The turkey hen found a pile of chicken eggs had been laid on the floor of the coop in a corner under a ledge. She decided they were hers.
This was about two months ago. I closed off the room where she sat so the other birds wouldn’t bother her. Other than that, I left her alone. Three weeks later she hatched six baby chickens.
If a turkey can be said to have an expression, hers was proud.
Since then she’s raised her little brood flawlessly. The pullets are spooky and mischievous. They seem to enjoy their mom’s stature. They spend a lot of time climbing around on her back. Sometimes all six of them.
Then last week, as though she felt envious, the other turkey hen assembled her own pile of eggs and started setting.
When hens — turkeys, chickens or any other birds as far as I know — get “broody,” they go into a kind of trance. They lose interest in everything other than eggs. The second turkey hen actually assembled her eggs on the metal grate of the perch, surrounded by the rest of the flock. I thought when she failed to get up and go outside in the morning with the rest of the birds she must be injured. I picked her up. Voila! Eggs. So I moved her in with the other hen.
The pullets consider the new hen a second, equally enjoyable Jungle Gym. From the first day, they were climbing all over her. Now the first hen has taken an interest in the eggs. She has moved in next to her co-parent and they are mutually incubating and sharing parenting duties.
It’s the sort of situation that makes the farmer think, “Whatever.”