I noticed that something did not look right, but I was not expecting to see what I did. The hen had been sitting on 16 eggs for several days, but I was not sure when the chicks were due to hatch.
As I fed the other chickens, I passed by the nest hidden under some vines way out in the pine thicket. All the hens have a brownish/orange hackle (feathers around the head and neck), but what caught my eye was not only the discoloration of this hen’s hackle but also that she was continuously shaking her head in a very unusual way. As I slowly walked closer to her, I noticed that both eyes were closed and the reason she was discolored was because her entire head and neck were completely covered with ants. The ants were all over her, but her head and neck were completely covered. She must have been being eaten alive for some time because every time she would shake her head, she would slowly lower it until her beak almost touched the ground. It appeared she had taken about all the stings her body could withstand.
I tried to brush the ants off, but quickly realized that there were just too many for that to work. As I gently lifted her up, I saw that one little chick had hatched and a couple others were piping (pecking their way out of their shells). They, too, were covered with ants. The tortured hen would open her eyes just long enough to look at the eggs and try to knock off the ants climbing all over them, but there were just too many - thousands and thousands of ants on the hen, the chick and the eggs!
This was a desperate situation for the hen and the hatching chicks. Within just minutes the chicks would be dead and the hen herself could not take much more. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I did what I would not recommend, but what I thought was my only option. I called Lisa and told her to bring me a can of Raid Ant and Roach spray and a gallon of vinegar. I sprayed a circle around the nest with the poison and then I sprayed down the hen. I figured she was going to die anyway, so neither of us had anything to lose. I knew the poison would kill the hatching chicks, so instead I poured straight vinegar over them and the nest. That seemed to do the trick for a little while.
Early the next morning, I went to check on them again to see if anything was still alive. To my surprise, the hen was better, still ant infested, but still sitting on the nest. Five of the chicks had hatched and were still alive but the ants were back on them as well. My only option now was to move the hen, the chicks and the rest of the eggs, hoping I would not stop the hatching process. Moving them during the time they are hatching is not a good idea, but it was that or just let the ants eat them all alive.
To make a long story short, I sprayed the hen down again, gathered the chicks and the rest of the eggs in a bucket and moved them to another pen off the ground, hoping the hen would stay with the eggs on the new nest. Nine of the chicks finally hatched out and eight of them are doing just fine five days later.
What struck me about this incident was the hen’s willingness to stay on her nest, protecting the hatching chicks the very best she could - even though it was costing her an awful lot of pain and discomfort, and would ultimately cost her own life! She was literally being eaten alive, a slow and torturous death, but still she chose to risk and ultimately to give her life if necessary for the sake of her chicks. She may not be able to save them, but she would surely die trying. If the ants were to kill the chicks, they would have to kill her, too. She chose to endure discomfort, excruciating pain and even give up her life - just for a "chance" to give life to her babies.
Compare the choice of a chicken, a mere animal that is here today and gone tomorrow, having never been taught right from wrong and apparently has no conscience or moral compass to guide her, to the choices being made in our culture today and the comparison is tragic and staggering. From the time of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe vs Wade in 1973 through 2011, an estimated 55,772,015 unborn babies, children created in God’s own image, have been "legally" aborted (killed) in and outside the wombs of American girls and women. Add to that the estimated 1,200,000 babies killed in 2012 and 800,000 in the first half of 2013, and the total is over 57,572,015 innocent unborn babies who have been killed "legally" since 1973 in America alone!
The statistics are not only jaw-dropping, but are reflective of our moral depravity and our having turned away from God, from Biblical teaching and from lifestyles that value and promote the sanctity of life - all in exchange for convenience and self-comfort.
On average, reasons women give for choosing abortion are:
75 percent - having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities.
About 75 percent - they cannot afford a child.
50 percent - they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.
Only 12 percent - women included a physical problem with their health among reasons for having an abortion.
Only 1 percent (of aborting women) - reported they were the survivors of rape.
A mere chicken will chose to suffer and even to die for the sake of her un-hatched babies, but we, who still call ourselves a Christian nation, choose to kill our babies by the millions and to make that killing legal and acceptable, just because the baby would be an inconvenience. How far we have fallen! What a terrible price is being paid!
I cannot help but remember the promise and also the conditions God established for our forgiveness and for our restoration as a nation. He said, "If my people, who are called by my name, humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." (2 Chron. 7:14) It’s not too late. We still have time and we still have hope. But, our healing, forgiveness and restoration as a nation and as a Church are indeed conditional and dependent on us. God is patient and willing to forgive, but He will not hold back His judgment forever. He is a loving God, but He is also a just and holy God.
The chicken chose to give her life for her chicks. Jesus chose to give His life for us. I pray we will choose to give life!