A tale of two hens

SONY DSCMay 31, 2020

The chickens may be playing tricks on me. You probably have read about our black Langshan hen who I declared to be broody on April 24 and who has been attempting, with some success, some help and some failures, to hatch a clutch of her and other hens’ eggs since offering up this “happy birthday” gift on May 16.

I had allowed her to keep the couple of eggs that remained in her nest after I rescued the last hatchling and kept checking under her each morning in hopes of more babies. Instead I began to find more eggs, of different hues — meaning that while some might have been hers, others were obviously from other hens and possibly even one of the ducks. I did not want to unduly disturb her, so I kept my checking to the minimum.

Broody hen at work

When I did chores this morning I thought that Broody Hen, who had been setting in the left most nest all along had apparently left the remaining clutch, which was still warm, to take up a position in the right hand milk crate (shown nearly empty in the photo, right, from earlier in the month) on a few eggs. After attempting to check her new location, I am not totally sure the blue crate is, indeed, occupied by the hen I expected. You see, the first mama, who I have been calling Broody Hen, was the most mellow broody I have ever handled. She never really minded my feeling under her, never pecked at me or raised her voice. At most, her clucks of disapproval sounded more like a resigned, under the breath, fussing. “yeah, I know you gotta… just get it done and leave me to it” kind of fussing. I even picked her up a bit, gently, by handfuls of her back feathers to more easily extract stressed chicks and she never fussed at all!

This morning, though, my attempt to feel under the black hen in the blue crate elicited a much different reaction. I was pecked at quite vigorously and she yelled at me! If you have ever been yelled at by a hen, you know that tone of voice. The only logical conclusion is that BlueCrate Hen is a different individual and that Broody Hen was off her clutch, eating with the others of her ilk. They do get off the nest when broody, briefly and from time to time to eat, drink and void. And I was doing chores later than usual, so I might have hit her routine during a different part. Who knows… I know I will be checking in with them this evening and if I don’t see two black hens setting, I will bring the abandoned eggs in. I won’t try putting them under BlueCrate. I did try to slip one under this morning and she was having none of it. That was when she pecked me.

SONY DSCEvening chicken update: the picture tells the story! Yes, I have two hens currently on eggs. And here I was worried about self-replication! LOL Even if they continue to have results as spotty as I have seen thus far, we will have home grown hens, and a few roaster roosters for the freezer, in addition to the load of meat birds that will be coming in a couple of months.

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