Sunday, 17 November 2013

Blossoms Broody Blog

Buffy the eggs layer dozing in the coop
 As the weather forecasters are predicting snow here midweek and my hens have all recovered from the moult and are taking a well earned rest from laying, you would think that hatching chicks is far from any body's mind. After all, the cocks are more interested in stocking up on their energy reserves for the winter than courting the hens and the hens who spend most of their days dozing in the coops or roosting in the fir trees seem quite happy with this arrangement.
Except Blossom that is. Blossom's mind is on chicks, Blossom is broody. She has been broody for what seems like such a very long time and despite my attempts to reason with her she is determined to see it through. She has one lonely little egg which she assures me is about to hatch any day now ( probably on Wednesday when the snow is forecast!)
Blossom has chicks on her mind.

But she can always be interested in a snack!


Blossom is such a sweet little hen who usually accompanies me about the place so I miss her company and marvel at her determination and will power. I visit her every day to take her a little corn and to chat about the progress of her little egg and express my concern about her deteriorating condition.

When I do this I am reminded of this beautiful piece of prose by Val Bradley. A friend and fellow chicken lover sent me it some years ago and I loved the way that Val had captured the patience and self sacrificing endurance of the broody hen . I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do.


“With every passing day the eggs grow more precious, more insistent. They call to her from the moulded nest, growing already in her mind. She spends longer with them, adjusting the eggs,
the smooth ivory curves of them. She moves them a little bit here, a little bit there.
Anxiously she eats and eats with an inner, urgent knowledge of the long, long wait, and rushes to the cockerels dinner calls with frantic, driven, careless haste.
She settles her billowy feathers over the white bowls of life and her small hen mind closes down, to the timeless contemplation of the brood. Days slow to nothing but rhythm, the calcium melts from the shells, reforming like coral into delicate bones of chick. DNA knits away, microscopic fingers weaving ribbons of chick.
 Eyes half closed, in the slow half beat of her heart, she shuffles the eggs, cooling and warming, feeling the tiny pulses beating in the echoing shells. So much chemistry in  that little hay filled box. She dwindles. When hunger and thirst cannot be ignored she scrambles to the corn strewn yard, a furious, frantic, pecking machine.
She calls constantly to the open nest, vulnerable as a wound in the soft spring sunshine. Then she is back, with little comforting, crooning calls to the expectant eggs. She hardens her mind against the protests of her body. Her labour of abstinence.
The origami folded chicks scrape the stony shells. She sings against her thirst and minute cheeps call back.
Then sodden feathered, bulging eyed, the mini dinosaurs break free, flopping from their blood streaked cups. She lifts away the sad remains of the confining, guardian shells. Four eggs are silent, the shells too hard, the chicks too weak, the little puff of air, harboured in the drying shell, has gone; gentle suffocation melts them away.
She rises stiffly. From beneath her draping feathers, towelled to fluffy perfection, four tiny heads peep out.

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