Nursing Home Hens

Yesterday was the day. The five pullets that I’d raised and selected to live at the nursing home were ready to go to their life’s work. The Buff Orpington might be the most naturally friendly chicken I’ve ever known.



But, all of the pullets are relaxed with people.


Black Star pullet, 9 weeks


This is the nursing home. It’s sited in the country, and like many such buildings, looks institutional, with grassy landscaping that is tidy but boring.



But, thanks to it’s director, who understands how animals can enrich the lives of the residents, there is now a coop around the corner. The five pullets are on their way to their new home!



I’d already made sure that it was set-up properly, and that the waterer and feeders were filled and the bedding put down. I set each chicken into their new home.


Cuckoo Maran pullet, 9 weeks


Due to their innate placid temperaments, and also to my handling and care, the chickens calmly entered their new run. I also had the foresight to bring a spaghetti squash. A bit of interesting food settled the flock right down.



I showed the staff how to handle the birds.



We went over daily care routines. They know I’m on call if any questions arise.



The pullets already have names. The residents were asked what their mothers’ names were, so all of the chickens have old-fashioned monikers.



The day was too cool and rainy for the residents to come outside to greet the flock, but they watched from the activity room.



And then I joined them.


This is much, much better than a boring swath of green lawn.


If you like this story, please share (social media buttons are on the bottom of this post.) Maybe another institution will decide to install chickens on their property. Thanks!


  1. This made me tear up a little! What a great program. Thanks for doing this. I love the names!

  2. LOVE the names! They are perfect. This whole blog brought tears to my eyes. I know you enjoyed your delivery and day. Thanks for the great pictures.

  3. This is just about the nicest most thoughtful thing I have ever seen done for a deserving group of our Senior citizens! A job VERY well done, Terry!!

  4. Such a wonderful idea! I know how much I enjoy watching my chickens; I’m sure the residents and staff of the nursing home will love these chickens!

  5. Terry, job well done! Thank you so much for the photos – makes us feel like we were there.

    I love the coop run – and am so glad to see they used hardware cloth rather than chickenwire!

    [Note: on the Meet the Chickens sign, there’s a spelling error the second line from the bottom…, sorry]

  6. Such a wonderful program, I am wiping tears from my eyes. I hope the home puts chairs outside for the residents to enjoy them up close and personal. Thank you Terry for all you do!

  7. So sweet! You are a very special person. Thanks for sharing with us!

  8. What wonderful names for nursing home hens! Since I would be in a nursing home if not for my son, I can appreciate how exciting this was for them. My best days are going to our friends Amish farm and enjoying the animals. You might have extended some lives now that they have an interest and I’m sure each one will adopt a favorite hen. High 5 for a great job!

  9. “Huzzah” Terry! Your kindness and love of what you do just makes you shine! You are an inspiration. What a charming coop for the girls new home.

  10. Hooray! This made me tear up to see the soft gentle joy & childlike excitement in the woman’s eyes at the window. Thank you for sharing this process with us. You make the world a better place Terry & I’m honored to witness your activities.

    xx Jen :)

    p.s. LOVE their names….. & look forward to reading the updates about these girls.

  11. This made my day! I know this will do the same for the people who get to look at them daily.

  12. Had to come back and say I LOVE your orange sneakers! Have to find myself a pair of those. The grand kids will think I’m hip.

  13. By the way Terry, I love the picture of you laughing…. I think I got a sense of how happy this has made you!

  14. I have a link to this story direct to my daughter-in-law who nurses in a dementia care home. If she can get this off the ground in her part of the UK I’ll let you know! Love the way the names were chosen.

  15. Such a fabulous idea — I cannot find the words to express it, save this is where I would go when I need a nursing home. And Mae Belle lays blue/green eggs, to boot!

  16. The pic of you with two of the residents brought a tear to my eye. Congratulations to you and the director. This is a win-win-win situation: Residents, personnel and “the girls.”

  17. Congrats on a job very well done! I agree, I hope others decide to do something like this.

  18. So so great of you!! Those chickens do not know what a fabulous life they are about to live!!! I wish everyone would do this. You rock!!!

  19. Awesome addition to the home!! Watching chickens go about their day is so good for the soul.

  20. You have done such great thing Terry! The joy the birds will bring those people will be incredible. The little lady looking out the window at the girls brought tears to my eyes!

  21. Thanks or being such a kind and caring person. I’m sure the residents will love taking care of “their” chickens.

  22. Terry, you are a lovely person. I am not sure who is more beautiful you or those chicken! I know they will bring much joy to the folks at the nursing home. We live in such a violent and often ugly world and your posts cast so much light. Thank you for that.

    Of course, I am still envious that I can’t have my own “real” chickens – I have a few stone ones hanging around here – maybe in my next life.

  23. Wonderful…made my day!! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  24. Wonderful success with this whole great project, Terry. I tell my walking group friends here about you and your hen-keeping life…they listen and find it all interesting, but they have no idea what a BIG and valuable life you have. Nor do they understand what a remarkable privilege it will be to actually meet you in person in just over a week. We look forward to our visit.

    • Have a safe and lovely drive down. It should be pretty. Here, my garden should be in full bloom. The peonies are near to opening.

  25. Very touching! Thank you for sharing. Imagine if schools adopted this model! I can watch our chicks forever, I love them and this morning when I did chores I was happy to be awake, and even alive. Bless you Terry!

  26. I have anxiously awaited this post…I believe the addition of the girls to the landscape at the retirement home will add so much joy and interest for the residents. I would love to do something like this in our community! I have shared the story via FB with hopes that some of our local homes will allow something similar here.

    Great Job!!!!

  27. I forget to mention that we too are naming our chickens after names of a bygone era. Eleanor is our first. She is the sweetest Bantam Barred Rock. She’s actually one I handled the least! Just a naturally sweet chick!

  28. I love that picture of the hens in the carrier, all gazing intently in the direction of their new coop. And they all look so beautiful together!

  29. What a beautiful and inspiring story. I love the way you share what is closest to your heart and give it back to the community. This is a lesson for us all, and really gets me thinking about what I can do. Not everyone has chickens (sadly), but we all have our own gifts and passions. Thank you. (p.s. I really hope that there is a plan for “NursingHomeCam” in the works…)

  30. This is soooo cool! I hope this catches on with other nursing homes. My 90 year old father-in-law lived with us until recently, and he loved my chickens. Some days, I think the only reason he left the house was to go out and check for eggs. The first thing out of his mouth when I would walk in the door after work was always the number of eggs for the day. :-)

    I love the names – and happy to see a Clementine! I just lost my Clemmy (a Black Star) so it makes me smile to see another Clementine out there.

    Lastly, and very off-topic: is there anyone in the world who can be in a bad mood when Pip and Caper are on GoatCam? I love those boys!

  31. Great job Terry!!! I am looking forward to future posts. Will the girls be able to free range on that beautiful lawn?
    I hope so. Thank you for all you do. Thank you for sharing. You and your girls and boys make my day.

  32. Such a wonderful thing to do for the senior’s! I hope you keep us updated on them and their new family!

  33. What an amazing story, well done Terry. I will have to tell my children so that when they put me in a home, perhaps I can have some chickens to watch!! I look forward to hearing updates on their progress

  34. A wonderful thing you are doing for the elderly people in the nsg home. I was just looking at Buffy in the little barn trying to jump on the roost. She couldn’t do it so she is back in the corner. Would it help to put a little step stool up against the roost ? All of the new chicks were peeping over each others head to watch Buffy. I think they were cheering her on. It was one of those precious moments

    • Chickens don’t recognize their limitations, and old habits never die, they’ll keep trying to the end to do what they’ve always done, even if it’s no longer safe. I’d rather that Buffy not roost as she can’t get off without difficulty. Even ramps are a challenge for her. She had a nice afternoon resting in the goat pen in the grass, and she still eats with gusto, so there’s life in her yet.

  35. Hi Terry
    Pictures 8, 10, and 11 definitely struck a chord in me. Such a sweet, sweet story with a happy ending. The color variation among the hens is stunning. I’m a nurse and worked in an Alzheimer’s unit here in the mountains for several years. Our residents would love this. Will be passing this project on. I’m sure one day, many blessings will be given back to you.

  36. What a lovely story! Pat on the back for you Terry! I also had a tear in my eye after reading. I love your blog too! In the mornings over here, I like to watch the hens roost at night over there! I was wondering why one of the chickens was in the corner too and not roosting and after reading the comments, I now understand.
    Great work.

  37. Wonderful, Terry! My husband was in a nursing home for the last 12 months of his life. How he would have loved to be able to watch chickens like this. Should be more of it.

  38. So wonderful. All the chickens are very beautiful.

    So true, that the view is so much better with a chicken or two to observe.

    Love the way they all look so placid and trusting in their green porta-crate too!

  39. I was thinking Terry. Would a donation box on outside of chicken coop help facility with costs of care and feeding the chickens? I’m sure family members would donate a little for such a worthwhile project.

    • Not to worry about their care – it’s perfectly within the nursing home’s budget! In fact, I’m paid as a consultant, so my time is compensated for as well. Once this project is fully running, I’ll be able to have a clear presentation for other nursing homes so they know what it will take to have a similar setup. Resident enrichment should be in all of their budgets! And if the chickens have a calming effect, so that there is less agitation and depression and need for meds, it will be a win for all involved.

  40. What a wonderful story. It made me emotional too. My elderly parents live with us and I try to entertain them with the hens and share the eggs. The coop is gorgeous!

  41. It was important to select a coop that visiting family members would see as a good thing. People still have negative connotations of chicken coops, so it has to be beautiful and impeccably maintained.

  42. Terry- if you are willing to share your findings once you have all the info on cost/resources etc…I would love to present this in our community. Here in the south, farming and ag were a large part of the lifestyle that many of our elderly population lived and I think the “NHN” (Nursing Home Hens) project would be such a wonderful asset to our facilities here.

  43. This is truly heartwarming. I love the names and the coop is stunning! Bless you, Terry.

  44. God bless you, Terry! Thanks for taking the time to post the photos with this entry…worth a thousand words!

  45. oh my goodness – how WONDERFUL! they have “chicken tv”! My guess is that many of them grew up with chickens and that these girls bring back many very lovely memories – bless you!