For the last week, my colored Dorking hen has been telling me that she really doesn’t want to lay more eggs. She really, really wants to be a mother. Now this particular hen has never been keen on the idea of laying eggs. She has always been keen about setting on eggs. Last summer, she spent a couple of weeks in the cooler, aka the Broody Hut, aka the convince the broody hen that she really isn’t broody hut.
I only raise chicks in the spring. Otherwise the housing logistics get way too complicated. Last year, none of the hens were laying well, especially in the summer, when the colored Dorking went broody. So she’s been unfulfilled, thwarted and if you listen to her, much maligned.
So each day this week, I’d chunk her out of the nest box, and then wait and see how long it took her to get back. I’d put her on the roost bar at night, but she was back at work the next morning before I was. Okay, she’s serious.
But there’s a problem. A few of my hens (very few, actually) are showing signs of mites. (feathers missing off their backs that aren’t missing because of enthusiastic roosters) Had this problem last year. Really, really bad last year, compounded as it was with lice. No signs of lice so far, but I am not going to let it get out of hand this time.
Last night, I dusted all my birds. Today, my son and I took all the bedding out of the coop and then I sprayed everything down with neem oil. Fresh bedding. Clean feeders and waterers. Through it all, the colored Dorking sat her nest faithfully, even when we relocated her to a different nest box, so we could spray the one she was in. Horton would have been proud.
This evening, after it was well and truly dark, I took her down out of the next box and set her on the floor with a dozen eggs (6 Sussex and 6 Dorking). She cooed and trilled happily and got right to work, quickly tucking her treasures away. Chickens are amazing!
The eggs on which she is sitting are not the results of careful breeding. Too early, too cold yet for that. But the stuff in the brown eggs ought to turn out to be Speckled Sussex and the stuff in the white eggs ought to turn into Silver Gray Dorkings. I selected six of each based purely on egg shape and size. Not too big and not too small. Not too pointy and not too round. No funky shells or bumps or ridges.
Not very scientific, I confess, but The Dork is very happy. She deserves it and she’s due March 15th, provided she has the patience and the ferocity to defend her nest from the other Dorks.
She’s going to need a name too, I suppose. She doesn’t have a number. Doesn’t need one. She’s the only colored Dorking around. Since she is the color of ripened wheat, I shall call her . . . Wheaties? No. Widgeon! After the Maris Widgeon wheat plotting world domination from its winter quarters in my garden. Widgeon, it is! The first broody hen of the year.