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!

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:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MLDFAKY/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00MLDFAKY&linkCode=as2&tag=natuchickeep-20&linkId=CB2DFK6WQSIJROSI

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hard Choices for Hard Times - Please Read

Today my husband lost his job.

There - I said it. It will take a while for the sting to dissipate from those words. Of course this means I'll be looking for a job. He'll be looking for a job. We'll be scraping for a while.

As many of you know, we just bought a new micro-farm. Thankfully our monthly mortgage payment is pretty cheap, but with two special needs kids (autism and Down syndrome) we'll be faced with some challenges for a little bit. Jobs are not easy to come by in this economy.

I am personally not comfortable with the idea of asking for money, so I am not going to. If at all possible, I would like to EARN some money.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Preparing and Showing Your Chicken at a Poultry Show


Yesterday I tried something I have never done before. I took one of my Swedish Flower Hen pullets to a poultry show at a county fair. One of the neat things about keeping this blog is that it has pushed me to try things I might not have otherwise tried, like fermenting feed, raising my own meat birds and... entering a bird in a poultry show.


Monday, August 18, 2014

My Gingerbread House Chicken Coop - Another Upcycling Project


My family had been renting the century-old farmhouse on a beautiful horse farm (partially pictured in the header) since June of 2012. We were able to live there for a song because the place was on the market and we could be asked to move at any time. Sadly it sold in the winter of 2014 and we were given until spring to move.

After hunting high and low, and learning my husband was being transferred to a different part of the state for his job, we found a beautiful little property with a very well maintained 1973 single wide trailer on it. We bought it just for the sexy single wide! OK - not really, but we do have PLANS, my friend!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Life Hacks - 40+ Boredom Busters for Chickens and Chicks

We speak highly of free ranging on this blog. There are so many benefits for the chickens and for your feed bills, but the truth of the matter is that free ranging is not always possible for many flock owners. Whether one lives in a suburban setting or a rural setting with plentiful predators, there are many situations where flocks must be kept in limited spaces.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bird Shots - Portraits of Chickens

One thing that many non-chicken people don't know is that every chicken has its own personality. Right from the start that personality is evident. Not only that, but chickens are expressive! It is not hard to tell what mood your chickens are in just by watching their faces and body language.

Look at the expressions in each of the faces or in the body language of the chickens below. How do you think these birds are feeling? What are they thinking?

 shy?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Processing My Meat Birds (Heads are Going to Roll!)

Let me start by saying that if you are an animal rights activist or don't believe that animals should be killed for meat, this post is not for you. Further, if you fit into the above description and are here to leave harassing comments about MY choice to eat meat, the following articles will be considered Required Reading before you leave any comments...
Oh - and if you still choose to leave a hateful comment, I will delete it... because I am the Blog Goddess and I can do that.

And with that out of the way...
This blog is for anyone interested in raising and processing their own chickens for food. There are lots of different right ways of processing chickens, and the way I'm going to share is just one of them. I don't own any fancy processing equipment, and you don't need to either (though if you do, that's great).


Writing about killing and death is almost as difficult as writing about sex, so I'm going to do it my way and try to lighten it up for all of us with a bit of humor.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Broody Bunch

Here's the story,
Of a lovely lady,
Who was sitting on 2 very lovely eggs.
both of them were Swedish Flower,
Like their mother,
Though they resembled tiny kegs.

Here's the story,
Of another lady,
Who was busy with two eggs of her own,
They were three chooks,
Living all together,
Yet they were all alone.

'Till this one day when this lady met this lady,
And they knew that it was much more than a hunch,
That this flock would somehow form a family...
And that's the way they all became the Broody Bunch!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Raising Ducklings and Chicks Together & Aspergillosis in Chickens

*** Warning - this blog post contains graphic materials. ***

Yesterday as my husband and I were working on a new run for our young flock of guinea fowl, my phone rang. It was my dear friend Linda. She was in tears and she needed me to walk her through her first necropsy over the phone. Over the next hour, Linda and I were able to solve a mystery and offer Linda some peace of mind for the health of the rest of her flock.

Let me start with some background...

Linda keeps her chickens and other livestock as organically as possible and recently decided that she should get some young chickens as her current flock is aging. Most of us might assume that Lida's birds might perhaps be 4 or 5 years old. Maybe even a little older. Well... Linda's oldest flock members are currently 13 years old! (No - that's not a typo.) And she even has the receipts from the purchase of those chickens to prove it!