Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Study of Kiki & Shea

Pen on paper, 8" x 5.5"

Since last spring, some of our hens started pecking their own eggs in the nesting boxes right ofter laying. If left alone, some of them even eat the whole eggs. This only seems to happen at the beginning of the spring when most of the hens start laying eggs again after malting feathers and spending short day time during the winter. For the rest of the year, the hens don't eat their eggs in the nesting boxes. So, last year, I figured that the best and only way to minimize the development of this habit was to stay right inside the chicken coop and stake them out, just like a homicide detective. I usually bring my cup of coffee and something to read with me. But sometimes I bring a sketch book and draw the hens with a pen. I never use pencil for sketching anymore, as it makes the sketch book messy over years.
  This sketch is a study of two chickens: Kiki (barred rock) and Shea (golden laced wyandotte). I did this drawing from life in front of their nesting boxes. I've tried oil painting from life there, but the inside of the nesting boxes is usually too dark and too far away from my easel to paint from life. The chickens don't sit still long enough for oil painting. So this quick drawing is as much as I could do.
  After all my daily effort, I managed to make the hens leave the eggs intact. Instead of staking out for a few hours, all I need to do is to pet the hen or greet her when she is laying an egg in the box. Today, I found just one pinkish egg eaten. (It's probably by Bennie who has just started laying eggs for this year.) But one lost egg from at least ten active hens is a huge improvement from 50% survival rate two months ago.

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