Sunday, April 29, 2012

Adventures in backyard chickens

A couple of years ago, I started painting a series of chickens.

I don’t remember exactly why I painted the first one…I’ve always just been drawn to chickens.  Maybe it’s because I’m a fan of little packages with big attitudes (probably why hummingbirds are among my favorite birds) and I always stop and when I see chickens in someone’s yard by the side of the road.  There is something so calming and just right with the world about a chicken quietly scratching in a grassy yard. Don’t you agree?

So, back then I painted a few chickens to start and they were a big hit. They got a lot of comments and attention at my outdoor shows and sold right away so I painted more…many more.  At first, my daughter and I gave them names from our imaginary flock (picturing a day when we’d have our own). We had a definite floral theme with girls like Daffodil, Petunia and Marigold. 

Once I ran out of flowers I moved on to famous couples, I introduced the hen & rooster versions of Napoleon and Josephine, Fred and Wilma, and Elvis and Priscilla among many others to the world. 

I also started researching all the breeds.  There are so many and they come in such a multitude of sizes and shapes from the large, sturdy stock like Rhode Island Reds to the impossibly foolish Silkie Bantams or the every-which-way feathered the FrizzleCochin (my favorite).

At every show, I get asked about twenty times “So you must have your own chickens?”  When I tell them “No, I just really like chickens” I usually get a slightly quizzical look like why do you paint them then? (and what is wrong with you, lady)

But that is all about to change.

This is the year! We’re finally ready. If not ready, close enough…we’re taking the plunge.  I ordered 6 chicks from my local feed store to be picked up when they’re one day old. 
buff orpington chicks
I will share my journey in backyard chicken raising here…join me starting May 11th (the day the chickies arrive!) as I post about raising baby chicks in the house (with two kids, 3 cats and 2 guinea pigs).  Not that the guinea pigs will be interacting much with them but I didn’t want them to feel left out.
We’ll build a coop and a run for them along the way and figure this whole thing out by the seat of our pants. Like how to keep the neighbor’s dogs from eating them and how do I bribe my two little charges into mucking out a chicken coop.
You can check out more of my chicken paintings here.


Linda Steele said...

I loved your post about the chickens. They have never seemed so interesting to me before.
Your paintings are lovely too, it makes me want to start painting again.

Kristina Wentzell said...

Thanks, Linda! Any excuse to pick up a brush again is a good one.


Karen LeGault said...

I love the way you are really engaged with chickens! Their life comes through the paintings and the post gives some insight into your interest.


robin jane fingher said...

This is a very engaging post about a subject that ordinarily would not grab me - but it did! Your chooks are the bomb - I love how you named them. A pleasure to read and look at. All the best with the new family of babies. Cheers, Robin

MJ Russell said...


Love your paintings of these chicks, and can't wait to hear more about the adventures of first-time chicken raising (which is also on my someday list!) MJ

Julie Johnston said...

I find this interesting and funny. Funny because I really cannot relate. I grew up on a farm and we always had chickens. They are dirty and smelly, but then, most animals are. I don't dislike them though. My sis raises different breeds, Buff Orpingtons are her favs. Thanks for adding photos of your work. I really do like your chickens!

Kristina Wentzell said...

Thanks, everyone!

@Julie--LOL, I know chickens aren't for everyone. I'm only getting a few so hopefully the stinky factor will be kept to a minimum.

@Robin--I'm going to start using "chook", it's a much better word.:-) Incidently, we were lucky enough to stay in Perth for 4 months a few years ago. I LOVE WA...can't wait to get back there someday!


Frances Clements Fawcett said...

When we moved to Port Townsend and our half acre of paradise last January many of our friends asked "when are you getting chickens?"

Since I'm still adjusting to a new home, new town, new everything...right now I'm happy to enjoy everyone else's poultry experience, including yours!

It will be wonderful fun to follow along on your latest adventures.