My broody Buff Orpington started with a clutch of 8 eggs, which got consumed by some unidentified stealthy predator. I converted the Chicken Jail into an upstairs broody nest and set her up with four more eggs.
After some hasty experimentation, I have developed a brilliant plan for their daily routine. My flock, ever so fond of change, has started reluctantly adapting. In the process they have found new ways to express their annoyance and disgust and irritation and chickeny rage.
Most things stay the same. I open the coop at the crack of noon. Mr. Big leads De and Vo into the pen for a bit of dust bathing and snacking on any treats I may have provided. Buffy stays on her nest and gives me the stink eye while I gather eggs from the downstairs nest. She fluffs and squawks and pecks when I lift her up to look at her eggs to make sure there are eggs under her and not a snake or an empty spot.
I return to the coop in the late afternoon and lead the flock to the tractor so they can feast upon weeds and leaves and blackberries and bugs and invisible bits of deliciousness. Mr. Big has learned the routine already and proudly leads the girls straight to the tractor. Oh the chickeny joy!
Once they are situated I shut myself in the pen and screw up my courage to face Buffy. Once again she fluffs and squawks and pecks when I lift her up. When I set her down, she fluffs and huffs as I close the side door of the broody cage. Then she fluffs and squawks and pecks when I lift her up and carry her to the snack bar in the pen.
Once outside she snaps out of her trance. She drinks and preens and eats and preens and preens and drinks and preens and drops an enormous stinky broody poo.
While she is busy I block off the eggless but oh-so-desirable bottom nest. When she is ready, she walks up the new ladder into the broody cage and settles back on her nest.
Then, just as darkness approaches I close up the broody cage, open the pen, and release the others. If I am a little late, Mr. Big will have some choice words for me. Then he hastily leads them back into the coop for a good night.
At least, that is how it is supposed to go....
Update: Gave up on the tractor once the flock got an Easter scare. Just have to juggle a grumpy hen while keeping an eye on a perturbed rooster.