Tillie Lays an Egg is a work of fiction. However, I did have discussions with my editor about proposed changes that I couldn’t accept because they would have contradicted Tillie’s chicken-ness. I wanted the characters to behave true to what a chicken does and what she knows. Tillie’s forays into the house are exactly what those bantam white leghorns would do if allowed. Her joy at finding worms in the garden is true to form, as is deciding to nap in a basket of clothes.
The exception? That bit about sharing nesting boxes. There are 7 hens in the HenCam barn, and 6 nesting boxes. But, I do not find an egg in each box. No! I find all of the eggs in one box.
Hens want what the other hens have. If one girl is in a box, then the other girls want to be there, too. They don’t always wait their turn, either! I have seen one hen loudly clucking at another to “get up! get out!” I have found one hen trying to squeeze into a box, on top of another – even when there are 5 empty nesting boxes. It’s not even as if one box is better than the rest. Yesterday, there were 5 eggs laid in that middle box. Today, they are all in the right-hand box.
Greedy, jealous, silly hens.