In February, when temperatures stayed below zero and I pulled a bale of hay from the barn, I discovered the hen's first nest. Frozen eggs fell to the ground.
Undeterred, the hen moved to a new location--bales of hay closer to the ground.
But those bales disappeared as winter lingered and lambs were born.
The hen gave up on making nests in the hay bales and moved to a lamb pen.
The grass greened, and the lambs and ewes moved to pasture.
The hen sat and sat.
Most mornings, I felt sorry for her and offered her a bowl of grain and some water. She squawked at me, but accepted the food.
I calculated the days.
When it passed 21 days--the incubation period for eggs, I told her to give up.
She ignored me.
And, this morning, I discovered why. As I was feeding, I saw a chick peeking from her feathers, and then another.
This evening there are three chicks.
And I am leaving her alone.