Our outdoor kitchen is infested with crazy chickens. Crazy or just incredibly dumb, but then dumb just comes with chicken territory. These two ladies take the cake, though.
It all started normally enough, with them selecting roosting spots within the kitchen. Ever seen it happen? It’s cute. Like newlyweds apartment hunting, the rooster leads the hens around showing them various locations. The ladies inspect the nest, toss the hay around, open all the cupboards, and have final say. We have one rooster who’s both a lady’s man and lazy, and he keeps trying to settle two girlfriends in the same suite. Needless to say, it never works out well.
These two roosting spots were not the wisest–on top of the (round) oven, and next to the wood-fired stove. The oven-top hen kept knocking her own eggs out of the nest every time she shifted until she had lost every last one. The stove-top hen kept losing her eggs to our maurading dogs (we debating lacing an egg with hot pepper to teach them a lesson, but that’s a story for another time). For those who haven’t raised chickens, they have this strange habit of shouting at the top of their lungs every time they lay an egg. Proud, I guess. I wonder how the species ever survived. Maybe we bred them to do this? Anyhow, she’d set up squawking and the dogs would come running every time for an afternoon snack. You’re supposed to leave one egg in the nest so that the chicken doesn’t forget where her nest is (see? Not smart, in general, chickens.), but after a few times of this I started racing the dogs to the nest and cleaning it out each time. And nonetheless–despite the fact that all the previous eggs had strangely disappeared moments after she laid it–every afternoon she’d go back to the same spot and lay yet another egg.
Which leads us to our current situation. Ms. Oven-Top has been roosting there for more than a month. We’ve tried shooing her away multiple times. One day I tried more than eight times in a row and finally gave up when I lost count. Mr. Crônicas has piled firewood on top of the oven in hopes of deterring her. Every time we bake something she squats in a crouch to keep her butt off the warm floor and pants with the heat. I’ll give her this: what she’s missing in smarts, she makes up for in dedication.
Ms. Stove-Top was steadfastly brooding on her one egg. She got up for breakfast yesterday and I think a dog finally got it. Her nest was empty and she was running about squawking bloody murder. I cleaned the area and moved the buckets we had placed around her nest to protect her from the dogs. Not being able to find her nest, she insistently settled into one of the buckets and has not budged since.
We’re at a loss what to do. There isn’t a single egg between the two of them, but they both seem determined to stay there until something hatches. Anyone who has experience with chickens have any advice?
Happy Easter everyone. May your eggs and chicks be plentiful, and may your mother hens be sane.