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Poor Will's Almanack: February 25 – March 2, 2020

Brooding hen with chicks
Flickr Creative Commons

Now it is possible that some listeners do not know about broody hens, and since this is clearly the month of the Broody Hen Moon, it may be helpful to discuss the subject here in the Almanack.

So anyway, what IS a broody hen. A broody person may be thoughtful and unhappy, moody and melancholy. But in Chicken World, Well, a broody hen is one that doesn’t want to give up her eggs. She wants them to hatch. That would seem reasonable, and if a rooster is about, and if the owner wants chicks, the broody hen can be a blessing.

But most chicken owners, I am told, want to eat or sell the eggs and the broody hen does not want to let them do such a thing.

She may scream and squawk and try to bite when the owner attempts to take the eggs, and the hen will not leave them except maybe once a day to eat and drink and relieve herself.

If you don’t own chickens, this information may seem of little account. On the other hand, the end of February often brings on Broody Girl or Broody Boy syndrome, the last fierce gasp of the winter blues.  If you or someone you know develops this syndrome,  what you can do is treat the person like a broody hen:

First, get him or her away from the nest, like on a vacation or to a movie.

Second, place a bag of frozen vegetables underneath the hen’s or the person’s bottom. That works for hens sometimes. It distracts them and makes them think the stuff is too cold to hatch. It just may work for the broody person.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of Early Spring. In the meantime, if your hen or friend gets broody, you are totally ready.

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Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.