I’m here to tell you that dunking the chickens is not the hardest part. Especially given the heat of the day, and the heat of their shrunken bodies, I could actually find a way to feel pretty good about it.
The worst part is not the dunking. The worst part is taking away their nests. Oh my god, but I am a monster.
Abby is breaking much more quickly and easily than Buffy. She’s been broody for six weeks, and I suppose she might have been coming to the end of it on her own, anyway. Once she saw the coop nesting boxes were completely inaccessible, she complained and postured, but she also got out and grazed, sometimes near her sisters, and placed herself up on the roosts to sleep. Complaining and posturing the whole time, mind you, but she did it. That was a huge relief.
I couldn’t help but anthropomorphise her situation and wonder if she was crying for her eggs. As far as she knew, they were waiting for her behind the pegboard that was blocking off her nest, and she was being a bad mommy by deserting them. Ugh. I’m a horrible person.
She’s still complaining and posturing this morning, but she’s out and eating and not crying in the coop. I consider her on the mend, and don’t believe she’ll require more dunking.
Then, there’s Buffy. Oh god, she is breaking my heart.
Once she had dried off after each dunking, she returned to her now-empty crate and nested in it, on wire, on concrete. She wasn’t giving up her duty. Again, she had no idea where her eggs went, but at least she could see they weren’t where she had left them.
So, I folded up the crate. She walked around the folded crate for a while, crying. I could have handled that, I think, if it had been for a brief period of time, but then she reverted back to The Hideaway. No hens were scheduled to use it for the rest of the day, as only Coraline uses it right now and she’s on a morning schedule at the moment, but the bathmat lining The Hideaway would keep Buffy’s bare belly very warm. Argh.
I had to force her into the coop last night, and onto the roosts. She cried the whole time. I even had to close the coop door from the inside as I was saying good night to everyone, or she’d have escaped back to The Hideaway. It was agony.
As I left the coop, I could still hear her crying for her nest.
This morning, she made a beeline for The Hideaway, and I had to get creative. I tried closing the barn doors, with only those hens due to lay inside, but that was about as insane an idea as it seems. Even if I could keep up playing chicken doorman all day, Buffy just haunted the doors, not eating, not moving, just crying and pacing.
So, I set up the crate again, outdoors this time. It’s to be in the 90s today, so I’ll have to chase the shade and keep it covered, but she’s locked in there on wet grass right now, with water and a pile of feed. She’s standing, which is an improvement.
When asked if Buffy would be dunked again today, the magic eight ball said: “you may rely on it”.