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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Me vs. The Broody Hen Huckleberry.

 Huckleberry is a five year old lavender silkie hen.
Huckleberry is the matriarch of the flock and since her flock mate Winnie died last fall she's been lonely.  

Bear in mind that for her age (think Betty White) she looks fabulous (think Betty White).

Huckleberry acts like Rose, lays like Blanche...often and proudly.  After Winnie died, Huckleberry has been determined to have company by spring and has been fussing about her nest and laying eggs. This is the winter. It's Idaho. And it's the winter.

Everything in her nature should be telling her that this is not the time to lay eggs, not to mention everything in syndicated T.V.... ex: the episode when Blanche thought she was pregnant. It was wrong then, and for different reasons, it's wrong now, ie: chicken ordinances, and the fact that it's winter.. in Idaho! Blanche was entering menopause, by the way, that's how that episode ends...chuckle! Do chickens go through menopause? Discuss...

So every morning its into the unusually warm Idaho weather to collect her eggs, and any others she lifted from other nests. Stealing eggs is a nasty habit she's formed. She's turning into a regular little flock-yard kleptomaniac. This is an actual diagnosable condition according to my Vet's Desk Reference.

To "break a chicken's broody" means essentially to disrupt the behavior of sitting on it's nest.
Depending on the chicken the behavior modification tactics can get downright scary. Ice in nest, dipping feathers in water, locking of the coop, caging in a crate. 

Finally, one day, I went out and found she had retaliated. She had laid her egg in a pile of mud! Clever move.  I used to think that if she could talk, she would sound like Dolly Parton. Now when I admonish Huckleberry: "I will get you! Stop laying eggs in the mud!", it's Moriarity's voice who answers back in a sing song, "Oh no you won't!". .  (the new creepy Moriarity from PBS's Sherlock.)

Days and weeks went by and she would steadily lay her 2-3 eggs a week out in the mud...just taunting me. 
She's back to being in her nest box again. She's not laid an egg in the mud now for almost a week.
 But if she does, I will continue to pick up her eggs, wash them off...
...and pop them onto a frying griddle to be served with Idaho hash browns.

Game. Set. Match.
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