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Cochin hen and two other mamma hens
with seven chicks in barn’s three-room “nursery”

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There are seven
chicks now,
born in the barn,
hatched by three hens.
We have moved them all
into a “nursery,”
(the coop inside the barn,
with access to a covered outdoor pen)along with 11 teenaged chicks
who were hatched in the incubator
from eggs gathered in the barn.
Mammas are attentive,
protective. The newborn chicks
nestle under their moms’ softest belly feathers
and deep under their wings.
When we lifted the Cochin hen
to move her to the nursery,
we couldn’t find the chick—
then it dropped from her mom’s wingpit.

When moms move around,
chicks dash along behind them.
If moms take the ramp up—
it must look like a mountain to the chicks!—
to the outdoor pen,
the little ones wait below
for the minute or two
moms visit the teenagers—
some, also their offspring.

Observing life in the communal chick nursery
is to experience the joy
of the hens’ accomplishments birthing new life,
the possibilities of family unexpectedly reunited,
the richness of shared community life.
It is a place
thick with tenderness.

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Teenaged chickens in nursery’s covered outdoor pen