Search

naramata-blend

Life in a slow place that quickly steals your heart.

Tag

Rent the chicken

R.I.P. Baroness

IMG_1561.jpg
Just a pile of feathers…

The Baroness is Resting in Peace all right. She is resting…not having any eggs…trying to re-grow some feathers. Having gone through 21 one days of broodiness, with not a nice warm brown egg in sight, she is now post-Henopasual and has decided to go bald…otherwise known as molting vs. melting. 

The chicken keeper is the one melting down. During the molt lots of nasty stuff can go down, including and pretty importantly, still no eggs for cakes.

IMG_1555.jpg
Just when I thought I was out of the woods…The Baroness takes herself off her imaginary eggs after a normal hatching period of 21 days and decides to give up her broody nasty ways. All my folk remedies including frozen peas and ice cubes under her ass…had no effect. Times up. She takes herself out of solitary and begins hanging with her pal Maria doing happy chicken things like scratching around for bugs, chatting with friend, and chilling. Yippeee! Problem solved. Time to start laying eggs again which usually takes three days after the broodiness ends. Not.   Feathers, feathers everywhere!
IMG_1511.jpg
So many feathers that I feared a predator had snuck in the coop and ended it all…
IMG_1542.jpg
Still here…just super itchy.

IMG_1541.jpg

IMG_1523.jpg
Looking bedraggled

Putting myself in her claws life sucks right now. She has just spent three weeks alone, hardly eating or drinking, fighting with me when I try to remove her from her fake children and now she is loosing her crowning glory, one feather at a time. It’s so much worse when hens loose their hair. Bald is in for men and they boldly own it. Not so much for women…

Molting can also cause bullying. It’s even more sinister than you think. The bullying is not about picking on the hen because she is not looking her best. The bullying is related to cannibalism! New pin feathers growing in have visible blood showing which brings on some survival base instincts. Other chickens want to eat their molting friend and peck them mercilessly.

IMG_1567.jpg
So far Maria is empathetic and is not shaming or trying to eat The Baroness.

IMG_1519.jpgSo, my chicken research says molting is pretty common after a broody hen hatches her chicks. The Baroness bought into this whole hatching thing despite no fertile eggs to sit on or any eggs at all…big time… so it’s not surprising that her changing hormones triggered a molt. It’s also a pretty common time of the year for molting as well. The molt happens not only for aesthetic reasons but also for health reasons. Brand new feathers help trap warm air during the cold winter months better than old feathers.

Now she needs my help in the form of extra protein. One book offers a helpful recipe for Molt Muffins which include oats, sunflower seeds, raisins, coconut milk, peanut butter and…. mealworms. Don’t think I’ll be baking those anytime soon but I will offer her some of the ingredients.

IMG_1150.jpg
How do you solve a problem like Maria? You don’t have to. She lays her egg, every single day, without fail or fuss. The Baroness is the high maintenance one….

Henopause — When a chicken goes broody

IMG_0537.jpg
Going all Linda Blair on me.

Out of the blue, The Baroness has turned into a maniac. She won’t leave her nest and growls and bites when you try to dislodge her. She is no longer the docile chicken who follows me like a puppy making happy chicken noises.

This new creature has gone broody. Her biological clock has flipped some weird switch and she has stopped laying and is desperately protecting one of Maria’s infertile eggs. When that’s removed she is as hell bent on protecting absolutely nothing and is a fowl in a foul mood.

I now use gloves as I lift her from the nest dodging henpecks. Once out she screams and flaps her feathers indicating her frustration at being ousted from her invisible eggs with their invisible chicks forming in them. She clucks worriedly.

IMG_0517.jpg
Pacing all around the run she is locked out of.

Since a setting hen only takes short breaks to eat and drink a bit and stretch her legs, most broodies get skinny. She is not herself when she is hungry. She is also making life difficult for Maria by hogging the prime egg laying box. Maria waits patiently for her turn and then finally squeezes in and awkwardly gives the Baroness another potential chick to hatch. Oh and I’m down to one egg layer now as broodies don’t offer up poached, fried, scrambled or egg salad. The broodiness is also catching and sweet-tempered Maria may fall prey.

IMG_0554.jpg
She tries all sorts of crazy cirque moves to try to get back to her invisible clutch.

IMG_0539.jpgIMG_0572.jpgIMG_0565.jpgIf not for the growling and biting I might feel sorry for her.

The cure includes:

  1. Gloves and courage and picking her up out of the nesting box
  2. Remove Maria’s egg out from under the Baroness pronto
  3. Locking them both out of the coop after Maria has had her morning egg
  4. Inserting a bag of frozen peas or ice cubes under her tummy
  5. Pen the offender in a cage — solitary confinement – with no nesting material

The results:

  1. She sees me coming with the gloves and we go at it until she is removed from the box…literally kicking and screaming.
  2. Baroness doesn’t really care if she is laying on an actual egg or not. She has a vivid imagination.
  3. She finds a suitable “nest” pretty much anywhere, fluffs up her feathers and sits ALL DAY in that spot.
  4. The peas melt and are canabalistically and joyfully eaten by Maria. The ice cubes happily turn into nice warm water in a ziplock.
  5. Last resort… solitary… coming up

“I find that gently removing the broody hen from the nest, taking any eggs she is sitting on, and then releasing her at the far end of the run where I have some special treats for everyone, generally works in just a few days,” says Lisa Steele in Fresh Eggs Daily. Clearly she has not encountered The Baroness. We are on day eight of the battle. She has taken to sharpening her beak on any solid object.

IMG_0579.jpg
Steely-eyed determination
IMG_0525.jpg
The flap after the scream.

So much for “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” The Baroness is haunting my dreams.  My Rent the Chicken  farmer says I can send her packing and get a replacement if she doesn’t get her act together and give me eggs to make fluffy cakes again. Mmmm…would you do that to a friend with Henopause who becomes ill tempered as she copes with a hormonal issue? Maybe if the friend bites…

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑