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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Fred is a Mother for Mother's Day!

The triumphant story of Fred the Hen continues... Fred is brooding!
Fred was hen pecked and rooster abused until she had no feathers on her back, only three tail feathers, and her comb had been ripped off. When we got her she didn't lay eggs, wouldn't let anyone get near her, and loud noises sent her baulking across the yard frantically. We called her PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) hen.
Then my five year old son, Zane, befriended her. They went everywhere together. He carried her all over the yard, pushed her in his car, and swung on the swing set with her. He renamed her Fred, his best friend. And she fell in love with him too...
About 25 days ago, Fred decided that she needed to brood. We do not have a rooster, so sitting on her unfertilized eggs would never result in chicks. So why brood? After reading about it, I have come to realize that this type of thing happens. But I find it to be more than simply coincidental that Fred decided she had been fertilized after a little boy carried her around, petted her, and hugged her daily. All the love she was shown by this boy made her want to be a mother. Maybe, this hen thinks that somehow, in someway a little boy fertilized her. Of course it is biologically impossible for a boy and a hen to have chicks... but they can be surrogate parents! 
After she had sat for three days and proved to be serious about this endeavor to become a mother, I found fertalized eggs and replaced her unfertilized ones. For the past 21 days we have been waiting and watching her sit diligently day in and day out. Zane has wanted to check on her every day. He often sits outside stating determinedly, "Well, I will wait for the chicks to hatch!"
Yes, we have been counting the days... Waiting patiently!
Today is Mother's Day and the hatching has begun!
"You are becoming a mother, Fred," Zane exclaimed when we discovering an egg full cracks under her. "You are becoming a mother on Mother's Day!"

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