A good year for broody hens

Late this morning, my husband and I walked down to the allotment, ready for some digging. The weather continues to be blisteringly hot and by the time we arrived, I conceded that we wouldn’t be able to dig over the whole of the section I wanted to without getting sunstroke. We said hello to everyone and went off to feed the chickens. The chicks were keen to get into their fresh food despite there being lots left on the floor.

Down in the main coop, we checked for Rey. She was still hiding under the nest box. I don’t blame her as every time Millie sees her, she attacks her. We blocked the other girls from getting to her so she could grab a long drink unmolested. As she drank, I disappeared off to the shed, dug out a bowl and filled it with water. I placed it up high on the nest box so that Rey could drink in piece. We collected four eggs and went to check on Leia.

Leia was still sitting on her eggs. What a relief! She had eaten as there were bits of food that she had scraped out of the egg box feeder, in front of her. My husband went off to wash out and refill her small water bowl. I managed to replace it without getting my fingers pecked off.

As we were about to start digging, Cliff swung by with exciting news. His broody had managed to hatch a chick. I dashed around to see myself. There it was, a small ball of fluffy feathers, half concealed under the broody. We hoped she may hatch a few more before the day was out.

My husband began digging and had made slow but steady progress despite the ground being as hard as concrete. Whilst he dug, I borrowed a broom from Tracy and swept up some of the old chicken bedding that had blown onto the path by the shed. It looked much better afterwards.

Next, I planted 10 squash plants generously donated to us by Sarah and Liz. The ground was so hard, I ended up having to water the ground before I could dig a small hole to put the squash into! It took a while but I managed to get all ten plants in and went off to fill the watering can to give them a good soak. As we finished up, closing the shed and greenhouse, I decided to pop across to check on Cliff’s broody hen.

I opened the door of her broody coop and found a newly hatched chick. It must have been less than 5 minutes old. Completely wet and exhausted, it lay on top of its shell unable to do anything other than breathe. I shouted to Cliff who came to see it. I was concerned the chick wasn’t under mum as it may struggle to dry itself. If it doesn’t stay warm, it could succumb to hypothermia. Cliff cautiously tried to get the chick under the broody, receiving several nasty pecks for his trouble. As he got the chick in under the broody, we spotted two more balls of fluff and four eggs. I can’t fully explain how exciting it is to see chicks hatching and to have to privilege of watching them grow up. As we left, we were determined to check up on the broody and her chicks when we came back to do the watering this evening.

I can’t wait to see what happens later! Here’s hoping she manages to hatch a couple more!

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