Part of our long-term plan has always been the production of our own meat. For welfare as well as health reasons we’ve gradually become more or less vegetarian during the week. Don’t get me wrong, we’re avid carnivores, but we like to know where our meat comes from, and that it was ranging freely whilst alive. We always intended to hatch our own chickens for meat and spent a large amount of this summer waiting for our hens to go broody. Ironically, Snowy the chicken finally has but it’s far far too late. Chicken eggs need to be incubated for 21 days so even if we got some early next week, they’d be hatching in mid-September and would be very tiny and frail little creatures when the first frosts came. So we’re not going to let her sit on any eggs. However, she takes umbrage at our decision and has spent the last couple of days flattening herself on top of any eggs the other hens lay.
It’s all quite brutal actually, “[n]ature, red in tooth and claw” and all that. The other chickens are clearly cross that she’s taken up residence in the nest box and have been pecking her and pulling out her neck feathers trying to get her to move. We’ve been evicting her every time we notice that she’s back on the eggs (she pecks when we come near her) but she gets unbelievably cross when we do so. She shouts at us and goes rigid and quivers, making her feathers stand on end. She’s only calf high but she’s actually quite intimidating!
Anyway, it’s a bit of a pain and we’ve explained to her that she can have some lovely fluffy chicks next spring if she will do us a favour by being broody at a civilised time of year but she’s not buying it. So for now, we’ll just have to keep booting her out of the nest box and hoping she gets the hint. Snowy the hungry chicken, I am familiar with. Snowy, the noisy roosting hen, I know. But Snowy the livid phantom clutch chicken is a surprise to us, and an unwelcome one at that!