We’ve had chickens! Four to be precise. Hatched after a mammoth effort by two of our hens, uncreatively named “Little Brown Hen” and “Little Black Hen”.
A mammoth effort because after they became simultaneously “clucky” they spent the first three weeks sitting on unfertilised eggs.
No rooster, you see.
I pointed out the futility of the exercise, but my husband and the hens were having none of it.
“You never know” he said.
“They might hatch”.
“No love, I’m really very sure they won’t.”
But there was no talking him out of it.
He came up with all manner of unbelievably odd scenarios as to how the eggs might have become fertilised. Stray roosters sneaking into the henhouse in the night. Biological anomalies.
The hens were equally optimistic, which made it three against one, so they all decided to sit it out.
Unsurprisingly, my husband cracked before the eggs. He became more and more upset at the thought that our ladies might be disappointed after so much hard work, and after three weeks he caved and admitted that I was possibly right.
So off we went to Michelle’s Happy Hens in Kenthurst and bought some fertilised eggs. To make up for lost time, we bought eggs that had already been in the incubator for almost two weeks.
What happened next truly made me wonder (more than usual) if we humans don’t seriously over-estimate our intelligence in comparison to other creatures. Our two hens pushed their eggs closer together and sat side by side. They took turns leaving the eggs to eat and stretch, never leaving the eggs unattended.
When the chicks hatched, they began to share the parenting. They’re most impressive at this. One hen monitors the chicks closely, and the other stands guard a short distance away, watching for predators. Then they swap. One hen settles and takes all the chicks under her wings, the other takes the opportunity for a stroll around the garden. Then they swap. Pretty clever for chooks.


Leonie Seysan is the director of Article Writers Australia, a content agency specialising in B2B and professional content.

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