Thursday Mrs. Dashwood decided to get broody. At first we were freaked out because we weren’t certain what was going on. After much googling and perusing chicken forums we figured out that Mrs. Dashwood was feeling compelled to try to hatch some eggs. She sat on a nest in the coop, not always the same one, and if we opened the egg door to look in on her she would ruffle up her feathers and growl. Yes, growl. It is rather disturbing.
So what to do with a broody hen and eggs that will never hatch? Don’t let any eggs stay in the nest. Don’t let her stay in the nest, move her off of it and keep her distracted. So that’s what we did. After two days Mrs. Dashwood wasn’t spending all her time on a nest, she’d be out for a bit and then go back and sit on nothing. One time though Bookman looked in and Elinor was on one nest, Marianne on the other and Mrs. Dashwood was sitting on top of Marianne!
Mrs. Dashwood going broody caused no end of distress for the other chickens. They all tend to like to use the same nest even though there are two. Of course Mrs. D spent most of her time on the favorite nest. We got her off it and Elinor laid an egg in it. Then Marianne rushed in right after to lay one of her own. While Marianne was at it, Margaret hovered around the door waiting her turn. None of them wanted to use the other nest and poor Margaret was like a little kid who really has to go to the bathroom. She kept making worried noises and shifting from foot to foot. As soon as Marianne got up from the nest Margaret got right on it. The entertainment value of this has been priceless.
Finally today Mrs. Dashwood’s broodiness broke. We know this not only because she isn’t sitting on a nest and growling at us, but also because broody hens do not lay eggs and just a little while ago she laid an egg. So everything should now be back to normal. Except they have been laying a year at this point and we are expecting them to molt at any time. If they are going to do it, I hope they all manage it soon before it starts to get cold so they will have all their feathers back by frost. Of course it is all hormones so none of us has any control.
The Japanese beetle numbers are finally decreasing. Hooray! Since the chickens get to come in the main garden now I don’t have to fill a dish with bugs. Marianne and Margaret hang out by the pole beans and wait for me to drop beetles in front of them. Mrs. Dashwood comes over too but gets distracted. Elinor, she has no patience and goes off in search of bugs elsewhere. Marianne and Margaret follow me around to all the beetle haunts and wait patiently until I tell them there are no more beetles for now. Then they go off to scratch and hunt for other bugs.
We are still getting arugula, kale, Swiss chard, sorrel, carrots, zucchini, and green beans pretty regularly. We are waiting for the pumpkins to ripen as well as the cabbage, cow peas and the black beans. Even as we are still enjoying all this, it is time to start seed saving. Sunflower seeds, mustard, spinach, lettuce, and dill for now. It is really fun to grow several different varieties of sunflowers and then save the seeds. Sunflowers are pollinated by bees so when you save the seeds the plants you get the following year are generally crossed between the varieties from the previous year. The more varieties you grow, the more variation and crossing you get. We only grew three varieties this year but I still look forward to seeing what happens next summer.
Because of bee pollination we are unable to save zucchini and pumpkin seeds. We did one year and the resulting “pumpkinis” were not only unattractive but tasted terrible. Our garden is too small to be able to separate the squashes enough to keep them from being cross-pollinated.This has been a lovely, long holiday weekend. Bookman had the day off today too and it was a beautiful morning and early afternoon. I convinced Bookman to go on a bike ride with me by promising him ice cream. Milkjam Creamery has a small selection of vegan ice cream alongside their dairy ones. Bookman got darkest cocao and I got peanut butter versus everything. A tasty treat!
Next weekend is the Jesse James fun ride. I did this one last year. It is 100 miles/161 km of rolling farmland. Last year it was headwinds the whole way from every single direction. I’m expecting the same this year and it if it turns out differently it will be a pleasant surprise. Last year I rode alone, this year I will be riding with a friend I met on Zwift. She lives in the south Metro area and we are both looking forward to having a great day. So far the forecast is mild and sunny. I am hoping it stays that way!