This past year we had many chickens on the farm, probably around 70 or so. During the spring, all of our girls got broody (the natural determined mama mode where they instinctively sit on their eggs in order to hatch them.)
Well, one of our matriarchs is named Brownie Hen. I love this chicken. She is truly a good hen and proven mama (which in the farm world means she has had babies prior and does a good job raising them.)
She had already raised a whole flock for the season who were now older, and out on their own in the chicken college of life here. They didn’t need mom anymore, and you could see her growing restless.
Empty nest syndrome is a real thing.
The season was winding down and it was just about time to call it quits for the baby making months. But alas, we noticed her sitting on one lone egg in a nest she had built on our porch with hay scraps.
At first we thought about pulling the egg when we saw it, but sometimes, if you pull the last egg from a nest, they won’t lay there anymore. So I just left it and figured she’ll keep laying there, pretty standard procedure.
Days go by and no signs of other eggs, so I just kind of let it go. And by let it go, I mean it slipped my mind. And by it slipped my mind, I mean that I had totally forgotten about this egg. Hey, it happens!
Well, the way that nature works is that if a chicken sits on an egg for long enough, even if it is only just one egg, that egg turns into another actual Chicken! Crazy! I Know! Lol.
But that’s what happened. One day Brownie Hen just came out, strutting around with that one little chicken. It was an adorable shock to say the least.
I thought Brownie Hen was a badass for putting all that effort into one little lonely egg. If you have chickens, you know that it takes a bit of sacrifice to sit there all day and night!
Limited time to go forage food (ours are all free range and we have no cabana boys for porchside service at the moment). But it takes a serious commitment, and not all hens get broody.
I thought the other chickens would uphold my beliefs on her badassery, but to the contrary, they were total pricks to her and that one little chicken. Those two were totally outcasts. She was a freaking matriarch here too so it was wild to see.
It was like witnessing the bible story of Hagar play out, or like an episode of the Tudors, where Mary Boleyn gets banished out of jealousy.
Brownie’s twin chicken sister, also known as Brownie Hen (or Anne Bolleyn as I saw it), was just the worst of them all. She had much older chicks and thought that the other Brownie Hen was just a pathetic excuse for a woman with that one little chick, in comparison to her dozen.
She pushed them aside and chased them around, mean as hell to that baby, I tell ya. I even saw that ol’ Brownie twin pick that little baby up and just flat out throw it before. Grabbed it by the neck and just tossed it up in the air, for no good reason either. Little Chicken doing back flips in the air while peep-peep-peeping all the way down.
Chickens are as bad as humans. Horrible at times.
So those two just went their own way for the most part. Just Brownie Hen, and that one little chicken, making it happen, apart from their community. I thought they were so sweet and I remember taking a photograph of it while hanging outside and observing it for probably 30 minutes.
I specifically told it, “I don’t know how long you will be here, but I’m just going to love you and appreciate you for the time that I’m given with you.” It was a truly precious moment. I have never enjoyed watching a bird more than on that day.
Over time I watched the archetypes of Hagar and Mary B in this chicken so vividly, but we will get more into those details later in our small group curriculum! Chicken behavior is so similar to ours, it is proof to me that we truly are just big animals. It’s True!
One day when I was out back, I heard a chicken commotion in the woods. Sometimes this happens when a rooster is trying to “marry,” a hen as our 8 year old here likes to call it, they can cause a ruckus. And very loud “BUHHHGOCCCCCKS!!!” Ugh. I actually have a whole blog about chicken rape, but that’s another story there for sure! (It’s a real thing and I’m looking into creating a hotline for them, lol. But seriously.)
Anyhow, this was not your typical rapey commotion buhgock, these chickens were legit bugging the eff out, and flying all over! So, I scanned the woods looking back and forth, and then here comes this big, tan dog chasing after them. Weirdest dog I have ever seen.
I looked even harder and then yelled, “AWWW FUUUCCCKKK, THAT’S A COYOTE!!!” I quickly opened my door and yelled for our dogs, but those lazy idiots wouldn’t Move, not a single one of them. Omg. Pointless.
So I run back out and just start screaming at the coyote. It went something like, “Rawwww! Raaawww!! RAWWWRRR GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM MY CHICKENS, RAWWWWWWWR!”
I’m not quite sure why I went with a semi-roar of a lion considering we live in the mountains of Georgia, but it felt well suited at the time. Very guttural too, you would have thought Mufasa himself was threatening that coyote.
So the coyote runs off (partly from me screaming and from me yelling at William to save the chickens as he ran into the woods, lol, I’ll pay credit where it’s due.)
Brownie Hen had fled the scene and was sitting on a tree branch by me, nervously scanning the crime scene. She had this look of terror and angst in her, constantly debating if she could go back. That’s when I realized that the one little chicken was gone! She was devastated.
So, William is down in the woods looking around, and he hears a little, “peep, peep,” from a hidden spot. A few minutes later, that one little chicken popped out of the bush and William brought him back to mama. We couldn’t even believe it! What a legend.
I was always so nervous for that one little chicken, because it’s a tough world out here on a free range farm. Nature can be really harsh, man. If a coyote doesn’t get you, there’s always still opossum, raccoons, foxes, owls, falcons, and hawks! Our chickens live awesome and free lives, but you gotta be tough to survive out here sometimes.I have come to realize this over the years.
A little time goes by and that one little chicken had just started to get it’s real feathers in. See, they are like little fluffy nothings when they first hatch, all down-feather and no real protection, the real feathers come later on. It’s quite the accomplishment if you’ve gotten your feathers in, and no snake or hawk gotcha. So we were so proud.
One day I noticed some eggs in a large planting pot with straw in it, and told myself, “ooh, I should get those eggs,” …. talk about a pattern here…. And alas, I did not get those eggs. But I think that I thought that maybe they were someone else’s eggs? Mehhh, who knows. I do remember seeing someone laying on them and thinking, “yiiiikes, who am I to rob them of their babies once they are broody?” I believe I thought they were Brownie’s hellacious twin’s eggs.
Needless to say, those were Brownie Hen’s eggs, and one morning on the porch, William found Brownie Hen sitting on them, and that one little chicken was lying on the floor outside of the planting pot, dead, because she had chosen to lay on the eggs instead of covering him at night.
He still didn’t have enough feathers to make it on his own, and he was probably just days to a week away from having enough feathers to be able to fly up into the planter with her.
My heart was absolutely shredded, I felt so guilty. And I knew for a fact that Brownie Hen had taken a crushing blow as well. William had removed the remaining eggs knowing that it’s getting colder out, and her one baby had just died. Ugh. Devastating.
Upon my personal reflection, I knew that I felt guilty because I knew I should have removed those eggs, but it went even deeper.
I really knew that I’ve always wanted babies, so why not let my chickens have babies? I don’t mind pulling eggs, but once I see a ladybird sitting on them and hoping, it’s much harder to pull them. (Not to mention we have pulled one before that was like literally about to be born any day now and it was dripping blood and had an actual freaking chicken inside, Maya found it and we almost died, so William buried it….
Anyhow… It was like the same longing in myself for more babies that Brownie Hen had in her. And I know we both regretted it. She loved that one little chicken so much, and she was so protective and afraid for it. But somehow, those other chickens talked her into needing more.
And on the quest for finding more, she lost sight of what she already had… and in doing so, she lost it all.
I totally understood this, so I couldn’t judge my Brownie Hen, I knew her little chicken heart was hurting as well. I was in the same boat as her being a woman surrounded by a society who promotes marriage and making babies.
I had tried for years, believe you me. And then when I got with William he was already fixed and we were in our early 30’s so I felt like my biological baby making clock was ticking with every single heartbeat. I would say 35 and 36 were some of the hardest years of my life in finally accepting the facts. It only took a few years of personal torture to get over it too! Lol.
That natural longing, desperation to fit into society, and pressure, all really get to you. Whether you are a chicken, or a human, it affects you. Whether you want children or not, there is a pressure out there inflicted upon you by others.
That’s a very important thing to know.
It blinds you completely so you have to be aware of these things.
There were times where one of my step kids would say something rude or snarky to me (normal kid stuff) and it would dig into me like a fucking sword through the heart. The Wounded Woman inside of me would light up in flames screaming “Don’t they understand that because I chose to be here, I won’t have the chance to have my own kids? This is it for me!”
Humans are so dramatic, aren’t we? And so freaking sensitive sometimes, amirite? Lol.
I have learned that at times it is good to just sit back and watch life, watch nature, and not get so emotional about it. Just watch it. Like a movie. Actually that’s what my best friend and I used to say to each other during tough times, “Just watch the movie and eat your popcorn.” It truly does work.
Coming up on almost a year later from that One Little Chick’s death, we oddly enough have another One Little Chick who came from Brownie Hen’s daughter, who is oddly enough called, Little Brownie Hen. Original…. I know.
This baby came from a hatching of 9, and the hawks and falcons have taken all 8 of it’s siblings in a few short weeks…. So I’m rooting for him.
I am protective of that One Little Chicken, but not with the original overbearing and smothering kind of love and fear that I had for the first. I have seen how Nature rolls.
I do what I can to give it more hiding spots in the yard to escape birds of prey, I feed it in safer areas, I show it love and kindness and thank it for each day I have with it, and all I can do is trust nature with the rest.
The same has been with our kids here. There was so much smothering love and fear the first few years, that it leaves you drained and borderline resentful of the entire world. Lol! How exhausting is that???
Raising animals helps me with rearing children tremendously as well. You do it enough times and observe the same patterns, you start to see the common threads.
Here are a few beautiful life lessons that I learned. These apply to both Chickens and Children:
Don’t love them overbearingly or with so much fear. Just love them.
Quit worrying about their future so much that you can’t even enjoy the little moments with them now.
Be protective, but don’t be a helicopter over them. That leads to constant disappointment.
Don’ worry about what other people think of you. Do what’s right for you and your own.
Take some photographs. You will usually look back and appreciate having them. Trust me. On a farm,
Enjoy your time with them, because you never know how long they will be around, whether that’s in your home or on this planet.
Leave people the eff alone if they don’t have kids. God…. That’s Just Rude and you don’t know circumstances.
If you are the people that don’t want kids or could not have kids, good for you. You might just enjoy a pet chicken, rabbit, or cat. Or even a plant. And that is Fabulous.