Tag / motherhood

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Being a Mom

Motherhood is fleeting.

It’s exhausting, rewarding, and filled with many moments of pride. From the moment little ones are welcomed into the world and take their first breaths, we are there with them every step of the way. We nuzzle them. Take them under our wings. Feed them and nourish them. We teach them to explore, how to be brave and make life-long friends. Some days we go on adventures to new places and we always remember to tuck them in at night. We give them baths and teach them to bathe on their own. We straighten them out when they are out of line. We love them even through their awkward “teenage” years and watch them grow into mature young adults. Soon enough, we’ve done our job and it’s time to let them flee the nest to make a life of their own, carrying so many lessons we have shared with them along the way.

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

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Dolly’s Time Out

Dolly sits proudly over her chicks

Well, yesterday, I found out the hard way.  Up until now, I have cleaned portions of the brooder but never the whole thing.  The brooder could wait no longer.  It was messy and dirty and to top it off, I had to deal with overprotective Dolly.  The chicks seem to panic now whenever my gloved hand goes in to gather Dolly’s poop a few times per day.  I don’t think they recognize it as my hand.  Either way, Dolly goes into a natural tizzy, spreads her wings and the babies are pipping and popping all over the place; brooder chaos.

Look how big we’ve grown!

I knew that I was going to have to remove Dolly from the scene and that was the first thing that I did.  I placed her outside with the rest of her grown-up family.  I grabbed a cardboard box, placed it on the ground in front of the brooder and redirected the heat lamp into the box.  One by one, I caught the baby chicks and placed them in their temporary holding pen.

Quickly I gathered up all of the newspaper and the two inches of soiled shavings. What a mess!  I washed out and returned the waterers and the food dishes.  I spread out clean newspaper and made a soft bed of clean pine shavings.  When I went to return the babies to their clean brooder, they were all huddled in the corner of the box.  One by one, I grabbed them.  Sometimes two at a time, they returned to the brooder.  I went outside and there was Dolly waiting by the coop door.  I opened the door and scooped her up.  She was happy.  She called out to her babies on the walk back to the brooder.  However, I know that she did enjoy herself for a while when she was without the chicks.

While cleaning the brooder, I peeked out at the large coop and run periodically.  I saw Dolly socializing, telling stories, taking a dust bath, eating scratch and revisiting favorite places of hers in her home.  She let loose for a while and momentarily took a break from her motherhood duties.  We all need breaks, even chicken moms.  I believe we are better mom’s for it.  By taking time for ourselves, sometimes stolen moments, we replenish ourselves and can, in turn, be better parents.

As Dolly reentered the brooder, she greeted each of her chicks.  They touched beaks and nuzzled together.  It was a happy reunion and Dolly did miss her little ones.  After a while, they settled in for a nap.  The chicks were tucked safely underneath of their Dolly Mama and she got right back to her motherhood duties.

The happy family is always close to each other

Photo credits:  Tilly’s Nest