Friday, April 19, 2013

If I were a chicken I'd be a Buff Orpington

My brothers and sisters have always called me a mother hen.  
That pretty much means I worry about all of my family's problems and my happiness level rises significantly when I see everyone around me happy and content. Or maybe it's just a sort of nice way of saying that I am kind of bossy...
This week I have had a chance to see what a true mother hen looks like for myself.  

Penny is our really mild mannered Buff Orpington.  She is one determined mama!  In the chicken world a hen that sits on her nest is called a broody hen.  Penny is very determinedly sitting on two little eggs. 
We have tried all kinds of things to get her out of her chosen little nest but she just pops right back in. 

She sits on her nest and completely fluffs herself out.  I never knew a chicken could look so big!  She could be mistaken for a door mat! I'm not kidding...
She is really sweet though.  She doesn't peck or squawk--she just sit and clucks.  If I were a chicken I would probably be just like Penny...

Penny doesn't care whose eggs she is sitting on.  She uses her neck and pulls all of  the eggs toward her and tucks them in under her big fluffy wings.  Jenna has tried giving her all kinds of eggs both in the coop and outside on the lawn when we make her get up off her nest.  We put all different colors and sizes of eggs (all unfertilized...) and she mothers them all--she will just settle in and take care of any eggs she sees!

We lost two of our hens this year so we are going to get two little day old chicks from D&B (our favorite farm store!) and give them to Penny.  They say we can just sneak out during the night and pull the eggs out and slip the baby chicks in and Penny will be thrilled that her eggs hatched.  
I think it will be fun to see a little mother hen in action. We will try it next Tuesday when a new shipment of Americauna chicks comes in (love those blue eggs!). 

I have learned a few things about hens from watching the hens.

Penny has friends.  At least we think she does.  One of the other hens--Sammy the salmon faverolle--watches over Penny. 
I went out last week and threw Penny out of her nest so I could completely clean out the old winter bedding.  I also took down some roosting boxes that are too small and cleaned up and repaired the inside of the coop.  Sammy had a fit the entire time.
I mean SquAWKing!
I threw her out of the coop four times but she just kept coming right back squawking like crazy.  
When I got everything done, I put in a new clean cardboard box with some bedding for Penny and I put a couple of eggs in the nest.  I let Penny back in the coop and she hopped up and sat right down on the nest.
The entire time I was fixing the nest Sammy hopped around hollering like a banshee.  
As soon as Penny sat back down on her eggs, Sammy completely stopped.  She hopped up on a roosting bar next to Penny and looked as content as could be.                                                                 

Isn't that interesting?! 

Watching the hens is just one more confirmation that we mothers need each other.  We love and shelter and care for each other when we are in our most vulnerable states ("nesting") and we love and nurture and care for each other's babies as well.  
I know I for one would never make it as a mom without all the other moms around me.  I have been nurtured and taught and fed and loved by so many women in my life I can never hope to repay them all.
I'll just pay it forward.   
I have decided that being called a mother hen isn't so bad after all!


lilybit said...

Beautifully said.

Jamie Hatch said...

I'm dying to see if you give her some eggs to raise! She's a pretty hen!