Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Jaguar Has two Mommies

This is "Little Jaguar", one of the four naturally-brooded chicks that appeared in our coop last month. As you may recall, Jaguar and his two siblings were brooded by our dominant and determined hen, Chicklee. Java, a second broody, hatched a fourth chick about a day later.

But Java never quite got the hang of mothering. She alternately pecked and overprotected the little guy, and in a few days, her chick disappeared. (I tried to snatch him up to raise in the house but he was so vehemently and LOUDLY distraught that I returned him.) I spent a very sad and regretful evening searching the brush around the chicken coop while Java, apparently the last to know, continued to coo and cluck and generally act as if she had her babe at her side. It took a few days for the disappearance to sink in. When the imaginary chick thing finally wore thin, Java began tailing Chicklee and her little brood.

Chicklee wasn't so keen on this at first, and the two squabbled and puffed, but then some light went on in Chicklee's dim (though charming) chicken brain, and she decided that yes, another Mommy was just what her little family needed after all.

The pair are inseparable now. They mirror each other's actions. If Chicklee preens, Java preens as well. If Java scratches in the bare patch under the raspberry bushes, Chicklee is scratching right beside her. The two fend off other hens and keep careful tabs on their brood.

Perhaps Chicklee's mothering skills rubbed off on poor Java or perhaps her own long delayed little light bulb finally blinked on. Whatever the case, I love watching the little family strut around the yard. They range far and wide, venturing together where a single mama hen would not dare to tread. It is a surprisingly beautiful happy ending, a small victory snatched from what appeared to be an utter defeat. Yup, Jaguar has two Mommies and we are all the better off for it.

1 comment:

Christy said...

What a sweet story! It should be a children's book.