Two Chicks for a Mother Hen

When I told Mom I was getting chicks this spring, she reminisced about the hens she’d had over her 83 years. She was fond of hens, perhaps because she was like an old mother hen herself. She liked to watch them peck around and enjoyed the way they interacted with her. She treated them like her children, complaining to them and about them but always wanting them near. She fondly remembered the hens back in Newfoundland in the early 1930s and how the chicks would scurry behind their mother whenever someone approached.

 

“Why don’t you get a few chickens of your own?” I asked.

And she went on about this and that, making excuses about why she couldn’t have them now. Then she began talking about the eggs. She loved the fact that she could go to the yard and gather up fresh eggs for baking. It was then she admitted she missed her small flock she’d kept a few years ago. They had kept her mind occupied through the long winters. She’d make several visits a day to the coop, just to check on them, drop scraps or gather eggs. On warm winter days, she’d let them run free and peck in the yard.

“Why don’t you get a few chickens of your own?” I asked again.

And then she went on about the neighbours and maybe they wouldn’t like having chickens near.

“You don’t need a rooster, Mom. That’s what annoys most people about chickens. You just need a few hens.”

Still, she went on. People are so picky these days. They complain about everything. I agreed with her because people today are less tolerant than years ago. It’s fine for a dog to bark all day and poop all over the yard, but it’s not okay for a few chickens to peck around, eating ants and other bugs and producing eggs.

And then Mom went on about the chickens from her childhood again. And that it was cruel for me to have day-old chickens that never had the love of a mother.

“That’s not my fault,” I reminded her. “That’s the way you buy them at the Farm Store. They never get to meet their mother.”

“It’s so nice to see them pecking around the yard,” she said. “It reminds me of home.” The home she spoke of was Lewin’s Cove in Newfoundland where she spent the first seventeen years of her life. “Fresh eggs are the best,” she added. “Eggs are so expensive these days. I’d love to have chickens.”

“Why don’t you get a few chickens of your own?” I asked again.

“No, no, I can’t do that. What would the neighbours say?”

“Can I have a few eggs? is probably what they’d say,” I said.

“No, I can’t have chickens.”

And the conversation went on about other things. The next day I went to the Farm Store and ordered two brown laying chicks for Mom. They arrived on May 10th. When they’re old enough (about seven weeks), I’ll deliver them to an old mother hen who will care for them as if she was their mother. My brother is already preparing the small coop without telling her. No need to get her worked up about something she doesn’t want but wants.

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3 thoughts on “Two Chicks for a Mother Hen

    • Mom can pretty much talk herself out of anything. That’s what she was trying to do in that conversation. I know Mom will love the hens and the fresh eggs.

      I bought eggs yesterday — brown, large — and they were around $3.20 a dozen. That’s a wee bit cheaper than $5.99 a dozen for organic, free-range large eggs (which my eggs will be when the hens start laying). The price of eggs is going up with the gas. It will be nice to collect a dozen a day from my hens.

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