13. Aug, 2014

The Empty Nest Syndrome

It’s that time of year again, when hundreds of teenagers leave home to go to university, leaving many parents suffering from the empty nest syndrome. Well the same thing happens with hens.

     At our home for waifs and strays, it’s the mother hen that turfs out her chicks when she feels confident they can stand on their own two feet.

      ‘It’s time to leave home,’ she says, ‘I cannot take care of you forever.’

And she gets on with her own life, leaving the young ones bewildered and crying after her. But she does not give in. She sticks by her belief that her young can fend for themselves. And indeed they can.

      Just recently, I witnessed this for myself. Twilight, our youngest mother hen adopted two young chicks and raised them as her own. She did a wonderful job of teaching them how and what to eat and how and when to go to bed. She taught them how to scratch for worms and how to dust bath.  But then the dreaded day came.

       I was there when it happened and felt close to tears as it all unfolded. Twilight bolted through the gate with all the ‘big girls’ leaving her chicks behind in the junior pen. She was free! She had cut the cord that tied her to the chicks. There was no looking back and if she did, I wonder what she would have done.

      They stood watching her, crying and pacing up and down. I stayed with them, but it wasn’t me they wanted.

       That was a week ago now and at last, they are all happy. The chicks survived the cutting of the apron strings and their mother has got on with her life. Why can’t letting children go be just as easy?