Pecked Out

Story_squareThe hen had left the nest in the morning, leading her weaving thread of chicks behind her as she investigated the landscape that she hadn’t seen in a month.

Setting on a nest of eggs takes commitment and the willingness to stare at a wall for a month. The hen was ready to stretch her legs a bit.

When we happened onto the nest in our barn, eggs had been left behind.

“Why didn’t these hatch?” the four-year-old asked.

“Not all the eggs hatch. It’s just the way it is,” I said. Meaning, I didn’t know what had happened and didn’t really care.

But I might not have cared about these left-behind eggs but our son did. He leaned over the nest, with the lonesome trio of eggs.

“I hear something.”


It does no good for your self-esteem to realize the 8-year-old can hear what you can’t anymore. Maybe those rock bands hadn’t been so good after all…

He bent over the nest. “I hear pecking.”  He studied the eggs. “There.” He lifted an egg and pointed to a hole at one end. “I hear pecking in there.”

How to explain to a child that there’s no hope? I did it badly. “The hen left already. These aren’t going to hatch.”

He held the egg close to eye. If there was pecking going on, he ran the risk of taking a beak in his iris. “I see something.”

So he convinced me. We took the egg into the house and laid it on newspapers on the floor. I’m not sure why we did either thing, but he and his younger sister studied the motionless egg. Until it moved.

Yeah, it moved.

“I’m going to help it,” he said. He began breaking bits of the eggshell. “See? It’s moving?”

Conventional wisdom said to let the chick get itself out of there but I was beyond all that. Let the kids figure this out on their own.

The chick made it. Out of the shell and into life. Its mother had moved on with a whole stream of fuzzy babies. Our son decided to raise this one.

And he did until four months later when it pecked him on the cheek and he banished it to the barn with the other chickens.

What a journey for a persistent little chick and its persistent rescuer.


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