Saturday, June 15, 2013

Setting Hens

Look at the three pictures. All three are the females of their breed setting clutches of eggs. Heloise the goose, Rosie the hen and Daphne the duck (Tinkerbell the turkey is also setting a clutch, but turned her back on the camera). All three will defend their nests with their lives. When their little ones hatch, they will teach them to eat and drink and run back to the nest when danger threatens. They will teach their young everything they need to know to survive.
Long ago, *setting hens* were considered extremely valuable. A good setting hen would ensure that your flock of chickens would grow bigger. More chickens meant more eggs and more meat on the table. Precious protein at a time when grains and greens made up a large part of peoples diets.
Then, in the past century or so, when commercial farms took over from family farms and more and more people bought their food at supermarkets, *broody* hens became a liability.
Egg farms didn't want them, they just wanted eggs...the more the better. Meat producers didn't want them either...incubators reduced losses and were more efficient.
Chicken breeds were bred to reduce the natural instinct to set clutches of eggs.
When a hen goes broody here, I let them set a clutch of eggs, protected from the other chickens. Rosie is in the old rabbit hutch where Nugget and her little ones used to be. (They now have their own coop)
But Rosie isn't setting her own eggs...she is setting peafowl, duck and turkey eggs. She went broody a couple of weeks before our new incubator arrived and after our old one was full.
So, I tucked a few eggs from our other fowl under her and removed the two eggs she had laid and was setting. Chicken eggs hatch faster, so, it will be a bit longer of a *set* for her with these eggs. I removed her eggs, because when the first chicks hatch, the setting hen will only wait a couple more days for the rest of the clutch to hatch.
Rosie (and Daphne and Heloise and Tinkerbell) are all doing their jobs well. Whether it is their eggs or eggs that suddenly appeared overnight beneath them (yes, that is how I snuck the other eggs under Rosie!), all are taking their jobs of setting seriously.
As I read the blogs other people post, I realize that we are *setting hens* (doesn't matter if we are men or women!).
Our knowledge and experiences are the eggs we are setting on. Protecting this knowledge for a generation that may not even be here yet. We teach our own children and anyone else that wanders into our *nests*.
There may come a day when this knowledge is valuable again. When knowing how to garden or store food or milk a goat or any of a thousand skills bloggers post about will be the difference between life and death for some future generation. The more skills we pass along the more likelihood that someone out there that needs that knowledge will stumble across it....and then pass that knowledge along to another.

1 comment:

Because of a couple of rude people that left comments that included links to porn pages and such, I have been forced to start moderating comments again.