May Hedge a Gram

     Tomorrow I will take the first four spreads of my book Happy Hens down to New York City, so my editor, Margaret and my art director Cecilia can look at them. They have already seen my book dummy, so they will have an idea about the direction I'm going in, but several of the pages we changed around. I hope they think the new pages work well. They will see the little girl character, Mei-Mei drawn for the first time. So far, I like what I've accomplished, but I'm not really rolling yet. Often about half way through my book I feel confident, as if the characters and place really exist!

     I've been observing my three hens constantly, so that I can make my hen characters believable. I just wish I could make my books talk. Hens have a language all their own. For example, if they find a choice tidbit to eat, they say softly but with enthusiasm, "Cluck, cluck!" as if to say, "Oh yum!" If Dahlia, the boss hen wants to put Bluebell or Pansy in her place, she gives them a peck. Then, the one who was pecked says indignantly, "Squawk!" She's not be hurt either, she is just mad about being pecked. The funniest is their "I laid and egg" song. I'll be working away in my studio when I hear a terrible commotion coming from the hen's house. I'll run in, thinking a predator has dug under their fence. It turns out that there's a fresh warm egg lying in their nesting box, and the hen who laid it, wants the whole world to know!

     I might be one of the few people who have heard a hen growl. I carried my two Wyandotte chickens out back to their movable coop. When I put them down they acted very strangely, standing as still as statues. then, they growled. I decided to bring them back in, and my husband Joe rushed to meet me. A Great Horned Owl with a huge wing span had glided right over my head. I didn't see him even when he perched right above the hens.

    If any of you have hen stories, I'd like to hear them. Even better, if you like to draw hens or any kind of poultry, I know of a contest you might like to enter. It's an artist competition sponsored by the A.P.A. (American Poultry Association) for the promotion of artist who use poultry in drawings, paintings, or cartoons. There is a 13 and under division, a division for 14 to 18 year olds, and an adult competition. For an application call 508-473-8769 or visit their website at Good luck!

                                                                 Your friend,