Every day in our life's journey holds its own special treasures, if we have eyes to see...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Chicken Wisdom

Mother Hen Update

In an earlier post, I spotlighted our little black hen who hatched six little fluffballs, and was doing such an amazing job of nurturing and protecting them. In mid-winter, her own warmth kept the Missouri cold at bay while the babies grew feathers. With special calls and peckings here and there, she taught those chickies how to find food, how to drink water, and to do all things chicken-y. (http://journeywithhonor.blogspot.com/2011/12/speaking-of-chickens.html ),

Back off, buddy!

There is a rooster twice her size along with five other hens, all in the same pen, but this mama kept a no-peck zone around her babies, facing down even the curiosity and pomposity of said rooster while her birdlings peeped and scratched as if they owned the entire world. Week by week feathers replaced fluff, until almost three months later, they now look like miniature adult chickens.

Chicks at three months
Which brings us up to this week. One morning while checking on them, I realized that their mother was not with them.  The six fledglings perched on the edge of the feeder in a little huddle, but she did not. A quick search found her: she was on the roost with the other hens. My first reaction was concern. Why would she leave her babies? Could they survive without their mama?

Mother and son (or daughter)

But as I watched the interplay of the flock--hens and rooster hopping off the roost, heading to the newly-opened outside run, leaving the chicks in their group pecking about the floor without a glance toward where their black mother had exited--I was struck once again by the instinctive wisdom of that little chicken-mother. She had given her babies all they needed in order to survive and thrive in their world, and as they had grown, she faded into their background until one day, much like any other, she took a final step away and rejoined the life she'd known before she set out to hatch those new members of society.

Call me if you need me.
Okay. I know there are some gaps in the analogy, for human moms can never forget their mother role, no matter how old their babies become, and chickens don't have enough brains to go through the parenting process with cogniscence.  Nevertheless, I admire the calmness with which the little black hen stands to the side and observes how her children carry on. She doesn't hover, as she once did, making little clucking, encouraging noises, leading them every place they need to go, and forever keeping them dependent on her.

They are growing up as they were meant to, and she does not try to keep that from happening. Rather, she encourages and blesses, instructs and models what it means to be a grown up chicken, and they in turn follow in her footsteps as if it were the most natural process in the world. Hats off to you, small black hen. You have done a wonderful job, and your children are beautiful :-)

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