Our Muscovy hen, Little Bo Peep, was taken by a fox at dusk this week. This is our first, and hopefully last, run in with a fox. In our years of keeping fowl, this has never happened. It took a few minutes, and finding a trail of white feathers leading to the wood-line, for it to sink in. Her eggs were days away from hatching. I called for the family to search while I immediately went into “save the babies” mode. On my panicked way to set up our incubator, my husband reminded me of our broody hen. Sally-chicken has been trying to set eggs for years. A ready-to-go hen is far more ideal than stabilizing an incubator, especially in an emergency. As far as we could tell, Bo Peep had been off her eggs for no more than 20-30 minutes before we learned of her kidnapping. That fox had waited until the dogs were up and snatched her from her evening water break. My husband started a search and rescue as I set my mind on the eggs, fearing the worst for Bo Peep. One egg had been opened and eaten. There were four precious ones left.
The eggs were pushing that point of no return. I quickly candled them and found two eggs showed the figure of ducklings and one was moving. Sally seemed happy to accept all four eggs, even as dark approached. Three days later, our hen was beaming over her first baby. By the end of the day, all four had hatched.
We now have a doting chicken hen and four beautiful babies. I wish Bo Peep had been able to fulfill her motherhood desires while grateful I had a hen to take over for her. Sally is getting on in years, turning four this spring. Our persistent hen finally has her chance at motherhood.