Tuesday, March 30, 2010

1 1/2 Weeks

Just had to show off the chicks. That's the first three to hatch - from front to back Numbers 2, 3, and 1.
Check out the wings on Number 2 - we're amazed by how fast the little fluffs are feathering out.

And here's Number 6. She's not deformed - there's another chick hiding behind her. I'm not sure which one it is, but I can guarantee it's not Number 4. She is a camera hog. As soon as she saw the camera, she went from this:
to this:

At one point, I had a perfect shot lined up of a couple of the other chicks, and guess who popped up?

Here's my favorite -

"You talkin' to us?"

Monday, March 29, 2010

Guess who's home from vacation?

She's back!
We buzzed up to the farm to fetch her tonight after work. After a month at the 'luxury spa' (complete with hot and cold running boyfriend), she came home all blonde and beautiful.

Merlin, our little wether, was a little confused by all the exitement. I'm sure she was carrying the smell of the ram with her. Who knows what neglected synapses were trying to fire in his poor little brain?

He kept circling her, trying to sniff her butt.And circling.
Finally she gave him The Look. You know - that "Back off, little dude, or I will thump you" look.

He came running over to me. "Mama, I'm so confused..."

We're keeping our fingers crossed that she got bred. This isn't the normal time of year for a ewe to come into season, but Shetlands can lamb a couple of times of year, so we're hopeful.
My only worry is that a lamb born in August doesn't have a lot of time to grow much of a fleece in time for winter.
I guess I could always knit it a sweater...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Still skewing around

Hey, look! Skew really does have a heel! I'm just past the magic origami row that makes this look like this:(Warning - there is Kitchenering involved. Not much, but it's sort of a surprise in the middle of a heel...)

Speaking of socks, my traveling sock is getting a lot of attention. I'm currently training in another store (One more week to go! Yay!!) which involves a 40 minute commute each way. Madman has been driving me (Will the car issues never end?) so I have time to drink my coffee and get a little knitting done.

I've got about another 1.5" to go before starting toe shaping. If I stay on task, I could have a brand spanky new pair of purple socks in no time. (Stop laughing. It could happen. Srsly.)

And here's that Cabled Coat that I keep claiming to be working on. See? Seaming in progress. I'm not exactly setting a land-speed record, but at least all the pieces are connected now. If it's cold this year for NH S&W (which is entirely possible, given the eccentricities of our weather up here) I'm going to wear it.

Whether it's done or not...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Uh oh. We're at it again...

Twenty-seven eggs this time. (Holy crap.)

And check this out - the chicks are growing wing feathers already!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Five little chickie birds

We ended up with 5 chicks out of our 20 eggs. Admittedly, we skewed the results somewhat by selecting the largest eggs - this would have limited the number of hens we were getting eggs from, and some of those hens could have been dodging the rooster.

We're going to do another batch of eggs soon, but for that hatch we'll just use straight 'nest run' eggs, so hopefully our odds will be better.

In the meantime, we're happy with our little cuties!

(And, pssst, Diane: I'm seaming my cabled coat. Got the sleeves and gusset set in, and have started sewing on the collar. You can put away the stick...)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Excuse me? This rain is defective. I'd like to return it.

I knew this was going to happen. It's why I've tried so hard not to get excited about Spring, despite the lovely warm weather we've been having lately. (It's only March...)

Friday was gorgeous. Saturday was warm, though cloudy. I even went out and worked in my flower and herb beds, pulling grass, clearing debris.
I was elated to see tulips coming up! Here's what they looked like Saturday:
and here they are today:


In chicken news, Number 6 deshelled herself late last night.

She's not dead; she's merely resting after a long hard day.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

And then there were four

Number 4 finally made it! Hurray, Pokey!
She's the most vocal - in an angry sort of way - of the bunch, but we figure she's earned it. She pipped last night, and didn't escape the shell until 5:30 tonight. Twenty-four hours of fighting your way out of an egg is enough to make anybody cranky.
Toward the last, we did relent and give her a little help. There was a narrow strip of membrane stretched across the opening that would stretch a bit as she pushed, but was too tough and dry to break, effectively locking her in. She was getting tireder and tireder, and we hated to lose her this close to the end, so we gently broke the membrane which let her finally (eventually) break out. (Madman also gently removed the eggshell stuck to her head after the hatch - she looked like she was wearing a particularly ungainly football helmet...)
The reason you're not supposed to help is because of risk of injury to the chick. They might be stuck to the inside of the shell, and pulling on it could actually rip their skin (or worse.) It's far better to let nature take its course, hard as that may be. There were times watching Number 2 that we literally had to sit on our hands to keep from helping.

Number 6 is still working on her great escape, but we lost Number 5 soon after she pipped. (We're sad about that. She was so close to the finish line.)

Meanwhile, Numbers 1-3 got to move to the Big Girl Bin:

From left to right, that's Number 3, Number 2, and Number 1 (Gladys) - we number them by when they pip, rather than as they hatch. (I don't know why, we just do. Helps us keep track of who has hatched so far and who's still struggling, I guess.) (And yes, the green stuff is new-born chickie poop...)

Is the suspense killing you?

Or is it just me?

When I finally staggered off to bed last night (watching chicks hatch is tiring work, what with all the cheering and body English and all...), we were the proud owners of 3 new chicks.
After hours of lurking by the incubator with camera in hand, trying to get a pic of Number 2 hatching, Number 3 jumped line and hatched while I was on a bathroom run. *sigh*The two newbies bumbled around the incubator, scattering eggs and eggshells hither and yon, while drying out and learning to walk. (At first, just keeping the head in a full upright and locked position is a real challenge. And balance is a big problem when you're trying to operate CrazyLegs that are going in opposite directions. It's a real bitch for them, but awfully fun to watch.)
They bumbled over in the general direction of Number 2, who was still not out of the shell.

They gave her a little pep talk...

which worked wonders! She popped the bottom of the shell off, and was born upside-down. (Which is where the two bumblers had left her egg when they were done with the pep talk. As if Number 2 wasn't having enough problems...)

She unfolded a wing -
and finally stretched a little, and suddenly she wasn't so egg-shaped anymore!

That was about the point I gave up and went to bed. I figured Number 4 (who was now pip-down somewhere in the crowd so I couldn't find her anyway) would be out by morning.

Awoke to find 3 chicks alternating between careening across the mesh and napping, and Number 4 still in the shell.
And there she still is. We're going to name her Pokey, if she ever gets out of there...

(And yay! There were a couple more pips this morning, too! At this stage in the hatch, they might not make it, but we'll keep hoping.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chick it out!

Or, just chicking in...
Can I get a Woohoo?!?
Go Number One!!!

She's less than 30 seconds old in those pictures. ('She' because we're thinking positive. We want hens to add to our laying flock. So she's a she, at least until proven otherwise.)

She's been flailing around the incubator, trying to figure out WTF is up with this gravity thing...

Hatching is hard work. Poor little thing is exhausted, what with all the flipping and flopping and rolling around the other eggs...
And look what we saw when she flipped a couple of eggs over:

More pips!!!

(That photo was titled Number One and the Pips. I told Madman we'll have to name her Gladys...)

Pictures-2, Chicks- 0

Not in any hurry, these chicks. But slowly pecking away.

Here's the leader:

And at the bottom of this photo is Number 2 (leader at the top) :

(If you're wondering what the Xs are - we mark the eggs so we can tell that we've turned them over. There are Os on the other side. Otherwise it's really really hard to tell which ones have been rolled and which ones haven't.)

(And, hey - if you're here from Madman's FB contest, you're totally cheating. Shoo!)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lazy little cluckers

We're up to 2 pips. And peeping. Lots of peeping.
But very little action.
Good thing there's no chick-cam. Everyone would be snoring by now...
I struggled for waaaaaay too long to add arrows indicating the pips. No luck. One pip is on the egg with the light-circle from the flashlight (the only way I could get the camera to focus on the eggs through the incubator window) and the other is on the egg immediately above it. Get out your magnifying glasses - you'll need them.
(Do you suppose they're in no hurry to hatch because I cooked chicken for supper? I didn't tell them, honest...)

We have a pip!

Just a micro-pip so far, too small to show up in a picture. (I tried.)
We were getting discouraged. We checked the books last night to make sure we hadn't miscounted the days (we hadn't) - but we found a reference that said larger eggs take a little longer.
We chose the real whoppers to incubate. Eggs big enough that, looking at them, your first thought was "Oh my god, that poor hen..."
Apparently, we just have to be a little more patient with this lot.
Stay tuned for further updates. Film at 11:00.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Not yet.

Still no peeps. There may or may not be signs of movement. (Our eyes are getting tired from watching.) And there may be muffled sounds.
But we're not sure.
Going to bed.
Maybe there'll be little cluckers in the morning.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Still skewed up

I've reached the point in Skew where the heel-shaping commences. I'd feel a whole lot better right now if there was an in-progress photo in the pattern. You know, like,

Don't panic if your sock now looks like this:Just sayin'...
If anyone knows if I should panic, please pipe up.
Thank you.

As far as the eggs?

No change.
(Those small white spots are just egg-freckles and tricks of the light. I know because I went and looked with the high-powered flashlight...)

This is it!

This is the first possible day we could see eggs hatching. We're obsessively checking them every couple of minutes, trying to determine if we're really seeing some of them rocking a bit or if it's just wishful thinking.

Camera batteries are charging.

Stay tuned...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

And in our spare time...

We've had another project underway for the last week and a half.

As if we didn't have enough to do, we've got 20 eggs going in the incubator.

They have to be turned twice a day. Preferably while clucking.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

All Skewed Up

Well, they say third fourth time's the charm. (I didn't even take a picture of the third try at Skew. Ripped.)
Finally, something where you can actually see the magic!

This is Socks that Rock that I won on Cara's blog about a million years ago. I've lost the ball band (go figure) so I don't know the colorway. One of the Rare Gems, I think.
Anyway, I'm happy that I'm getting color runs that are actually long enough to show off the diagonals in this pattern. And that I'm finally far enough along that I have to actually look at the pattern again. (After 3 previous attempts, I pretty well had the beginning memorized. Except for Judy's Magic Cast-on, which I still have to go look at every.single.time...)

But I haven't been neglecting Maplewing. I'm now on the second repeat of section B. Hitting that decrease row where I went from 522 sts to 435 sts made a huuuuuuge difference. Practically flying through the rows, now.

And I'm back to my old wicked ways again. Why be monogamous when you can multi-task?

I needed a portable project for a car trip. Neither Skew nor Maplewing are the kind of thing I can knit without watching closely - and I get car-sick unless I'm looking out the window. So, obviously, I needed to cast on another project...
Simple mind, simple sock.

(Psst... Diane... I really am seaming up the Cabled Coat. Slowly but surely. Srsly.)

(And can anyone figure out what in this post is causing my google ads to all be for Love Spells? Is it the magic cast-on, combined with wicked and monogamous?)