So. The ice-pack trick had no effect on Phoebe's perpetual broodiness. I planted a glacier of ice packs in the nest box and she found her way around it, squeezing onto a tiny bit of bedding that remained in the corner. So I rearranged the ice packs and then she scratched and tore them and the ice melted and dripped out and that was fine with Phoebe, who sat blissfully upon the whole soggy mess.
So I moved on to Plan B: The Broody Pen.
As it was suggested by several chicken-friends, I fashioned a little pen for Phoebe just outside the run. She had water, food and safety, but she had no nest box to sit in. This appeared to be a comfortable setup, but for Phoebe it was a heinous torture chamber. She paced and fluffed and ranted and panicked. In response to her distress, all of the ladies stood beside her at the edge of the run, and there they remained, compassionately close to the little jailbird. Because a flock is a flock, even if one member is doing hard time. At night, I placed her back into the nest box, under house arrest until morning when I took her right back to the correctional facility. It took only three days to rehabilitate this little gal from
On that third day, she stepped out of the nest box, stood up straight, and returned to her esteemed position at the very bottom of the pecking order. When I opened the gate that morning, Phoebe accepted a peck on the head from each of her friends, and then tore out across the yard to trash my garden with her team.