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A New Mom, Fuzzy Chicks, and Celebrating Mother's Day in the Cooking Light Garden

Mothering sometimes means many things—being a jungle gym, source of food, and cozy lap for a nap. See the little chick peeking from her wing?

Nothing shows the unconditional love of a mother like a hen sitting on a nest for 20 straight days. She's huffy, puffy, protective, and foregoes food, water, and stretching her legs all but once a day. Ladybug, our Cuckoo Maran, plucked her own feathers from her breast, feathered her nest, and hunkered down to make an incubator only Mother Nature could design. This update from the Cooking Light garden, just in time for Mother's Day, shows lots of future fertilizer makers hatching now.

The ten eggs under Ladybug were a motley crew, collected from many colorful breeds in our coop. Broody hens just want eggs--any eggs--and will rear them all as their very own. In fact, two other broody hens in our coop want to mother so badly that they wrestle eggs from under each other and gently roll them back into their own nest.  It's like watching chickens in their own Olympic competition of curling, only more interesting.

A pair of hens hunkered down in the same nest box next to Ladybug—apparently these girls' hormones are all in sync—and declared their turf shortly after Ladybug marked hers. These two are Mother and Daughter, a gorgeous Blue Laced Red Wyandotte and her lavender-gray offspring from last summer. (She makes a cameo in the dreamy garden photography shot here for the June issue's Summer Cookbook feature.) This dynamic duo seems to be making it a team effort and should hatch their clutch on Mother's Day. How poetic is that?

Mother and daughter are sharing one nest, hoping to hatch a clutch together. That side-eye stare means back off!

Perfect for this weekend's holiday of hailing the women who raise us, Ladybug's babies have hatched and made her a puffed up, proud mom. They are scooting around as fast as those tiny feet will take them and quickly collapse into an unforeseen nap, face first. True to form, they've made a jungle gym of her, nestling under wings and leaping from her back. It's been joyful to see how she changes her clucks to sound a note for food, showing them how to peck and drink. Take a peek at a collection of photos from the last two days of hatching, and get a few ideas for treating the moms in your life this holiday. May she be well-fed, pampered, and free from jungle-gym status this weekend!

Be sure to keep an eye out for a story all about these lovely ladies in the July issue, which will be on newsstands next month.

This little peeper was the first to hatch two days ago. It then proceeded to act like a bowling ball, knocking around eggs and talking to those still in shells.

This chick has better eyeliner form than Cleopatra. Photo credit: Harris Brabston

Nine other eggs are hatching underneath while the first chick raises an eyebrow at this new world.

Newly hatched chicks, before they fluff up. We were lucky to catch them as they popped from the shell.

Cuteness overload.

Like every eventful family occasion, the rest of the flock decides to gorge on a buffet from the Cooking Light garden.

They just keep coming! Fluffy chick No. 7

Hiding under mom.

First bites of food, after mom clucks a "come and get it" call.

Fuzzy chick checking out the camera. "Are you my mother?"

Breakfast with her babies. Ladybug shows them how to eat and drink for the first time.