December isn’t prime nesting time, but we can’t convince this banty hen of that. This is her first nest, but she seems to have the basics mastered. Puff up and spread out to cover the eggs, screech at anybody who gets close, peck when the screech isn’t enough. The chances of her raising young through the dead of winter are slim. We’ve seen that happen before, though, so we’ve been helping her along as best we can by providing fresh water and food.

The power of instinct is a marvelous thing. She’s an incubator baby, hatched from a batch of eggs that went into the incubator in February 2007. Yet she knows how to set a nest properly, how to turn the eggs, when to protect and when to gracefully accept the meal that’s offered. She picked a good spot among the the straw bales, protected from the wind but with a bit of a view so she can see who or what’s coming. She got more right than wrong, and sometimes that’s the best any of us can hope for.