July 2008


The yellow one is about four hours old. The black one had just managed to clamber out of its egg and over a little ledge, so it’s very sleepy.

Raven took this picture last night – this morning there are I think two more little black ones.

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Well ok, there’s only one that I can’t explain. I am making jam – yes, I am making jam right now – and that’s easy to explain because a friend gave us a LOT of plums. Although it turns out that not only do I usually wind up doing things the ‘hard’ way, but I am in fact incompetent when it comes to doing things the ‘easy’ way. Raise your hand if you can’t make jam using pectin and the recipe that comes in the box? But, you can make it just fine without a recipe and using just sugar? Oooh, pick me, pick me! So there’s a lot of simmering going on, hence the time to blog at y’all.

I’m doing mosaic on the porch in front of the doors – we left a space for tile, because it gets so muddy around here in the spring and in winter snow and dirt get tracked in, so we figured we’d just put a tile patch by the doors where the mats go – easy to clean and not going to damage the wood and all that. Very practical. Also boring. So I’m doing mosaics there. Don’t have a picture yet, sorry – it really doesn’t look like much yet anyway, you’ve all seen broken plates, right? I’ll post pictures when I get them actually looking LIKE pictures. I should warn you though, I’ve never actually done this before, so don’t expect to be impressed. I’ve been looking for an excuse to stick tile to something for quite a while now, so as a starter project something that’s going to be hidden under a doormat most of the time is probably just about perfect!

Now here’s the one I can’t really explain:

Still (a) Life, K Ridley

Still (a) Life, K Ridley

It’s not quite done yet, but almost. This is the first thing I’ve made in a really long time that has no purpose other than being what it is, if you know what I mean. Feels kind of weird.

More in character, I finished that dog hair/suffolk yarn:

Tell me that’s not pretty. I’ve been working with so many subtle colours lately, it was great to play with these nice strong hues. Still kool-aid and food dye, BTW.

In animal news, the light bulb burned out on the incubator, and when I replaced it all I had was a 60 watt, which wasn’t hot enough. CK and The Ed came to the rescue with a couple of 100 watt bulbs, but I’m not sure whether the eggs (at least a couple of which do seem to have been developing) will have made it or not. There’s only a few days to go, so I’m just going to keep going and see what happens, I’m going to put some more eggs in right away whether we get a hatch or not, because that way any chicks we get will be old enough to be left for a while when we go to a wedding we have to go to up in Barrie in the fall.

Phil is the flyin’est goose on the farm. Which is to say, he runs really fast and flaps his wings a lot, and if the wind happens to be blowing in the right direction he sometimes gets about an inch or two in the air for a few feet. But we cheer and clap and congratulate him anyway. He likes the praise, because now whenever he feels like he’s not getting enough attention he ‘flies” around the yard. (And yes, sometimes I run around flapping my arms, and yes, he does follow me when I’m doing it, and NO there will not be any pictures of that if I can help it!)

Phil has also decided that he definitely is not a chicken. Chickens have stupid little wings that aren’t good for anything, and they don’t play in the water, and they make all these crazy noises and sleep in strange little buildings and crawl in boxes for some reason, and also even though they are very small they are sometimes kind of scary. (Bianca can kick Phil’s feathered butt, and everybody is scared of Luna.) So, looking for a new role model, and having already rejected dogs and cats, Phil is thinking about being a sheep.

True, sheep don’t seem to have wings at all, and their feathers are just plain weird. These are definite negatives. On the plus side, they’re big and strong and nobody messes with them. They can jump pretty high, and they can run fast when they want to. They eat way more grass than the chickens do, they also like corn and like Phil they like to stick their heads into the pond and make outrageous slurping noises. They don’t seem to swim much (Monster did once, but it was an accident) but they sleep in that neat stable with all the straw, which Phil’s been fascinated with lately. So, he’s been following them around.

I have a new friend out by the pond. I call him FrankenFrog.

He’s green and gold like one kind of frog on his top half, and then there’s a neat line just below his shoulders and his bottom half is brown and yellow. He’s the biggest frog in the pond as far as I’ve seen and although I don’t try to pick up the frogs (I like the fact that our frogs and fish are all pretty friendly and fearless, and I don’t want to freak them out) he will let me pet him. As you see.

The bunnies continue well – they’ve definitely settled in the treeline by the pond, and they’ve picked up a third bunny-friend as well. The three of them play in the yard every evening. They’re fairly brave, relative to wild bunnies in general, so I guess Velcro brought ’em up ok – they won’t let us actually approach them, but as long as we play “ignore the rabbit” they’ll let us get within a very few feet before they decide to move on.

Blackie’s been super-affectionate lately, probably because Monster is increasingly independent. He’s taken over the job of fence-breaking and escape-plotting, his new partner in crime being Chloe. She’s not actually a bad sheep, she’s a very good sheep, but she has a sort of a crush on Monster still, and she’ll do what he tells her. Chloe is obviously putting most of her energy into wool production – her wool is twice as long as the boys’, although I observed yesterday that if I were to shear her tomorrow, and take off her thick layer of wooly puff – she’d still be a fat little sheep. Linton, on the other hand, might disappear if shorn. He’s a tiny wee thing.

Guess that’s it for now – I’ve probably been doing lots of other stuff, but if so I can’t remember what it is right now, and I should probably go tend the jam anyway.

I’m not even going to apologize. I’m totally beating myself up though, because the longer I go without writing here, the harder it is to actually get up (or down) and do it, and then by the time I do I’ve forgotten all the things I wanted to tell you.  Or I remember them, and then I make a post so long that nobody wants to read it!

I’m still blogging in my head every day.  If I had a brain machine that would type into the computer the things that I think to this blog while I’m doing other things, you could read a post every day.  Fewer pictures though.  And it would be really creepy.  I’m glad I don’t have a brain machine.

Don’t have a lot of time for fibre just lately either, alas.  I have been spinning a little – a border collie/blackface blend that I made out of these bags and bags of dog hair I got a while ago.

It’s very very soft, and felts like a dream (if you dream of felting, which I personally don’t).  I think it is going to be some lace, because although I am also massively behind on blog reading, I can’t help but notice that Jen has been cranking out quite the stack of jealous-making lace things lately, and I want to knit the Luna moth shawl. Which by the way is totally impractical for me, and I’m crazy to want to do it because it will be snagged and ruined within moments I’m sure.  But I want to anyway. So since it’s taking me so silly long to spin the stuff in the little snatches of time I’ve had lately, I’m going to spin it and the just look at it for a while and see if there’s anything else it would rather be.

What’s mostly been keeping me busy is this ‘farm’ thing.  I am by the way still using the word ‘farm’; even though I philosophically agree with the ‘homestead’ linguistic, the word itself doesn’t have any resonance for me.  I don’t know if that’s a Canadian thing, or just personal.  But I’m used to calling the [evil] big industrial farms ‘factory farming’ and/or in the case of the massive soy fields around here ‘cash cropping’ and we don’t have any of that, we’ve just got some chickens and sheep and a garden.  And a goose.  Around here we’d probably be called a ‘hobby farm’, and I hate that description – this is definitely, whatever else it may be not a hobby.  Whatever you prefer to call it, the advent of the sheep last fall definitely marked a major change in the seriousness with which I have to approach the whole livestock rearing thing.  We’ve also started selling eggs, because only friends were willing to take them for free – even when ‘free’ really meant ‘in exchange for the random bags of wheat you leave by the mailbox’ or ‘as a thank you for plowing my driveway’.  So I put up a sign, and by some weird small-town speed-of-light gossip thing, people who never even drive down my road instantly knew that we had eggs.  Now the chickens are self-supporting, and I don’t have a fridge full of too many eggs.  Good deal.

Also as a result of my egg sign, someone dropped off two incubators that they’d been looking to get rid of, as they have no chickens and these things were taking up space they would prefer to use for lawnmowers and things that they do have.  This is so many shades of cool.  First, I have very much been wanting to try hatching eggs myself, but y’know, sitting on them for a month seemed impractical, and I have no warm feathers.  My first choice is of course to let the hens do it themselves, but nobody has shown an inclination so far this year, and anyway I need to increase the flock at a somewhat higher rate than the one-and-two chicks per hen that we’ve had so far.  (Really I should let Patches live and run two cocks.  He’s nice enough, he’s just kind of a wuss.)  So I’ve got some eggs in an incubator and we’ll see if anything hatches.

But just having an incubator turn up on my doorstep is not the coolest bit (although it is very nifty) – the coolest bit is this:

Two of ’em!  Aren’t they gorgeous?  They’re Buckeye “standards”, which I found listed in a trade manual from 1913 – by the 20s they were making them in cast iron, so they’re definitely from around that time.  They belonged to the grandmother of the ex-husband of the woman who dropped them off.  Her dad says his mother had one just like them also.  One of them is converted to run off a light bulb, or either one of them could be run off of the original lamps.  They even came with the manual, which is some great reading, let me tell you!

Another thing that has been keeping me out of trouble and away from the knitting is – pretty floors.  You may or may not remember when I did the bedroom last year, and the only thing I couldn’t do anything about was the plywood floor?  Well, we’ve had a pile of scavanged wood sitting in our front room since sometime after Christmas, and we finally laid a floor in the bedroom.

Ain’t that just a mighty big improvement over paint-speckled plywood?  But that’s not all, folks!  There was, as it turned out, a LOT of wood piled in my front room.  (People who have been here and had to sort of climb over it will verify this.)  So we managed to put a floor on the front porch as well!

As you may have noticed, I spend a lot of time on my front porch.  We both do.  It’s warm on sunny days in winter, because Raven enclosed it with glass doors.  The animals like to sit in the doorways and get sun and breeze.  It’s a nice place to work on things.  It’s also an easy place to let a pile of crap build up, and since we had this old chunk of carpeting on the floor to block drafts, it got pretty gross, between us tracking in mud, and Phil sleeping there lately… ew.  And of course it’s the first thing people see when they come in, and it looks so junky – actually I think “junky” is almost complimentary sometimes.  It was pretty bad.  I have a ‘before’ picture somewhere, but I don’t even want to show you.  Ick.

But here it is now!

Only about a million times nicer, and easier to clean too.

Ok, you’ve stayed with me this long, (or you haven’t, and you’re just skimming down for goose pictures.)  Either way, here’s Phil at eight weeks:

You will notice that he’s wearing a sling.  When his feathers started coming in, one of his wings was very wonky.  Looked almost as if he’d broken it, except of course he hadn’t – ‘cos you know, being as he was with us all the time, we would have noticed.  Also, he wasn’t in any pain, he just had this crazy floppy wing.

See?  (Also, you can see some of the gross carpet.)  Anyway, we were worried that he wasn’t going to  be able to fly, and also that it was going to hurt his social life when he got older and interested in dating – because you know what teenagers can be like, they make fun of you if you’re ‘different’.  Well, after a morning spent on the telephone trying to find an actual person involved in animal rescue/natural resources, which division of government around here is apparently run by ansa-phones, I found a nice lady who explained that this is a growth thing caused by a high protein diet (so much for ‘he needs lots of protein’, which by the way came from the same source as ‘he’s a duck’) and it happens in the wild too, so we didn’t have to feel bad – but we should tie up his wing into the correct position and keep it there while he finishes growing.  So Phil has a sling.  He can still flap his wings, he just can’t extend the “wrist” bit on one side, but he can reach to preen his feathers, which he couldn’t before.

Here’s another cute picture from about three weeks, just to show how fast the little fella has been growing:  (And to make sure you are well sated with cute birdie pics before I sign off!)