Mothering Comes Naturally to a Hen—and a Rare Cat
By Christiane Marks
In the ’50s, when I was a child, we had lots of animals: rabbits, chickens, cats. We often had a hen sitting on eggs, too, which is rare today.
How well I remember the ritual of taking the disgruntled hen off the eggs once a day—very carefully loosening her wings first, to dislodge the eggs that might be under them; putting her down in front of a dish of grain and a dish of water and making sure that she ate and drank; and then she had to make einen grossen Klecks (we were German) so she wouldn’t later soil the nest and the eggs. Not until then would she be allowed back on her nest.
One early spring we took the chicks that hatched first away from the mother hen because we wanted to make sure she didn’t start leading them around and abandon the unhatched eggs to the cold. We nestled the chicks into a soft towel in a bushel basket and placed them under the high-legged oven, part of the old-fashioned stove.
We children got to feed them.… Read the rest