Please meet Gertie (short for Gertrude). Say hello to all the nice people, Gertie.
Sorry. She's a bit of a huffy hen.
But she does tolerate, albeit a little begrudgingly, the occasional petting by nice boys.
Gertie has been with us now for about a month. We were getting ready for the office one morning and heard a terrible racket coming from the kitchen. We were afraid the noise was coming from ANOTHER visitor we had been entertaining (details in an upcoming post). I courageously peeked around the corner of the hallway into the kitchen and discovered the noise was not coming from INSIDE the kitchen, but OUTSIDE.
So, I gingerly peeked through the louvers in the window, and “what do my wondering eyes did appear” (roughly quoted – and although we're still a few months away from that lovely holiday, I love Christmas!!! So, you'll just have to deal with it!)....but a hen and a rooster sitting on top of my freezer in front of our house. The hen was sitting in a plastic basket/tray we had sitting there which held cleaning supplies we carry with us to wipe down kitchen counters when helping with lunches during zone conferences....and a green coconut.
After sitting in the basket for a couple of hours the hen would leave. But, she would leave behind a lovely buff-colored egg.
And then.....days 14, 15, 16, 17, 18.......21. NO eggs. And the hen's behavior changed. Instead of sitting on her “nest” for an hour or two, leaving a precious little gift behind, and then going about her usual business, she stayed...and stayed...and STAYED. She would only leave her “nest” for about 30 minutes, then come back and sit some more. I decided that if I was ever going to have access to my freezer again I'd better move the basket. So, I waited until I finally found the basket empty, and moved the basket to the patio floor across from our front door.
So, I decided to try a few things to see if I could shake her up a little and get her laying again. First I removed the coconut from her nest.....nothing. So, I put it back hoping it might once again give her a goal to work toward....nothing. The coconut was going bad so I finally had to throw it away. Still nothing. One day when I came home for lunch Gertie was gone. Another experiment! I'd heard that putting an egg, or egg-like substitute in a nest will let chickens know “this is a good place to lay your eggs.” So, I took an egg from the fridge and put it in her basket. I know, I know.....it's COLD. I was hoping she'd be gone long enough that it would have a chance to warm up a bit. But, no.....she came back about 10 minutes after I put the egg in her “nest.” I wondered how she'd react to a cold egg. What I got was NOT what I expected, however.
Gertie came running towards her “nest” from the back of the patio, quietly cackling to herself as she came. When she got to her “nest” she stopped........dead. She froze. She STARED at the egg, not moving a muscle. She stared, and stared. Finally, she turned her head to the left, as if looking to see if anything was over there that could have left the egg. Then she stared again at the egg for several seconds. Then she turned her head to the right, again as if looking for the culprit who left this unexpected offering. Then she stared at the egg again. Not a muscle moved, nor a feather of her body quivered. Out of the blue she let out a loud squawk and began running all around the patio and onto the lawn, continuing to squawk as she ran. She ran for several minutes. Then back to the basket to stare at the egg once more.
She followed this routine several times until she finally got brave enough to step into the basket. Once IN the basket she moved the egg around with her beak, squawking all the while. Then it was back out of the basket, running in circles around the patio and the lawn again...returning once more to the basket to move the egg around with her beak. After doing THIS several times, she finally got back into her “nest,” scooted the egg underneath her and sat...and sat....AND SAT.
Finally after three days, worried that she might never leave the nest even to eat, and I'd have a rotten egg to deal with, I caught her off her “nest” and removed the egg to the garbage.
I've asked several locals for advice, and what I can expect from Gertie – whether she'll start laying again...or not. The findings are mixed. Some think that after the period of time it would have taken for the eggs she laid to hatch, her biological clock will start ticking again, and she'll start laying once more. Some think she's done laying......forever. We've got about a week or a little more before the first group of people think she'll start laying again. If after that time period comes and goes, and we still have no eggs, we're not sure what we'll do with Gertie. Garth keeps telling her since she's not a layer anymore, she must be a fryer. She doesn't like that very much, and bristles and hisses at him. Or, if she starts laying eggs again, should I take them again? Or should I let her brood and hatch them? It's a dilemma.
But, in the meantime Gertie is giving us lots and lots of entertainment!