I don’t sleep well, as a rule, and very poorly when I’ve something concrete over which to mull. The last few nights have been rough.
Last night, I put my brain to the latest problem: what could I do to alleviate Buffy’s boredom? The girl has a lot of healing to do, but she’s clearly…restless. (I resisted the urge to say “unhappy”.) She needs activity, and purpose.
It came to me (at about, ohhhh, 3:45am) that Buffy is the broodiest of my girls. She likes to spend a lot of time on the nest, before during and after. I frequently have to gently move her along if there’s a queue at The Hideaway. She laid that egg that we can’t eat yesterday afternoon, but I didn’t have the heart to throw it away. It should be bronzed, for heaven’s sake. In lieu of that, I decided to keep her eggs in a carton by her crate. Why, I don’t know, but I just couldn’t throw out the egg she laid not 24 hours after being ripped nearly to shreds.
I could give Buffy her egg to sit. Laying is a solitary calling; she wouldn’t mind the lack of company so much. And, so, after she ate some breakfast this morning, I gave her back her egg. She looked at it in wonderment for two or three seconds, cocking her head to the side to make sure she wasn’t seeing things, then gently billed it under her breast and snugged down on top of it.
I know I’m anthropomorphising, I do, but she now seems…content. She’s going to be a wonderful broody mama.
I let her have it for an hour or two, then took it back, as though she had laid a new one. This also kicked in her instinct to eat afterward. Excellent. Now, if only she’d drink some water today…
It also seemed to me (at about 4:25am), that the flock had likely given up Buffy for dead. They’ve lost Jack and Angelina; they know what it’s like when a chicken disappears and doesn’t come back. Buffy might be able to hear the other girls outside from time to time, but she also must be wondering if they’d all survived.
I decided to let Buffy have some time outside, in the courtyard, just a few minutes, with the courtyard gate between she and her sisters. She could get some exercise and some fresh air, see that her flock had survived, and her sisters could see that she is still alive, which might make the re-integration experience less fractious.
I am fully aware that I’m overthinking all this.
So, after giving her a feed of mealworms to boost her protein intake (a very expensive treat she hasn’t had had a very long time), I called the girls up to the courtyard gate, kept them there with sunflower seeds, then brought Buffy out and set her down on the other side of the gate:
I very nearly came to tears. I wish I had, because I’ve had a cannonball of unwept tears lodged in my chest for the last day and a half.
She was surprised to see them, and they her, especially Trixie:
It was only ten minutes, then back in the crate, and back on the egg. She’s going to be okay, given time.
The other hens seem back to themselves, if staying a bit closer to home. The wind is blowing around some Barred Rock feathers from Sunday’s attack, like tiny, morbid, black-and-white striped tumbleweeds. I had anticipated that the stress of the attack would slow down laying for a while, but the girls have kept them coming.
Such good girls…