Yes, I know. I said that I was going to do a post titled "Why I LOVE Chickens", but you know what? Their antics and generally infuriating behavior lately has made it difficult to focus on the good aspects of chicken ownership.
I've had three hens go broody on me this summer. As in the summer of daily temps in triple-digits. As in what frekking stupid chicken would want to start setting on a bunch of eggs when the weather is so hot that the ticks are even afraid to come out?
Well, one of those chickens successfully hatched out seven chicks, but one (the scalped chick) died shortly after. But still. Six chicks. I was pretty happy. Because she didn't EAT her stinking unborn offspring.
You see, the other two broody hens I have are pretty pathetic, if not downright murderous, mothers-to-be (or maybe not mothers the way things are going). I have one hen sitting on three eggs. She started with thirteen. And every few days, there would be another broken or half-eaten egg in her nest. And she's have a bit of yolk dried on her beak. This is obviously not very good mother hen type of behavior, but I figured I'd let her have at a pile of eggs. Because before I let her sit on eggs, I unsuccessfully tried to break her broodiness by throwing her off the nest about twenty-seven times a day. For two weeks. So I finally gave in and let her sit.
Another hen started going broody about a week after I let the other hen set. She seemed to be a bit more stable, so I figured what the heck. I was tired of throwing broody hens off nests so I let her sit on twelve eggs. And every day or so, another egg was cracked or smooshed to oblivion. Now this morning she had yellow tell-tale signs of infanticide on her beak. She is down to five eggs now. And the pisser about it is that the eggs had developing chicks inside. I'm not sure what her problem is. She doesn't seem to purposely break the eggs as most of the damaged eggs were just that, damaged. Like she was too rough on them and they just cracked. The shells were pretty solid, so I don't think it's because of thin shells. But once that egg cracks and she moves them around, it's like a free continental breakfast for her I guess.
It's depressing enough to see underdeveloped chicks die by their own mother's beak, but it also means that I have two totally unproductive hens. I'm not sure what I'm going to do when the first broody hen finally eats / breaks her last three eggs. I guess I'll just go back to tossing her off the nest and hope she finally "gets it" and goes back to laying eggs. There is less than a week before those eggs should hatch so I guess I don't have to wait long.
I put out a wanted ad in the local paper looking for newly-hatched chicks in the hopes that I could shove a couple under the hen but I've never had luck introducing new chicks to broody hens. I just end up having to brood the new chicks myself and the whole purpose of having these stupid broody hens is so that I won't have to take care of them.
Long, drawn-out sigh.
Oh, and did I mention that the stupid chickens tore up one of the remaining three melon plants?
Stay tuned for "Why I Love Chickens". Eventually. Maybe before winter.