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Mutiny in the Barnyard – When Hens Rebel

Charming Friends, my chickens are out of control.  In the past few days they have stolen each other’s nests, gone on strike, attacked each other, and as of today, I’m pretty sure they’ve even turned the ducks against me.  It all started several weeks ago when two hens went broody – a black polish, Bridget,  and a white Sussex cross, Bridget.

Black Bridget  - cozy and happy.
Black Bridget – cozy and happy.

We were thrilled, of course, because new little Bridgets are always welcome.  The problem was that Black Bridget and White Bridget kept getting confused about whose nest was whose.  One day they’d switch nests.  The next day White Bridget would be on Black Bridget’s nest and Black Bridget would be on a whole new nest.  A few days after that, there would be another mix up.  In a day or two yet another switch up.   Every time one of them would abandon a nest, we’d toss the eggs and let her start fresh – hoping this time the hens would finally get it together.

This went on for a few days when suddenly another White Bridget decided to go broody.  This only added to the nest switching confusion.  Finally we decided to take extreme measures.  We stuffed feed sacks in all the empty nests so that the Bridgets would have no where to go after getting up but back to a brooding nest.

Brilliant!
Brilliant!

I figured the other gals would just lay under the steps.  I have asked them repeatedly not to do this, but they do it anyway.

I hate reaching under there to collect the eggs.
I hate reaching under there to collect the eggs.

But wouldn’t you know!  The very next day, Red Bridget decided to go broody in the very place I was expecting all the other hens to lay.

I'm tempted to think she went broody just for spite.
I’m inclined to think she went broody just for spite.

Well, this sent all the other girls into a huffy twit.  For over a week, they have refused to lay at all – despite the fact that I provided them with several alternative nesting sites.  Instead they’ve all just skulked around the barnyard squwaking and clucking and talking bad about the Broody Bridgets behind their backs.  I assumed it would all die down in a few days (hens have a short attention span) and the gals would settle happily in to their new nests.

I was wrong.

Today, they launched an all out assault on the Broody Bridgets.  As soon as one gets up for a drink, another hen jumps into her nest and refuses to leave. The poor Broodies have even resorted to nest sharing.

Actually, I don't think Black Bridget was too thrilled with this arrangement.
Actually, I don’t think Black Bridget was too thrilled with this arrangement.

When they couldn’t crowd the Broody Bridgets out, some of the other hens even stooped to trying to force them out.

That is just rude.
That is just rude.

This was the last straw. When the hen on hen mean girl action started I decided that I had no choice but to open up at least one nest for the Not-Broody hens.  But I guess I was too late.  They aren’t looking for a next.  They are looking for revenge.  They don’t just want any nest. They want a nest full of nice, warm, developing eggs.  I went to the barn tonight to find a Red Bridget on Black Bridget’s nest, and poor Black Bridget wondering what the heck happened.

Whaaaaat!  I just got up to get a drink.
Whaaaaat! I just got up to get a drink.

And to make matters worse, the ducks, who usually don’t like to involve themselves in hen drama, have gone on strike too.  I’m not sure if they are refusing to lay in a show of solidarity with their coopmates, or if they are just upset by all the chicken fighting.  Either way, I’m out of eggs.

The only bright spot at the barnyard is Zsa Zsa.  For their own protection, I keep my Silkies separated from the rest of my hens – I guess I’ve always suspected they have a mean streak.  So, tucked away in her own little coop with her loving Silke sister and loving Silkie rooster, Zsa Zsa has gone broody.

photo
So far this has been a drama-free experience for her.

So there you have it, Charming Friends.  I have lost all control of my hens.  With any luck, they will all settle down once the chicks hatch – IF any chicks hatch.  I certainly hope so.  I’d hate to raise another generation of dramatic chickens.

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