Betty would make a brilliant mother, I only wish I could let her become one but I really can't have any more hens in the garden, even cute fluffy chicks. I'm also pretty sure biology is against us...there is no way I could have a cockerel. Chris' uncle won't, no actually just can't bring himself to tell us what happened to the cockerel they unwittingly ended up with in their back garden flock...he's still too traumatised by it. So absolutely no chance lady I'm sorry.
So there she is driven purely by her hormones and instinct, she will sit on this empty nest in her broody state until her imaginary eggs are hatched. I know you are supposed to try to snap them out of their broodiness, there are all manner of methods suggested when you look. One of my go to sites for all things hens is, Lisa Steele's Fresh Eggs Daily, it's a great site with really good advice and also hen recipes... and that's recipes 'for' hens...yes you really can cook for hens:) pretty sure there's some strange irony there!
Anyway, I have read how to break the broody hen...it's all a little barbaric for me...so I just haven't the heart to do it to her. She gets stressed enough when I lift her off the nest just to make sure she eats and drinks, she chunters continuously and isn't happy til she's back in place. There must be something about the sound she makes that make the other 2 hens very unhappy with her too. Normally they all get along fine, the pecking order is established, there isn't any fighting until one of them goes broody, the others just turn on them and are merciless with their beaks til the poor bird is back on her nest, Betty gets the worst treatment though. I have to keep an eye on them when they are like this so no blood is drawn, hens are funny beasts, apparently they go mad at the sight of blood..I have a spray just incase that acts as an antiseptic and also dyes the wound purple...I really hope I never have to use it, purple hens would just look silly!
She has stopped laying and her wattle and comb are slowly losing their redness. Quite honestly I don't mind her not laying for awhile, if she's happy just sitting there who am I to mess with her and nature? A hen growling at you is trying to tell you something...don't mess with female hormones!
Lisa Steele says it is bad for a hens health to allow her to continue to be broody and 'contagious' to the others and she is by far a more experienced hen owner than me (like Buzz Aldrin v Buzz Lightyear) but I'm just not hard enough.
I make sure that they eat and drink and aren't bothered by the other hens whilst they do and they all came out of their broody states last year without any ill effects that I could see. And yes they all went through it one after the other so in some respects it is contagious or perhaps just inevitable. Perhaps if I had a bigger flock or was very reliant on their eggs I would be more inclined to try to stop them going broody, or if she went on too long. It is my own fault for choosing a breed known for broody behaviour, some breeds aren't quite so hormonally driven. A lesson in hens that I have learnt a little late...
Meanwhile back in the house the beans are telling me something completely different...'get us out of here...we're going for the sky and nothing is going to stop us!' Except frost I should remind them. I keep getting lulled by the occasional beautiful warm sunny day and then like what happened the other day we have such a hail shower that it settles like snow. Not good for young mollycoddled beans so I have moved them to the half way house. Actually one of those cheap plastic greenhouses that does the job for now until my dreams of a proper grown up greenhouse come true.
When the shed gets put up at the allotment I'm planning to make some cold frames to go along its sides which should be another answer to the problem of what I do with all these seedlings I've got scattered around the house at the moment! Well when I say I will make some cold frames, I can see Chris roll his eyes and reach for his drill...I hope:)