Mother Hen

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

We have had problems with broody hens in the past. This means they sit on the eggs so when we try to gather them, the hen pecks at us.Usually we throw them off the nest box repeatedly and eventually they give up.

Once we let a bantam hen sits on eggs, but she didn’t stay on them long enough for them to hatch.  They just turned rotten – a very unpleasant experience.

OliviaOlivia was different.  She was persistent.  In fact, Rachel decided to see if she would stay on eggs long enough for them to hatch.  She secured a special hutch and put a fake egg in the nest box.

Olivia found it, stayed there and guarded it fiercely. So one night, Rachel switched the fake egg with one dozen real eggs.  Some were from large fowl and some were bantams from her bantam project.

Olivia was quite content.

Twenty days later, one of the eggs hatched.  They weren’t due to hatch until day 21 but there is always one over achiever.  In all seven hatched.  It was very exciting.  Olivia stayed in the hutch with the chicks all the time.  Rachel had to shoo her out to eat and poop.  Eventually she started to come out on her own.

I guess even chicken moms need a break sometimes.

The week before our oldest daughter got married, I opened the hutch and the chicks started tumbling out.  I wasn’t quite sure what to do.  I watched for a while as Olivia guarded them from the other hens.  She taught them how to scratch the ground and dust bathe.Olivia chicks

In all the stress of the end of the school year, combined with the upcoming wedding, it was very therapeutic to stand there and watch this mother hen with her chicks.  They are venturing further and further away these days.  They still return to the hutch at night and huddle under Olivia.

I don’t think she knows they weren’t her eggs.  She is just being a mother hen.

My now married daughter called this week.  Her husband started his new job.  She said, “I got up and fixed him breakfast and fixed his lunch, and he went to work.  I feel like a wifemiller.”

And just like that she has left the nest.Catherine-Caleb

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