Just like clockwork, Bella has gone completely, absolutely, magnificently broody. Like Hope before her and in the spirit of the reliably broody Buff Orpington breed, Bella has spent the last week glued to the nest, convinced she is presiding over a clutch of eggs.
She is actually sitting on two golf balls, but we all have to do what we have to do to indulge our fantasies, right?
How do you know if you have a broody hen? Oh, you’ll know.
- She develops a husky, hectoring cluck. Sounds as if she’s spent a month downing gin and tonics and smoking Marlboros. Cluck cluck cluck cluck, she complains with every step.
2. She takes over the nesting real estate like nobody’s business. I knew we were in for it when I found her sleeping on the nest at night. Everyone else must lay their eggs elsewhere, because Bella is not budging.
3. And ooh, she is mad! Approach at your own risk. Just a preview of the ferocity with which she would defend her baby chicks.
4. Plucked and hot. She feels almost feverishly warm. Hormones have raised her body temperature so she can hatch her eggs and care for her chicks. Her breast looks for all the world like a chicken fillet you would buy at the grocery store. She has plucked her own feathers to incubate her eggs and have skin contact with her babies.
Her fantasy babies, that is. And therein lies the real drama. I would love to give her a few babies to raise, but I was hoping for something a little more exotic than run-of-the-mill feed store chicks. I’ve been all over town and all over the Internet but so far no go.
So we are at the crossroads of making or breaking the broody. If I can’t find her a suitable family, I’ll have to head to the store for some frozen peas and try to lower her body temperature and bring her out of her broody trance.
Dreams come true or bubble burst? We shall see…