It’s mayhem in the coop. The two nesting black chooks have been receiving presents of additional eggs from all their fellows – this is what happens when you haven’t got the facilities to separate broodies off from the rest of the flock. One of the white chooks, the smallest and now known as Hetty, is a particular menace who roots away under the black chooks to gather for herself a small clutch of four or five eggs to sit on when she feels like it. It’s quite amazing to watch her burrowing away under a much larger chook to satisfy her urges. Frankly, the brooding arrangements have been a complete shambles and I seriously doubt whether we will see any small chooklets at all this year. At least we are now wiser by experience and have this autumn and winter to prepare more suitable accommodation for those chooks who will be permitted to brood and, more importantly, a corrective establishment for those who will not be so priviledged. According to Eddie, the trick to keeping a flock in its senses is to separate off those who are brooding (not keep them in the coop as we tyros are currently doing) and have some facility for getting other chooks “off the clock”, as he puts it. Eddie’s arrangements for dealing with unwanted broodies is to shut them into a small cage open to the elements for a few days (with food and water of course) until they are restored to whatever passes for a chook’s right mind. Brooding becomes a bit of a fashion in a henhouse if left unchecked, you see. The other trick is to inspect the birds every day and mark the eggs as they are laid, so that those of intruders can be identified, removed and returned to their proper place in the larder.