Last week I had one hen who decided she wasn’t leaving the nesting box. She had a clutch of eggs she was protecting. Because I wanted to gather the eggs, I would check several times a day, to see if she would leave the nesting box to eat, but she never did. In fact, every time I opened the door to the nesting box, she let me know I’d be pecked to death if I so much as looked at her, much less try to reach for the eggs.
Thing is, these eggs she was so fiercely guarding were never going to become chicks. We don’t have a rooster. Her effort and sacrifice, although admirable, wasn’t going to produce anything, except eggs that turned out to be of no use to anyone.
Like my hen, we all have tender parts of ourselves that we fiercely protect, but are they fertile? Are these things that we hold close serving us and others, or are they wasting precious time and people? Perhaps like my hen, we don’t know whether or not what we’re guarding is worth the effort. Maybe we’re hanging on to an addiction or some other self defeating behavior. Or maybe we’re guarding something that keeps us bound to nothing more than a thought, an idea, or maybe a desire. This effort can be admirable, but the cost can be high, especially if we’re holding on to something that’s about as useful as my hen’s clutch of infertile eggs.
After waiting for an opportunity that never came, I finally put on my leather work gloves and went in to gather the eggs. My poor hen put up quite a fight in that small nesting box. In between trying to peck me, she would try to recover the eggs by moving them even closer to her warm underbelly by pushing them with her beak. If it weren’t for the gloves I was wearing, she would’ve drawn some serious blood.
As I began to gather the eggs from underneath her warm feathers, her demeanor changed. She became desperate and sad. She made a noise I’ve never heard from a hen as she flung herself around the nesting box, almost getting tangled up in the lighting wire. I felt bad over her loss, as well as my own, since these eggs were going to have to be thrown into the trash. After the fight was over, I spent several minutes soothing her ruffled feathers.
The following morning, I went to check on my hens. This particular girl was as cantankerous as ever, but she was no longer in the nesting box. She had rejoined the society of her sisters, finally free of guarding something that had no hope of producing.