Old Henrietta and the New Chicks
Henrietta’s eyes were tired. Numerous wrinkles crazed across her lower lids and there was a little gray around the edges of her face. But her eyes were also intense and she indicated to me that she wanted little ones. Wanted them desperately.
She had been with us for 4 years. She was one of our first French Black Copper Marans hens. She had arrived in a box, carefully and lovingly sent to me by a breeder in New York state. Now 4 and ½ years old, she was rather old for a hen who had never raised a brood.
Every morning I’d find her sitting on a new clutch of eggs and she protested vociferously when I removed them. Other hens recognized her as broody and would readily lay their eggs under her. Each time I came to gather eggs, she looked at me with those intense, disapproving eyes and rolled them back under her breast, leaving me feeling guilty. So, in Late November, I gave her 3 eggs to sit on. Even if they don’t hatch, it will at least appease her, I thought.
She would sit on them for awhile and then, as if uncertain that they would hatch, she would shift to another nesting box and sit on eggs that might be better than hers. Every time, I gently placed the 3 eggs back under her.
On December 11, in the morning, amidst much activity on the farm, I heard faint chirping coming from her nesting box! I held 2 of the eggs up to my ear and the chirping was louder! I excitedly texted my husband at work to tell him the news. In the afternoon a chick was born to the old hen. Another hatched the next day.
I lifted her “pantaloons” to peer at her new, tiny chicks. She looked at me with those tired eyes, lower lids full of wrinkles, but now her eyes were calm and so satisfied. She was happy and at peace with herself and her chicks. She nestled them deep under her ample belly and up under her wings. What a joyous moment and a beautiful event for our farm with a cherished member of our flock!
You are never too old to accomplish your goals. Just ask Henrietta.