My Americauna hen hatched out six chicks last week. I am so happy for her. She is an illustration of the virtue of perseverance.

This year I was so busy I adopted a policy of laissez-faire with all my poultry. My goose and two hens became broody, and I did not manage their efforts. After all, this was a natural process, surely? But the results were dismal.

My goose Kay laid almost two dozen eggs, laying and laying until she was barely able to cover the pile. Though goslings developed, they all died before hatching — my guess is due to uneven warmth.

My two hens did something similar. They each staked out a nest box and sat on a pile of eggs. However, the strain of brooding mania endemic to a sitting hen made each one watch her neighbor with a jealous eye. The moment one would leave the nest for a quick sip of water or peck of food, the other would nip over and sit on the opposite nest. This do-si-do occurred regularly. I thought it was harmless, except on those occasions I would find both hens crammed into one nest box, one sitting on the other’s long-suffering head. In the box next door, eggs were cooling. Again, developing chicks died.

The first hen successfully hatched a single egg. You’ve heard the expression, “as fussy as a hen with one chick”? She was.

I let the Americauna sit a few more days, and then, when I was sure the eggs under her were dead and rotten, I swept them all out. I gave her back a dozen fresh eggs, numbered in pencil. The new eggs were not hers, of course, as hens stop laying when they are brooding. Moreover I had no idea if the eggs were fertilized. Still, I had to let her try.

After six weeks of perseverance, she is the proud and happy mama of six.


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