One of my hens, Cluck Norris, has gone broody. When a hen goes broody, she stops laying eggs, and she sits and sits and sits trying to hatch eggs. She's grumpy, has only one thing on her mind, and does not want to leave the nest for any reason.
Cluck is a beautiful bird. She has black feathers with a green sheen in the right light. She's an Australorp by breed, and a reliable layer (when she's not broody).
One day last week, she collected all five eggs laid that day from five hens, and she collected the five golf balls we use as "sucker eggs" to show the hens where to lay, and she plopped herself down on all of them and went broody. She put together a full clutch of 10 "eggs" - only one of them was hers - and decided it was time to become a mother.
But we don't have a rooster. She can sit on those eggs (and golf balls) all she wants and none of them will never hatch.
So I took the eggs and removed the golf balls from the nesting boxes, but she's still broody. She just sits there, all day, in an empty nest box. If another hen lays an egg in another box, she'll go and sit on that egg. When I approach her to remove her from the nest, her feathers hackle out. All she wants to do right now is just sit. She prefers to sit on eggs, but if there are no eggs there, she'll just pretend that there are, and still sit.
This morning I picked her up to move her off of the nest, and I noticed that she has plucked all of the feathers from between her legs, and so her soft chicken skin can be directly next to the eggs, and she can keep the eggs, and baby chicks, warm. I do not delude myself in thinking that she's aware, at all, of this process. It's all in a very basic part of her very basic brain. But feeling her soft, warm chicken skin, and seeing the few feathers still there, I thought of the pain I've endured to carry and birth a baby, only to have no baby to raise. And of the mothering hormones and instincts that snap in to place whether the baby lives or not.
In my 10 minutes of facetime with my partner today, where it was nearly 9 pm in Italy and not even noon here, I told him about Cluck's chicken skin, and that it makes me sad. He told me that she's just a stupid chicken and I should stop anthropomorphizing her.
My hackles went up.
Cluck's feathers hackling up.
Ready to keep baby chicks warm. I did bring her in the house to take the photo. She plucked herself so clean for the task. It reminded me of a bikini wax.
One of today's eggs. I love the color.