Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy You Know What!

Here's hoping 2012 is better than 2011.
Happy New Year, all!

And I finished Madman's Double-knit sock.  Even with the double layer of kitchener.  Wrap your brains around that one for a minute...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Here, Piggy, Piggy...

So I can now reveal the secret knit project, since it has been gifted to the happy recipient.
It's double-knitting again, since I seem to have been bitten hard by this particular technique. 

Behold, the Pig Hat:

A fully reversible earflap hat.  With pigs.

I designed it on the fly, since I had the wonderful idea for it way too late to actually finish it in time.  By starting with the earflaps, I was able to work out what my gauge was, and then do the calculations for the body of the hat from there.  The pigs are a re-work of some charts for a sock in the Socks, Socks, Socks book, altered from the 3 colors of the charts (meant for duplicate stitch) which I changed for 2 colors.  The stripes are just because I like stripes, and they make it easy to count rows.  I finished weaving in the last end after supper at the giftee's house, after making her hunt me up a yarn needle.  (Because I'd forgotten to bring one.  Preparedness is not my middle name...)

The recipient is my wonderful Wicked Good Stepmother - since she and my dad raise pigs, it seemed wildly appropriate.  I told her that with one side out, it shows Yorkshire pigs, and the other side is flashing Red Durocs. 

She was pretty pleased with the hat...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy happy ho-ho!

Happy merry jolly holidays, all.  May your days be filled with joy and light!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Would anyone mind if I ripped a hole in the Space-Time Continuum?

Because that's the only way I'm going to get everything done...
Baking and wrapping and secret knitting don't leave me much time, energy, or fodder for posting.
And working full-time in retail is NOT helping my Christmas Spirit.  (At this point in the madness, the only ones out are the desperate and the truly truly angry.  Help me.)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Okay, quick show of hands

How many people thought I'd have to rip out the first version of the toe?

Yeah.  I guess that was pretty predictable, hunh...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Someone cover me - I'm goin' in!

Time to attack the toe. 
Someone's gotta do it...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hey! It's December 1st!

Which means I made it through another NaBloPoMo alive...
I did have an early glitch,  which I fixed by posting twice on the same day later. 
So my stitch count came out okay, even though my gauge was off.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pssst! Don't look around...

Today was my day off, which means laundry, errands, cooking, etc.  You know the drill - more work than if I was at work.
Grocery shopping was one of the things on the to do list, and I got a wicked good deal.  Leg of lamb for less than hamburger.  It was even less than the marked-down-for-quick-sale-oops-we-ground-waaaay-too-much hamburger.
It's a lot of lamb for just Madman and me, but I'm already thinking ahead to the leftovers:  lamb stew, lamb curry,  stuffed grape leaves, real shepherd's pie.

Just don't tell Goldie and the gang...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fraternal gussets

It occurred to me that yesterday's photo of the gusset was taken from the other side of the sock than I'd shown previously.  Because there's a surprise in the gussets - one is black

and the other is green.


Because the 48 stitches of the sole could only be divided into an even number of stripes, the first stripe and the last stripe (from left to right) are opposite colors, which meant the gussets wouldn't match.  I knew that going in, and knew that I could do some fancy number juggling to compensate, but I decided it just wasn't worth it.   I plan to knit the second sock with the sole stripes reversed, so that the socks will mirror.  Then for the pattern it will be knitter's option whether they knit matching or mirrored socks.

I'm also trying to figure out the topology of turning one sock inside out.  Would it then match or mirror?  (I'm an empiricist, dammit.  I'll have to knit the second sock, then play with turning one inside out...)

Monday, November 28, 2011

You say you want a resolution

We-eell you kno-o-ow, we all want to knit a sock...  (Sorry.  Channeling old Beatles songs lately.  It's either a function of my age, or some sort of mental protest against all the "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" that's already spring up.  Grrr.)

So, the gusset has resolved.  (Which is where all that resolution came from.)  (Again, sorry.)  I like the stronger lines I got by working it this way.

Double-knitting, for me, seems to involve a lot of mental chanting.  "Green/black-green/black, black/green-black/green".  Over and over, in various combinations.  It's the only way I've found to keep going without getting hopelessly confused. 
Makes it a little hard to have a conversation, though...  "Hey, sweetie, green-black, I stopped green-black at Agway black-green this black-green morning and green-black they had green-black a new black-green kind of black-green chicken feed."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I hope calling Murphy's Law doesn't cancel Murphy's Law...

No deer today, the last day of rifle season.  But there's one more week of bow season in early December. 
Venison would make such a nice change from chicken...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I needed a foghorn...

Just got home from work - the store is already keeping whacky hours in preparation for the holidays - and it was so foggy that I was mostly driving by memory... 
The weather has been warming up again, which is causing all the fog.  Maybe it'll bring Madman good luck in his Quest for Deer. 
We figure Murphy's Law will work in our favor this year - the freezers are chock-a-block full of chickens and garden veg.  We have absolutely no room for venison.  Doesn't that sound like he should get a really really big deer?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Woo and Hoo

 Last month I was spinning this luscious stuff - a Corgi Hill Farm merino/angora/silk blend.  And we're talking serious love with this fiber.  It's blue-green at one end, shading down to yellow-green at the other, with white laced through it so the colors shimmer between light and dark.
But then something awful happened - my wheel suddenly developed a horrible clunk.  It took me forever to track down where the sound was coming from, but I finally realized that the pitman rod was hanging up at the top of its arc, making a small clunking noise just before it reached the top and a louder one just after, as the whatchamacallit that turns the axle went up and over.  (You know how I love all that technical talk.)
I would grit my teeth, and try to spin for awhile, but the noise was rapidly driving me batshit.  I could tolerate a few minutes - and I desperately wanted to spin that CHF temptress - but then I'd have to put the fiber down and run walk away from the wheel.  I was afraid that I'd have to call the wheel-doctor to get my baby fixed, but money spent on doctoring is money that can't be spent on more luscious fiber, so I put it off.
I didn't spin for a couple of weeks.  But I missed it.  I really really missed it.  So, last night I sat down at the wheel, thinking "Well, I'll spin as long as I can stand the noise, then go knit or something."
I dabbed a few drops of oil behind her ears, just like I always do, and started to spin.
Silence.  Or nearly so - just that gentle hum of a wheel working smoothly.
I kept spinning, hoping it wasn't just a fluke.
Still with the silence.  Wow.
I finally said to Madman "Ya know, this isn't helping any with my irrational belief that things will heal themselves if you just leave them alone for a while..."
"What?" he asked, turning away from the computer.
"Do you hear any clunks?"
He listened for a moment.  "Hunh."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Over the river and through the woods

To Grandmother's house we go!
Have a happy Turkey Day, everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Madman's socks

So, I was knitting away last night on the double-knit socks.  Madman looked over and asked "Socks?" 
I smiled and said "Yes."
"That looks really cool.  Can I feel it?"
And again I said "Yes."  I'm always pleased when he takes an interest in the knitting.
"Wow!  This is really thick!" he said.  I showed it off, explaining double-knitting, and showing that it was reversible.
"Oh, wow.  I want a pair of these."
"Sweetie, you haven't been reading the blog lately, have you?"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Oh, yes, that's much better

Here's the new and improved gusset - much more what I had in mind:

As opposed to the first version:

I guess I should have rotated one or the other of those photos...

Monday, November 21, 2011

For those of you keeping score at home

The pullets are nosing ahead again...

Yes, that's four (count them, four!) pullets standing outside the coop door, trying to figure out how to get in.
One of the less stupid  braver ones actually edged past me while I had the door open, filling feeders, and got inside.  A second one I cornered, grabbed, and boosted over the fence.
The other two are still out there milling around somewhere, too fast for me to capture.  (Madman tried to find them when he got home, but since it now gets dark in what feels like mid-afternoon,  it wasn't possible to find two chickens by the light of a headlamp.)
We honestly can't figure out how they're getting out.  And apparently, neither can they, since they can't manage to get back in.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gusset, Rip, Repeat...

And repeat again.

I decided that I didn't like the way the gusset was going to resolve when I finished the decreases (naturally, I was almost at that point when I realized it), so I ripped it back to the picking-up-stitches part and started again.
And then realized that I'd made a grievous calculation error (because apparently I can't count past four without making a mistake) and had to rip it out again.

On the silver-lining side, I'm getting very good at picking up the two layers of gusset stitches...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lured away

I was going to post about something, but made the mistake of dropping by Rav first and got diverted by this thread. (NSFW, btw)
Now I can't remember what I was going to post about...

Friday, November 18, 2011

I've never been afraid to bite off more than I can chew...

I bought the Fall Vogue Knitting issue for one pattern.

It's Nancy Marchant's Crossing Over - a hat made with two-color brioche cables.

I want to knit this hat.

Never mind the fact that I've never done two-color brioche cables.
Never mind the fact that I've never done two-color brioche at all.
Never mind the fact that I've never even done one-color brioche. Brioche is unexplored territory. I have never brioched.

I want to knit this hat.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

One of my Favorite Movies of All Time

In 30 seconds.
With bunnies.

Maybe they have your favorite movie, too...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

And in my *spare* time, I want to try *this*...

This is origami on a whole new level.
And if you click on 'my diagrams' on the left sidebar, there are diagrams and videos to show you how to fold your own.

Like this beauty.

I need to buy some paper...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

As the Heel Turns

I've turned the heels on the Double Knit Sock -

so the stripes have started on the sole.

Actually, I'm a bit further along, since I've now got the gussets going, but no photos yet in case I change my mind and have to start over. (What I visualize isn't always what I end up with. Knitting is a lot like life in that respect...)
The heel turning went a lot smoother than I expected, and picking up stitches for the gussets involved a lot less swearing than I was prepared for, too.
I had some truly spectacular words all lined up and everything. Pity they were wasted. Oh, well, better to be over-prepared than surprised, I guess.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Home of Weird Blog Fodder, or Mr Stinky's Revenge

RIP Mr Stinky. Your aroma memory lingers on.
The good news is that the skunk is out of his misery. The bad news is that we won't be out of ours for awhile.
Yes, skunks do spray when you shoot them. (Good thing Madman is a swift runner.) (Doubly good thing that he got that knee repaired last year so he could be a swift runner again.)
So the chickens are safe again for the time being. Until the next predator moves into the neighborhood, anyway.
Though the skunk smell might hold them off for a bit...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Last Stay of Execution

The prisoner is enjoying a hearty Last Meal. But Chicken-Eatin' Varmints gotta go.
I don't anticipate getting a call from the governor...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Anybody want a slightly-used skunk?

One owner. Low mileage. All the bells and whistles.
Must be picked up, as we will not deliver.

Seriously, what do we do now? Neither of us is willing to put the trap in our vehicle to haul it away. We're trying to talk someone with a truck into doing the hauling, but everyone is remarkably reluctant. (Can't imagine why.) Not to mention there's the problem of how the hell to get the trap into and out of the truck to begin with. (I'm not touching it...)
I suggested he hitch the trap to his garden tractor and drag it up to the woods.
"And what, let it out so it can just walk back down the hill to the chicken yard?"
"Of course not. You should shoot it."
He gave me That Look. (You know the one. The "Are you daft?" look.) "It'll spray and stink up everything."
"So?" (Thinking that a smelly trap wasn't necessarily a bad thing.)
"It'll spray and stink up ME."

And tomorrow is the first day of hunting season. No way is Madman going to head for the woods reeking of skunk...

Oh, $hit. That's not a kitty...

Madman had put out a Hav-a-Heart trap, trying to catch what we thought was a fox or a weasel that had been lurking around our place, raiding the compost pile and bothering the chickens.
When he checked it this morning, he thought he'd caught one of the neighbor's cats.
Until he looked closer.
He's now got a very large, very pissed-off skunk in the trap.

Good thing he's got today off...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Heels checks? Check.

I've started work on the heel flap. Checks R Us...

(The flash throws off the colors, but no flash does, too, and is blurry besides.)

I briefly considered running a couple of horizontal stripes before starting the checks, echoing the top border, but decided against it. The checks start nicely right off the tops of the zigzags.

One thing I like about knitting a checkerboard on a heel flap is that it makes it really easy to count the rows...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The chickens aren't happy with the return to Standard Time, either

I always bitch this time of year about the return to Standard Time. (The only reason I'm not griping right now about the difficulty of resetting my watch, is that my watch died a while back. Probably committed suicide to avoid going off Daylight Saving Time...)
I get out of work at 5pm and am home around 15 minutes later. In total Darkness. So when I go out to the chicken coop to feed and water and gather eggs, the chickens have already settled in for the night. They're pretty grumpy about me wandering around with a head lamp, peeking in nest boxes.
"Hey! What the hell?!? Trying to get some sleep here. Bug off!"

At least the rabbit is happy to see me. He's a little more nocturnal.

And the sheep just cuss me for being so late bringing their supper...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Plotting and Planning

Step 1: Find a pen that works.
Step 2: Find a pen that works for longer than a minute.
Step 3: Take the only working pen in the house and start a shopping list. (First item: pens.)
Step 4: Start drawing socks. (Actually, I cheated - I found an image on the internet, reduced the size, and traced it a whole bunch of times. All's fair in sock-knitting.)
Step 5: Start filling in sock outlines with permutations of stripes, zigzags, and checkerboards.

(You'll notice that the 'filling-in' sort of petered out towards the end. Not to mention coloring in checks...)
Though I like some of the short row heel options (top row), I think that'll wait for another design. I'm more intrigued with the flap/gusset heel configuration, though it's going to be harder to wrap my brain around. I think I have it figured out how to do it (it works in my head, anyway), but I'm questioning my ability to write it out in a fashion that a normal person would be able to follow.
At this moment, I'm favoring the one in the bottom row, second from the left. Still have to decide if I want wide or narrow stripes on the sole.

When I get it done, I might be calling for test knitters. You don't necessarily have to be normal to volunteer...

Monday, November 7, 2011


Totally forgot to post yesterday. Which means I blew NaBloPoMo in the first week.
I think I'll play a Get Out of Jail Free card, and ignore it.
Intention is nine tenths of the law, right?

Still knitting on the double-knit sock. It looks the same as the last photo, only longer, so I won't bother with another pic yet.
Will have to start making decisions about the heel soon. Short row? Flap and gusset? And patterning - the checkerboard or a stripe pattern? And then what about patterning on the sole?
I have the day off tomorrow and plan to do some sketching of options. As slowly as double-knitting progresses (since I'm knitting two stitches for every one, after all) I've got time to consider, yet.
All options are still open...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

More Mayhem

Too tired to post. We butchered the last of the second batch of meatbirds today - twenty-some of the little blimpoids. (We were victims of our own success on the first batch - we ended up selling so many that we didn't get any for ourselves. Had to raise a second batch, and even then we could have sold most of them.) (You know you're on the right track when you have to beat customers off with a stick.) ("My chicken, damn you! Let go! Mine mine mine!")
Anyway, I just finished stuffing the last of them into the freezer. And I had to lean on the door slightly to do it... (There had to be a general purge of the freezer about mid-afternoon. A lot of things went to the compost pile. Bananas-that-would-have-been-for-banana-bread-if-I'd remembered-I-had-them-at-any-point-in-the-last-several-months, chicken carcasses that I'd intended to boil down for stock, etc. And several unlabeled items that I decided that if I couldn't identify it in less than 20 seconds then it should probably be thrown away...)
(Note to self: Label things that go in the freezer. No, you are not going to remember what they are later, no matter how firmly you believe you will. No, seriously, label things.)

Chicken for supper tonight. Gotta go start some pilaf...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Testing... testing... One,... well, just one...

Since Alison so graciously told me I could post my test-knitting pics, I'll let you see.
She's designed this great pattern for warm, cushy socks, and let me test the pattern. Truly, you are going to love these socks -

They have a thick squishy sole that's pure luxury to walk around on.

Of course, I only have 75 percent of a pair of socks, so far...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Actual knitting content

Not much has been accomplished on the knitting front lately. Other than a test-knit for a friend (and I don't know if I'm allowed to show it or not. I'll wait for the go-ahead from her, then I'll be pleased to show off a wonderful pattern!), the needles have been pretty quiet.
I do have another project underway which I can show. (And I had to finish a pair of socks that I'd started last year, in order to free up the needles.) (And, duh... it occurs to me that I should probably take a picture. I'll get on that. Soon.)
This started out as a Crimbo present for Madman, but I realized there was no way I would get them done in time without knitting them under his nose. So I've decided they're going to be an Ice-fishing present, instead. Ice-fishing presents don't have to be secret.
Here's a shot of the knitting in progress:

And I'll just flip the bottom up so you can see the inside:

Yeah. Double-knitting. Socks, to be exact. Because I'm clearly not crazy enough.
I'm going to be designing this pattern as I go. Madman needs really warm socks - and what could be warmer than double-knitting? And I need to knit socks for him (cuz, you know, love and all that), but he's always been resistant to hand-knit socks because the purl bumps bother the bottoms of his feet. Double-knitting = no purl bumps. Win-win, right?
Well, except for the crazy part...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Big Blue Bucket

So, our new little ram, Orion, is fitting right in with the gang. Except for one thing.
He's a grain hog.
Our sheep live on a diet of grass and hay, supplemented with a little grain. Shetlands are a hardy breed, and actually do better when not on too rich a diet. So, morning and evening chores involve chucking some hay at them, then giving them some grain - hand feeding it to them when we have the time (and it's not 40 below), otherwise just dumping some into a big food dish.
Our original three managed to share fairly nicely, with the occasional disagreement that ended in a butting contest, but usually things worked out pretty fair.
Orion, however, thinks he should get all the grain, and elbows... well, horns, actually, the others out of the food dish. They stand around going "Hey! Hey! That's for everybody, ya know. Hey!" while he guzzles all the grain.
So, I tried an experiment. I grabbed their spare water bucket, shook a little grain into the bottom of it, and set it in front of Orion. Once he was engaged with that, I put grain for the other sheep into their food dish, and stood back to watch.
It worked like a charm. Orion, with his head in a bucket, couldn't see the others eating, and thought he was getting the grain all to himself. The other sheep finally were getting their fair share.
My only concern was the bucket handle - I was afraid of it getting hooked on Orion's horns, with him panicking and dashing around the pasture like a... well, like a sheep with a bucket on his head.
Good thing I was worried, because getting his horns caught is exactly what happened. I was close enough to intervene before he realized he had a problem (he was still distracted by the grain in the bottom of the bucket), so I was able to work the handle back off his horns before we ended up with a situation where the other sheep were laughing at him and calling him 'Buckethead.' (It's so hard to maintain any ramly dignity when your flock refers to you as Lil' Buckethead...)
The next day, I came up with a better bucket - a big blue one without a handle.

Much better.

Goldie, Onyx, and Merlin can now enjoy their supper without getting a horn in the snoot.

And nobody has to be a Buckethead...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

神聖的睾丸 ・ Shun-SHENG duh gao-WAHN

Because it IS Tuesday, after all.
I was going to save this one for later in the month - it's NaBloPoMo time again, after all - but who could resist a perfect combination of Tuesday and Nerdiness?
Go here to find out what I'm talking about.
Any other Browncoats out there?

Monday, October 31, 2011

That's Frahn-ken-steen!

One morning, shortly after we got the last batch of meatbirds, Madman came in from morning chores and asked, "Have you noticed one of the chicks has a weird crooked neck?"
"Oh, yeah," I answered. "I've been calling him Igor..."

Meet Igor, all grown up. Still looking at the world sideways (and slightly-from-the-right.)

At least he seldom trips over things...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's a Puzzlement

Orion was a little puzzled this morning.

"What is this white shi... er, stuff... all over the ground?"*

But I distracted him with hay, and that made it all better.

* He was born in April, in Indiana. I don't think he's seen much snow...

Monday, October 17, 2011

We win! We win!

It's been a week since any of the pullets have gotten out of their pen!
(Stupid chickens...)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Catching up

Just a few more words on the Vt Sheep & Wool Festival and then I'll hush about it until next year.
First, I did buy yarn - just one skein in a fabulous color, with a stealth project in mind. (So, no sharing. Sorry.)
And I have to keep laughing to myself about our ram purchase. The very nice man (from Indiana) who sold Orion to us offered to help us load the sheep in our trailer. Then he looked around, saw our car, but realized there was no trailer. The look on his face as we said, "Oh, no, we'll just put him in the back of the car. That's how we always haul sheep." was priceless. I can just imagine him returning to Indiana and telling everyone out there about crazy Vermonters who drive around with sheep in their cars...
And lastly, to the anonymous woman who handed me toilet paper under the stall door - a Thousand Blessings on you and your house.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What The Flock?

I knew y'all wanted a few more sheep pictures, so I headed out with my camera yesterday. But the sheep were way too interested in what I was doing, so I kept getting pictures like this:

And this:

(Well, you did want a closeup of Orion, right?)

Or, I'd get a nice shot lined up, and suddenly there'd be a sheep butt in it...

(Notice how gray Onyx's back and sides are since her shearing. After a bit of research, and talking to some Shetland raisers at Vt S&W, we think this means she's a shaela (here's a link that talks about the shaela color) though she might be an iset. (Which is actually a marking rather than a color. Shetland colors and markings are confusing...)

Anyway, today I got smarter - I pitched some hay into their paddock first, so they'd have something more interesting than me to hold their attention.

Chew, Goldie, chew!

In all those photos, from left to right we have Goldie, Onyx, Orion, and Merlin. (Notice that Onyx never once raised her head out of the hay. Great powers of concentration, our girl, especially when it comes to food...)
You can see how much bigger Orion's horns are than Merlin's. (And someday, Orion's will look like this. He's only 6 months old, so he's got a heap of growing yet to do.) Merlin was wethered at a young age because his horns were turning in, toward his skull, rather than out like they're supposed to.)
This photo shows what I'm talking about:

We had to have the tips of his horns cut off at shearing time because they were almost to the point of touching his skull. Because he's gelded, his horns grow slowly, but they do still grow. We can keep trimming them for awhile, but we can't go too far up, because there are blood vessels involved in the horns (it's actually a cooling mechanism) and cutting into that part would be purely ghastly and horrible. (It's the kind of thing best left to a vet.) In the meantime, we keep a close eye on them. (If only there were orthodontic devices for horns...)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Best Festival Ever

Well, it did rain. And we did slog through mud. And more mud. And even more mud, since it rained all day yesterday, too.


Here's the official clue list:

1. I spent more money than I ever have before at a festival. (As a matter of fact, I think I spent more money than I did if you added together every festival I've ever been to...)

2. The back of my car is full of smelly stuff. (Again.)

3. We had to explain the "Sheep can't call Shotgun" rule. (No, not even rams.)

Figured it out yet?

Meet the newest member of the Mangofeet Menagerie:

This is Orion, a registered Shetland ram.
He's a sweetheart - took the ride home like a trooper (though he blatted less once the windows fogged up and he couldn't see outside. I don't think he'd ever been for a ride in a Subaru before...) and has started to settle in with the other sheep.
Notice how everyone's eyes lit up when they saw each other:

Actually, I had to give up on the picture taking. It was dusk by the time we got home, and pouring down rain, to boot. Most of the pictures were blurry, had glowing eyes, or both.
I did get one good one:
Notice how Orion is already chatting up the lovely Miss Goldie. We have high hopes for lambs this spring...

Friday, September 30, 2011

Vermont Sheep and Wool

I'll be going on Sunday - anyone else?

(And for the record - still finding two or three pullets out every. single. morning. It's impossible to tell if it's the same culprits every time, as all the pullets are pretty identical looking. Short of paint-balling each of them a different color, there's no way of telling them apart. (And don't think we haven't been tempted...))

Monday, September 26, 2011

Just who is thwarting whom, anyway?

Bullwinkle had it right in her comment on my last post. I'm starting to wonder just who is the thwarter and who is the thwartee. (Or is that thwarted?) Well, someone around here is full of thwarts.
Seven pullets out this morning - five back in their old pen and two out and about in our yard. I managed to catch five and stuff them back into the yard they're supposed to be in, but after innumerable scratches (Chickens have claws. Big sharp claws.) and splatterings with mud and other detritus you'd find in a place with chickens (On my face! Ewwww! On my face!) I finally gave up and went back inside.
I think Houdini came back as a flock of chickens...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Finally Thwarted. (We think)

Madman opened the coop's outside door this morning, figuring the pullets had had long enough to acclimate to their new digs.
When I left for work at noon, there were 2 out - one in the old pen, and one wandering around the edge of the garden. (The pullets were under the mistaken impression that they were free-range hens. When they first started getting out of their pen, we'd go to the trouble of chasing them down and putting them back, but we eventually gave that up. They'd be out again before our backs were turned. We got to the point that we'd see a bunch of chickens out and just heave a sigh as we got on with whatever project had brought us outside.)
Madman went out a little later, found six back in the old pen, gathered them up, and put them back where they were supposed to be. He then sealed up the hole in the netting that he thought they were using for an escape route, and called it good.
A couple hours later, there were six out again. He repeated his previous efforts, and this time making the chicken yard so escape-proof that Houdini would have despaired.
When he went out at suppertime, no chickens were out.
Though there were several standing in the chicken yard in a group, glowering at him and the fence...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

If at first you don't succeed, fly fly again

Madman just came in from capturing the last of the pullets and moving her to the main chicken coop with everyone else. He'd nabbed most of them last night, but this one had evaded him somehow.
This was the second time he'd tried to merge the flocks - adding this year's pullets to our main group of layers. (Read about how it's done here.) He tried a couple of days ago, capturing all the pullets while they slept, smuggling them into the main coop, and setting each one on the roost.
But when we woke up the next morning, all the little chickeny brats were right back in their old pen. They'd found some way to escape and had headed back home...
Since we want their pen for our new group of meat birds, we really really need them out. This time, we're taking no chances. The main coop's door to the outside is closed, and will remain so for a couple of days, until the pullets forget about the old homestead and settle into the new.
There's a reason that the expression is not "A chicken never forgets"...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

So let's get this show back on the road...

I've come to the conclusion that I'm always going to be busy and tired, so I might as well try to squeeze in a post.
We had a light frost last night - not the Jack Frost's Revenge kind of killer frost, but a good strong nip. Luckily, the weather service had predicted it (and they were right for a change) so Madman had bustled out after work yesterday and hauled in everything he could grab out of the garden. We've spent the day (except for the morning, where I got called in to work to cover for a sick co-worker. Damn my Team Spirit - it causes more trouble) packing stuff into the freezer.
First the greens (chard and beet), and then the beans (green and yellow). Peppers are next, and then a big kettle of tomatoes is going on the stove for sauce as soon as we can free up a burner. The onions are spread out to finish drying down. Cucumbers are everywhere there's a spot open to set down a cucumber. (Look first before sitting down on the couch, just in case...)
The brussels sprouts are still out in the garden - a couple of frosts will actually benefit them rather than harm them. And the carrots (what few germinated) are safely underground, hiding from the cold.
Garden '11 is winding down. We're already planning Garden '12.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How odd...

So, my oldest daughter and I were having a phone conversation today, discussing the hurricane damage, when it occurred to both of us at the same time that it was a very odd conversation. She lives in Florida, I live in Vermont, and the hurricane damage was on MY end. This is just so wrong...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

We're okay!

Just a quick post to let y'all know we're okay. We personally had no storm damage, but our internet has been down until this afternoon. And that was the worst thing that happened to us, other than the beer store being closed on account of high water...

The chicken yards give a whole new meaning to mud... Trying to walk out there will suck the boots right off your feet.
And the sheep are still damp and bedraggled.
The garden is fine. The animals are fine. And we're fine, too.

And now with internet! I'm probably about 900 posts behind on Google Reader...
Hope I didn't worry anyone too much. I ended up feeling guilty for having no internet. Modern times...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Goodnight Irene

The media has everyone so panicked up here that everything is getting cancelled - the county fair will be closed tomorrow, the local college put off starting classes from Monday until Thursday, every event/meeting possible is being postponed.
The local electric company has announced that if power is lost, they refuse to even consider going out to fix it before Monday.
All the stores are out of D batteries and nearly out of flashlights.

And we haven't had so much as a drop of rain or a breath of breeze, so far.

There are a lot of mountains between us and the coast. I'll be very surprised if we get more that a bucket of rain.
And as for the power going out? This is the Northeast Kingdom. We lose power if anyone even whispers the word 'storm.' We're used to it. Those of us who have lived here for a while know enough to keep a ready supply of candles and batteries on hand.
If you don't hear from me tomorrow, I'll just be up here spinning by headlamp, waiting until Monday when the power company guys dare to go outside...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Have Hub, Will Travel

A quick visit to Radio Shack on the way home (my only nearby source for computer bits) put an end to my plug-unplug-plug-swear-unplug-swear-plug antics. Hurray for hubs!
And now we return to our regularly scheduled blithering...

In early August, I made a trip with my youngest daughter to upstate NY to visit my dad. My oldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandkids drove up from Florida to be there at the same time. (And not-coincidentally, it was my birthday. A very happy birthday for me, to have both my daughters with me at the same time!)
Daughter-the-younger and I arrived the day before the rest of the crew, so we had a chance to settle in and check out all the cool critters.
There were freshly sheared alpacas

and some spiffy new Barred Rock pullets.

And piggies! These are either a week old, or two weeks old. (I got confused after a certain point. There were pigs everywhere - multiple litters in multiple colors in multiple barns.
My favorites are the polka-dotted ones...

On Sunday, while we were waiting for Older daughter and Co to arrive, we had some big excitement. Dad has cameras on several of the pens, in order to keep track of what's going on out in the barns. One of the young sows (who wasn't really due for another couple of days) was in labor and had already had two piglets. Which she was chasing and trying to bite. Naturally I grabbed my camera and headed out to the barn with the rest of the troops.
As a first time mother, she was irritable and confused. Here she was, hot and in pain, and suddenly there were these pesky things that were plaguing the hell out of her, snuffling and nuzzling and squeaking. We finally had to pull them from the pen, because she was too agitated to do anything but stomp around and try to boot piglets. Once they were gone, she settled back down and laid down again.

After about half an hour's wait, Piggie number 3 made an appearance.

Followed by Number 4.

By this time, she had her butt up close enough to the wall of the pen that I was afraid the babies were going to be born with concussions...
As each piglet was born, my WickedGoodStepmother would give it a chance to try to nurse, until mama pig got too agitated, then would rescue it and drop it into the bin we'd set up for the babies' protection.
These little squirmers are all looking for something - they don't know what it is, but they're sure they'll know it when they find it. They're sucking on each other's noses, tails, and ears, because Mother Nature had promised them that there'd be food. Gives a whole new layer to "Got Milk?", doesn't it?

Older Daughter & Crew arrived about that time. The grandkids were fascinated by the bin full of baby piggies.

The count mounted. Here we are at seven. I love the variety.

After about the 10th one, Mama just didn't give a shit anymore. So we pulled them out of the bin and returned them to her, where they proceeded to clumsily look for spigots.

This little guy finally figured it out.

And eventually, so did the rest of them. But by that time, my camera's batteries were out of juice...