Sarah Stilwell did these spot illustrations to liven up this article by Edward S. Martin in Harper's Monthly Magazine for January 1902. There are a couple of full-page drawings as well but the life and energy seem to be in the spots used to break up the text, which is pretty dull considering that most readers have brought up children of their own and whoever this Mr. Martin is (nothing came up in searches at Google and Yahoo) he wrote of boys in public schools and uniforms and marching ranks for the entire front page of the article. It's no wonder that the Harper editors used drawings by Ms. Stilwell to liven up some dull copy.
There isn't a word in the article relating to children feeding chickens, so I feel certain that the editors simply wanted to find a place for Stilwell's drawings even if they don't have anything to do with the story.
One of the nicer spot drawings. Click on the image to enlarge.
The more I look at these, the more I'm sure they were part of her portfolio. For a January 1902 pub date, the production would have had to be done in 1900 or 1901, which coincides with Sarah Stilwell's studies with Howard Pyle as her mentor. I'm guessing that he advised her, when offering a critique of her work, to get over to Harper's and see the reigning editors at once; Harper's being at the time one of his most important publishing clients.