Friday, March 28, 2014
One of our three beloved chickens - Joyce - has spent the last month and a bit brooding. I had no idea what this actually meant and when she first retreated to the coop to sit in her box, we were worried. She hunched in on herself and fluffed up all her feathers. She emitted sad little noises and her comb was red-hot. This is not good, we said to ourselves, certain that one of our previously happy little crew would not be with us by morning.
Then we did a little bit of reading. This was brooding, in which a chicken imagines that she needs to stay in her nesting space all the time to hatch eggs. Really kind of sad, when you think about it, guarding and nurturing eggs that don't exist or aren't hers (because, ironically, they stop laying). Poor love. And she would not move, except under considerable protest, when I lifted her out of the box and into the yard during the day. Otherwise she wouldn't have eaten or drunk any water. This went on and on and we read some more - leave her be, she'll come out of it in no more than three weeks. Three weeks passed, then four and nearly five. Oh, my aunt said, you just dunk them headfirst in cold water! That snaps them out of it! We were horrified at the thought of little Joycie receiving such torture, especially in her delicate and rather melancholic condition, but eventually it had to be done. Prolonged brooding has its own consequences.
And so it is that she has now emerged back into the yard to resume her daily frolic with her coop mates, Gladys and Jean. She is now moulting - an after-effect of brooding, apparently - but it's good to have her back. Unfortunately we have now had to build a little enclosure for the chickens (hence the chicken wire above) because they were gradually digging up the entire garden but even in a slightly reduced space, they still seem to be having a lot of chickeny fun!