Tuesday, September 7, 2010
We downsized our flock of hens this spring, knowing that we would be moving at some point. This left us six hens- very easy to care for.
One of the hens became broody about a month ago. Even though we removed the eggs from the nests each day, she was determined to stay in one with the hopes of hatching out one of her infertile eggs.
(We no longer have a rooster.)
After the second week of her broodiness, I began looking on Craigslist for baby chicks. I continued to look, with no luck, until a few days ago. Our local farm and feed store had ordered a batch of chicks and finally got them in.
My daughter and I drove down early Friday morning and picked out a few. We brought them home, debated whether to wait until dark or not, and then decided to slip them right under the hen in her nest.
She never missed a beat. Immediately, she began clucking and 'talking' to them. Later that afternoon we moved them out of the coop, which was too high off the ground for the babies.
The Man of the House made them a temporary shelter on the ground until they're old enough to roost.
It's an amazing thing; to see a mama hen take care of her babies in a natural state. So many times we've raised baby chicks in boxes with heat lamps.
I love to see her cluck a certain tone, calling her babies to her, and lift her wings to engulf them with her body heat; tucking them in underneath.
The chicks are healthy and happy and instantly looked up at her as if to say, "Are you my mama?"
She was taking care of them so well, the very next morning, we made another run down to the store to pick up a few more. They blended in perfectly and she never seemed to know she'd adopted some extras.
She talks to her babies constantly, stay close to them and puffs herself up while performing a protective dance when the other hens get near. She picks pieces of grass and drops them before her chicks to help feed them.
The other hens can't figure it out. They'd rather be single ladies without a family.
I can't identify with hens like that. Give me a mama hen any day!
Motherhood in all its glory!