As I feed the animals each morning, I check on a mother hen that’s setting a clutch of eggs. This small mixed bantam and her handsome rooster have free range of my property. They’re so cute walking around like a matched pair of fluffy socks.
Three weeks ago, though, the lady stopped strutting with her mate. She wasn’t difficult to find because the male stood guard over her like a sentry. He pecked and scratched at the ground in search of food but remained within sight of the female. These two star-crossed lovers were a family.
The hen had wedged herself between two closely spaced chain-link fences. There she stayed silent and still—beneath the watchful eyes of the rooster.
I’d like to leave them alone to roam the property. Unfortunately, my three cats think baby chickens are fun games. As soon as the puffballs start walking around, they become potential prey.
So with a bit of fuss from mother hen, I manage to relocate her, nine babies, and several unhatched eggs into a small pen where they’ll be safe from feline intervention. I took these pictures quickly, before mother scooped them all up beneath her warm body. One tiny chick is still wet from the egg.
On my way back to the house, I swing by the nesting site to make sure I didn’t miss anyone. As I round the corner, I see the rooster standing between the fences amidst broken shells, wondering about his family.
I feel guilty.
No doubt he will discover them in a little pen within the perimeter of my garden beneath the leaning mesquite tree.
Will I find him there in the morning?