Life does not always go as planned. Have you ever heard that old proverb that says “man plans and God laughs”? That is very true. Sometimes I think He laughs especially hard at me. Mostly when I’m farming.
Do you know what you would find if you went out into my chicken coop right now?
Poop, Snarky. We’d find lots of chicken poop.
Well, yes, you would find some chicken poop. It can’t be helped. Chickens poop every thirty seconds. Do you know what else you’d find? You would find 23 hens. 23 lovely, beautiful, amazing hens. You would also find one very happy rooster. He’s happy because he’s the only rooster in charge of 23 hens. That totals 24 fancy chickens.
Can you guess how many eggs I am getting every day from these 24 fancy chickens? Did you guess 24? Nope, one’s a rooster and roosters don’t lay eggs. Did you guess 23? Nope, that’s a very good guess, but it’s wrong. 15? Nope. 10? Nuh-uh.
Ready for the answer? The answer is three. I am getting exactly three eggs every day. Now these chickens are all supposed to be great layers. They are only a year old so they should all be in their egg laying prime. They are getting good food and extra minerals just in case they need them. They are allowed to range in a large grassy pasture and have constant access to fresh water.
So what, you may ask is the problem? The problem is that almost every one of my chickens have decided to go broody. “Broody” is a farming term. In English it loosely translates to “free loading slacker”.
When a chicken goes broody, it means that she wants to hatch some eggs. A chicken hatches eggs by sitting on a nest of eggs for exactly three weeks. They don’t lay any eggs at this time because then they wouldn’t all hatch at the same time so chickens wait until the nest is full of eggs, and then she sits on them all at once.
Can you imagine? Lay around in bed for three weeks straight and BAM! Instant family. Chickens have all of the luck. Unfortunately, chickens do NOT have any of the brains. You see, my chickens aren’t laying any eggs. This means that there are no eggs in the nest for them to sit on. This means that almost twenty chickens are crowding three to a nesting box and building random nests all over the floor of the coop and then sitting there looking all forlorn because no eggs are hatching.
Imagine if you will that your good friend comes to you all upset. More than anything, she wants a baby. She has built a nursery, arranged for daycare, and bought diapers. She sits in her rocking chair every day waiting for a baby. She takes her prenatal vitamins and goes to all of her doctor appointments. She has been rocking and waiting for nine months, but alas, no baby. You ask her “How often do you and your husband… you know?”
“What?!” she says. “I don’t want sex. I want a baby!”
Yes, this is the kind of bird brain I’m dealing with.
The biggest problem with these freeloaders is that it’s getting to the point where I might actually have to buy eggs at the store. This would be highly embarrassing. Chicken ladies do NOT buy eggs at the store!
This is also a financial problem. We have invested a fair amount of money into a lovely coop, fencing, feed, supplies, and fancy minerals. Not to mention all of the man hours raising these chickens to adulthood, cleaning up all that poop, and building that lovely coop and fencing. If you add it all up, (and The Pastor has. Frequently.) each egg that they do lay has cost us roughly $75. Can you imagine going to the store to pick up a dozen eggs and finding out your total is $900? You would be a little bit upset.
I am upset. I have tried several things. I have yelled at them. I have pleaded with them. I have tried kicking them all out of the nest several times a day. I have even tried eating fried chicken dinner in front of them. Those lazy freeloaders don’t even care.
I was starting to think they hated me. Like they were out for vengeance, trying to punish me for eating all of their potential children. I seriously considered the possibility of this and then decided that chickens are too stupid for vengeance. They are just lazy. And also God needed a laugh.
Finally I decided to put this laziness to work for me. I tried sticking some eggs under those slacking birds. This did not go so well at first. The first few birds I tried this with kept throwing the eggs out of the next and onto the floor where they would break. These chickens didn’t want eggs, they wanted baby chicks.
Then I stopped with the $75 chicken eggs, because I don’t like just throwing money out the window, or on the chicken coop floor. I decided to go a different route. I took an old dish rack and filled it with hay. I then stuck my “nest” on the floor where one of my chickens was already nesting and filled it with duck eggs (my ducks are terrible mothers. Not only do they not go broody, they don’t even build a nest.).
This appears to be working.
See how determined she looks? See what purpose she has? This is good. This is working. Now, if I can just pull this trick on the rest of my chickens I will no longer have to worry about $75 eggs. I will have roughly 138 baby ducks to worry about.
And God will laugh. Because 138 baby ducks is funny, apparently.