16/1/2020 0 Comments
All three small hens have now fully explored the coop and Maude and Mabel have established a favourite corner just outside the inner henhouse where they curl up together. They were all very hungry when I came to the coop this morning. I scattered some pellets about for Wilma before opening the door of the hen-house, where Maude and Mabel were already pacing back and forth. Maude rushed out to eat chick crumble from my hand, and while Maude was out I could fill the bowl for Mabel and Goldie. Both Mabel and Goldie will now eat from my hand when they are hungry enough, and Mabel will also come for corn kernels which she has a particular liking for. Maude is already tame enough to curl up in my arms and close her eyes, drowsing in the warmth of my jersey. I took Wilma into the bush for our usual early morning hunt, to give the smaller three hens the run of the coop for a while, and when I brought Wilma back in to lay an egg, Maude and Mabel were exploring the coop’s further reaches, though Goldie had returned to her perch. Wilma’s old nesting spot was on the floor of the henhouse underneath the actual nesting box, and she wasn’t at all sure what to do when the door to the henhouse was closed the first couple of days. There is another nesting box, a free-standing box Simon had made when Rizza was hatching out her chicks, and I had filled it with plenty of shavings and put an encouraging egg from the supermarket in it. We were in the bush hunting yesterday when Wilma decided she needed to cut the hunt short and hurried back over the bridge, heading towards the coop but eyeing up the garden and making a suspicious detour through the irises. An indecisive hen is a funny thing to watch, she will take a few steps in one direction, stop, look about, take another tentative step, change direction, take another step, stop, change direction again, put a foot into the air to take a step then put it back down. She tried settling under an iris, even moved some blades of grass around, sat down, pulled some other blades about her, then stood up, moved off, hesitated, looked around, moved back under the iris, sat down, stood up, turned around, sat down, stood up, and wandered a couple of steps towards the coop. I didn’t think the iris was a particularly good place to lay though at least I would know where the egg was if I stood and watched the whole business, so when she looked like she was going off the iris idea anyway I called her into the coop and watched as she headed uncertainly towards the free-standing nesting box, changed her mind, headed away, headed back towards it, hesitated, took a step inside it, backed out, stepped back in, backed out, went in to her old spot, chasing Goldie out of the way, looked at her old spot, headed back out, made a small, half-hearted threatening gesture towards Maude which Maude ignored, stepped back into the nesting box, did a bit of nesting (I could hear the sounds of a bird turning around and rearranging straw), came out, looked around, wandered about a bit, walked back into her box, started making nesting sounds again. At this point I could take no more and backed quietly out of the coop, but in the evening, there the egg was, for us to collect. I expect she is laying today’s egg now.
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