The Nursing Home Chickens Are Doing Fine

This week I stopped in at the nursing home to look in on the hens. I’d heard that one of the girls had laid an egg and that all was well, but I wanted to see for myself. I noticed that there were vegetable treats in the run. That was good. When the hens saw me, they walked up to the fence to say hello. That was good, too. Inside, the coop had clean pine shavings bedding, and the waterer and pellet dispense were full.

While I was checking the inside of the coop, Clementine, the friendliest Buff Orpington that I’ve ever known, checked me out. She let me stroke her back. Obviously, these hens were getting plenty of attention and care!



As I was leaving, the window to the memory loss activity room slid open and a woman called me over. It was Linda, one of the wonderful women who care for the residents. She told me that when they were informed that Life Care was getting chickens, she was skeptical. Bad idea, she thought, one more thing to take up our time. But, then she fell in love with the hens. She’s now the primary caregiver. She’s the one who brought out tubs of ice for them during the heat wave. She brings out kale from the kitchen. The chickens make her day better, and that enables her to have the patience that she needs for her difficult job. She watches the folks in rehab work hard to walk over to the coop to visit with the hens. She sees the grandchildren (and great-grandchildren) of the residents happy to be there because there are chickens to look at. Clementine, of course, is her favorite hen.


  1. Great story. And I was just yesterday I was wondering if we’d get an update!

  2. Beautiful! With all the information I’ve gotten from you and all the good you do, you most certainly found your calling in life! The world needs more people like you! :)

  3. They look fantastic, don’t they. :)

    Chickens make everyones day better. I think you will be inspiring many future chicken keepers, from the staff to the kids and families who visit.

  4. Wow, never even thought of how having chickens would also be enjoyable for the residents families. Nursing homes can often be intimidating places for children to visit, what a great transitional space for families to visit together!

  5. I hope this wonderful idea is adopted by care centers. It is so engaging to see something living. Just like all of us that spend time looking through our “windows” at Hen Cam! Thanks Terry for taking care of us too.

  6. Love the happenings on Hencam. Nursing home project is so wonderful! The Black Star in the background is breathtaking. I think I will keep her and Nancy Drew in mind for a definite future breed. Thanks for update.

    • PS- Betsy Ross certainly is into the nesting box lately. Is she laying or just hanging in I wonder.

  7. Awe, so sweet. I’m so glad they are doing well. They look beautiful.

  8. How wonderful. My father has demetia or alzheimers, they cannot really tell. He was up around midnight last week , thinking there was someone there to pick him up. I tried all of the things we usualy do and nothing was working. Then I went and got Sam the cat. She is about 14 years old. He began to stroke her and smile. In just a few minutes he was ready to go back to bed. We all need to touch and be touched. Thank you for all you do.

  9. Ahhh, it’s nice to see your enrichment idea isn’t only for the residents but for the staff as well, Who would have thought the chickens would enrich so many- residents, their family’s and the homes employees. Good job!

  10. Glad to hear that all is going great and all are on board with the girls in the backyard of the home.

    My question, are they allowed to use the eggs in the kitchen of the home? I think I already know the answer. No, due to health regulations.

    • I believe that the eggs have already been claimed by the people who work there! No chance that they’ll make it into the kitchen. Besides, they go through dozens a week, so a handful from the coop wouldn’t make a difference.

  11. Many, many years ago, I was very ill on and off for several years. During one of the worst periods, I barely had the strength to make my way to a comfortable chair; going outside or exerting any more energy was out of the question. During such time, when the physical self is so compromised, one’s world gets very small. I was lucky enough to have a very large antique cage of 3 different pairs of Australian grass finches (Gouldians, Owl finches, and Strawberry finches) not two feet from my favorite chair. Over the course of a year, I watched them for hours every day. They were so accustomed to my presence that they ignored me and went about their courtship rituals, nest building activities and egg laying, nestling tending, and eventually, the offspring leaving the nest. I was fascinated, learned a ton, and took very good care of my little birds. And quite frankly, sharing the load with other family pets, they took awfully good care of me.

    Old age and infirmity is a “when” not an “if” for most of us. I bet those hens, and their sweet and amusing ways, provide more enrichment than you even know today. But someday, (hopefully!) you’ll really understand what a gift they are. Well done.

    • Finches are charming (albeit messy) birds, and just watching them flit about is cheering. I just purchased a book about an ill woman who got through her troubles by watching a snail on a plant.

      • I think I read the same book: “The sound of a wild snail eating”, written by Elizabeth Tova Bailey. She was bedridden for several years and observes a wild snail that has taken up residence on her nightstand. She finds solace and a sense of wonder that this mysterious creature brings and a greater understanding of her own confined place in the world.

  12. God bless you Terry and Steve! Thanks for the awesome report, and as always THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all you both do!

  13. What a glossy hen! Glad everything is going well with this project.

    Terry, after a summer of almost no internet, I’m catching up with HenCam. I can’t believe how good the new camera looks! And the movement (frame rate I guess?) is true to life. Now all you need is some HenCam microphones! ;-)

  14. beautiful hen, beautiful idea. Our favorite hen, Raisa (an orphington also) passed away yesterday, very emotional for the wife. Amazing how a chicken can pull at one’s heart!

  15. This post put a huge SMILE on my face! Oh, and a microphone, hooray!

  16. Such wonderful news. Hoorrah for you Terri – and all the chickens at the nursing home. The elderly residents are very blessed.

  17. Terry, which hen do you think laid the egg? The hen behind Clementine in the picture appears capable!

  18. This is such a happy post. The positive impact of the chickens at the nursing home is much bigger than planned. Great news! A microphone? What a good idea!