A Brood of Her Own
Updated: Jan 28, 2022
I've been arguing with a chicken for months. She has insisted on laying her eggs underneath our back porch and my days of happily crawling under the porch to retrieve those eggs are over, so we put an end to that. Anne and I blocked her access by covering the opening with poultry netting, and perhaps predictably she started laying eggs under the front porch. We covered up those openings as well, so she started laying eggs in an old kindling box on top of the porch - the dogs chased her out of there. Next she went to the herb garden on the side of the house, then to the flower garden, then into the tall grass by the pond. She has been nothing if not persistent. Time and time again she'd find a new spot and eventually I'd discover it. Our early morning commuter routes often passed, mine out to the barn to do chores, hers off to some forbidden place to lay an egg. I would take note of what direction she was heading so I could go back later to retrieve it. The absurdity of it all was entertaining but in the end there are way too many other things I should be doing, to be spending my time tailing a chicken.
I finally declared defeat several weeks ago. I told Anne that when I had the chance I'd catch the hen and put her in the new coop where her free ranging activities would be severely curtailed. Just announcing it made me feel victorious, though I think a part of me admired her stubbornness, and I never actually got around to doing it.
Today when I got home she greeted me with 10 little chicks in tow, all happily strutting across the front lawn. How she managed to pull off sitting on the eggs for 21 days without me or the dogs (or the fox, coyote, possum, skunk or black snake) finding her is beyond me. But she did, and she seems very pleased with herself.
I suspect she brought all the chicks out into the open because she was hungry and she knew, that despite our differences, I'd provide. As much as she wanted a free meal, she was spectacularly protective, attacking me whenever I got too close. Anne and I did finally manage to catch her and her brood and lock them in the barn with a pile of food and plenty of water, which I hope for now she appreciates more than her freedom. As soon as her brood is old enough to live safely on their own, I'll open the door and she can do as she pleases. In fact I've already made a small opening for her in the poultry netting under the porch.