Yesterday, my oldest came running up all excited from the chicken coop.
“Mom, I think they’re hatching! Come see!”
We snuck down for a look at momma hen, who a few months ago started sitting a nest the very next day after the local coyotes got three of our six laying hens. Gotta rebuild, I guess? Trouble was the eggs were duds.
We used to have a rooster, as I personally love the sound of one crowing in the morning, and because they protect and guide the hens, so I don’t have to. If you watch chickens you’ll see, the hens wander around, pecking and looking down as they scratch and forage for tasty seeds, plants, and insects. The rooster stands near the flock on alert, always scanning around and above for danger. I have lost several Roos to coyotes as they heroically threw themselves between them and the hens while loudly sounding the alarm, “Danger, back to the coop!”
But after the last roo decided my three-year-old was a danger and flew at her and then anyone —including my ex who grabbed it and wrung it’s neck on reflex when it flew at him when he came to pick up our daughter — so into the pot it went, and we have been roosterless since.
But I digress.
So when the hen decided it was time for babies, she parked parked herself in a corner in the coop with a clutch of eggs and trust me, the look in her eyes told me, she was NOT going to let me take those eggs!
I told a friend of mine, whose farmer husband helps me out from time to time with bigger projects, “I don’t know how to break it to her, but she can sit there as long as she wants, but those eggs won’t hatch.”
The next day my friend showed up with five eggs from her place. She has almost 30 chickens, and a rooster. She cooed at the hen as she slipped the old dud eggs out, and the new fertile ones in about three weeks ago.
Yesterday, my daughter and I sat and watched the hen hunkered down in the corner, feathers a bit more fluffed and posture a bit more defensive and “stay the hell away” than usual. All ears. Then we heard it… “peep, peep.”
I can’t tell you how that sound brought such joy to our hearts! After all the trial these past few months, as the world got seemingly weirder by the day, we really needed that moment of lightness. Yay!
I think I heard two, but I didn’t want to disturb momma, and the chicks were tucked safely under her warm belly out of sight. We’ll find out how many there are soon enough, but for now we just want her to stay put on the last few eggs until they all hatch out.
(Nobody is a better momma than a momma hen, by the way! Lucky chicks! I feel sorry for ones raised by a lamp, no momma to fuss over them constantly. )
The rest of the day felt more hopeful, thanks to those peeps. And my daughter had a huge smile for the rest of the day.
Despite what current social norms say, about babies holding women back, I think babies —feathered, furry, or human — actually lift us up!
Trust me, as a woman who has lived in a man’s world, I would much rather be surrounded by cute little faces beaming with love, than sit in a room surrounded by competing and often unethical colleagues who don’t care a lick about me or anything but getting in front of the line, no matter how ruthlessly they do it. No thanks.
As I lay here in bed, typing this on my phone before the rest of the house awakens, two adorable little faces are gazing upon me with love. They are the last two kittens from a group of four feral ones my neighbor rescued out of a long parked and abandoned VW Baja and then brought to me, his soft hearted neighbor who he knew would be happy to bottle feed them and find them homes. Two were adopted this weekend, and these last two will be going to live together at their forever home in a week.
Until then, I am going to revel in their cuteness, and let their constant little baby needs distract me from the cares of the world. Because that’s what babies do, and between them and peeking in on the chicks, I won’t have time to worry about myself or things happening in cities far away. It’s not about me. It’s all about them. What a relief!
Don’t let anyone tell you differently, babies are a blessing and their spark and new life lift us up in a way little else can. Enjoy it!
Hopefully one of those five eggs contains a rooster! I’ll be watching close to see if any of the baby chicks stands more upright and looks up and around, unlike the rest.
What do you think? Please share in the comments! And I hope the news of our new arrivals lifted your soul up, too!