These are two separate stories, I should say.
I’ve decided not to move Scrabble and her chicks, I’m taking the easy option. It would be nicer for them to be on grass, but I can pull grass and other green stuff for them and this is a bigger coop. It’s slightly more shaded than I’d like, being in the Dutch barn, but I’ve pulled it a bit to the side and back, so it’s lighter and more convenient to get to the doorway and I won’t have to upset them by trapping and moving them.
With three bantam mothers at the same time, I’ve noticed their different temperaments. Polly Garter has a single chick and she’s pretty laid back. She’s started to lay eggs again and would like to come out, so I probably will let them join the flock soon. She’s not at all aggressive, unlike Frostier, who goes for me when I reach in for the water dish, thinking I’m going to attack her beloved chicks.
But the best mother of all is Scrabble. She’s five years old but didn’t raise a brood before last year and, second time around, is a great mum. She’s calm and gentle but not fussy. After I’d moved the coop, I put a couple of concrete slabs to block up a gap I didn’t notice that the ground dipped on another side too, so the chicks were able to creep out. Because mother is calm, so are the babies and I found five of the six clustered outside the coop trying to get in, but there was no panic. The female barn cat Betty was hanging about and, even without mother hen being protective, she didn’t attack the chicks. I’ve always been nervous that the cats would, but I guess they recognise them as taboo. I just moved a slab and four of the chicks quickly spotted the new gap and bobbed back, but the fifth couldn’t work it out and ran round – eventually back to the original hole, so she went in that way. All filled in now, they’re safe.
The second story is less exciting than it sounds. I just thought it was a good headline. Personally, that bird has long flown and I have no further maternal ambitions, reassuringly to everyone who knows me. What happened was, I got a huge build up of chicken eggs because I found a cache of twenty eggs laid by several different hens, and I knew I couldn’t use them all fresh. So, having recently read it as a suggestion, I decided to freeze them. Tim had the excellent thought of lining muffin tins with cling film and I found that two bantam eggs filled each one nicely, so a dozen eggs at a time. Once frozen, I tipped the tin upside down and they all dropped out like ice cubes and I’ve put them in the freezer in a box. Thirty eggs have been frozen and I will use them when the chickens all go off lay. Which they will.