So, I went out to feed the chickens this morning and the broody hen was off of her nest. Great! I thought. Now I can count her eggs.

As I climbed into the coop and peered into the nesting box I could not believe my eyes. There were 17 eggs in there! No wonder we haven’t been getting many eggs from the other hens. They’ve all been laying in her box!

I immediately regretted not following the good advice of marking the eggs. I hadn’t bothered with it ’cause I didn’t want to disturb her from her sitting. But now she was sitting on too many eggs, and I couldn’t tell the old from the new.

I decided it was time to create a “maternity ward” in the coop, and give her her own special corner. Stapling chicken wire from the bottom of the nesting box down to the floor, I sectioned off a good area to put her in. After sweeping out the old litter, and laying some fresh hay down, I carefully moved each of the eggs onto the new nest, marking an “X” on them with a pencil as I went.

As I was moving them, she saw what I was doing and ran over to the eggs to sit on the few I’d already moved. I continued placing the eggs underneath her, but she was not happy with me at all.

I did my best to get all of those eggs into the warmth of her body, but there were just so many! She ended up moving around and trying to get the eggs back under her, but finally gave up and was satisfied to leave four or five out of her nest.

I decided I’d take the abandoned eggs into the house to candle and see if they are even fertilized or not. It was so hard to tell though! All but one I was sure had a forming chick in it, but I hated to chance it with the one I wasn’t positive about, you know?

So, meddling me tried to shove the remaining eggs back under her. But she’d had enough of my nonsense, and began pecking the you-know-what out of my hand every time I reached in with another egg.

I left her alone for a while, hoping she’d settle back down and succeed in covering all of the eggs. But later on when I went out to check on her again, she had abandoned the nest altogether, and was back up in the old nesting box, sitting on a fresh egg another hen had just laid.

I looked down at the poor clutch of eggs, wondering what to do. I decided to bother the perturbed hen one more time and once again carefully replaced all of the eggs back under her. I got a few good bites in the process, but I was able to get them all in.

I sure wish she’d stayed where I’d put her! I think she just likes that box better and feels more comfortable laying there. The problem is that that seems to be the popular spot, and I can’t keep the other hens from laying eggs there as well! I guess now that I’ve marked the 17, any extras that are unmarked I know are safe to eat.

I’m considering getting out the incubator tomorrow and relieving the hen from some of the eggs. What do you think? I’m just so afraid I’m gonna mess things up if I keep getting in the middle of it.

Oh, what to do, what to do.

What would you do?