My grandmother had a glass egg that she used to slip under a chicken to try to convince her to lay. Now, I don’t know why a chicken wouldn’t or couldn’t lay an egg. But after Mammaw ruled out sickness, parasites or the winter weather, she figured the hen needed educating. Perhaps she didn’t know how good it felt to lay an egg. Maybe she’d never been with a rooster before and didn’t know the pleasure derived from a sexual encounter. Maybe she just didn’t like baby chicks. Although, she need not be worried about the last one, because more often than not, her progeny did not see the light of day. However, this would have been a terrible conversation to have with a prospective mamma hen and not at all conducive to the egg laying process.
The glass egg was used to gently encourage the delicate pullet to “get with the program.” It usually worked. I would gather it up each morning and slip it back in her nest before bedtime. After a bit, she would get used to the feel of the egg and probably with out much thought, lay one of her own. Having done that a few times, she would then realize that she did not need the young “doodle doo” to lay eggs anyway and it might loosen her up a bit on the sex aspect.
You’ve been there right? When you don’t feel like you have to do it. It becomes so much more enjoyable.
The other poultry problem was the inclination of older hens to sit on an egg and lash out at anyone who tried to take it. They could be vicious. My grandmother’s answer to that was jail. She built a jailhouse out of tobacco sticks and corrigated tin. She would snatch the offender up by the feet and stash it in the jailhouse for a day or two until a lesson was learned. It sat right outside of the hen house door so all those on the outside could cluck, peck and scratch up dust to exhibit their destain. The hen and I would be devastated. I would sit by jail and talk to her in an encouraging voice, sharing in her humiliation, hoping to absorb some of her shame.
Chickens don’t cry, but I did.
Even though the punishment was short lived, the lingering effects took it’s toll. The little jailbird plummeted in the pecking order. Scorned by the other hens she took on a solitary existence. She lived on the fringes of the farm yard, eating leftovers and dropping poo only after the others had finished.
I would watch helplessly as a sweet old hen lost the last luster of her youth and ended up in hot water. Literally. It still brings a tear to my eye, as I blow on my spoon and wait for the stew to cool.