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.


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!)


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!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Molting Season – Fewer Eggs and Fewer Feathers

Molting season is upon us, and with it comes a reduction in egg production and possibly some raggedy-looking chickens.

In the late summer and early fall, chickens that are about one year of age and older go through a seasonal cycle where they shed their old feathers and grow in new feathers to keep them warm through the coming winter. This can take a lot of a chicken’s energy. It can also lower a chicken’s immune system because resources from the food it eats are being redirected to growing all those new feathers.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

So Thankful for YOUR Support!

Yes - YOU. My readers and supporters.

I have received so many emails and messages of support, work ideas and even a few photography and portrait jobs! How can I ever thank you for helping me by sharing my post? I suppose this will have to do for now and I'll just have to keep sharing good chicken keeping information in an attempt to repay so many kindnesses! :-)

Of the many, many responses I got, 95% were so kind, caring and helpful! I feel so humbled by the outpouring of concern! You all are the best!!

And you know what I forgot to mention on my last post? I have something else to offer those who really do want to help my family! For those of you with young children or grand children, I have a brand new eBook out. It can be read on a Kindle Fire, on a smartphone (through the free Kindle application), on an iPad, tablet, laptop or desktop! It's called The Elephant's Tail and you can find it by clicking the title or the picture below for only $2.99: