Buffy’s broody! Buffy’s broody!! I can’t be one-hundred percent sure, but I’m reasonably certain that Buffy’s broody!!!
It’s taken this long for one reason, and one reason only: I am an idiot. I placed six eggs in the wicker basket thinking: 6 eggs = 6 chicks. It took Aoxa to open my eyes; Buffy was waiting for a full load before putting the dishwasher through. She kept laying eggs in there, and I kept taking away the news ones, leaving six. Always six.
It comes to this: I was unintentionally gaslighting my chicken. Buffy would lay her daily egg, take a count, and say: “five…six…seven. Good. Progress“, and leave. I would remove the new egg. She’d come back the next day and count to find: “…five, six…wait. What?!” I did this to her for days.
When Aoxa alerted me to the fact that she awaiting maximum capacity, I allowed her eggs to accumulate, but it wasn’t happening quickly enough, and the babies are coming! the babies are coming!! So, I added two Coralines and a Maisie. She returned to the nest yesterday morning to find…twelve. Wait…WHAT??!!
I was very encouraged yesterday. She went to the nest right after her morning routine, way before she was due to lay. This was new. She had twelve eggs to cover, and she knew just what to do. She flattened her tiny, little body out to its farthest reaches, to ensure each egg was covered with her feathery warmth. She was super flat. She all but left the third dimension.
You can see a short clip of Buffy rearranging her eggs under her on the Heedley’s Hens Facebook Page.
I hoped that this was it, that this was the day she would refuse to leave the nest and stay overnight. In preparation, I set up the heat lamp to keep her cozy. Shortly thereafter, she asked to come out. I think it was too hot for her under the lamp. See? Idiot.
She left another egg in there, so now has a clutch of thirteen. She stayed out of the brooder last night, but reentered early this morning after eating and has been there ever since. I have not turned on the heat lamp. Even rats learn.
Will she stay today? Will she lay a fourteenth egg, or have I tripped her egg maker’s “that’s enough” switch? And, if she does stay today, will sitting the eggs for seven days be enough to convince her that she “hatched” six chicks, which should take 21 days?
I hope this works. I really hope this works. Beyond the pragmatic advantages of having chicks raised by a broody, it will be hilarious to see six black babies peeking out from under Buffy’s blond butt.
(There’s a Dinah Shore joke in there, but I’m not going to make it. I’m not.)
UPDATE: At 2:30, Buffy asked to be let out of the crate, and left behind another new egg, bringing the total to 14. Poopypants. Will she EVER stay overnight? Is she commitmentphobic?!