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Jan 17, 2010

Brave Chickens

One of the first things I noticed about chickens is that chickens know no fear when it comes to protecting their young.  We watched, fascinated, as Henny Penny and Marilyn Monroe, our original two hens, protected and instructed their brood of young (9 of them).

These two wise hens trained their young well and that training saved their lives.  We allow our chickens to free roam.  We also live near woods that have plenty of wild life that also free roam.  Apparently these hens also realized the potential danger in the woods because while the chicks were quite young, one hen or the other would put out a high pitch whistle sound and all the babies would freeze.  If a chick had one leg in the air, that leg stayed in the air until the hens gave the okay sign.  I saw them hold their frozen positions one morning for a good five minutes.

But that training paid off one day around noon.  A raccoon came down out of a tall tree while the chickens were scratching around for insects.  It all happened so fast I would have to say it was all over in 20 seconds.

I was on the screen porch.  Suddenly Marilyn Monroe shrieked loudly and feathers started flying.  I ran towards the chickens screaming and trying to scare off whatever had hold of her and saw a raccoon run off.  Marilyn lay as still as death and there was not one sign of any of the other chickens.

I picked Marilyn up and Larry and I placed her safely in the chicken house, then we started searching for what we were afraid would be dead baby chicks.  We combed the area, we looked up in the trees, after one hour, I broke down crying and gave up.  They were gone.  I went into the house and laid down, broken-hearted.

About 15 minutes later, Larry came into the bedroom, smiling.  He found them.  They were alive but in the frozen state their mothers had taught them.  Amazing as it sounds, they were so still we couldn't see them.

But the bravest thing of all was Marilyn taking on the raccoon so the baby chicks could get away and hide.  Marilyn went broody for six weeks after that incident.

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Thank you for your comment. Susan.