Becoming a grandmother – Another poultry adventure

Published 10:33 pm Monday, December 4, 2023

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On Nov. 13, I came home from a weekend trip to Mississippi and discovered that my rooster’s favorite hen-wife, Pertoleta, was tending a nest of five eggs. On Sunday morning, I awoke to find something like an Easter surprise – Perty was contentedly snuggling one fluffy chick and I became a chicken grandmother.

Becoming a first-time “Nana” in June 2019 was one of the most special moments of my life. Next to becoming a mother, it was the single most love-filled event I can remember and a great deal more fun. And, at two-years-old, Caroline is the sweetest little human in my world.

But becoming a chicken grandmother is not bad either. Caring for Perty while she kept her eggs warm, and stole a few fresh ones every morning, was a joy in my busy days and discovering the fresh little fuzz ball made all 21 days of waiting worth every moment.

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Grandchildren, even fluffy ones, can teach a few great lessons about life. Caroline is now chattering in sentences, asking to “hold Nana,” ride in “Nana’s car” and sit next to Uncle Scott. She wants to feed herself, walk everywhere, and climb up and down the balcony stairs at church.

The chick is no less curious. In one day’s time, he or she is cheeping up a storm, venturing out from underneath Perty’s wing, and taking sand baths. And I am buying it new low-to-the-ground feeders and making a new nesting like any good grandmother.

Perty is never far from the chick’s side either. Friends have advised me to separate mother and chick from the flock, suggesting the rooster and other hens will kill it. But my friend Danielle Williamson, who’s flock supplied my small henhouse, assured me that if Perty hatched it, she would raise it. So far, she’s an excellent mother and the flock is curious and protective of both mother and baby.

Today I learned that a Monroe County hospital closed its maternity ward on Nov. 18. Expectant mothers there, 22% of whom live below the poverty line, most drive between 35 and 103 miles for delivery-room services.

All mothers deserve accessible prenatal care, as well as local labor and delivery services. Perty is just a chicken and I had not planned on expanding my little flock, but I had not the heart to deprive her of the chance to hatch her small clutch of eggs. 

I hope that mothers in Monroe County are able to receive the care they need as well, to safely bear and deliver their children.