The Girls Visit the Big City

I was invited to bring some chickens to the Boston Museum of Science for a talk by writer Susan Orlean. She wrote an article about chickens for the New Yorker and so was asked to talk about her hens and her writing at a lecture. I brought the live props!

Around 5 PM, I popped Marge and Petunia into a large dog crate, Tina Turner and Siouxsie in another, and Coco in her guinea pig cage. Then I tucked them all into the minivan and off we went. Marge, of course, clucked and murmered the entire 45 minute drive to the museum. The chickens have never been on a wheely cart before, nor in a basement parking lot. Petunia stood up to get a good view. Cheryl White, from the Museum, is pushing one cart. I’ve got the other, and Steve helped with the doors. We had to take a freight elevator. Petunia found that interesting, too. Marge, of course, continued to make comments about her adventure.

wheeling in

I brought tarps, X-pens, shavings, water dishes, and plenty of treats. I was sure that the girls would stay in the pens. I was wrong. It was their bedtime. Even though the lecture hall had bright lights and there were over a hundred people in the audience, and Susan was talking into a mic, it was still bedtime. They needed to roost. Tina and Siouxsie tried to balance on the narrow wire X-pen, but couldn’t do it. Every few minutes I had to pick them up and put them back in their pen. Finally, I held one girl and Steve held another while we sat in the audience. For awhile that worked, but they got restless. We put them back. Then Marge and Petunia decided that they really, really, absolutely had to roost. Here, Marge is checking out Coco’s digs.

roosting at the MOS

Petunia soon joined her on the edge of the X-pen, and both went to sleep.

I had no idea that chicken bedtimes were so written in stone. I was sure they went to sleep when it got dark. Now I know. The next time I do an evening program I’ll forgo all the treats, but bring roosts. I also know not to bother bringing shavings to put in the pens. What a mess.

Throughout all of this, Coco, my star traveling hen, stayed calm. She ate, she strutted, she relaxed. At the end of the program, I held her and a few dozen people pet her. She seemed to like the adulation.I let Susan Orlean hold her, and finally had to insist that Susan give her back.

This morning all of the girls were no worse the wear for all of the traveling. They were chipper and well. I even found a brown egg in the HenCam coop nesting box. Could all of this excitement have gotten Marge or Petunia to lay again?


  1. My husband is a teacher in a Rural Alaskan village called Tuntutuliak, and he subscribes to the Weekly Reader. I was substituting for him this week and I had the class read the article “Free Range” on you and your chickens! We have been monitoring the “Hencam” ever since! Live chickens are something that we don’t see here in “Bush Alaska and the students got a kick out of watching the feed…and reading the blogs! Thank you for sharing!

    • I’m so excited that my hens are in a classroom in bush Alaska! Check the HenCam home page. I’ve put up a “hello” message for you.

  2. That is too cute! I am planning on bringing one of my banty “cluckers” to school before Spring Break for show and tell…I know my Little Red Hen will sit quietly and not even move with her imaginary eggs under her…she is so “puffed up” that the kids will love her…Thanks for the chicken traveling tips..learn something new every day!

    • Donna, when my hens go broody they turn into raging henzillas. I could never bring one to school. Yours is nice???

  3. What an adventure! It was very emotional pra girls the result was the egg.

  4. Fantastic! The shavings all over the stage gave me a good laugh!
    It is interesting that even in all the noise/lights they still wanted to go to sleep…..

    Thanks once again for posting your adventures!

    • LOL with the shavings all over. I can just see the first flap of the wings and those things flying all over the place.
      The roosting instinct is strong. Long story short. I cleaned the coop a few years ago, removed the roosts and nest boxes for cleaning and left in the sun to dry and disinfect. Well I got busy doing other things and didn’t get back to it until about 1/2 hour before dusk. I had some upset hens, squawked and squawked at me and had them hanging from window ledges, top of feeder etc.