LOOK FAMILIAR???

"I DARE you to move me."

Well, she might look similar, but broody-Sofia is NOTHING like broody-Blanche.  Sofia means business.  She’s out for blood.  Ain’t NO ONE moving her or touching her eggs.

On Saturday morning, I let the chickies out to free-range.  They’ve all been in super-laying mode (7-8 eggs almost every day!  5 eggs is a light day.) and so four of them didn’t come out.  They were all settled into nests, working on laying.  Or… at least three of them were.  At first glance into the bottom left nest box, Sofia looked like the rest of them and I thought nothing of it.  Silly me.  Later that afternoon, it was still fairly nice out (read: not raining) and so I let them out again.  This time only one didn’t come out.  Sofia.  Uh oh.

So, I tried to reach under her to feel for eggs.  WHAM!  She pecked my arm so hard and fast I hardly knew what hit me.  WHAM WHAM!  Again!  Luckily I had a jacket on to cushion the blows… and they still hurt.  So, I pulled back, pulled my sleeve down over my whole arm and hand and went in again.  My arm took the brunt of the attack as I quickly pulled out two perfectly toasty eggs from under her fluff.  One blue, one green.  The little thief.

After that, I was done.  This was not like Blanche at all.  Blanche would only make a screeching noise as I reached under her for eggs or picked her up out of the nest.  Sofia was trying to remove the skin from my arm if I so much as got my hand near the nest box.  So, I left her in there.  My reading and discussions on BYC have taught me that a broody will take care of herself.  She will get up to eat and drink at least once per day.  She won’t starve.  So, I figure I’ll let her sit.  Like Blanche, I assumed she would steal new eggs the next day, but she didn’t.  Since Saturday, she has been hunkered down in the bottom left nest with that, “you-want-a-piece-of-me?” look on her face, and no eggs under her (I have braved the attack while wearing armor a couple of times to check).

And so now I’ll tell you a secret.  This afternoon, I took three of the eggs that were laid today and I put them under her.  SHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!  Don’t tell anyone!  I couldn’t help myself.  Brian will probably not be pleased.  He rightly accuses me of getting into too many projects at one time and getting overwhelmed.  This is evidenced by the partly-done, gigantic, elaborate cross-stitch that I started a year and half ago, the three or four crochet projects, all partly-done, that were all started various numbers of years ago, the front yard landscaping that is in a state of perpetual not-quite-doneness, the plans to expand the chicken run and to build an enclosure for the garden that are only plans… my half-organized closet that is never quite organized… my half-unpacked suitcase from my most recent trip that sits half-unpacked until I need it again for my next trip… you get the picture.

BUT!  In my defense… I really do perform under pressure.  It’s when I’m at my best.  When I needed to can 50-70 jars of various pickles and preserves to give away at my wedding as favors, I came through brilliantly with time to spare.  When I decided to crochet TWO blankets AND a duck toy for my cousin’s unborn baby to be ready by the time he was born?  Done and done.  When we needed to get the garden boxes built, lined, and filled in time to transplant my seedlings this past spring?  Done.  When I need to clean the entire house from floor to ceiling because my parents are coming to visit, I can make them say, “wow!  everything’s so shiny!”  And I can finish at LEAST 30 seconds before they walk in the door from the airport.  See?  I can take care of things when I need to.  And I figure making a separate home for a mama hen and her babies and then taking care of them until they can move into the big house would be something that NEEDED to be done.  And so, I would do it.  No problemo, right?

I dunno.  I have three weeks to think about it.  In that time, either Sofia will give up on the eggs and it won’t be an issue… or I’ll decide to give the babies away when they’re born… or I’ll let them live in the big house and take their chances… or I’ll build her a house.  One of those things is bound to happen.

And for now… there she sits.  And I’m not messing with her.  No sirree, Bob.

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4 thoughts on “LOOK FAMILIAR???

  1. Leave that poor girl in there and you won’t need to do anything other than worry that your little Momma is going to take care of her eggs/chicks.

    My little Momma was mild mannered and let me feel under her without batting an eye, but she would let the other hens know they got too close to her babies. It sounds like yours would do a great job taking care of them.

    The only thing you’ll need to do is put out a waterer and chick starter for the chicks.

    Hens have been raising little ones within the flock forever, why would you want to take her away and then hope everyone accepts her and the little ones later. In my opinion, you’d be asking for trouble doing that.

  2. Hey Nancy,

    I appreciate that you got incredibly lucky and your mom and babies did fine in the flock. However, I’ve talked to a lot of people on this topic and read about it in many books… when you leave a mom and new babies in with the flock and they are closed in together (in other words, she can’t take them and hide them in a bush or somewhere safe much of the time), the risk that one of the roosters or other hens will kill the babies is very high. It is in the nature of chickens. If the moms have enough space and places to tuck away the babies, like she would in the wild, then she can do fine and protect them… but in an enclosed coop and run, it is most likely that the others will kill the babies. The absolute standard advice is that they be separated. Besides, I have three surly roosters and only nine hens. That’s really probably asking for trouble.

    As for separating them and then reintroducing them, that is also a standard and common practice. You keep the mom and babies somewhere where they can see the others, preferably sharing a fence so they can touch/talk across it. Then when the babies are a little older, you let them free-range with the flock, but sleep inside separately. Then, when the babies are big enough to fully protect themselves, they go in to sleep with the flock and the integration is complete.

    I wish I could do it, and I think it’s so awesome that you were able to do it, but I really doubt that I will leave them in the coop with the others. I can’t stand the thought of murdered babies…

    ~Lisa

  3. HA HA HA. My one duck Flake has been in the mood to sit for a while now. I didn’t tell Jeff either, but I gave her 4 brown chicken eggs.
    I figured if anything it would be a fun experiment. I think 3 weeks is this week, so far no pips.
    If they do hatch I’m planning on pulling them out of the duck house and setting up a brooder.

  4. I separated mine and still lost 3 outa 4. I found out that dogs will eat chicks until they start feathers just like bon bons even if they’re not chicken killers. Wish I knew that before.

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