Keeping Hens

Keeping Hens

A Chatty Guide to Chickens, by Jane Furnival

Keeping Hens gives you the benefit of a decade of Jane Furnival’s experience looking after chickens in her back garden. It covers all the questions you might have: How many hens to keep? What to feed them? What about a cockerel? Will they get on with the dog or destroy the vegetable patch?

Jane Furnival was, as her son Will says in his foreword, a firework. An independent, driven and exceptionally bright woman, she threw herself into life. Reading this book is like having a chatty conversation with Jane – sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and always entertaining.

The hilarious and heartwarming stories of life with Winchester the cockerel, Princess the Buff Orpington, and Boo the hen-herding dog will entertain animal lovers and inspire anyone who is thinking about keeping chickens.

For every paperback book sold through our online shop, we will put 40p towards sponsoring a hen through the British Hen Welfare Trust. We want to raise £48 to sponsor a hen for a year – or hopefully longer!

Find out more about the British Hen Welfare Trust here: 

A great compact and informative manual especially useful to those thinking about starting a life in the company of hens.

Nancy Birtwhistle
GBBO winner and author of ‘Clean and Green’

I’ve kept chickens for over 10 years and this was a fun and relatable read. The additions from her son Will really cement the chattiness of the text as you can almost hear the conversation between mother and son. This conversational style is so different to many other chicken keeping guides and underlines the fun element of the chicken keeper’s role and the joy that Jane clearly had in her flock.

Jane’s no-nonsense approach really resonated with me as hens are not a tidy pet and they will decimate your garden given the chance. However, the entertainment they provide and the joy to be gained from getting to know their personalities means, like Jane, you will let them away with it. It is almost impossible to keep them purely for eggs and not fall under their spell.

The book concludes with a couple of additional chapters from Jane’s husband Andy which contain a fantastic guide to building your own henhouse. I daren’t show my girls as they would be green with envy.

Overall a great read for prospective and existing chicken keepers, but a fun read for anyone. I dare you to read it and not want to join the chicken keepers’ gang.



This book is beautifully illustrated and makes a great read. You can see why the title states “chatty guide” as this is how Jane comes across throughout. 

This book is informative with top tip sections, pictures and sketches. This is for anyone who has chickens, would like chickens or even thinking about keeping chickens. Jane shares her wealth of information and guides you step by step. You can clearly see the love she had for her animals and family through this book and with her family’s help, they have brought it to life. 


When I received this book, I dived into it and wasn’t disappointed.

An informative book and a must have for anyone working with hens, or for anyone thinking to do so. There is a wealth of information between the covers, sprinkled with a measure of fun.


Keeping Hens is beyond charming, it had me smiling instantly. 

The author has a comical and relaxed writing style which makes it a joy to read. Not only is it full of amazing illustrations and photographs (check out that inside cover artwork), it absolutely oozes character and contains the most heartwarming stories, as well as some great tips from where to get your hens to building a henhouse. It has everything you need to know! 

This would make a great present for any chicken lovers and is definitely one for the collection. 

jessie @eight_laying_ladies

I couldn’t stop reading this amazing book. It was really funny, light-hearted, chatty and informative but most of all you can see how much love and passion Jane had for her animals and family. I learned a lot about chickens from this guide and I actually didn’t realise that hens can be very friendly with how they interact with each other…

I highly recommend to give this book a read even if you have no intention of keeping animals just because it was wholesome and interesting. This Guide is Jane Furnival’s legacy which is truly a great read.

4.5 stars

shelflife book review

A wonderful little book you will find hard to put down.

Light-hearted tales and words of wisdom from the past experiences of Jane – who clearly loved her chickens.

Jane’s stories will have you laughing out loud, whilst giving you some insight to help prepare you to care for your own flock.

If you want some tips for chicken keeping, past and present then this is the book for you. I only wish I had read it sooner.

4 stars


A lovely and lively little book. Full of warmth and love, there is a bit of innocent naivety and the author in no way sets out to be any kind of expert but wants to pass on her very valuable tips and experiences in a very readable way. I already wanted to get a few chickens and Jane Furnival’s guide and her son’s edits have given me a few more things to think about, while not diminishing my enthusiasm.

The foreword written by Jane’s son, Will Tribble, after her death from breast cancer is sensitive and informative, setting the scene nicely for the chapters ahead. This is not a book for the cynical or those seeking a definitive and detailed handbook but if you have ever toyed with the idea of keeping a few “chooks”, I would definitely recommend a read. There are lots of useful facts woven through with a strong sense of ethical guidance and although there are times where there is a bit of folksy anthropomorphism, there is practical detail in every chapter from feeding to care and henhouse construction.

I feel better for reading this informal work and recommend a look wherever you are on the spectrum of keeping hens.


I was thrilled to be sent this book by the lovely folk at Wide Open Sea. 

‘Keeping Hens: A Chatty Guide to Chickens’ is crammed with charm and nostalgia. Jane Furnival’s chicken keeping advice is an insight into raising hens from years gone by. Her chatty, informal style is punctuated by her son’s narrative who updates the reader periodically on rules and regulations that have changed for today’s chicken keeper. Nonetheless, the pocket-sized book captures some delightful, practical insights that even the most experienced chicken keeper will enjoy. The chapter on how to build a chicken coop was especially charming. Finally, the book also includes recommendations by the British Hen Welfare Trust and some handy reference sources at the end too.

If you enjoy reading about chickens, ‘Keeping Hens’ will make a lovely addition to your book collection.



Creative Cactuses & Succulents for Sands.

This book presents fifty hand needle felted plants, inspired by the wonderful world of cactuses and succulents.

Textile artist Elise Goard found inspiration in her own collection of plants and her passion for fibre arts. Crafted each day during the coronavirus lockdown, her needlefelt creations range from the subtle colours of the ‘golden princess’ succulent, to the distinctive texture of the prickly pear, and the familiar silhouette of Arizona’s saguaro cactus. Plus Elise shares how to make your own fuzzy foliage.

All profits from sales of FELT will go to Sands, the Stillbirth and Neo-natal Death Society. This charity provides support to anyone affected by the death of a baby.

The Unschooled Life: One Family’s Home Education Adventure

A must-read book for everyone considering home education or curious about unschooling.

The UK government estimates that there are currently over 57,000 children in England who are home educated. The Unschooled Life combines personal storytelling with advice and guidance for any parent on a home education journey.

In this book Lizi Gambell shares the ups and downs of home education and the wonder to be found by learning alongside your children.


The Unschooled Life includes chapters on:

  • Developing your Education Philosophy
  • Juggling a family and work with self-care and wellbeing
  • Coping with the questions and criticisms of others
  • Tackling screen time and the lure of new technologies

Using anecdotes from her own life, Lizi shows how a real family can develop a holistic approach to education and parenting, and live happily outside the box!

***** on Amazon:
“uplifting and sincere”
“opened my eyes to the possibilities”
“a great insight on home ed”

The Unschooled Life: One Family’s Home Education Adevnture
By Lizi Gambell

144 pages, 12 black and white illustrations by the author