Lucille, lead biddie of the Olivebridge 7, was looking poorly about 5 days ago. She puffed up her nest box with a stoned look and a growl. I've had a couple of hens suffer from egg binding — if you had an egg the size of gibraltar stuck in you, wouldn't you puff up and groan? What worked for them so they don't suffer exponentially and then die was a warm bath. I read about that. Part of me is a reader first and an experiencer second and when I was a child that meant I was always mispronouncing words (like banal) since I read them before hearing them. Thank you, Mom, for all your corrections.
The two hens who were successfully bathed out of their predicament are both more petite and tractable than Lu. With them I could also feel the telltale egg under the surface, like a mean, smooth rock. So I sunk the gals into a warm bath for 20 minutes, sang to them, put on Al Green. Both got coo-ey and half-eyed and relaxed. Some time later, out popped the egg. But Lu is a big starchy gal with a raucous caw in the face of strange dogs or people. She is the Ethel Merman of Buff Orpington hens. And there was nothing like a bump there when I felt her. Not knowing the true course of action to take, I gave her a bath anyway. Went the when in doubt, do it anyway method. She put up with Al Green and the warm water. She even put up with a follow-up mineral oil up-douche. But gave me this look, like, Idiot.
Because she was not egg bound. She was broody. She was tired of not having chicks already, of all those eggs and nothing to show for it. We have laying hens here who dutifully lay eggs for us everyday and let us steal them out of the nest to eat. More on that later: everything has a quandary in it. But I finally called someone with way mucho chicken smarts and he set me straight. So in addition to all the other additions around here (a 135 lb. Newfoundland, for starters), I am off to procure Lucille some fertilized eggs from the Chicken Whisperer. Because we do not have a rooster here anymore. This has been a pretty tranquil hen sorority since the departure of Jojo, handsome combripper maniac that he was. Soon it will all change again. There will be life in the form of peeps and adorableness. It will be easter here. Nature's way, or at least its cousin.
Lu is ready. She is back in the nest, partitioned off, looking stoned and clucking softly, only now it will mean something. In other words Lucille got in touch with her maternal side, a lot quicker than I did. Which for about a thousand reasons, is not surprising, I admit.