This morning, I was up early ready to stalk the postman in the hopes the hatching eggs would arrive. They arrived in a carefully taped package and clearly labelled fragile. As keen as I was to open it, I decided it would be safer to open it down the allotment rather than risk any damage to the eggs in an open box.
Upon arrival on site, I quickly opened up the shed and dug out my Stanley knife. In my haste to order these eggs, I had forgotten to find out what colour they were. Interestingly, the were both the same pale shade of brown but the seller had thankfully labelled each egg so I knew which was which!
Sending hatching eggs in the post seems extremely risky but with proper care, it can be a great way to get the eggs you want. As the eggs will have been jogged around a lot in the post, you should leave them point down for 24 hours to settle before putting them under a broody chicken. I left the eggs out on the shed table, my only concern was how I was going to manage to swap them tomorrow!
I joined the usual suspects in the clubhouse. Today we were joined by Ken and his beautiful little dog. She is very shy but is getting used to us all. I even managed a short stroke! Tea and gammon sandwiches all round courtesy of Steve and Geoff. The gammon was amazing!
After a while, I decided I probably should sort out the chickens and check on Emily. I took the end off her nest box and there she was. Grumpy, indisputably, but sitting perfectly on her eggs. I left her to it after checking she had enough food and water.
Onto the coop and as I cleared out the coop, I realised I was one bird missing. Not Emily but another one. I looked in the nest box to be greeted by another extremely angry albeit broody Polly. I caught Geoff as he walked past and showed him how angry Polly was. He agreed she was probably broody. Cliff joined us and agreed she certainly was acting broody and we all went off to see whether we could find another broody box for Polly.
It was with a strong feeling of dejá vu, I started to clean out and prepare the nest box. Geoff and Cliff had helped me move the heavy nest box on a wheelbarrow from Cliff’s plot to ours. I used some of the dilute cleaning fluid and left it to dry. In the meantime, Cliff had been scouring the site for a run to attach to the front of the nest box. He came across the old quail run and declared it would be perfect with a few tweaks and repairs. I readily agreed. It wouldn’t take long we both thought, only a few tweaks, some patching up and replace the hinges on the nest box. A half an hour job at most. Simple.
Simple it might have been. But quick, it was not. The hinges alone took over an hour, made more difficult by the screws refusing to lie flat when screwed in, the screws being too long for the wood and trying to work out which way to put the hinges! Inevitably, we got the new large hinges on perfectly, only to find they were the wrong way round. Then of course screws that had refused to go in, refused to come out. Cliff had to resort to a crowbar and a hammer to extract them. Eventually, we got them on having discovered some better screws in one of Cliff’s many odds and ends boxes.
Next job was quicker – to attach the run to the nest box. All we needed was to find some wood and screw the box and run together. Using Cliff’s saw, we cut the wood to length and secured it in place. As Cliff went off to find some wood to go around the base of the nest box, I was busy preparing Polly’s food and water.
As I glanced over towards the coop, I spotted Polly staring at me from on top of the food bins. This meant, if I was quick, I could grab the eggs she was sitting on and transfer them easily. I did so and was quite smug when Cliff reappeared with the finishing touches for the broody box (some wire and wood panels). I secured all the loose parts of the wire only bashing my finger once with the hammer – black nail to come I am sure! Cliff fixed on the new fencing to cover a hole in the run which used to link the quail’s nest box to their run. It was too small a hole for a chicken to get through but big enough for a rat or something equally as nasty.
Now the difficult part. Catching Polly. I managed it in the end although the conversation between me and Polly isn’t repeatable, I was pleased when I got her myself. I put her into her new coop and she had a good explore and seemed more willing to go into the nest box than Emily. Whilst I was catching Polly, Cliff had collected all the tools we had used in repairing the broody box and quail run. The age old saying about quick and simple jobs never being quick or simple comes to mind!
Cliff went off for a well deserved tea break and I wandered up to the shed to get myself a drink. Rachael was in the clubhouse asking for shredded paper for a worm farm. This sounded very intriguing and I have half a mind to try it myself.
We left both Emily and Polly to themselves after this. Poor Emily must have wondered what was happening outside her coop for three hours today! I grabbed my paint brush and disappeared off to finish painting Mick the Greek’s coop.
I got out the paint and spent a happy hour painting away. By the time Cliff dropped by, I had pretty much finished the walls. He wanted me to do a couple of extra bits which I did quickly although some areas will need a second coat. It looks so much brighter inside the coop now.
As I was finishing, Cliff came with news that one of his chickens might be going broody. He brought into Mick’s coop a large broody box. All it needed was assembling. If only it were that simple! Between us we eventually worked out how it went together and left it proped up ready to screw together tomorrow.
Just before I left, I had a final check on Polly. The idiot bird was refusing to sit on her eggs like Emily did yesterday. Cliff recommended I shut her in. The elongate shape of the run is lovely to look at but not hugely practical when you are trying to shut a sliding door from the far end of the coop with a long stick in the face of an indignant chicken. Unfortunately, the door jammed so we opened the lid of the nest box.
The second it was open, out she flew with a screech. The idiot bird then added insult to injury by using my mulched area under the fruit trees as a toilet. Between Cliff and myself, we cornered her between my coop and Mick the Greek’s. Cliff caught her as she tried to fly up out of the dead end she found herself in. Wildly screeching her disapproval, she was dumped back into the broody box in complete disgrace. She will stay in the nest box overnight and be let out in the morning pending a full written apology to Cliff for trying to peck him to death after he spent all afternoon building her a beautiful broody coop.
Before I left, I checked on the other chickens in the main coop and informed them that under no circumstances was anyone else to go broody for the minimum of the next 4-6 weeks while Cliff and I recover from preparing two broody boxes in two days!