Friday, March 12, 2010

Surrogacy & Sadness in Chicken Land

When I brought home the hatching eggs, I was very nervous. I was careful not to take turns too quickly for fear it would jostle the eggs in the wrong way. I was also nervous about Patti's broodiness and whether she would sit on them or not. As you know, she has decided to be broody by herself.

~Patti with Chicken PMS??~

In the above photo you can see her on the left, hunkered down and not moving, a dark ball of feathers. The eggs are in the nest box, she's outside. Motherhood is apparently not something she's interested in .. no matter how many times I catch her and sit her on the eggs. Do chickens just get PMS & bitchy?

However, all hope is not lost. The other chickens seem to have realized that there are eggs that need sitting on. One of our Americaunas (Easter Eggers) particularly has taken it upon herself to sit.

~The eggs are under there!~

I wasn't sure if she was just sitting there because she wanted to lay an egg, or because the eggs needed sitting on. However, yesterday we didn't get any blue or green eggs, and she spent the better part of the day on there.
What is funny is that she seems to know that they aren't her eggs. If I look in there she'll occasionally hop up, but remain on the roost in front of the nest boxes. She hasn't minded me messing with the eggs if I've felt I needed to.
Yesterday, if she wasn't in that box, another chicken was. Note - Patti the broody was NEVER in there except for the fleeting moments after I caught her and sat her on there until she hopped out to go sit in the yard, or on the floor of the coop. ... bitch.

And so, that is how yesterday went. The gals have seemed to pull together to ensure that those eggs are kept warm. And they were, finally. They were warm to the touch this morning.

~"Butch Patti" & Ann Bancroft -- I'm being watched.~

This afternoon I was snapped out of the rainy day induced afternoon & nap-time lulls by a very loud ruckus.

"bwak-bwak-bwak-bwak-BWAK!! bwak-bwak-bwak-bwak-BWAK!! bwak-bwak-bwak-bwak-BWAK!! bwak-bwak-bwak-bwak-BWAK!!"

Normally this noise is a heads-up that there is an egg out there. So, I meandered on out there a minute later to check for the egg. So far, we've only gotten one egg today, a green one.

Instead, I found one of the hatching eggs cracked, with a little hole in it's side. Nothing had oozed out yet. The biddies were all in the coop, most of them staring back at me. One of the Americaunas was on the roost, pacing.
I stood there, staring at the broken egg for a minute before gingerly lifting it out. The other eggs were still warm, and I gave them a turn over just to be safe. I looked in at the floor of the coop, and there were no new eggs to be found anywhere. When I went inside I once again heard the call: "bwak-bwak-bwak-bwak-BWAK!! bwak-bwak-bwak-bwak-BWAK!! bwak-bwak-bwak-bwak-BWAK!! bwak-bwak-bwak-bwak-BWAK!!" (I've found if I take an egg too soon they will sometimes get upset and squawk at me). Happy chickens they were not at that moment.

I brought the egg inside and hesitantly cracked it open into a bowl. Nothing dramatic fell out. I could definitely tell this egg had been fertilized, and when I broke open the yolk with a knife, I felt resistance from a white spot in it. It could've perhaps one day been a chick, but that wasn't Mother Nature's plan. I couldn't bring myself to feed it to the dogs, so I poured it down the drain. It was a sad moment.

It has shocked me to see how much these little eggs have affected us. How connected with them we already are, though we keep repeating to ourselves that they may not hatch.

I just went back out there to check on the gals. Everyone except for LadyBird was in the coop. LadyBird was keeping her ever watchful eye at the door.
I opened the lid to the nest boxes. Both were occupied. The one without the eggs was taken by "Butch Patti", the one with the eggs held Ann Bancroft.
The surrogacy & egg-sitting shifts have resumed.


Lisa said...

Aww that is sweet and sad. I would love to hear the hen gossip about Patti.

Elena said...

Hmmmm, what if Patti not only didn't want to sit on that egg but took a hatchet (or beak) to it??? I'd keep an eye on that one ;)

Carrie and Justin said...

Hmm, I might just have to keep an eye on her!! Maybe she's really resentful of trying to be forced into a societal norm of motherhood just because she's broody. ;)

Carole and Chewy said...

Maybe Patti prefers to be a career outside the nest....perhaps she'll sub-contract the egg-care to the others.