Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Today feels like Easter! My new hen has just hatched a litter of babies and I now have nine tiny chicks living in my courtyard. She still sits on one last egg that chirps when I hold it up to my ear. When it hatches there will be ten in all.

Chirp chirp!

Awhile back I had two chickens. Sadly, my hen, Malaika, died and my rooster, Rafiki, got lonely and went to find another mate. I’m not sure where he is right now, but it seems as though he was probably caught by my neighbors and eaten. They were both good chickens while they were mine, but since then I have moved on and now have another pair.

Mama eating rice out of my hand

Jogoo "crowing" loudly in the morning

In March, I was invited to visit Father Josaphat’s family, and after spending the day with them, they presented me with a gift, another hen. I have named her Mama Kidogo, which means "little mother" in Swahili. Mama, like my last hen, is also mostly white and has a faint black collar and a single row of black tailfeathers. I kept her alone in my courtyard and even taught her to eat out of my hand. After a few weeks, I eventually bought another rooster at the market to keep her company. I have named him Jogoo Makelele, which means “noisy rooster.” Jogoo is all white and matches Mama’s colors well. Every morning he wakes me up at 6:30AM with a very loud “crow” and continues making noise all day long.

Mama and Jogoo in the chicken house

They seem like the perfect couple and in the morning they both go out in the field together to find food. In the evening, they come back at the same time and stay the night in the chicken house.

Little by little Mama started to lay eggs and I have been collecting them, one by one, and eating them for breakfast. But it was at one point several weeks ago that she played a trick on me.

It seemed as though she had stopped laying eggs for a short time. I didn’t think much of it at first, but one day I discovered that she had been holding out on me. I finally caught on to what she was doing when she didn’t come home one night. I went searching for her and discovered that she had found a way to climb into an open window of the storage room next to my house and was laying her eggs in a nest-shaped tarp on the floor. She had been hiding her eggs from me in this room for a couple of weeks. By now, she was sitting on fifteen of them!

Jogoo sits in his favorite spot waiting for eggs to hatch

Mama has spent the last three weeks in the storage room and I have been checking on her everyday. Today I peered in through the window to see how she was doing and was surprised when I saw two tiny heads poking up from under her.

Mama and chicks

Nine chicks and one egg

One big happy chicken family!

I immediately went to Father Josaphat and told him what had happened. He looked at me with a questioning expression on his face and said, “Hen, what hen?” I said, “The hen…the hen that your family gave me!” “Oh,” he said, “that hen!” “I thought you slaughtered that hen months ago!”


Erin Miesmer said...

Too cute!! I bet those Kenyans think you are crazy!!! I don't know what you are going to do when you have to leave...

Best of luck Father Hen!

Rakstar said...

Awww...how cute! So, are you considering farming as a new career when you get back...in addition to photojournalism, of course? :)

God bless, Papa Poultry!

P.S. - I'll bet you'll get some disappointed random browsers on the blog with the title "Chicks!")

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