Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Motherhood is Universal

Last Winter

Dolly is broody yet again.  Her instinctual drive to be a mother never ceases to amaze me.  Like clockwork, she completes being broody after 3 weeks.  After about a week off the nest, she begins to lay again.  Once she lays about 10 eggs, she returns to the empty nesting box and restarts the process.

Some women love to be mothers.  Some women never care to be.  I find it fascinating that the same appears to be true of chickens as well.  I have a few hens that go broody very often, while some have never been broody in their lives.

Mothers are dedicated to their unborn.  Like pregnant women that rub their bellies and talk to their unborn children, a broody hen rocks her eggs side to side and whispers in chicken language to all of her eggs.  A broody girl also keeps the eggs warm and pulls feathers from her breast to keep the eggs close to her skin and provide the proper humidity, perfect for hatching.  Over the 21 day incubation course, she leaves the nest once to meet all her daily nutritional and bowel needs.

Mothers are selfless.  Mothers often put their children’s needs ahead of their own, sometimes forgetting that they have needs too.

Mothers are the first teachers.  Once hatched, hens teach their children their language.  They teach their chicks to eat and drink and how to become adult chickens.

Mothers protect their children.  A mother hen will go to extremes to save and protect her baby chicks.  Heroic unselfish acts of sacrifice are seen time and time again.

Mothers set the rules.  A mother hen runs a strict household.  She calls the shots.  She tells the chicks when to eat and drink.  She tells them when there is danger and to seek safety.  She even sets a bedtime.

Sadly, the young leave the nest too quickly.  Like kids, the chicks grow so incredibly fast, hurrying to reach a more complicated adulthood.  At six weeks, the chicks are fully feathered and ready to leave the nest and the comfort of their mother hen.

Mothering is amazingly universal.  These traits are shared across all species.  Mothering has its own language and it begins with love.  It is a love of something much deeper than we will even know for something that we have never seen or met.  It is having a bottomless heart. It is self-sacrificing, given freely and expects big things for such little ones we have never met.  Dolly, you never cease to amaze me.  You are one remarkable chicken.

Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

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