Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Broody

You can always tell when its a full moon around here - everyone goes absolutely nuts. Couple that with our sudden, extra cool weather, and friend... the nuttiness is off the chart.

First, we have The Good - also known as Who's Cute Today...seriously... how adorable are the little ones?

Neo - Mrs. Beezley's single chick

Miss Duck's Surprise Ducklings enjoying the sunshine

Mrs. Dowlrimple and some of The Bugs

Then we get to The Bad.

The Rooster Crew, formerly part of The Kindergarten

Yesterday was a series of small miseries... each more of a pain than a drama but still altogether very disappointing. First, two of our three turkey hens got up off their nests...so we aren't counting on any more poults. Our third hen has eggs that probably aren't viable... she was a long shot for sure.

The Rooster Crew is responsible for running one of our turkey hens off her nest. They are getting aggressive and will very soon be renamed "Stew." 

We rallied from that blow but when we went out to milk and put everyone up for the night... oh geez... no mistaking that horrible smell. We had a bad egg explode in our hen house. We could smell it from 20 feet away.   We thought our chores would be quick and easy? Nope, smelly and took much longer. It was almost dark when we got the last of the Rooster Crew rounded up for the night.

The bad egg was under one of our ridiculous banty hens... so we get to The Broody.

The Broody

We have two of these silly little hens who have not hatched anything, but my bad attitude, all dang summer. They sits for a while - then get up, then sit on the wrong eggs so the clutch that hen had been sitting on for almost a week would never hatch...then she sits on new eggs...and heaven forbid I move either of them to one of the broody coops.. oh no, won't hear of that at all. For heaven's sakes.

In the meantime the other layers are all in a fit and are hiding their eggs.  So we took drastic measures - we dunked one of them.

Yep. You know that old expression "as mad as a wet hen"? Well, I couldn't figure out what it meant because our hens are always outside flapping around happily in the rain. But here is why the wet hen is mad - dunking her in cool water is one way to stop, or "break", their broodiness. A plunge in cold water is suppose to lower their body temperature which stops the broody cycle. Broody hens have a higher body temperature to make sure the eggs they are setting are warm enough to develop. So the theory is, lower the body temperature and you'll snap her out of her brood cycle.

Is this mean? Not really.  Folks who show chickens bathe their birds all the time. And frankly - once they figure out you aren't trying to drown them, they kinda like it. If you are wondering if its mean to break their brood... well, remember that setting a nest takes a lot out of a hen. Some of them even die while on the nest. And this little gal has been on and off for at least 2 months. So her time is over.

She's out there in a wire cage without anything she can make a nest out of and in the shade so she's nice and cool. Hopefully I can just let her roost with everyone tonight. The old timers say to keep her in a wire cage for 3 days so she won't try and nest again. So we'll see.

So that's The Good, The Bad, and The Broody. And now... back to canning.

10 comments:

Chai Chai said...

Amazing, thanks for the lesson. Hope we don't have to try this.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

hey CC! usually we can move our broodies ... its always a risk but these little banties are just ridiculous! so hopefully she'll be just fine and it will be "no harm, no fowl"... oh come on you knew that one was coming!
;-)

btw, I LOVE your sheep!

Grandpa said...

Oh for the challenges of farm life.

I have some ways to go with my Sabarudeng, that's my chick. See,I have started to name all my farm creatures too...

vrtlarica said...

I find the Broody story very interesting. I don't have any chickens, but my neighbors do. Their hens sometimes go in the woods next to the house, don't show up for some time and then come back with chicks... or sometimes don't come back at all.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Hi Grandpa! Good to see you back.. I'll pop over to your blog - hope you've posted pix of your chick. Does her name mean anything? Or just a name? Most of our names are descriptive - such as "Little Golden Hen" or "Fats" - who was actually the scrawniest chick we'd ever seen.

VRT- its amazing to see their instincts take over. Most hens are very very good mothers and extremely protective. One of our smallest hens is like a demon is anyone gets near her babies. Its wonderful to see. I hope your neighbors trade you fresh eggs for some of our wonderful produce!

Chai Chai said...

OFG, Thanks for the thoughts about our sheep. What do you think of these?

http://kenleighacres.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/happy-rams/

Ohiofarmgirl said...

HOLY SHEEP, CC! wowza.. um.. gulp.. I think I'd have to get me a coupla more dogs for them sheep! Big...big dogs.. fast ones... wow!

Tammy said...

Since you put broody in the wire cage, does that mean you didn't dunk her? I have a hen who just went broody last week. I haven't been able to find a wire cage yet, but am working on it. In the mean time, I have the nest box blocked off. She's quite distressed about that. If the cool dunk works I'll give it a try.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Hi Tammy! We did both - she was really set in her ways. I just used the hose to fill up a tub (so the water wasnt freezing cold) and just plopped her down into it about half way up her body. I did not submerge her - but I held her wings to her side so she couldn't splash all around. After the initial "HEY!" she just sat there in my hands.

I held her there for a couple minutes then took her over to the wire cage. The cage was technically off the ground by only a couple inches. The old timers will tell you to make sure the are can circulate under her.. but we had a very cool evening (low 50* first this summer!) so I knew she'd be cool and not cold.

It worked! Of course we took up her nest...and she has been out in the yard since.
:-)

Leigh said...

Very interesting post. I haven't had this problem (yet, knock on wood). At least I now what to do about it in case I need to know!

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