Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
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Broody Patootie

The Patootie Chronicles:

Cutie Patootie has gone broody. Here she is, my little spayed hen who no longer lays, but sits on unfertilized eggs layed by our other hens, Sparkle and Rainbow.


It happened maybe ten days ago, or maybe a week, and not for the first time. She started sitting, hoping to hatch the others' eggs, brooding in the inner coop nesting area, while Sparkle and Rainbow putter around the outer area, choosing the shade or the sun, getting water, eating food. When I open the coop to allow them a romp in the yard, the other two run out and start digging for bugs or taking dirt baths, eating loquats on the ground, having a ball. Not Cutie Patootie. She thinks she is needed elsewhere.

The Patoot is the smallest of the three, and for some time has been the lowest in the pecking order. You'd think that the lowest would be a stable position. Or at least a position with only one direction in which to move. But whenever she drops out of the scene for more than a few days, she plunges further in status and the others treat her as an outsider, pecking at her beak, heaping indignities.

Still, Cutie Patootie guards those eggs. cutiegroom.jpgAnd after yours truly lifts her body to take the blue-green eggs into the house, Cutie is so pissed off by this particular insult that two hours later she puffs up and goes after me, pecking and squawking. The hen, who previously trusted me enough to let me remove bits of feather from her eyeball with my hand, is now trying to tear flesh from that hand. And who can blame her?

After a while, for reasons of her own, she drops the issue. With no eggs left in the coop, she runs out to the yard, scratches around, finally flying onto my knee, where she catches up on her grooming.

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