I’ll start with the happy bits- some pretty pictures of enjoying her daily respite from the nest.
This has been a frustrating week for the broody hen. When she goes outside, Dots chases her. He would probably like to mate but Abby is having none of it.
In addition, since the Boys all went to Freezer Camp, the pullets formerly known as the Littles have been squabbling amongst themselves and the older hens for their place in the flock. Abby, being broody, has been absent for a while and missing all of it. Stacey picked a fight with her yesterday.
Stacey did NOT win. Who saw that coming? Abby is, broody or not, the queen of our flock, and those young’uns better not forget it.
Thirteen eggs might have been ambitious for her second hatch. Friday or Saturday when I took her off the nest for her morning routine, I noticed that one of the eggs was missing and several of the remaining eggs were covered in dry gunk.
Several possibilities go through my mind, all of them not good.
- It could have been broke/eaten by another hen while Abby was off the nest.
- She could broken it getting back in the box.
And now the other eggs were dirty. They aren’t supposed to be dirty because of bacteria which could kill the baby embryos.
I can’t clean them off because you’re not supposed to wash off the protective bloom for the same reason.
Argh!!! What to do?
I finally decided to take a clean, dry rag and buff off the worst of the dried on gunk. Hopefully, that wouldn’t damage the chances of her losing the babies.
And hopefully, neither will yesterday.
I have no words for yesterday. It was a screw up all the way around.
The Girl had an interview for her first job, so we were rushing around to get mornjng chores, breakfast and showers. I took Abby off the nest as usual, but didn’t stay to watch her to see if she got back on.
I also failed to check if none of the other hens snuck into the barn. They aren’t allowed to wander in the barn.
And it was a very long day for us. We went from the interview (she got the job) to buying the clothes she would need for work to buying spray paint for Little Dude’s soapbox derby car. Then lunch, and then I had to start cooking dinner when we got home.
I sent Little Dide down once with veggie tidbits from the salad I was making dinner, but he went through the gates and not the barn.
In short, no one checked them out.
At lock up time, I found Maicey inside the barn. Not the coop. She’d been locked up all day. No access to food or water. She destroyed my partial bale of straw looking for a place to lay her egg. Straw everywhere! Also, poop everywhere. She must have pooped every three steps she took!
I picked her up and plopped her in the coop where she literally stuck her whole head in the water dish to get a drink!
And that’s when Little Dude discovered the worst part of Yesterday.
Abby was not on her nest. She was in a laying box underneath her nest, sitting on two other eggs. Totally broody tranced.
Her eggs were cool, but not cold.
I picked her up and put her back, but she barely noticed. Just settled in and went back to silently buck-bucking.
It’s possible another hen was on her nest when she got back to the coop.
It’s also possible she was so broody-tranced she just picked a nest and climbed.
I have no clue how long the eggs were left uncovered.
Google tells me that eggs can go 10 hours without a hen and still hatch.
I’m crossing my fingers. She made it back to the nest this morning and snuggled in, so I’m hoping the next two weeks go off without a hitch. But now I have two things to worry about. And also, am wonder long if getting broken egg on them damaged the embryos and Anny somehow knows. Could she have gotten off those eggs because they wknt hatch and she knows it???
Yeah, too much to worry about.