Broody and other Chicken things

What came first, the egg or the chicken? In our case it was the chicken. We have ten of the twelve we originally started with. Shortly said, we had one chicken that developed a cross beak and she was unable to eat enough to sustain life and she went to chicken Heaven. Bea was very friendly and sweet as could be. You can see a short video of her looking for me here.

This is Bea, her beak is obliviously crossed here. She was born normal but as she aged it became worse and worse. 

 Then there is Frida. Frida was one of two straight run Polish Crested Chickens we purchased. These were the only straight runs we bought, all others were sexed and determined to be pullets or female. They were an, OMG! they’re so cute, impulse buy. We knew we had a chance of having one and possibly two roosters. But I was optimistic and named one Frida and the other Ester.

And, yes, I’ve been told Ester should have an H and it’s spelled ESTHER. Having said that, I don’t care, I have spent my life spelling my name (and the names of our kids) so why not give sweet, little, Ester her own spelling, too?

Anyway, I’m telling you about Frida. Frida turned out to be Fred. When I told this to my son, Rick, he asked why I needed to change the name just because the chicken was now known to be a boy? He was right, damn it! Gender equality and self identifying for everyone and I kept referring to him as “her.” SO, Frida the Rooster was hence forth known as the Drag Queen Rooster, Frida!

If you want to see hime crowing click this link

You might note- Frida as some Purple feathers. Well, Frida is all black except for the feathers on the very back of her head, those are white. When the hens weren’t pulling every damn one of the white feathers out! I swear. She looked like a Friar, no pun intended. So I kept spraying the white feathers with a thing called Blue Coat which is an antiseptic for animals. The spray dyes the skin blue and as it happens, white feathers purple. 

As we moved further into the summer and the chickens were all reaching maturity, eggs were getting laid and Frida was getting frisky. The more Frida matured, the more aggressive she became. That in itself isn’t a bad thing. She protected her flock. Frida gave Cali (one of our dogs) a lesson in messing with chickens 101 and as a result she now has a very healthy respect for chicken personal space. Eventually Frida decided she didn’t like me collecting eggs and started kicking dirt and jumping at me. This continued to progress and I researched how to handle it. In spite of my efforts it seemed she was destined to go live on a farm somewhere.  

So Chuck listed Frida on Williamsburg Trash and Treasure FB Group and someone called and said he would like Frida, he was hoping to cross bread with his hens and see what interesting mixes a Polish Crested would bring to his farm. Off Frida went. And peace reigned in the run again.

That’s how we ended up here, months later with a Broody Hen and no fertilized eggs for her to hatch. Instead she has been spending the better part of two months sitting in nesting boxes whether they actually had any eggs or not. She has long since stopped laying herself, which is sad because she lays pretty blue eggs. She is one of two True Blue Whitings we have and her name is Louise. She is a pretty yellow and golden brown and very sweet. I removed her from the nesting box several times each day and at night to put her on a roost. She never stays out long. 

Today. Today I took drastic measures. It’s a brisk 55 degrees and sunny. After spending lots of time debating on different ideas I decided to take the plunge, well for Louise to take the plunge actually. It is recommended to but a broody chicken in cold water with the thought that this will lower their temperature (which is elevated when the go Broody.) I put her in a big bucket of cold water and held her there for 4 minutes. At first she was very unhappy but quickly relaxed and waited it out. Once I released her she ran off and spent quite a long time preening herself and fluffing all her feathers as they dried.

I also decided to “lock” her out of the chicken run all day in hopes the colder day will aid in the cooling of her temperature. Since the gate is shut I have had to play gate keeper to the hens in order for the other hens to have access to the nesting boxes, since they are still laying. I haves pent the better part of the day outside or looking out windows to see who is trying to get in the run. And unfortunately Lou has been up there more than I had hoped. I keep chasing her off and she goes but reluctantly.

Maybe I should have kept my Attack Drag Queen Rooster and let her hatch some. Maybe next time I’ll ask Stephanie to purchase some fertilized eggs from her friend on my behalf.

Today is the first sunny day after rain on and off for the last few so the chickens have found a nice sunny spot to take a dust bath. Click this link to watch a couple minute video. If you haven’t seen chickens dust bathing they look rather strange. I find it entertaining and I’m sure you will, too.

Happy days, Happy chickens. 

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It’s fall Y’All

I haven’t had a true Fall for several years having been lost in a desert oasis. There aren’t many trees in a desert and it’s still rather warm this time of year. So, it’s basically just like the summer only a slight bit cooler, like in the 80’s instead of 90’s. This year it’s different. We live in a beautiful neighborhood with trees galore. Our neighborhood is named Queen’s Lake and we are in Williamsburg, Virginia with the leaves beginning to fall and the nights getting pretty cool now.

I’ve always decorated pretty enthusiastically for Halloween. This is year was a little slower in that regard. I only just yesterday would say I finished decorating. Stevie and Hanna are both big fans of the Halloween time. Stevie got married on Halloween and her rehearsal dinner was a costume party. Which was really neat.

I think I had a harder time getting in the spirit of the season since Hanna is in Oklahoma and Stevie is up in Alexandria. These girls always go big on costumes along with their respective men. And I really enjoy seeing their creativity.

For me this year was a little sad, and anticlimactic, particularly because I don’t have my friends coming over every Monday to knit and share in the joy of a holiday theme.

Moving on.

I try to invoke a witch atheistic. But, basically, a lot of my decorating consists of covering everyday stuff with spider web table cloths. Then I might throw in a pumpkin or two.

This is a very simple thing with a big impact. I’ve been collecting the table cloths, table runners and such for a few years. I find them mostly at Target and Michael’s and I try to pick up a couple new ones each year.

I always set up my “The Witch is in” spot. This is my favorite thing. It’s different each year but always includes this broom that I’ve had for probably 15 years.

I really need to upgrade my rug, but overall, I like the way this turned out. I even had some help from Mother Earth with making this feel authentic. Notice the spider just above the witch hat? It’s the perfect touch. [As a side note, I used a heavy duty magnet to attach the hat to the suitcase so it can’t blow away.]

A nice big Daddy Long Legs, or whatever they’re really named. This year I added the old suitcase I found for a couple bucks at an estate sale a few years ago. The suitcase was living in my fireplace in the living room. My sister-in-law, Ruth, asked why I had a suitcase in the fireplace. I say, why not?

Here’s the first level of Fireplace decorating I did when we moved into this house which included said suitcase. I thought it was charming. I really don’t like having and empty hole in the fire box.

For the fall I changed this fireplace up a bit. We probably will have fires in this fireplace and not in the other one in the family room. I will change this again to allow for that when I decorate for the Christmas season.

The bit of change was adding a old toolbox, cedar shavings and a few pumpkins to “Fall” it up. The big Pewabic tiles hanging over the fireplace have a fun story. You may know of my love of reading and of all things books. I also have a great big spot in my heart just for libraries, and specifically, the Detroit Public Library main branch building.

The Friend’s of the DPL did a fundraiser a few years ago, coordinated with Pewabic Tile, to replicate the story themed tiles that are on the fireplace surround in the children’s room in the DPL’s main branch library.

This is the library fireplace, These are original, one of a kind tiles, that were made for this fireplace.

Following is are the two tiles above my fireplace up close. They are replicas with more contemporary colors that happen to suit my decor style perfectly. These are the “Steadfast Tin Soldier” by Hans Christian Anderson and” Midsummer’s Night Dream” by William Shakespeare. They measure approximately 11×14 but as they are individually handmade they vary slightly, adding to their charm. My brother made these frames using our wet bar counter.

I have two other tiles from this fundraiser. but they currently are living with my brother. I think I should do a full blog post just on Pewabic and these tiles.

But today I’m talking about Halloween decor. The last bit I’m sharing today is the dining room table. I added some table runners to the chandelier and hung my ghosts, too. A simple table cloth and runner I’ve had for a while and some red candles with ghosts from Party lite that I’ve also had forever. Then I added more table cloths to cover up the everyday things, including the chairs that forever are living stacked in the corner……

It’s a pretty low key style with my Witch aethtic going strong. I left the burned out lightbulb to add to the effect, or maybe I just don’t have one to replace it with, whatever.

These are some of the favorite bits. There’s more. Come on over and see. And you can grab a dozen eggs while your here. We have a few. A few dozen or so.

I’ve also finished some knitting projects that need photographing and I’ll update those soon.

Happy Halloween and happy knitting.

Extra time to Knit

Around here there seems to be an abundance of yard work. Having an acre of land can be rather daunting. Especially having spent the last 8 years in the desert. Though we made plenty of garden space with raised beds and lots of flower pots we did have rocks instead of grass. Not cutting grass for so long has significantly skewed my perspective on the amount of time it takes for this task.

No grass gives you more leisure time for sure. This is our yard in NM. You cannot believe the difference of dry heat vs humid heat if you haven’t actually experienced it.

I told Max, whose responsibility it is to weed whack, that it would take me around an hour to cut the front yard. Here’s where my skewing comes in. It took me about three hours in reality! And mind you I have a riding lawnmower. Previously, Chuck or Max have taken turns at doing this job. I was relegated to this task as it’s currently one of the few I’m “allowed” to do.

A calming view of my grassless NM yard. I was probably knitting while not cutting grass here.

 

What do I mean “allowed?” Well, apparently, I’ve broken my foot bones in three places. I wasn’t even aware I broke anything.  I knew it hurt, particularly when walking on uneven ground or up and down hills and such. Some days it really hurt and others it wasn’t noticeable.

 

 

Until one day at Tim’s therapy, where I was sitting waiting for him, I dropped my kindle. I leaned forward to pick it up and I guess I put weight on my foot just right and had such a sharp pain for a second I thought I might pass out! I definitely saw stars. I set up a Podiatrist appointment that day.

After seeing the dr, and getting X-rays, it was clear I had two very significant fractures in the bone second from the left with a hairline crack in another. It was concluded that between the pain meds I’m on for Fibromyalgia and not having any initial swelling or bruising I didn’t realize it had happened.  [It’s most likely happened when I stepped wrong on a tree root raised above the ground. Probably the very one I asked Chuck to cut off that was by the chicken coop, since I always was tripping on it.] The powers that be must have decided to give me a wake up call. Saving the bones from actually breaking off by the continued stress of walking on them and therefore preventing the need for a surgery.

Our front yard in VA is  actually larger than our backyard.(The backyard has been assigned as such only because it’s the fenced in part of our acre)

So, now I have a ugly, heavy, hot, robotic-like boot I have to wear for at least 6 weeks. And orders to stay off my foot whenever possible. Which as it turns out has been a real challenge for me, I’m not a very good patient.

But it is not so bad if I look at it from the point of how much time this leaves for knitting. And Chuck, being a great support, is doing a lot of the work I usually do and both boys are helping out, too.

And I have been doing lots of knitting. With each row I knit on my shawl I gain more and more stitches. Thus, each row requires more and more time to knit. I think that I’m winning. I’ve been powering through the Hydrangea Shawl like a beast. I’m now fully into color 4 of 5. While my shawl is clearly getting more blue as I switch through the colors I think my Hydrangeas are also getting bluer with the addition of fertilizer and the rusty things I’ve added around it. (Plus I’m saving all the coffee grounds in order to spread around the roots on my SIL, Carolyn’s, recommendation.)

What do you think? Are the flowers turning blue? Right at the centers I think.

 

Happy knitting.

An unnecessary chicken picture, Ida and Gertie.

Nesting

Birdwatch 2018 is still ongoing. All this bird nesting has me thinking about how we’ve settled into our new home. I still love this house and all the ways it’s so different from our New Mexico house.  We are individually finding our way into our Virginian lives. Meeting new people, hitting the local Farmers Markets, finding our favorite spots. We have a long way to go, but in time this place will feel like we’ve lived here forever.

I’ll tell you about our master bedroom, our nest if you will. I chose to keep this room very neutral going with the same “Floating Feather” by Edwards and Dunn that I painted the main areas of our house. As well as the color I chose for all of the New Mexico house actually.

This is our living room. It’s one of my favorite views. I love how this couch end is angled. It makes the really large couch feel intimate and cozy. I picked up that Majestic Palm at Harris Teeter for $20.I love it in this corner. But really the point of this shot was to show you the paint color.

 

 

Our Master Bedroom has a small bathroom which you get to via a dressing room.  Hollywood style? Maybe. The dressing room is a prime example of one of the best features in this house. The built-ins. This space has enabled us to eliminate the need for dressers in the bedroom and expanded the closet storage. As a bonus it even has a makeup table, definitely old school style if not Hollywood.

 

I picked up this painted mirror at a second hand store which has made the space function as a make up place. The table has good storage with 3 side drawers and one large shallow drawer where the chair goes. The chair is a second hand needle point chair. You may remember I have a need  to re-home every needle point chair I find, I suppose in remembrance of my grandma.

 

These built-ins house my stuff on one side and Chuck’s on the other. It’s surprisingly a lot of space. Having the three-way mirror is really nice for bouncing around light.

 

The closet is just to the right. While it would be nice to have it a bit bigger, the addition of the shelves Chuck added in works nicely to put my hand knit sweaters folded in there. I really cut back on the amount of clothes I have, that was probably really over due. I still had clothes I wore before Hanna was born, and she’s 21. Yikes.

 

The bathroom has been previously updated in a way that feels authentic to the house. I like the style but will probably someday make changes so we can enlarge the room.  It’s so small there really is not any good storage. There is the medicine cabinet and I added a little shelf from Target to hold extra stuff like washcloths and shampoo. There is no counter space or a place too hang a hand towel. It was actually pretty hard to get a photo that didn’t include the toilet. Now that is a small bathroom!

I’m obviously a fan a repurposing things. One of my favorite repurposes ever is in the master bedroom.  When we moved in there were shutters on a pallet behind the cottage. After my mom paired them with their windows, we ended up with one lonely shutter.  This shutter having no mate, no window, no destiny. It needed a new identity. So I helped it find one. It was already hinting at my favorite color combo, red, white and blue. I knew I couldn’t change that. So, I simply sprayed it with the hose on the highest setting, gave it a good scrub with some bleach water and let it dry. I then covered the entire shutter in a coat of polyurethane to prevent further peeling.

 

See those chippy colors. It had my heart. And needed a place of honor in our home, too. I new exactly where it would go. Right above the headboard in our master bedroom! I could picture it in my mind. I could see it there with the perfect focal point being a wreath. I set out on a wreath hunt the very day I hung the shutter.

 

 

I found the exact wreath size and style at Home Goods. I used heavy duty picture hangers screwed into the back side of the shutter and then added heavy gauge picture wire. It is really heavy so I used two anchored hooks rated for 50lbs each secured into the wall at the precisely measured height. Added a command hook to hold the wreath.

 

 

Voila! It is magic. I love it there. I have the beautiful afghan my grandma crocheted for me forever ago. I think it is charming and pairs nicely with the shutter, bringing the outdoors in, just the way I like it.

 

 

My reading corner is in this room, I’ve mentioned this corner here before.
This  is one of my favorites in the house. I love the way it feels and the way it looks.

 

 

Back to nesting and Bird Watch 2018. The bird houses in the back yard with the Winter Wrens are a flutter of activity. Mom constantly bringing food to hungry babies. They can’t be to far away from flying the coop. Of course I can’t see inside the houses so I’m just guessing. The Wren sitting in the paper box by the mail boxes is still in there, sitting all day and night. I steer clear of her getting the mail. I have noticed there is a lone teeny egg sitting just outside of the nest. I may try to collect it after this nest has been abandoned.

 

I did collect the Robin’s nest, there are the two unhatched eggs still inside. I placed it carefully inside this decorative wire nest I picked up a long time ago at Hobby Lobby. It will live here on my entry table for awhile. I can’t bring myself to give it up, but my hanging basket needed to breath, my plants can now flourish.

 

 

The sparrows have to be about too fly their coop as well. The two nests of finch eggs are still being sat upon. One nest should be hatching any day now. I can’t wait to see these birds out on their own!

 

Until next time. Happy Knitting.

 

Hydrangeas

I’ve never had a Hydrangea bush before. Luckily this house has 3! They are just coming into bloom.  I noticed the buds yesterday. Do Hydrangeas have buds? I guess the flowers just before they open are buds?

Any way. I noticed them yesterday. They range in colors from purple to pink. As you may know, I have a great love of all things Red, White and Blue. My dining room has fallen into that realm accidentally. But my front porch is all about the Red, White and Blue intentionally. So, these Hydrangeas clearly need to be blue. Off to Lowe’s we go.  [Max works there so we always choose Lowe’s over that other place with the orange logo.] I picked up fertilizer to add acidity to dirt around the Hydrangeas to encourage blue blooms. Among the fertilizer I also got several more bags of River Rock, it seems we have a never ending need for more rock. Did you know the more the soil is acidic they are blue, the more neutral they are purple, the more alkaline they are pink?

 

They have to be blue, am I right? We need more blue to offset the red. GO TEAM Red, White and Blue! (Side note; I’m thinking about adding my other bistro set to the  porch as well.)

 

With the current colors ranging from purple to pink,  definitely not blue, I’m hopeful its was not too late to add the fertilizer for this year. Next year I will get it out there earlier.

But this is not what is so interesting about my notice of the Hydrangea’s flowers…………The interesting part is actually all about the knitting!

 

 

Later in the day I was knitting on my Chevron Shenanigans shawl. And it hit me. The colors were the same as my Hydrangeas! I had no idea as the thought never occurred to me. I bought this kit last fall I think. While I still lived in New Mexico for sure. I’ve not given much thought about Hydrangeas or their colors previously. [How many time can I say Hydrangeas in one post!?!] Much less chosen colors of yarn for Hydrangeas. I’m using yarn from a Fade kit I purchased on Etsy from Woolfiend.

Well, I’ve decided I need to rename my shawl and henceforth it is the Hydrangea Shawl. I have a new perspective on creating color combos and project names. This shawl calls for five colors and you fade them into one another similar to how the Find Your Fade shawl is. Fading colors is exactly what the Hydrangea flowers are doing! Tip-Fading is super trendy still and can be great for stash busting.

I love to work chevrons and this one with short rows is fun and feels fast. I’ve developed a strategy using stitch markers that enables me to need to only glance at the pattern for reminders and to confirm stitch counts. There are 18 rows per section, and 22 sections for the large size I’m making. I’m currently about to start section 13. As you work the short rows, stitches are left behind, to be worked again later. In this case they are reintroduced in row 17. I use a stitch marker for each set of rows to make counting easier for me.

I’m using the small purple one to denote rows 1-2, the dragonfly one for rows 3-4, then the pins for each of the for consecutive rows3-4, then rows 13-14 & 15-16 are easily counted so I don’t mark them.  I use the pink locking marker to count where the short row stops as I work towards it, I then replace it with the previously specified markers. This is working great, I can stop at any point and know exactly where I am in the sequence.  And, unintentionally, the marker dish happens to be the Hydrangea colors as well! Bonus.

 

So this week I’m laying pretty low as I hurt my foot somehow a few weeks ago. Doing yard work probably. Since it’s still bothering me I’m trying to stay off it as much as I can. That’s giving me a bit of extra knitting time so I won’t be complaining. I do have a doctor appointment next week with a podiatrist if it’s not any better. Until then.

Happy knitting!

Curb Appeal

I wouldn’t say I love to garden. But I do love to have beautiful gardens. My mom is a gardener for the love of gardening. I’ve learned a lot from her. She has always had beautiful gardens. Flower gardens, vegetable gardens even just beautiful grass. I want those things, too. I’m not afraid to do the work, the removal of overgrown gardens is part of that.  When we bought this house the areas around the front and back were mostly shrubs that maybe had been here since the house was built.  The first thing we did was remove all these shrubs. Max and Tim spent a week just doing that!

 

Here’s how it looked when we came to see the house the first time

This is after we moved in and had the house painted, removed the shrubs but hadn’t yet landscaped.

This is how it looks now, just waiting for flowers to get big!

We prepared the earth with compost. We installed gutters to protect the gardens from  washing away in the rains. As part of the control water during the rains we also created “dry streams” which is something that was required for all property in the city limits in Las Cruces, NM. And it really works great to direct rain where you want it to go.

We then planted lots of plants. Many are annuals since we have so much ground to cover. We have Geraniums, Snapdragons, Marigolds, Coleus, and Petunias. We also planted some perennials, Lavender, Day-lilies, Roses, Dragons Blood, Pachysandras, Hostas  and several other varieties.   It’ll be awhile before they fill in but its looking good. I’m pretty happy with our progress.

In addition to compost and plants we’ve spread 23 yards of wood chips! 23 yards!!! we have several large areas we’ve made into flower beds and added wood chips to areas under our large trees, since no grass seems to be able to grow with the shade, intending these areas to be shade gardens instead.

This is in the backyard and what you see most through our living room windows

 

Now we have full flowers gardens the length of the front and back of our house. We’ve planted so many things. Hopefully they all do well. We have to contend with deer and rabbits. And obviously birds. So all plant choices need to consider these things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think it s starting to look pretty dang good. If I do say so myself. My mom planted all the pots when she was here last. They are filling in really nicely. And I think they make the front door seem to pull forward from the house, I hope that makes sense. It’s very welcoming and I look forward to having many guests.

We’re still working on the backyard. Since we’ve now purchased a riding lawnmower and a weed whacker the grass is looking really good. Along with the purchase of the mower we also purchased a shed in which we can store it. We couldn’t find a riding lawnmower rated for an acre or more that would fit in our existing shed doors. as a result we’ve renamed the shed to the Cottage. This way when you say “It’s in the shed.” it’s clear where the “thing” is.

The Shed

The Cottage

Part of our yard work this week was getting wood and putting it in our yard, stored for the winter.  A man, Roy, that Chuck works with was generous and gave us about a cord of wood, Pecan and White Oak. Another man he works with, Gary, offered his trailer to move it here. Tim and I emptied the trailer onto a simply made Wood Rack. He loaded the wheel barrow and moved it to the pile, I unloaded it onto the rack. This worked really well and we had it done in just a few hours. I researched some ideas on pInterest and found this one. It was easy and seems to be perfect. We had some overflow and put that on a pallet that the lawnmower was on when it was delivered. Now we need a could Ax and a hatchet.

 

Happy landscaping. A little curb appeal goes a long way. I guess my so called knitting life isn’t so much about knitting these days.

 

Chicken Chat

 This is Frida, but I’m thinking she is a he, so really this is Fred. When we decided to have chickens we knew we wanted all pullets, which are chickens that have been sexed to ensure they are female. You pay a bit more for the guarantee. When I went to pick up our White Leghorns they had also just received in a bunch of Polish Crested, they were so cute, I tried to resist. Not very hard, obviously.  I chose two, a black and white one and a brown one. Because these were a straight run, not sexed, I knew I could end up with a rooster, or two.

The brown one is Ester, she is half the size of Frida/Fred. They both are friendly and easily let me “catch” them and hold them a few minutes.

Our neighborhood, Queens Lake, is in Williamsburg but we are considered rural residential. There are different rules for different districts within the city. Because we are rural we can have chickens, one chicken for every 2500 square feet of property with a maximum of sixteen chickens. We hope to have them free range the back yard but so far they are sequestered to the chicken run. I have worked hard to make the run a fun chicken space. I understand chickens can get bored and I don’t want that. That’s when they find trouble.

I used fallen branches screwed into wood stakes for roost space which they like and planted several herbs

This is a kit from Tractor Supply that Max put together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We did have two chickens escape this week. I had Covered about 50% of the area above the coop but had run out out netting.  Apparently I wasn’t moving fast enough to get some more. It is now 100% covered. I understand the number 1 killer of backyard chickens are dogs. I certainly will do what I can to prevent untimely deaths. Cali, our Chihuahua/Beagle mix, has a very unhealthy interest in the chickens.

 

I also have a special needs chicken. This is Bea, she is an Ameraucana.

She has developed a scissored beak. If you want more information I am directing you to my favorite chicken blog, The Chicken Chick.

She tells you about this better than I can. But basically so far Bea is doing well. She eats and drinks with the only noticeable problem is she sometimes can’t pick up treats from the ground or my hand. Small things like clovers sprouts can be too small for her to grip. I’m keeping a close eye on her and I always try to hold her for a few minutes to really acclimate her to handling, but she doesn’t love it. I want it to be easy to check her out and if need be give her some help with out her also being afraid to be handled.

This is my Production Black, I think. I have one of these and two Cuckoo Marans, They all look alike. I can’t tell who is who. But they are rather friendly and easy for me to pick up and hold. They are curious little ones and always are right there to see what I might have in my hand. Lately they have been loving sprouts, clover, wheatgrass, alfalfa and such.  I started some sunflower and radish sprouts. I’m sure they will be ready to try those, too.

 

I’m learning a lot about chickens. And there seems to be lots of adjusting as they teach me more and more everyday about what they need.  So it’s petty interesting around here. Next on the chicken run agenda is to create a box garden with wire cloth frame over it.

I think we probably need to name our property. You know, like a real homestead. Since we are installing gardens and have chickens and all. I need a clever or witty name.  We live on Horseshoe Dr so maybe  the Hretz Horseshoe Homestead.  Have and ideas?

Happy chickens. Happy days.

Craftiness

Our house is basically set up in two parts. The main house has three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, dinning room, family room, living room, and kitchen. The other side of the house originally was a two car garage. At some point to was incorporated into part of the house with two bedrooms, a half bath, laundry room and what I use as a mudroom. Giving  us a 5 bedroom and two and a half baths house. I use one of the five bedrooms as my craft room and it is one of the two bedrooms at the far end of the house. The other bedroom is Hanna’s/guest room.  All of these spaces have builtins that make them feel like they have alway been a part of the house. That is something I love about this area of there house. Following are a few pictures of how the room looked when we bought the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This room will have many different functions, but the main one is storing and will allow space for my knitting and other many craft desires to have a proper home. This is greatly reflected with how this room is decorated. I like to decorate with functional pieces as well as some of the fluff added in a room that makes it feel finished.  I used Chuck’s warping board (for weaving) and the sock blockers my brother made me for Christmas one year and paired it with a natural dye grouping that had been framed, this was a Mother’s Day gift from my younger kids. Decor that is useful.

With the builtins and a closet that is all shelves I have pretty great storage. I put all of my yarn into plastic bags to protect it from moths, there seem to be a abundance of those tiny white moths that want all my yarn. I put one of our sofa tables in here, it works great for winding yarn and using it as a counter height work space. The table previously had a life as a coffee bar in the Casita in our New Mexico home.  I’ve  purposely left the center of the room free of furniture. This gives me the perfect place to lay out my blocking boards for blocking large knitted items such as shawls. The blocked item can then stay pinned out for plenty of time, undisturbed by people or dogs while it dries. I’ve very quickly realized the quick drying time afforded me by the desert air in New Mexico has been replaced by lllllllloooooonnnnnnngggggg drying times in the humid air of Virginia.

Got to love the floor to ceiling storage and my grandma’s sewing chair works perfectly here

 

I repurposed Hanna’s bulletin board and hung my antique sock blockers

Another really great use of this open space is for me to do yoga.  Not to mention it has a life as an extra guest room. This floor space allows us to set up a blow up bed in the event we have extra guests beyond our guest room capacity. This came in very handy with when my mom and her friend, Judy, came to visit and again when we had the Hretz reunion here.

You might think this is where I do my knitting. In reality most of my knitting is done in the evening when we have time to watch tv or in waiting rooms at dr appointments. Lately it’s been more of the latter rather than the former.

I found a cute vintage dresser that is a sweet, little,  green painted thing. It fits perfectly under the window which, gives me another place for a lamp and I used it display a shawl Chuck wove. This house doesn’t have many overhead lights, so lamps it is. When I found the llama lamp at World Market I knew it had to live in this space.

The little dresser fits perfectly under the window

A polka dot Lamp shade- it just doesn’t get cuter

Paint is one of the cheapest ways to change the feeling of the place. I’ve always loved turquoise and it is perfect for a craft space, don’t you agree? This is a Sherwin Williams 6765 Spa.  I don’t know if it is spa but it for sure is Crafty. I love this space and need to spend more time here.  Knitting or not.

The knitting. If your here for the knitting, and many are, there isn’t much. But here is what there is.

I’m on the second sock, still of Hermione’s Socks. I’m about the start the pattern on the leg. This means I’m barley into the second sock (hangs head in shame) and so far my spiral striping in not spiraling. I’m not sure why. I’m not sure I really care. I’m not sure I don’t really care. But I am going to keep moving ever so slowly along.  I’m sure if I hadn’t started the other pair of socks, The NO Purl Monkey socks by Cookie A I would’ve finished the other ones.  In all fairness I did start the new pair as a gift that is on a time crunch.

the stripes are vertical! I wonder if this will continue

check out my new Baggu zipper bag, it has chickens on it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve also made a little progress on my Magic Stripes scarf. I’m not quite halfway done. It’s really a fun project and I wouldn’t mind just knitting away on this until it’s done. I do have an itch to start a shawl. I’m thinking about Chevron Shenanigans by Stephen West. Chevrons are some of my favorite knit stitch combinations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There you go. Now let’s go knit!

Happy Knitting or what ever craftiness your feeling today.

Spring has Sprung

We moved into this neighborhood, Queen’s Lake, the first week of February.  It was a beautiful neighborhood with two pools, playgrounds, and even a lake. I fell in love with it. Back in December when we looked at this house had in no way prepared me for the true beauty of the place. Shamefully, I don’t have any pictures, but I will try to do justice to it.

First off, you drive to the neighbor via the Historic Colonial Parkway. This is a peaceful drive which is tree lined and very much like a step pack in time. This is not a typical road, there are no lines denoting lanes, there are no street lights, and the exits are discreet with the only signs being brown and white street signs set lower than usual of to the side. There are beautiful brick bridges were other streets cross the parkway, they add beauty while discretely hiding the moderns roads. As you travel down this scenic drive you will find many historic plaques telling you of the historic importance of this area, from John Smith and Pocahontas to the Siege of Yorktown where General Washington beat Cornwallis. (If you have ten minutes watch the videos on the history channel in the link.) Not to mention all the exciting this that happened and are still happening in Colonial Williamsburg, also a stop on the parkway. But I digress.

Once you exit the parkway and drive a couple hundred feet on Hubbard Lane you’ll turn onto Lakeshead Dr. This is a mile long street that leads into the east side of the Queen’s Lake neighborhood and also to the Quarterpath Park. Lakeshead is bordered to the right and left by a natural wooded area creating a lovely canopy of green foliage and completely blocking off your view to the Colonial Parkway and smattered into   the left you will see an occasional beautiful home, one of my favorites is the first house which is a charming colonial style, two story, green house. You immediately feel like you have ventured off into the country.  Turning onto East Queens you can’t help but notice how this spring has proved to be incredibly majestic, most of the houses on this street have huge Dogwood trees, both white and pink, and there are hundreds of Azaleas in an array of colors. Red, white, pink, coral, fuchsia and so on. The Daffodils were also glorious this spring, There is so much beauty in this neighborhood. You really should plan to come see us at the end of April beginning of May. It is breathtaking.

I know we are full into our spring, in addition to all the plants and trees awaking the birds are busily making homes and starting new families.  We have not one, but two, bird nests in our hanging plants on the front porch. I have tried to discretely snoop and take a few pictures. We have a Robin’s nest in the one. Did you know Robin’s eggs hatch after only 12-14 days?  The other nest is a Sparrow’s. While the momma Robin tends to her nest solo the Sparrow’s are a two bird production! I’m not really sure exactly which Sparrow it is, the eggs are white with very faint brown speckles.

two days ago the first baby has hatched

note the sparrow has used some of the cotton I placed out in asset feeder in the back yard

I was quite surprised how tidy and perfectly round the Robin’s nest is.  Several years ago my brother, Andy, made a Robin’s perch and Bat house for me as a Christmas gift. I just assumed the Robin would make a sloppy nest. Apparently they do like a platform to build there nest on rather than a house but the are very good architects.

Two Saturday’s ago we attended Art on the Square in Williamsburg were there were hundreds of artists selling their creations. We found these super cute birdhouses made by a very charming couple from a farm in the Shenandoah Valley in Virgina. They are the Fly Home Birdhouses, and for all my Michigan peeps they attend the Ann Arbor Art Show.  We scored two of them.  I placed them in the flower bed directly behind our house. Within days we had a Wren setting up home! As luck would have it, it is in the house we placed directly behind the living room window. We have a front row seat to all the action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you look very closely you can see the little bird peeking out on the left

here she is with a bit of something to add to the nest

I think this is a Winter Wren. It’s a tiny little thing and seems to be working in tandem with a male to build the nest. It has been great fun watching as they try to fit sticks ad all sorts of seeds and tree fluff into the box.

Since I seem to be all about the birds, let me continue onto the most important birds around here. The chickens! I haven’t updated my blog nearly as much as I would like to, and we have done lots of work around here in the yard. My main goal was to finish updating the chicken coop so we could move them from inside the house to the coop. This weekend that happened!

The previous owners had chickens here before we bought the house and they converted one of the side sheds to a chicken coop. I assume, like the other side it was originally just storage.  The first thing we added another set of nesting boxes as you can see in the picture below. Ours are the unpainted ones and the painted ones were already here.

for reference, the right side of the shed is the Chicken coop

This is how the coop looked before we changed anything. These chickens belong to the previous owners.

The previous owners cut holes in the walls and covered them with wire cloth and plastic sheeting. I assume to create windows but as it was winter they covered the open windows with the plastic. The ground is cement and over all I’d say the coop is  pretty secure from potential predators. The first thing we did was put actual windows in, allowing us to open or close them depending on the weather. We covered the exterior of the windows with wire cloth to prevent access via the screens from predators. I spent a lot of time reading books and various internet things about what is best for chickens. I found the Chicken Chick to be a favorite resource. I love her book and her blog.  I’ve implemented several of her ideas and am so far pleased with them.

We also finished the walls with bead board so that they are completely covered. I believe the leftover bead board from a previous master bathroom renovation had been used to cover part of the walls in the coop. We picked up two sheets at Lowe’s and finished the job. We also used two panels of white plastic trellis to cover the ceilings to prevent the chickens from possibly hitting their heads on roofing nails. We then moved the nesting boxes to the righthand side and lowered them. A tip from the Chicken Chick, she said chickens will sleep on the highest point and you don’t want the nesting boxes to be where they sleep in order to keep them cleaner and therefore have less chance of poop on your eggs. Also, on the Chicken Chick recommendations, we added two roosts and a poop deck. (A poop deck is under the roosts and all the poop lands on this and you can easily scrape it into a bucket to dump into a the compost.) It works like a charm! I painted everything with outdoor paint, mainly so it would be durable and painted wood is less likely to absorb moister than unpainted wood.  We added a couple inches of sand to the bottom, which will dry quickly in the event it gets wet, I can scoop poop out with a cat litter scoop and it won’t decompose and mold.

I’m very pleased with how it turned out. Since I’m a total nerd, I decorated it a bit. We  built some frames that we covered in wire cloth to go under the poop deck. This is for two reasons. One, to prevent chickens from congregating under the deck where I will store their food and stuff in a large tub. Two, in the event of a sick chicken needing separation do to pecking or whatever. This is where we will put any new chicken we introduce to the flock. We still need to build a door but right now the tub seems to be blocking the opening just fine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The chickens have made themselves at home and are very happy. I snapped this picture last night at about 9pm. They are all tucked up in bed, nice and tight.  On the highest spot in the coop. Super glad I rearranged things.

I don’t know why but the always separate themselves into two teams of 6

I not nearly enough to report on the knitting front.  I did FINALLY finish my Find your Fade for the KAL at Flying Needles. Which I haven’t even managed to get there to show the completed project, ugh. I still have not blocked it, although, I’m thinking I might not. I like that it is extra squishy. I love how it turned out.

 

Sometimes I feel like I’ll never have the free time to produce any mentionable knitting here. I’m still knitting the same pair of Hermione’s socks, I am now on the second sock. I did start a pair NO Purl Monkey socks, this is a fun project. I haven’t even created a project file for them on Ravelry yet.  This weekend we are traveling to Cincinnati, OH. for our niece, Katherine’s, graduation. She is now a Nurse! I’m looking forward to sharing in this special occasion with her. As a  bonus- I have car knitting time! WhhooooooHooooooooo!

Happy Knitting and Bird watching!

Spring Break

This year we sort of got to have a spring break! ON the heels of Chuck’s family reunion my brother and his family came during their spring break. We don’t really have a spring break in our house. My youngest is 21 and she is attending Paul Mitchell Beauty School in Tulsa, OK.  She doesn’t have a spring break there, it’s run more like a 9-5 job year round.

My brother, Andy, and his wife, Katie, have two children. Anthony and Sam.

They all arrived on Monday. Chuck had taken off from work the whole week. So it was like a big vacation for us, I guess really a stay-cation. Katie had wanted to take the kids to the ocean so we purposefully waited ourselves to do that with them. Tuesday we loaded up the van headed headed to the Atlantic Ocean, Virgina Beach specifically.  Being April the water was really cold but that didn’t stop us!

Sam and I decided it really was tooooooo cold

Anthony had brought the metal detector he had so he could comb the beach looking for treasures.  With a little discreet help from uncle Chuck both kids made out with a few dollars worth of change. Not too bad. Anthony is totally a “Ferdinand” and could probably spend all his days looking at the small details and beauty life has to offer, he’s so sweet. Sam… Sam is a very determined to be the best at everything, and she “already knows that” and isn’t shy to point it out. She was totally intrigued by the bigger kids at the beach trying to climb to the top of the climbing ropes. She jumped right in, and kept at it, until she made it to the tip top! It was pretty impressive watching her.

Dad made sure she didn’t fall, but he didn’t need to!

 

 

It was pretty fun down at the beach. The playground was popular with the kids. Even though it was spring break the beach wasn’t very busy. I can’t imagine going there during peak time. It must be a zoo! This way it felt like our own personal beach.

We had a great day for sure!

Continuing on in our stay-cation we took the kids to Jamestown settlement. I like Jamestown because it’s interactive. With an Indian village, Ships, and Fort it offers a rich history experience while out in the fresh air.

Since we were on kid time we skipped the inside museum and movies but those are worthwhile if you get a chance. We also were able to watch glass blowers at work, Anthony was really interested in that. And, frankly, so was I. Jamestown Settlement  tells all about life in the 17th century when the British were arriving to this area with the Virginia Company.

The next day we headed over to what in my opinion is the star of the historic triangle area, Colonial Williamsburg. This is a living history village that is focused around the birth of country. There are recreated and preserved buildings and places that were there in the 18th century. Places where our founding fathers met, where important discussions took place. and where the actual writing of the Declaration of Independence happened.  It’s pretty amazing to be able to experience this through the costumed interpreters. There are also actors all around portraying very real people. The day we were there we saw General Washington riding his horse through the Palace Greens!

It was a perfect weather day. Until, exactly as the Weather Channel predicted, at about 1:40pm there were brief, heavy showers.  We found shelter in one of the stores. It only lasted about 15 minutes.  Then the kids went on with Katie and my mom to the children’s interactive area where they were able to play period games and see children in period costumes going about their daily chores.

They liked this game the best. Anthony picked it up immediately. Sam took a little longer, but she doesn’t give up easily.

 

 

Chuck, Tim, Andy and myself headed off to explore elsewhere. I was really thrilled to share the Joinery with brother. He is a joiner, or as he would be called in today’s words, a finished carpenter. It was nice to see it through his eyes and here him talk about the tools and stuff.

It was a fast, short time with them. I hope they come back soon. We still have to hit up Yorktown! It was really nice to get this time with everyone, especially since my mom was here. too.

Why do I never think to get a group photo!?!

I hope you go out and explore the cool places you live near. Have you ever been to Colonial Williamsburg? If so tell me what you like the best, if not come visit us and we will go again with you!