Thursday, July 28, 2011

Life without Franklin

When Franklin was boss
The hens have settled down into a life without their main man,  Franklin.  It doesn't seem as if anyone is the boss yet, although for a while I thought it was going to be Cleo.  The rooster used to find delicacies for the ladies to eat, would call them over to it, and stand guard while they scratched and ate.  So, at first, the girls would run all over the yard and not know what to do.  Some would be in one part and others in another place.  Then it seemed like they were sticking close to Cleo.  But that isn't the case anymore. Everyone goes where they want to with a coming together when it is time to rest or dust bathe. They all shun the "Littles", driving them away when treats are thrown for them.  The Littles are getting quite large now, so it won't be long before they will be able to muscle their way in to get their fair share. 
The Littles at 9 weeks
Another change in behavior is the egg laying production.  I do not know why this is so, but they are laying better than ever now.  On average, three a day.  Which is good, as there are six possible layers.  But the hollering and yelling that goes on in the coop when a hen goes to get into a nest box and it is occupied, is hilarious!  The other day  two of them were at it for over five minutes!  I could almost hear the cussing!!
Mama Hen: Get out of there, I need to lay an egg Right Now!
Aphra:  Well, do it someplace else, I have to lay an egg.
Mama Hen: That is my nest, you get out.
Aphra:  No it isn't!  Use the empty one right there.
Mama H:  I can't.  It is icky.  I hate the hay in it. I can only use that one.  Get out!
Aphra: I will not!  I am laying an egg.
And on it went.  End of story?  Neither one laid an egg in that nest!  Chickens!
Peaceful resolution for these two

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Performance Day

El Conejito props
This morning the dynamic duo that calls themselves Taradiddle will be performing at the Fair Haven Library.  OK, so it is just Daphne and me, telling stories and singing songs, but we are a bona fide program, really we are.  The theme this year for the summer reading programs is "One World, Many Stories" which gave us such freedom to pick stuff that it almost undid us.  We just have too many stories we would love to tell!  We finally narrowed them down and put together one program we call "Up the Mountain" and another we call "Amigos".  At this point we have only done the Mountain one, which we are constantly revising.  El Conejito is one of the stories we will do today, using the masks I made.  I really like them.  Daphne came up with a brilliant way to tell "The Three Billy Goats Gruff"--she is doing it in Norwegian using her fingers as props and her lap as a stage. Granted, it is pared down to only the essentials as she could only master the main points.  It is absolutely wonderful.  But.  One never knows how it will go down before a crowd.  Today we will find out.  It may turn out that "De Tre Bukkene Bruse" is only fun for us!
Fresh off the needles, unblocked
In other news, last night was one of Those Nights where sleep was elusive.  After an hour of twitching in bed, I finally got up and went downstairs to sit in the rocker and knit.  I finished my second lacy hat.  I had enough yarn left that it inspired me to start a pair of fingerless gloves in the same lacy pattern.  I think they will make a pretty set.  Finally, at midnight, I was able to go back to bed and sleep.  But it seemed like 5:15 came awfully quickly.  Ah well, I only have to look and act my best for an hour this morning.  How hard can that be??

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Did we mention hot?

Lacy hat
After having been scolded by my daughter for complaining about the heat  (she pointed out that it is summertime in the Northeast, and it is supposed to be hot and humid), I am not the least bit cooler or resigned to it.  I can only be thankful I don't live in the southern part of the country where there has been an ongoing drought, plus the heat. 
Cool alpaca to spin
Meanwhile, I finished the hat.  It came out the way I wanted it to, but I think I want to knit another with a variation on the lace pattern.  The pattern was so easy to memorize and I want to do it so that it is much more open.  To that end, I blended some dyed alpaca with some white on the carder until I got a very pale green--a yellowy green--to spin up.  No glittery metallic in it, just pure alpaca.  The color will be very cooling to spin.  I already am thinking that I might card some more natural colors and spin for a woven scarf as it will be some time 'til I get the yarn spun for my shawl.  Don't want to leave the loom undressed for long--it looks so naked!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hot Daze

This means "hot"
Hat in progress
 Well, it is a hot day to be sure.  And the one before it was hot and the one after it seems likely to be, also.  Heat, humidity and I Do Not go hand in hand very well.  I tend to go into some sort of hibernating mode, with not much inertia to do anything but sit by the fan and knit.  The fiber in my work room was calling to me, so I carded up some lovely fleece, blending some greeny/blue dyed alpaca with pure white.   After many passes through the carder, I came up with a very pretty aqua or teal color.  I tossed in some silver colored metallic threads so that it would sparkle a bit in the sunlight.   Once spun  up, it seemed like a great yarn for a lacy hat---very light to wear.   So I have been working on that--designing the hat from the top down, which I have never done.  I like it.  Very intriguing!
Red sun at night
Meanwhile the heat has spawned thunder storms, per usual.  After the one last night, which had some terrific booms and flashes, the sun set as a brilliant red orb.  "Red sun at night, sailor's delight" but I think the sailors would not like the heat any better than we do.  Funny thing is, the chickens don't let it bother them a bit, and I was under the impression that they were susceptible to heat.  For which I am glad, as I don't want them sitting around their little table with the umbrella, drinking cool drinks and neglecting their egg laying duties!

Friday, July 15, 2011


I had a great visit this week from cousins traveling through to see their aunt, my Mom.  They are all daughters of two of her brothers.  One cousin came all the way from California, one from Colorado and the other two from Nebraska.  It was so good to see them, even if it was only for a brief hour as they traveled back to Boston, where the California cousin's son lives.  As said son is moving back to the West Coast, the feeling was that she might not get back this way for a long time.  They were all so glad to see my Mom and were very pleased that they made the trek out.  The fact that they managed to take in so  many fabulous sites, including Martha's vineyard, was icing on their cake. The other thing they did was demand to see my Etsy inventory and proceeded to buy things from it!  I was blown away and told them they certainly did not have to do that, but they insisted they wanted to.  It was very gratifying.  Now I need to get cracking and spin some yarn to see what I will create to fill in those empty spaces.
John Michael, the actor
Another cousin popped up in the area this past week, also.  This one is from my father's side. His folks were at the Ordination last month and told us John would be up this way.  He is currently acting in the North American Tour of Mamma Mia which came to Proctor's theater.  My Dad bought tickets for Mom and him and Annie and I, so we all went to see John playing the part of Bill Austin.  It  was so much fun!  What a great show it was.  Afterwards we hung around the stage door until he came out to visit for a few minutes.  Now he is playing in Florida. It is so wonderful for me to make these connections as I grew up not knowing any relatives as they all lived so far away from us.  I love meeting my family as an adult!  We live such varied lives--it's amazing and pretty darn cool.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Deed is Done

Frank is in the pot.  Yes, he really is at this very moment being cooked up in a pot on the stove.  My very obliging husband "did the deed" while I busied myself with household chores.  It seems we will be having chicken and biscuits tonight for supper!  I trust I will be able to eat it....I can't help but think that the ladies will be much better off--at least now they can grow their feathers back.  The two in confinement seem to be doing ok--Lil' Roxie is definitely on the mend, even though she has yet to lay me an egg.  Goldie was doing fine, but today seems mopey.  It might be because I have all of the hens and littles together in the pen for bonding.  Or it might be a set back.  Or maybe they know about Frank????  We will see. They will have to pick a leader now,  as they won't have him to tell them what to do anymore.  I think they will sort it out just fine.
And, no, I am not going to post any pictures of my chicken and biscuits!!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Of Bees and Mushrooms

Annie and the Bee Keeper

The beehive, now
Jeff's bees are really doing well.  I have such high hopes that they will get through the winter, as it is a very (strangely) comforting thing to be working in the garden and hear the low hum of the workers in the hive.  They have filled most of the bottom super, so Jeff was able to put on the next one.  He then put a queen excluder on and a third super which is where the excess honey will be, as I understand it.  Hopefully!! It would be very cool to have honey from them.  We didn't take any last year as we wanted them to have enough to get through the winter.  Since they all died anyway it was only this spring that we got about a half a cup when he cleaned out the hive.  Theoretically we should get lots more than that----but it never was the goal.  Pollination is the reason he wants bees.
Waiting for the elfin folk
Annie found some very large mushrooms when she was here on the weekend.  We called them toadstools, but I don't know if toadstools are one thing and mushrooms are another.  These looked like the kind elfin folk and such like should be living under.  I can just imagine the little doorways into the stems with the insides being fitted with tiny little furniture made out of bark and twigs.  If I was a real scientist, instead of a dreamer, I would go back and look at them to see what happens to them over time.  Real scientists don't think about the elfin folk moving in, do they?
I've started a pair of variegated purple socks for myself.  I want to get all my socks knit for the winter as two pair from previous winters have totally worn out--I have darned and even re-knit bits on them.  Besides, even though I have the shawlette, lace shawl and the kit shawl on the needles, I didn't have any socks going.  I love to have socks to knit up.  Wonder if brownies and elves need socks?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Glorius Fourth of July!

It really was a fabulous Fourth.  We did all the things one is supposed to--- went to a parade, ate at a cookout, went swimming and visited with family.  I didn't make the fireworks, as about 8:30 I was suddenly All Done, and had to go to bed and read a little before I crashed.  And the fireworks are one of my favorite things!!!  I was sad I was so whipped.

Lil' Roxie
Goldie in her coat
It could have been the hot weather that got to me, I am sure that helped, but the real reason was this:  I came home from swimming to find that two of the hens were Not Good.  One, my favorite girl Goldie, has had a side injury caused by the rooster's spur.  I thought it was healing, as I had but her coat back on to protect her, but it had ripped open and she was obviously in distress.  The other, Roxie, was just acting unhappy in a general sort of way, and I couldn't see anything noticeably wrong.  But it took all the wind out of my sails, and I went to bed pondering if we should do more than clip Franklin's spurs and nails.  Which we had already done Sunday when Annie was around.  She made a photo essay of us "trimming the Rooster's nails".  It really was bizarre!  I had hoped it would help lessen the damage he is inflicting on the hens.  Apparently it wasn't enough for poor Goldie.

Consulting the book

Holding him tightly

I don't think he wants nail polish!
However, they made it through the night, and now I have the two of them in the pen with lots of goodies to eat and fresh water.  Maybe if they are given a break for a week from Franklin they will get better.
The jam
So while I made raspberry jam I pondered the idea of putting a "period to his existence" and perhaps consign the rooster to the stew pot.  This would give the girls a chance to recover from rough handling while the little cockerels grew up.  By the time they are old enough fertilize the eggs, I would be ready to raise more chicks, if Mama went broody again.  They don't need the rooster--it is more that I like having him around.  But if he is messing up my girls, well, it does make me ponder!
Daisy Mae and a possible replacement for Frank!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Good Food

Jeff's garden

Ripening raspberries
Jeff's vegetable garden is looking mighty fine!  We got a tad nervous when we saw a deer hoof print at the end of the driveway when we went for our walk this morning, but the garden was untouched.  This time.  Everything is growing like mad after the last bit of rain we had.  This weekend promises heat so I think that I will be overwhelmed with good eating for a bit.  I have to buy some more jam jars as raspberry jam is always a must for us, and I seemed to have used up the last of them with the strawberry rhubarb batch.  The blueberries are mostly eaten fresh and in baking--the rest get frozen for future use.  There is no better time of year than when the berries start ripening as I love to have them fresh in a bowl to throw on my cereal every morning.  And eat right off the bush as I go by....
Early blueberries
I am looking forward to tomorrow.  It is the annual Book Sale at the Poultney Public Library.   This is our once a year fundraiser, and it is huge.  The general price per paperback is $.10 and hardcovers are $.25.  These books are from our weeded collection and, mostly, from donations.  We never know what we will have.  The special price books are ones that are recent editions, or valuable in other ways, but even the special price is only a couple bucks or so.  Of course, as a helper, the perk is knowing if there are any knitting or weaving books to be had.....not to mention favorite authors!