Thursday, June 2, 2016

Off Topic. Let's Play A Game!

Time to Play a Game!
Give yourself a point for everything on this list that applies to you.

Have you ever:
- Texted while driving and lived to tell about it?
- Thawed meat on the counter?
- Let your child play or watch TV while you showered?
- Driven after drinking/smoking or swallowing just a teeny bit of a controlled substance?
- Forgotten to change the batteries in your home/business smoke detectors?
- Realized something dangerous was within reach of your toddler just in time?
- Hydroplaned your car?
- Let your kids eat cookie dough?
- Discovered your child wasn't properly buckled up when you went to get him/her out or that the child safety seat had not been installed correctly?
- Had a single-car accident (run into a tree/post/off the road)?
- Been responsible for a fender-bender or car accident.
- Had a young child leave the house while you slept/were occupied?
- Had your car slide on ice?
- Slammed on your breaks or swerved into the opposing lane of traffic to avoid hitting an animal in the road?
- Allowed leftovers to cool before putting them in the fridge?
- Lost your kid for more than 20 seconds in a public place?
- Walked down the side of a public road while drunk?
- Had your child to ride a bike/skateboard/scooter/horse without a helmet?
- Made a phone call while driving?
- Distracted or frightened someone driving a motor vehicle?
- Had to take your child to the ER for an injury?
- Cut through a parking lot in your vehicle instead of going to the end of the row before turning?
- Taken a photo of your kids in a public place?
- Forgotten to turn your headlights on?
- Had a child or furbaby with a mind of his/her own?
- Let your car tires get a little bit bald?
- Had a drink of hot coffee or tea while holding a baby/child/pet?
- Ridden a bicycle, walked or jogged on a busy road.
- Gone into traffic to save an animal.

What's your score? Did you answer "Yes" for one or more of the items on the list? I did.
But at least I never let my kid fall into a gorilla enclosure, right? I mean... who the heck does that?!?!
I mean, THAT is one heck of a mistake! None of the errors in judgement listed above are ANYTHING like that!

Or are they?

Ummmm... yeah. Actually they are. Any one of the above situations *could* have had a bad outcome. Any one of those lapses in judgement *could* have resulted in your own injury or injury of another. ANY of us who take a chance here and there are basically one turn of luck away from a kid in a gorilla enclosure!

Yet, what I am seeing are hundreds of thousands of people who don't seem to OWN that truth. Hundreds of thousands of individuals who are far too perfect to make a mistake like "THAT." Hundreds of thousands of people who don't want to see that a small mistake can turn into a BIG mistake in the blink of an eye.

When did we become a society of God-like judges? When did it become important to us to present ourselves as BETTER than other people? When did it become important for us to band together in anger to point our all-knowing fingers at someone who wasn't perfect for a moment? When did our errors in judgement become less important than those of other people?

And who died and made us God?

Do you understand that your next mistake could make YOU the most hated person in the country? That would suck, wouldn't it?

No - I'm not saying someone who willfully hurts another person or who makes an concerted choice to do something that endangers other people should get off the hook. That is VERY different.

What I AM saying is that there is not a single human on this planet who is infallible or incapable of making a mistake or of having a lapse in judgement.

What happened to compassion? What happened to helping our neighbors? What happened to trying to make this world a BETTER place for all of us instead of a better place just for YOU?


If we continue down this path of tearing each other apart so that we can feel superior, what happens to us as a society? What happens to YOU when you make your next mistake? And you WILL make another mistake... You ARE human.

Those people who you felt powerful with when you signed that petition or had a group discussion about someone else - someone you have never met - someone you know NOTHING about? Those very same people could end up pointing their superior, condescending fingers at YOU.

If you don't want to be the next Michelle Gregg... the next morsel of raw meat for a society of angry wolves to tear apart, then you might want to reevaluate if you really want to be one of those angry wolves.

I am quite certain this post will receive plenty of arguments, anger, and even whining. Those, my friends, are the superior, angry wolves. The haters are the problem. Not the solution.

And please... don't feed the trolls.

Love and blessings to all humans as damaged and imperfect as me. Compassion is not dead. Let it shine and teach the world to love again!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Win a 58 Acre Virginia FARM - Opportunity of a Lifetime!

Yes - that's right! You could write a 200 word essay and win a 58(+/-) acre farm/estate with a lovely horse barn and fenced pastureland!

Oh... and a house.

Well... really it's a circa 1905, 6,000 square foot Georgian mansion.

Oh... and $100,000 to cover taxes and what ever else might need covering after winning a prize like this! The estate is estimated at $1.5 million, but it can be yours for 200 words and an entry fee!

Oh, Scarlet... come out to the veranda on this fine day!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Crossing the Road - The Adventure of Lucille the Chicken (Part VI)

If you missed them, please see:


Crossing the Road - The Adventure of Lucille the Chicken
(Part II)

Crossing the Road - The Adventure of Lucille the Chicken
(Part III)

It would be dark soon, and Lucille needed to find a safe place to sleep. Tonight would be even darker than the last with almost no moon to speak of.

Crossing the Road - The Adventure of Lucille the Chicken
(Part VI)

Talk about a cliff hanger!! It has been almost exactly SIX MONTHS since we last saw poor Lucille trying to find her way back home after being carried off by a hungry hawk!

~*~*~*~*~*~

Wet and bedraggled, Lucille searched for a safe place to roost for the night. Much to her luck, she found a wild, evergreen magnolia tree. The big, green leaves would help to hide her from the wide array of hungry nocturnal hunters she knew were already starting to prowl for the evening.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Crossing the Road - The Adventure of Lucille the Chicken (Part V)

If you missed them, please see:

Crossing the Road - The Adventure of Lucille the Chicken
(Part II)

Crossing the Road - The Adventure of Lucille the Chicken
(Part III)
Crossing the Road - The Adventure of Lucille the Chicken
(Part IV)
 
Coming out of the underbrush, Lucille almost fell right into a rushing mountain river. Lucille's heart sank.  

Crossing the Road - The Adventure of Lucille the Chicken
(Part V)


The river was very wide and deep. The water churned white as it rushed over jagged rocks and multiple pieces of debris sped down the river as if they were racing each other to some unseen finish line. Lucille knew there would be no way she could safely cross... at least not here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Crossing the Road - The Adventure of Lucille the Chicken (Part IV)

If you missed them, please see:


Crossing the Road - The Adventure of Lucille the Chicken
(Part II)

Crossing the Road - The Adventure of Lucille the Chicken
(Part III)

How would she get across this space without attracting the attention of another hungry raptor. What if there were dogs? Or coyotes? Or foxes? The mountains were filled with predators of every kind who would love a fresh chicken dinner!

Crossing the Road - The Adventure of Lucille the Chicken (Part IV) 

 

Lucille gazed out over the pasture wondering how she could safely get to the other side. She knew that with her injuries she would not be able to outrun a predator, and that as a white chicken, she would be easily spotted out in the wide-open space.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Crossing the Road - The Adventure of Lucille the Chicken (Part III)

If you missed them, please see:




Crossing the Road - The Adventure of Lucille the Chicken
(Part II)

Given her temporary reprieve, Lucille allowed her eyes to close, and slipped into a fitful sleep.

Crossing the Road - The Adventure of Lucille the Chicken 
(Part III)
As the first rays of sun peeked over the Virginia Blue Ridge mountains, Lucille began to stir. Only upon trying to move did she realize just how sore her little body was this morning. Her lungs ached when she drew her breath and she could feel each new scab that had developed  over every scrape, cut and wound as she had slept. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Crossing the Road - The Adventure of Lucille the Chicken (Part II)

If you missed it, please see:


 

Taking no time to register just how high she was in a very, very high tree, Lucille jumped...


Crossing the Road - The Adventure of Lucille the Chicken 
(Part II)
Branches ripped at her feathers and face as she fell downward, through the tree. Lucile used her wings to help slow her decent, but it did not lessen the sting of the sharp, leafless branches as they slashed her face and pulled feathers from her sides. Finally, after what seemed like hours, her fall ended with a hard thump into the mud and roots at the base of the tree, knocking the air from Lucille's lungs.


Above the male hawk took flight again, swooping downwards on swift, silent wings to retrieve his escaped prey.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Crossing the Road - The Adventure of Lucille the Chicken (Part I)

Note: While the Natural Chicken Keeping blog is touted as a down-to-earth, no-nonsense chicken keeping resource, there are times that a blogger simply must break away from the norm. Every now and then seemingly fantastical circumstances from real life set the imagination alight with possibility. The story of Lucille's disappearance and homecoming is just such a circumstance.

While we may never know the real story - whether it be mundane or possibly even more exciting that the imaginative blog version, what we do know is that one very normal, simple chicken had a very unusual and dangerous adventure... and survived.



Crossing the Road - The Adventure of Lucille the Chicken 
(Part I)

I would like to introduce you to a rather extraordinary chicken by the name of Lucille.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Bit of an Update

Yes - it's been a while once again.

Winter has settled in and has made no indication it is willing to release its grip on the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains... yet. But the chickens and I hold out hope that spring will boot Old Man Winter out of the region very soon.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What a Great Gift for a Farmer!

This year we received a wonderful gift in the form of some outerwear from Duluth Trading Company.

http://www.duluthtrading.com/

To be frank, with our finances the way they are, we would never have gone out and purchased these items for ourselves. In fact I've been wearing the same old work coat for... NINE years, I think? It has seen better days, to say the least... especially in light of being worn all winter on a farm!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Digital Art - How to Draw Chickens Like a Boss... Or like a SAHM trying to pay bills...

So this is the beginning of our rags to rich... ermmm... not-so-raggedy... story.

Back in late August my husband lost his job. Losing a job sucks. Especially when you've finally worked your way back up after losing everything just 7 years before to medical bills. Just when we thought we were hitting the big time in our new-to-us circa 1973 sexy single-wide that just happens to be on the most beautiful 2.7 acres in the Appalachian Mountains ever (yeah - OK... we were going to start building a home on our land in January of 2015) we crashed face-first into the mud!

 I mean really? Even the brand name is some sort of strange misspelling...

Friday, October 17, 2014

This Week In Chicken Art

I have plenty of great blog posts in my head, but until I get all my illustrations done, they'll have to stay in my head.

So instead, this is what I have done over the last 10 days:

Dark Cornish

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

NCK Online Show Awards Ceremony

Well - this post would have come out much sooner, but due to a glitch with Blogger, the entire post was erased when I was trying to post it the first time and I had to completely recreate it. 
Sorry for the delay!!

And with no further ado...

Monday, October 6, 2014

Photo Shoot and How to Draw a Chicken... Or Two

What a fun and crazy weekend I have had!

Ever since my husband lost his job and my youngest became home-bound for fear she might catch the dreaded Enterovirus D68, we pretty much thought that FUN would be on hold for a while. Yet so much kindness and generosity has been shown to us in our recent hard times.

First, I have been offered a wonderful opportunity to provide 25 illustrations of various chicken breeds to GRIT Magazine for their annual Guide to Backyard Chickens issue. I have been working from sunup to sundown to get these illustrations done. Admittedly, it's a bit stressful. This is a HUGE opportunity, and I have a very limited time. I'm not used to banging artwork out so quickly! But as stressful as it is, I'm positively thrilled to have this chance to have my artwork used in such an awesome magazine!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Pictures of Chicks and Chicken Artwork - The Sequel

I have been seriously, ridiculously, over-the-top busy working on chicken breed artwork for GRIT Magazine's 2015 Guide to Backyard Chickens Issue, and I have had little time to come up with awesome chicken keeping articles for you over the past days... So I hope you will enjoy a bit of visual fun instead.

One of my lovely Swedish Flower Hen pullets, Sofia, went broody at the ripe old age of 9 months and has hatched out a beautiful clutch of four chicks! I'm quite sure she would have hatched five chicks, but unfortunately my 11-year-old daughter, who is in the autism spectrum, dropped one of the eggs about 4 days prior to hatch. We were both very sad about the loss, but everyone makes mistakes!

We're thrilled for the four that have hatched! Three of the four are out of my pullet Greta who took the title of Champion Pullet at a local county fair poultry show. (Read more about the show here.)

Look at these sweet babies!

 (Both parents are BIG - but I didn't expect the chick to resemble a Rottweiler! Hee-hee-hee!)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fall - The Best Time to Plant Garlic (Your Chickens Will Thank You!)


Fall is the best time to plant garlic - specifically just after the first frost. If you live in Australia, please flip this post upside down you you can read it better (and don't plant garlic until spring)... and if you happen to reside in a place like Grand Cayman, it probably isn't advisable to wait until after the first frost as it could indicate that Hell is finally freezing over - in which case planting garlic might be the least of your worries!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Chicken Artwork - Roosters and Hens

In today's episode of You Show Me Yours and I'll Show You Mine...

Of course as you may know, we are hosting our first ever  Online Poultry Show. Yes - we want to see YOUR chickens because we know how much you enjoy them and how special they are to you. We want you to show them off!
(You can click the photo link below for more details and to see the current entries!)

http://naturalchickenkeeping.com/online-poultry-show.html

And since you going to show us yours, I'll show you mine!

You've seen tons of photos of my own birds throughout this blog, so instead of showing you photos again, I'll show you some of the birds I've been painting. I'm going through a list of breeds and creating artwork based upon those breeds. I figure that by the time I'm 103, I'll have at least a third of the known breeds translated into art form! (I hope.)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Working for Chicken Feed

While my husband diligently searches for a job and my flock muddles its way through a molt, we have found ourselves in a position where we can't afford chicken feed. Normally our chickens earn their keep in sales of fertile hatching eggs, but of late I have been lucky to collect 1 - 2 eggs per day.

So I'm getting creative again because, by golly, I want to do something to earn their feed!

So this post isn't about my birds and me at all. Nope - this post is about YOUR birds and YOU!

A few weeks ago (before my husband lost his job) I showed one of my birds at a poultry show for the first time... and I had a blast! I still enjoy peeking up a few times a day at the trophy my pullet won. (I'm a proud mamma!)


So why not share the fun of showing with the Natural Chicken Keeping readers?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Truth about Guinea Fowl

Are you considering getting a flock of guineas? (Do you have masochistic tendencies?)


Guinea fowl are commonly used to control tick and mosquito populations on farms around the world. They will also kill and consume snakes - even poisonous ones. These birds truly excel at keeping large areas clear of biting critters of all sorts.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

To YOU - who Helped My Family

Thank You!

Clearly you understood that we are a proud family and very much want to work for everything we get. That is why you sent a $200 gift card for the Food Lion grocery store (a grocery chain with a store in our town) to us under the cover of anonymity. 

My family is truly, honestly thankful!

And to all of those who have become sponsors of the Natural Chicken Keeping blog, who have commissioned portraits or scheduled photography sitting with me...
Thank You!