On a hid­ing to noth­ing

Some of Char­lotte’s girls may be broody, but the oth­ers are con­tin­u­ing to lay, some in hard-to-find spots and be­yond the bound­ary

Your Chickens - - Charlotte's -

Ionly want to pro­duce one set of chicks this year. I put nine eggs un­der Sadie, one of my tried and tested brood­ies. She did not sit very well at all. I kept find­ing the eggs in dis­ar­ray, with one or two bro­ken or thrown out of the hutch. Even­tu­ally I found them all dis­carded out­side, Sadie ob­vi­ously not want­ing to sit on these. I im­me­di­ately took the four re­main­ing eggs, along with four new ones, and put them un­der an­other broody, a Cuckoo Marans called Clem­mie.

Again, I have so far found two of the eggs bro­ken in the nest. These bro­ken eggs all ap­pear to have been in­fer­tile. I think my hens re­alise when the eggs are not vi­able and for this rea­son want to get rid of them. Once an egg gets bro­ken, though, I have to clean all the oth­ers as I feel that the dirt could af­fect any de­vel­op­ing chicks.

I’m pleased to re­port that Clem­mie is now sit­ting well, but I have to lift her off the eggs ev­ery day and let her out for a dust bath, some food and wa­ter and to defe­cate. If I leave the hutch open, an­other hen in­vari­ably gets in and tries to sit on the eggs. This means that I have to guard the hutch, hang around for 20 min­utes and then usher Clem­mie back to her nest and shut her in.


The other hens are still lay­ing rea­son­ably well. I have just found a se­cret nest on top of the gar­den shed cup­board. Eight eggs had been laid on the plain wood on top of the cup­board (this was hardly a cosy, warm place to lay). How­ever, the clever hen kept it a se­cret from

me for at least eight days. She gave the game away when I caught her stand­ing on top of the cup­board, mak­ing the usual cack­ling noise to an­nounce: “I have just laid an egg.”

Even more spec­tac­u­lar, though, was the nest my neigh­bour found in his hedge. He only re­alised there was a nest full of eggs when one had rolled out on to the nearby paving. He came over with a bag of 27. One in­ter­est­ing as­pect is that once you have found and cleared a nest, no hen will lay in it again. The eggs will all be fine since they are dif­fer­ent colours and so prob­a­bly laid by four dif­fer­ent hens over a pe­riod of a week or so.


Last month I re­ported on Phoebe who went roam­ing. I pulled out half of her tail while try­ing to catch her, but her feath­ers have grown back in record time.


My son had his girl­friend to stay re­cently and she wanted to know why all my hens were mak­ing such a noise in the gar­den. She had ac­cepted the cock­erels crow­ing ex­tremely early in the morn­ing, but I had to ex­plain that when a hen lays she usu­ally likes to an­nounce the ar­rival of her egg. This can set the other hens off, ei­ther be­cause they want to an­nounce that they are about to lay an egg too, or be­cause some­one else is oc­cu­py­ing the nest that they want to use. Keep­ing hens is some­times just like hav­ing chil­dren as they scream and shout and quar­rel over which toys they want to play with.

Hens make an ar­ray of dif­fer­ent noises. They will screech when be­ing pecked by an­other hen or if a cock­erel wants his wicked way. Not all hens like to be mounted by cock­erels. They will also make noises of plea­sure — al­most like a purring cat — when I bring them greens from my veg­etable patch.

Clem­mie has to be lifted off her eggs ev­ery day to en­sure that she eats and drinks

The eight eggs laid on top of the cup­board

Char­lotte Popescu

A hen was found lay­ing on top of this cup­board

ABOVE: Phoebe’s tail feath­ers, which were pulled out last month by ac­ci­dent, have grown back again BE­LOW: Nest shar­ing

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