Posted by Jennifer | Posted in Past Posts 2011 | Posted on Mon,05-23-2011
Warning: While I try to keep the blog posts pretty PG, this one contains the word “boob” and has pictures that may induce nightmares in small children and chicken owners everywhere.
And I thought people PMS and pregnancy-induced mood swings sucked. Nothing compares to the mood of a broody hen. There are about six girls in my coop brooding right now, so egg collection has become an extreme sport. They are chickens, so mood-swings sound relatively low risk, however, my mother-in-law has a scar on her arm from a brooding-hen attack when she was a child. A permanent scar is some serious damage.
For those of you who live sans chicken, a chicken goes “broody” or is “brooding” when she stops laying and starts sitting on eggs to hatch them out. This process takes about 21 days during which time other hens will visit her nest and add fresh eggs to the collection. Even if we let a hen sit, we still have to collect the fresh eggs, so each hen gets handled every night.
A couple other changes take place for the hen during this time. One major change is that the hen becomes paranoid. She stops seeing me as friendly-farmer-Jenn and begins to hear voices telling her I’m a predator and she’ll have to attack relentlessly to protect her unborn young. Also, the previously absent minded hen, who formerly laid her egg, clucked loudly to announce it’s arrival and then traipsed off without a care in the world, is now a staunch pro-life advocate. No one can take her unborn child.
Since Sweet-Pea has become Angry Agnes, it may seem logical to don long sleeves and gloves. My husband used to take off his shirt and wrap his hand in it. I try to live bra-free at home, so that could lead to a whole other blog posting if I tried it. Food for thought: Does a chicken pecking your boob because you were collecting eggs topless get you mentioned in Jeff Foxworthy’s act?
Long sleeves and gloves seem like attire-of-the-weak anyway, so I opt to just reach in (always after a moment’s hesitation) and grab hold of the hen behind her head. Much like you would hold a snake. Then I am able to “steal” her eggs with minimal bloodshed. Matilda, the hen pictured on this posting, is particularly sneaky, mean, and paranoid. She’ll actually reach over and peck me while I’m collecting eggs from neighboring nests. Really inconvienent since she broods on a top nest – this makes me eye level with her while collecting eggs from the lower level nests. Maybe I’ll start sporting safety glasses.
Go ahead, stick your hand in under her…