Here at the Barbour residence we could be described as having a somewhat fundamentalist approach to our chickens. Some 18 months ago whilst I was driving my oldest child home from a party on a Saturday evening, conscious that my wild and boozy child free days were very much a dim and distant memory I popped into a friends’ house to buy some of her eggs and have a cheeky glass of dry white and so the madness began. Chicken keeping is in my opinion more addictive than crack cocaine. We started with four chickens, Celia, Meadow, Daisy and Megan; 3 hybrids and a Dutch Bantam. Today we have 16 and counting, there is a Fur and Feather Mart next weekend so the numbers will inevitably rise. To date our ever-expanding flock has decimated an entire, well established vegetable patch, cost me more than I will admit in coops, layer pellets and poultry tonic and means that I am to be found of an evening poo-picking, far less glamorous than it sounds and involving me in rubber gloves removing chicken poo from the garden. The girls now have two very comfortable coops which on days when the children are driving me insane I seriously consider sitting in just to get a few moments without somebody needing a backside wiped, plaster applied or an argument settled.
So when I looked at the laying chart stuck up on the kitchen wall last Monday and noticed that numbers were down I began to worry. A laying chart perhaps suggests I have some sort of control freak tendencies to my personality and run a very tight ship here, alas nothing could be further from the truth. We lurch from one lost riding boot to the next missing gum shield and I frequently dream of the day when order descends upon us. Instead the idea came from one of the ancient farmers I always seem to get talking to at the local Fur and Feather Mart which we go to with alarming regularity. My husband finds it all very amusing however these old farmers clearly feel my muddy wellies, battered Barbour and my gaggle of ruddy cheeked children give me the air of somebody who knows what she was talking about. If only they knew, it is for the most part seat of your pants stuff which happily seems to be working since we have only had one fatality in the last 18 months which was due to old age.
Anyway I digress, the egg numbers were down; the girls were eating all the kitchen scraps and layer pellets as usual, the sun was shining and they were all in rude health. So yesterday morning eldest son and myself were sat in the garden enjoying the sun and chatting about all things chickens when one of his chickens – Megan, excitedly announced that an egg had been laid. After a thorough examination of the coop revealed nothing we tailed Megan down to the bottom of the garden, through all the tress and then there was an excited yelp from oldest son. Pass me a bucket Mummy came the slightly alarming request accompanied by lots of mutterings. Son emerged with much shrubbery in his hair and 15 eggs in their many differing colours in a bucket!
So I seems that Megan may have ‘gone broody’ and given that there were different coloured eggs in the nest in the trees may well have encouraged two or three of her feathered chums to do the same……I shall be having words with them all and will, of course keep you posted as to progress.