It was an odd sight, in the hen yard this year, to see a black and white feathered hen with her fluffy brown chick.
At one time we kept a flock of Silver Laced Wyandottes, with beautiful black and white plumage. As they grew older we replaced them with Rhode Island Reds which are often said to be the most prolific egg layer amongst heritage breeds.
We still have one old lady left from that original flock and she quickly joined the new birds, firmly believing she was one of the gang. Over the last couple of years, she has desperately wanted to become a mother, sitting diligently for three weeks each spring.
While her younger sisters were proudly showing off their offspring she continued to sit…and sit.
Back in the spring, we had a hen hatch her brood but then leave two eggs behind in the nest. Not knowing if it would work, we placed the two eggs under our frustrated hen. Having already been nurtured for 21 days, there was a chance that the eggs would hatch, and she would finally have a chick of her own. Sure enough the following morning we could hear a chirping from the nest and a contented clucking from the mother.
Over the next few weeks and months, she proudly paraded her chick around the yard, completely unaware that he was growing feathers of a different colour. That chick turned out to be a rooster and soon outgrew his mum. Nevertheless, he still tries to dive for warmth under her wing at night, almost knocking her off her roost. Such is the strength of a mother’s love.