Bird watch 2019 has officially begun. Nesting is in full swing and the set of eggs have been laid.
Our neighborhood, Queen’s Lake has Bird Sanctuary signs posted as you enter. And I have seen more varieties of birds in our yard than anywhere else I have lived. Also, this neighborhood happens to back up to New Quarter Park.
New Quarter Park has many amazing walking trails. The park is a 545-acre preserve. There are mature woodlands and open meadows, which offers a diverse habitat that supports a variety of plants and animals. I had not realized until I googled a link for the park that it sits on a bluff of fossil shells. Another really interesting thing about the area is the surrounding tidal creeks and marshes.
I’ve finished my January Gansey sweater by Oliveknits. It took me longer than the 8 weeks that the Knit A Long ran but I’m OK with that.
Marie Green is the woman behind Oliveknits. She is a knitwear designer with lots of sweater designs under her belt. She currently is touring the country doing talks and book signing forSeamless Sweaters in Two Weeks. I was lucky enough to get a spot during her stop here in Williamsburg.
Garden prepping is in full swing here. My husband Chuck has started his seedlings. We moved some existing plants, planted last year from the front gardens, into different gardens in our backyard to protect them from deer. If I had realized the deer would be a problem I would’ve done more research when we started revamping last year. And of course, the chickens are doing their part turning over all beds in prep for planting.
Other Garden Prepping
We dug out flowers from neighbors who were looking to thin or remove perennials. Then planted them into our gardens In addition, we have reworked some of the garden beds from last year. We made some larger and added another new bed. We are trying to make the beds curved in such a way as to accommodate our riding lawnmowers ability to navigate with ease.
Today I’ll be introducing you to Agnes the Ameraucana. I’d like to tell you about her as an individual chicken. You will learn a bit about her personality, appearance, and eggs.
I spend quite a bit of time observing and interacting with my chickens. It was important to me from the very beginning that my chickens were comfortable being handled and around people. I felt this was important for both their health and safety.
Agnes the Ameraucana
Ameraucana was my number one chicken breed request. Ameraucanas are usually friendly, they lay blue eggs and are a medium size at 4-5lbs.
But who is Agnes the Ameraucana? To start, Agnes was the very first chicken I chose. We got her and all our current chickens at Jamestown Feed & Seed. She was brown with darker stripes, she was running around in the pen with the other chicks, she was very active. Agnes was one of two Ameraucanas we picked up on March 23rd, 2017.
When I picked these chicks I purposely chose two very different colors. I was new to chickens and wasn’t sure how a chick would look compared to the adult, fully feathered, chicken. I wanted to see how each color chick changed as it grew. Jamestown Feed & Seed only had two colors available, there are eight colors in the Ameraucana breed.
If you are interested in some early blog posts on our chickens be sure to see this post and this post.
Agnes as an Indivual
Agnes the Americauna is as advertised very friendly, she always checks to find out if I brought treats and is one of the first to take food from my hands. However, as soon as the food hits the ground she prefers to peck it from there. This is probably why she is so busy, always looking for bugs and any other food she can find.
Agnes is a bit of a loner. She tends to find a spot a bit off from the others to get her scratch in the mornings. She also will often be on her own when free ranging. Agnes likes to find spots under bushes or along the back flower bed to forage for bugs and tasty plants when free-ranging.
Though Agnes is always ready to come running to me when I come out of the house she is the last to arrive as she is farther off in her foraging. She doesn’t want to miss the guaranteed snacks I might be offering.
I often give them Grubblies or mealworms and Chicken Chew from my hands to encourage friendliness. Often they get kitchen scraps and fresh sprouts as well. And I want them to come to me when I call for safety reasons, too.
My favorite Feature
I love Agnes’ little cheeks. She has what I think are referred to as Muffs. Tufts id feathers on either side of her beak giving the appearance of chubby cheeks. Makes me want to pinch her sweet little cheeks like a Grandma.
The feathers on this sweet little hen are a beautiful mix of browns, many of the feathers have a golden center that almost sparkle in the sunlight.
Ameraucanas are bred to have the blue egg gene. I was especially excited to have blue eggs in our egg basket. I have three blue egg layers, Agnes is one of them, the other are Kittie and Louise.
What I didn’t anticipate was that Agnes, our oldest chicken, would be the very last to start laying eggs. She absolutely was. In fact, she Introducing her very first egg on Christmas Day! Her eggs tend to be a medium size egg, just slightly smaller than the other two blue eggs I get from Kittie and Louise. Her eggs also tend to be smoother almost shiny compared to the other two.
How we named our Chickens
As I’m introducing you to our chickens I thought you’d want to know how we decided to name our chickens.
The chicks were named in alphabetical order as they came to our home. Not all the chicks came on the same day but rather spread out over a few weeks. Therefore, you know Agnes the Ameraucana was the very first chicken simply by her name!
As I planned and researched in preparation to get chickens I decided we would refer to them as The Ladies. I wanted to verbally separate them from the dogs who we refer to as The Girls all the time. Going along with the Ladies idea I felt that old fashioned names would suit them very nicely. You might say they all have “Old Ladies” names.
Agnes the Ameraucana Pin It for later
I hope you enjoyed getting to know Agnes. Should I do a full series of chicken introductions? Let me know in the comments. Have any questions?
Quite a few years ago I worked up a bunch of little knit hats. I had so many people ask me for the pattern for them. I quickly wrote down what I did. Periodically people still ask me for the pattern. I decided it was time to write out a proper pattern, originally I had posted this on my blog in 2008.
This pattern doesn’t take much yarn, any leftover sock yarn works great. It’s fun to take an hour or so to knit one of these wee hats up for a Barbie or other loved toys and make a child very happy. I knit this hat for my nephew’s little dog when he was here visiting from MIchigan.
You can easily find my pattern via Ravelry here if you should like to add it to your library, queue it or add it to your project page. It’s also at the bottom of this post.
Knitting gussets are not something new to me. I have knit 100’s of pair of socks with gussets. Also, knitting sweaters are not new to me. However, I’ve never knit gussets on a sweater. Therefore, I will be focusing on the gussets I just worked for a sweater.
I’ve been plugging along on my January Gansey sweater from the Olive Knits Knit-A-Long for a couple of months. You can read more about my sweater here. This pattern has three sets of gussets. The first set is in the underarm portion, where the body meets the sleeve. The second set is on the shoulder working up to the neck. The third is paired on the sleeve section paired with the first pair, these work together.
Why do I want a gusset anyway? A Gusset, which is a weird word if you ask me, is an expanse of fabric intended to relieve stress in a tight fitting area of your clothing. Such as the heel of a sock or the underarm of a shirt.
When knitting gussets you typically create a triangle by increasing or decreasing your stitches. This triangle gives you the extra stretch you need for both comfort and movement.
What do the labels on Egg Cartons mean? Does my back yard flock meet these labels? Are my chicken’s eggs healthier vs. store bought eggs? We eat our chicken’s eggs. I sell the eggs. Our chicken eggs are given to our family. It’s important to me to have the best eggs possible.
Marketing always manages to sneak into our subconscious whether it is right or wrong, especially when we really haven’t done the research to ensure the claims are accurate and meaningful. Then there’s the whole question of what is accurate.
Labels you will see on Egg Cartons
ALL NATURAL There is no legal definition for all natural. Does that mean our chickens eat natural bugs vs fake bugs?
FARM FRESH– Again, no legal definition for this. Did the eggs come from a farm, like with crops and cows? Were the eggs from a farm that has 2 million chickens laying eggs in cages? What about my 1 acre, is this a farm since we grow food, raise chickens and have a pack of chihuahuas?
HORMONE-FREE– Are you aware it’s illegal to give hormones to poultry in the USA? Therefore all eggs and chicken are hormone free so the label is redundant.
ANTIBIOTIC-FREE– Laying hens are not typically given antibiotics although some meat chickens may have been if necessasary.
USDA-CERTIFIED ORGANIC– A farm must apply for this designation and undergo inspections to ensure all standards are being met. Chickens are fed organic feed from their 2nd day of life. In addition, the chickens must have access to the outdoors.
I am not certified organic, however, I take great care to meet the needs of my chickens, and they are only fed organic non -GMO food. In addition to a great deal of research on my part, my daughter, Stevie, who works for the USDA specializing in poultry and has been an excellent resource.
Perfect hard-boiled eggs was a feat in which I strived for my entire adult life. I have attempted to have perfect hard boiled eggs thousands of times. I’ve never had any success until now!
I swear to you. I have tried every method out there. With each attempt, I would have eggs that wouldn’t peel. Every egg I ever cooked looked like it had been malled by a wild animal after it was peeled. Ask my husband, ask my children. Seriously, go ask my BFF Raquel whom I would I repeatedly beg her to boil eggs for me!
I tried for perfect hard-boiled eggs by placing them in cold water, enough to cover by an inch, which then was brought up to boil. I turned the heat off and let sit covered for 20 minutes. Peeled eggs resulted in half the egg white pulling away with the shell.
I boiled eggs with a tablespoon of vinegar. Or a scoop of baking soda. Also, Boiling the eggs for 5 minutes. Another time 7 minutes. Plunging the boiled eggs into ice water to cool. Another time leaving them to cool in the pot on the stove. Peeling them under running water. All with the same un-peelable results.
I’m want to share with you my top binge-worthy movies or TV Shows I can watch over and over again. Sometimes I find it’s hard to carve out the time to sit and knit on bigger projects. But it can be easier if you’re watching a great movie or TV show to sit and find a couple of quality hours knitting to your day.
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Have you seen or knit this adorable Baa-ble Hat yet? It came out a few years ago for Shetland Wool Week in 2015. Many people knit it. People all over the world in fact.
If you haven’t knit this hat yet definitely add it to your must-knit list. You will be in good company. As of this writing, there are 9072 projects listed on Ravelry for this adorable Baa-ble hat. However, they aren’t all hats. The chart from this has been worked into so many other items. Obviously, there are lots of hats, but there are also socks, cowls, and sweaters to give you an idea. The chart itself as exploded into its own identity. There’s white, black, brown, and even rainbow sheep. People have added a Llama in place of one sheep and I’ve even seen a sheep-dog join the sheep.