Family Farm Memories: Mother Hen and the Ducklings

An Oregon woman tells the story of how Mother Hen, one of her Leghorn chickens, raised a clutch of orphaned ducklings

Mother Hen

Sometimes a mother's love knows no boundaries - not even a mother hen's love!

Andrey Semenov/Fotolia

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In the springtime on our family farm, our white Leghorn chickens would be ready to set. A nest of up to 15 eggs was made ready for these hens. In three weeks small, yellow fluffy chickens pecked their way out of the eggshells. Their downy feathers were so soft to touch. They soon grew, with the soft fluff being replaced by feathers.

Wild Mallard ducks nested each year near our grain field. On one occasion our dog caught and killed a mother duck who was on her nest. Our dad rescued the eggs and brought them home. They were put under a setting hen. In due time they hatched. Mother Hen was so proud of her family and was soon able to take them out into the farmyard.

The young ducklings realized there was a pond nearby and were soon swimming merrily. Poor Mother Hen stood on the shores "clucking" for her brood. The young ducks were happy until dusk and then were glad to return to their Mother Hen and their nesting box. This continued day after day, with the Mother Hen waiting for her family to come to her.

The ducks grew and soon Mother Hen let them go to the pond alone while she stayed in the yard with the chickens.

Myrtle Barker
Monmouth, Oregon


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.