The Flat Broody

Pearl is currently as flat as a pancake. Do my international readers know that expression? Do you have a similar phrase?

flat broody


Pearl is broody. Of course. She’s a cochin. It’s what this breed does.

Here is Twiggy for comparison. She’s a leghorn. She’s an extraordinary layer. When she goes into the nesting box, it’s all business and it’s for as little time as possible. Note that her head stays upright and that she stays alert to the world. (Also note that there is a rabbit below!)




In contrast, Pearl has staked out everyone’s favorite nesting box, the one second to the right. She hunkers down as flat as a fluffy and hefty hen can. Onyx is in the box next to her. Note the difference. Onyx is bright-eyed and her head is several inches above the edge of the box.

not broody



Not Pearl. She glares. It’s the classic broody attitude.

broody attitude



Even when not broody, at best, Pearl lays only a couple of eggs a week. So, it’s not worth trying to snap her out of it. I’m ignoring her state. Let her be in a huff. Let her sit there. It does her no harm. I know that she’s getting out to eat, drink and dust bathe – all with broody attitude.

broody outside


Is anyone flat as a pancake in your coop?


A blogging friend recently lost his very dear and special cat. It made me think about the one animal that I don’t have here. I can’t have a house cat – my eyes puff up and I can’t breathe – but I’m fine with the barn cats at Tonka’s stable. The barn owner just adopted a new one, who is one of those rub-against-the-legs cats, who knows how very useful, yet beautiful he is. My twenty-something son has recently moved into an apartment. He doesn’t have a cat – yet – but he made sure that the unit was pet friendly before signing the lease. It’s good to have cats in one’s life, even if at a distance.

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If I had my druthers, I’d have a cat with big rumbling purrs that I could feel, but who still has that bit of aloof arrogance that give a cat, cat integrity.

Do you have a favorite cat story? I want to hear it!

Horse Behavior Chat

Some of you have already noticed the logo to the side of the HenCam page for my new endeavor, The Cooperative Horse. First off, big thanks to my good friend, Lauren Scheuer for the drawing that exemplifies what I want for my horses – engagement, confidence, and trust. Like my work here at HenCam, through the Cooperative Horse, I’ll be helping individuals with their animals, via my writing on the website, and also individually in person and by email, Skype, etc. In this, case, though, the animals weigh about 1000 pounds more than the hens!

I do reward-based training.

Tonka gets a peppermint

Tonka is getting a peppermint for a particularly nice canter.


This means that I look for the moment that the animal is doing something right, and I show my appreciation by giving a treat of some sort. Positive associations are built. Communication is clear. I’ve done this sort of training with dogs, goats, horses, chickens and even fish. Obviously, the reward varies by the animal, as does the environment that gives them security and comfort during training. So, before you can even begin asking for behaviors, you have to have a deep understanding of what motivates the animal. For that, it helps to study ethology – how they behave in their natural environment.

Research is being done of horses in established feral herds, and what is being discovered is transforming how we care for and train our equines. I’m working on an article about this for The Cooperative Horse website. I’ll let you know when it’s up. But, if you live in the Boston area, you can hear about it in person. I’ll be leading a conversation about horse ethology at a lovely little tack store, The Complete Equestrian Saddlery, in Bedford, MA. on June 30. Details are here. It’s free, and there will be cold drinks and cookies (made by me, in the shape of horses, of course.) I hope to see you there.

On the Lawn… For Now

The hens had an outing yesterday.

hens on lawn


Owly is the first to head over to the raspberry patch.

It’s looking really good this year. The winter’s heavy snow cover gave the roots a deep soaking this spring.

raspberry patch



There are masses of fruit, which are just beginning to blush a hint of red.  Owly was disappointed to find that the berries are not yet ripe. Although chickens seem to eat everything, they will leave green fruit on the vine. Or, at least mine do, as there are plenty of other things that are better to forage for.

not ripe



Owly and her friends are waiting for that moment of bursting red ripeness. As am I. Raspberries are too precious to share with the hens, They won’t be on free-ranging when it’s raspberry harvest season. Enjoy your time out now, girls!

hens on outing


I discuss how to manage chickens and a garden in a lecture that I’ve created for garden clubs. Check my schedule. Many clubs welcome non-members to their programs. I’m already booking into next year. If your club would like to engage me for this talk, contact me.

Reducing Stuff

I’m not a modern minimalist. I like books on the shelves, art on the walls, and a knick knack here or there. But, live in one place long enough and stuff accumulates. Your life changes, your taste changes, what you use changes, and yet those things on the shelves stay put. Not only do these objects collect dust and clutter the home, but for me, they also clutter my mind. There’s something freeing about letting things go that one no longer needs. The hard work of life is to do this with the intangibles – prejudices, assumptions, grudges and fears – but it isn’t so hard to do with things. It may sound trite, but when I jettison the stuff that’s physically cluttering my space, it serves to open my mind as well. For example, when I donate a box of books to the library book sale, I feel like there’s room in my brain for new reads.

A few years ago, I had an excuse to purchase a lot of delightful things to use as props for Tillie Lays an Egg. My editor and I discussed future books in the series, and I scoured eBay and flea markets for cheerful chicken tchotchkes. Then my editor was fired and I was handed over to an editor who had no interest in me or my writing. (This happens all too often in publishing.) I was left with boxes of props. I like all of these objects, but they’re weighing me down. They’re part of a project that is now defunct. They need new homes and so I’ve slowly been selling them off on eBay. Yesterday I sold an egg timer for 99¢. It didn’t make me me much money (I believe that I paid more for it when I purchased it) but it made me happy to see it go. Someone is going to enjoy it, and I have more space on my shelves. And in my head.

Yesterday I listed one of my favorite finds – picnic plate holders.



There’s a place for the plate, a cup, and a handle. How useful is that!

picnic plate


Not to mention charming.

chicken head


One person’s clutter is another’s necessity.


The auction listing is on eBay. These plate holders will ship out in a flat rate box, and there’s room in it for more. If one of my HenCam readers wins this auction, I promise to fill the box will other chicken-themed fun objects. Just let me know with a note at checkout! (Sorry, but I only ship to the US.)

Have you jettisoned any clutter recently? How did it make you feel?