Along with the molt, Ethel has gone broody again. When hens “go broody” it means they develop a sudden urge to sit on the nest and incubate eggs. They will sit there in the dark, staring into space, blissed out on the oxytocin their bodies produce, for about a month.
You generally want to snap them out of this, unless you have fertilized eggs and you want her to hatch them for you. Aside from hogging the nest, a broody hen will stop laying, and is risking her health because she won’t leave the nest to eat or drink.
There are a lot of ways to break up a broody hen. Some hens get very stubborn about it. Luckily, so far Ethel has responded well to a two-step process of A) taking away the eggs, and B) pushing her out of the nest. I always toss some scratch out first, so she has something yummy awaiting her, once she does get off the nest.
(I once pushed her out of the nest and THEN took the eggs. When she came back to the nest and found it empty, she made this sad little “squeeeeeeeee” that was absolutely heartbreaking. Now I take the eggs first, so at least she knows where they’ve gone.)
Here’s some video of me breaking Ethel off the nest:
She’s a good chicken.
And OH MY GOD now that I’ve uploaded the video – please DO NOT MISS YouTube’s suggested video, Broody Hen Warming Kittens.