(Photo - Mama watches over babies taking a dust bath!)
The two hens herd them around in a routine that brings them all around our cabin. Their stops include the deer feeders, looking for corn on the ground, and the turkey feeder down the hill in back of the cabin.
They go to the water troughs, sometimes going in the longhorns’ pen to their water troughs. These are about 2 feet tall and circular and they perch side by side all along the rim and drink. Sometimes they go to the small trough in the yard where they might find some birdseed we put out on the ground.
This morning after drinking they went to the driveway and lay down in the caliche, fluffing their feathers to give themselves a dust bath. The little gobblers are starting to show off by spreading their tail feathers and strutting around. They are becoming teenagers!
The mother hens have watched over them teaching them the things they need to know to survive and keeping them safe from predators. One morning I watched them chase a buzzard up a tree. The buzzard was at the water trough in the yard, which is also where we dispose of our food scraps. He was after some bacon grease, one of his favorites, along with cream gravy. The mama hens apparently didn’t like the looks of him.
This morning I counted 14 babies. As the group moves from area to area, the mama hens seem to be counting them also. If one falls behind, one of the hens will go back to get him or her. No one is left behind; they move on together.
As I write this my mom is in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s. She doesn’t know who we are or remember much about her life, past or present. My siblings and I go and sit with her. We take her the snacks she used to like and sometimes we take her out for ice cream. Then we go home and cry. It gets harder to go and see her this way. But we keep going and crying, remembering the times she came back for us. No one is left behind; we move on together.