before opening up the shed. As I was opening the shed, I caught Cliff and gave him the purple passion flower I got him the day before yesterday. He was very pleased – I made sure I got his favourite type. I had brought down the chicken jumpers as it seemed silly to keep them at home and I set about making a place to put them. I tried hanging them and decided it worked quite well. Plus, there is room for another jumper!Cliff then volunteered to help me clear the water butt by the coop which I had been using as a dumping ground for pruned branches. We pushed the butt over and drained the rain water out of it. It stank to high heaven! Between us, we moved all the sticks and cleared out the rotting material at the bottom of the butt. It was a battle as the decomposed material was tightly compacted and it took a while to remove it all. I put the smelly material (which will be perfect compost next year) into the black composter. I screwed on the lid and went for a drink at the clubhouse to get away from the stench! Cliff meanwhile had cleaned it out and put it by the other water butt behind the shed.Steve, Geoff, Rachel, Chris and Mick the Greek had all stopped for a tea break and we discussed the pros and cons of different varieties of seed and how long you can store them before they are dead.I spent the next little while enjoying planting the new fruit bushes. I removed a section of the bark chippings and cut through the weed fabric to reach the soil. I cut as small a section as possible and using a trowel are a small hole. Each bush went in easily and I packed the hole with soil before closing up around the stem. I watered them in and ambled off to feed the chickens.The chickens had been inspecting my work closely and made their disapproval felt about not being fed the second I arrived on site. I cleaned their coop and gave out their food. Then I checked on Emily. She was still in residence and very grumpy. I wished I had an “Approach with Caution” sign for her!This is day three of her being fully broody and now was the time to separate her from the others. To separate them may seem unfair but it’s best both for Emily who needs privacy and quiet, and the rest of the flock who want to lay their eggs in the nest box. And, for the owners, who would like to collect the eggs without risking losing their fingers! Cliff very kindly lent us one of his broody enclosures. Between us, we hauled it around to our plot and we started to prepare it.A broody box needs to be big enough for the chicken to be comfortable inside, have an outdoor area with food and water with enough space for the broody to stretch her legs when she takes a break from sitting. I cleaned the nest box out using cleaning fluid and left it to dry whilst I cleaned out and filled a feeder. Cliff lent us a water container so that she has a plentiful supply of clean water.Once the nest box was dry, I filled it with sawdust for her to sleep in. Cliff added a handful of hay because broody chickens prefer it.The came the difficulties of moving her. She is a stroppy chicken at the best of times but when she is broody she is deranged. Cliff carefully armed himself with thick leather gloves as Emily has previously strongly objected to being moved and made her anger evident by taking chunks out of whoever she can get her beak into. I grabbed the eggs she had been sitting on one Cliff had her safely and ran to the broody coop and put them into the nest box. Cliff dropped her in and she shouted at him for several minutes. She got herself some food and water and went in and out of the nest box a few times. We left her to it.I ambled back to check on the rest of the girls. I found we had forgotten to close the coop door. I dashed in to check that all the girls were there. I counted all but one. Then out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a feathered head. Polly was busy under the fruit trees, quite happy and content. As I went to try and get her back in, I thanked God that it was her and not one of the Vorwerks (see previous post about Molly’s spectacular escape!). I chivved Polly towards the door, forgetting it was now closed. She walked calmly past the door and towards Geoff’s coop. I snuck into the coop and started giving out some sunflower seeds. Luckily, she jumped back through the door in order to get her share!Next, I watered all the plants. It’s a big job now that we have so many growing. I used the water butts as the rain water is better for the plants than tap water. As I watered I kept an eye on Emily who seemed to be enjoying the sunshine and not wanting to go back to her eggs. It was rather nerve-wracking. I have hatching eggs on the way and I won’t be able to use them if she didn’t settle back on the eggs.As she was refusing to go in, I decided to leave her completely alone and find a different job to do. I ran around to Cliff and asked for the white paint and where he wanted the inside of Mick the Greek’s coop painted. It’s an incredible coop but the inside is rather dark. Cliff showed me where he had agreed with Mick that we can paint. Poor Cliff has been run off his feet the last few days with helping everyone else that I was determined to help him out. I stayed late but managed to finish off all the inside wood with a good thick coat. It has definitely brightened up the inside of the coop.After I finished, I checked on Emily. The idiot bird was still outside. I decided to brave her wrath and shut her into the nest box. Somehow I managed it and as an added bonus, retained all ten fingers! She was not happy! Half an hour later, I went back to check on her. She was sitting on the eggs but standing close to the door.Wondering whether there was something she didn’t like about the nest box, I let her out and whilst she was outside, I took the end off the nest box and looked in. She had thrown the hay around almost as if she didn’t want it. So I gathered all the hay and stuffed it at the back of the nest box, away from the eggs. Then I rearranged the sawdust, putting the eggs in the middle of a dent in the centre of the box. Then I put the lid back on and waited. Would it work?Emily looked at me suspiciously before slowly walking into the nest box. Hardly daring to breathe, I crawled along the path to look into the doorway of the nest box. There she was, sitting comfortably in the nest box.So there you have it, a difficult chicken who not only loathes being moved when broody but also has very specific requirements which must be met before she will sit on her eggs! Here’s hoping she settles in overnight and that the hatching eggs arrive tomorrow.

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