This week we were thrilled to get to welcome our new little flock of chicks! In every single way this has been our best experience getting new chickens.
Unless you are lucky enough to live near a good breeder chicks usually have to arrive by mail which is always nerve wracking: knowing that these tiny little creatures have endured a rather traumatic first experience always gives me regret. We have received a few mail-order chick/duckling deliveries and always when the box arrives a few chicks have died en-route, usually the hatchery provides a few extra to make up for the loss. Our worst experience (when half of them died) the chicks were clearly more than a few days old; the delivery was expected to be 30 chicks what arrived was only 18 and then a further three died and we just managed to save a little Easter-egger we named Pig-widgen who never quite recovered her full wits but was very sweet regardless. After that we had decided not to order chicks by post because opening the box and not knowing what we would find felt too traumatic. However we realized that the chicks we could buy at the farm stores in town were delivered by mail and basically you were being buffered from the chicks trauma but not in fact preventing it.
As M. feels quite passionate about the welfare of his animals and believes that for a chicken to be in its best condition it needs as little change in habitat as possible so buying a chick which has been shipped to a third party just for us to collect it from them at a later date did not seem to suit the animal’s (or M.’s) needs. He researched the best possible breed for our needs- dual purpose birds (good for eggs and meat), who give a good number of eggs a year and pure-bred so that we could breed our own flock further down the line with good results maintaining the breed characteristics.
He found Whitmore Farm. They are a heritage breeds farm with a strong emphasis on animal welfare without antibiotics or hormones. Our experience with Whitmore has been beyond brilliant. They have such a genuine concern for the chicks they ship M. and I have been thrilled with the service, communication but especially the birds. The chicks all arrived alive and energetic with plenty of vim. They were clearly shipped within the first day of life as the box they traveled in had tiny spots of the green poop that chicken’s pass soon after hatching- just like human babies pass meconium. Early shipping is important because they have a little bit of the egg-yolk sack left inside their body after hatching to help them adapt and if shipped later than a day that yolk sack can be too depleted to help them. They all responded to the food a water enthusiastically and immediately began exploring their enclosure in the barn. Usually chicks are quite skittish of humans but these little balls of fluff are insatiably curious without any fear and have been chasing my hand around their box to get a closer look. We haven’t lost a single chick even three days later when it would be usual for the weakest to have shown the stress of shipping.
We ordered a mix box of breeds. We did pay more money per bird (for the purebred breeding and ethos of the farm) from Whitmore Farm than we have previously from other “big box” breeders. We specifically requested half Delaware which are dual purpose and the other half were to be whatever was hatching at the right time: which happened to be Welsummer. So the little cream-yellow chicks are Delaware and probably about half of them will end up in our freezer. We intend to keep one male but the rest of the males will be reared for meat. The adorable little Chipmunk striped chicks are the Welsummer. Welsummer have sex-linked features so we can tell already which are male and which are female. For those of you who are curious the female Welsummer have a thicker eyeliner and more distinctive stripe on their head than the less strongly marked males.
They are such beautiful little creatures and for once I feel that we made the perfectly right decision with our breed suppler.
So what’s Brown,Yellow and Cheep?
I’m linking up with Ginny over at Small Things Yarn Along to share M.’s second Beau.
The weather has been so wonderful in the Sweet Little Wood. The heat of summer has gentled into a comfortable soothing warmth and the sunlight slants just right so that the light gets filtered through the leaves in a glorious manner. We have been able to be outside nearly constantly since it rained last week.
I have as usual managed to get too many projects going all at once so I decided to knuckle down and pick up the one closest to being done which happens to be a sweater I started for M. over a year ago. I had some lovely wool in a tweedy brown and I made the mistake of asking M. what sweater he would like made with it: M. is a man of habit and a little obstinate when faced with too many choices. He has one favorite jumper- a green version of Beau by Kim Hargreaves which can be found in Rowan Vintage Knits. It’s a fabulous design, very easily knitted and fits M. like a dream so naturally faced with a few choices which all looked different to Beau, all he wanted was another Beau. Anyhow- I started it, got half way through the second sleeve and stopped when I hurt my back . Finally. FINALLY I have picked it up again, finished the final sleeve, blocked the pieces and now I am knitting the collar. So it is almost here and just in time for Autumn.
I have been reading The Birth Order Book by Kevin Leman. I enjoy anthropological studies and social studies books but this one is just not scratching my itch for information. Mr. Leman is so flippant and relies heavily on anecdotal evidence I just cant find it in me to give him credit as a professional. Ironically this attitude of mine is so identifiable as my birth order characteristics and the writing style of his birth order characteristics that I think the information MUST be true but I would like a more scientific approach please! E. is also reading this book at the moment so it is very easy reading pretty much from 13 and upwards.
Have a wonderful day my friends and fellow yarn addicts.
I became an auntie at the age of eight. I loved- still love- being an aunt. Loving my sister’s children taught me to be a mother: I learned to change diapers, give baths, burp and soothe. I lived in a different state to my brother so I never knew his children as well. His son was born a week or so before I moved to the UK so I never got time with him growing up outside the rare visit.
The birth of my sister’s youngest daughter (the cute little one up the front) taught me much much more than simple life lessons. I was 15 when she was due to be born and my sister wanted me to be her birth partner- I suspect- only because my brother-in-law didn’t fancy the gooeyness of the birthing room again. It changed my life and influenced my adult career: I would never have gotten onto the hugely competitive UK Midwifery program without my experiences with my big sister and tiny niece.
Since my niece became a mother herself I have been amazed by her interest in my own interests. My own dear Auntie is a midwife and delivered almost all her own grandchildren, I am a midwife and my niece is progressing toward her own goals helping women with their childbirth and breastfeeding experiences. It is funny how families can repeat events over and over.
When we visited her this summer in Tennessee she was looking for a nursing necklace. There are some claims that a nursing necklace can help to encourage breastfed babies to be more settled at the breast, feed longer and continue till they are older. Being a very well trained Midwife I don’t buy into all the claims because I actually haven’t been able to find any research to validate these claims. Regardless nursing necklaces do have one genuine use and that is to distract antsy feeders with stimulating shapes and textures to touch and look at rather than grabbing at, pinching, pulling or thumping at momma while feeding.
The key with making anything baby may come in contact with is non-toxic materials and safety- anything baby pulls at for long enough can break. There are a lot of laws about baby toys and anything an infant might chew on (for obvious reasons) and a lot of nursing necklaces are not recommended for babies to chew on or use as a toy. I would recommend the same: never leave a baby unattended with any product that may pose a choking risk. I personally had to save K. twice using the “upside-down back blows” method from choking on food when she was almost a year old and a little over. Its terrifying to see your tiny love going blue. Its not something you forget.
What you will need for this project- make sure its non-toxic:
Unvarnished or painted wood beads in multiple sizes
Stone or wood ring
2.5 or 3 mm Crochet hook
1: Covering the Large Beads (6)
Create an adjustable ring (the link is a nice little tutorial for the ring method- I just kinda like the opening music…)
Single Crochet (SC) 6 into ring and tighten don’t join (6 stitches)
2 SC into each SC around (12)
repeat 3 times around then place wooden bead into crochet cover
SC 2 together around (6)
SC 2 together around (3)
Slip 3 stitches together bind off and hide thread end securely- trim excess thread
2: Thread Beads
loop the leather cord through the central ring and adjust it so that it hangs very evenly
thread beads onto leather. If you want the necklace to double as a teeth-er you can make it baby safe by threading each bead then looping the cord around the outside of the bead and knotting the cord at the bottom before threading back up through the bead eye and knotting the cord at the top of each bead like so:
secure the final bead on each side as shown above
3: Fasten off
knot each end of the cord around the opposing length so that the knots can slide and shorten or lengthen the necklace as needed. Like so:
Enjoy and have a wonderful Monday.
1: I need to get a little dirt on my shoes and run wild for a while. I think its time for a trip to see the giants.
2: This guy has been away for part of the week and I miss him. Looking forward to a bit of time.
3: I must finish this gift because the baby is getting closer…
So my friends have you seen the Dragons in the Sweet Little Wood? There… by the lake sunning themselves and admiring the shining of their scales in the water. They are mostly friendly. Though I would be careful of the green one named Esme- she is having a bad day and hasn’t taken a liking to the little black usurper that has entered her territory! All the bunting is still dangling from the trees and I continue to find little remnants of the celebration in the long grass but we are simply remembering with pleasure all the bounty of family and friendship because of birthdays in the wood this last few weeks!
I want to show you a little detail on the cute squishy dragon sat on the GOLDEN THRONE: the birthday girls always get to sit in the GOLDEN THRONE on their special day! Every other day of the year its just a big yellow chair but on special days it transforms overnight into a cornucopia of gifts and pride of place!
I’m not sure what possessed me but a week before J.’s birthday (I think it was Tuesday the 2nd) I got this idea I could make a Toothless dragon for J.’s birthday on the 10th. She loves the books and the second movie has been something of an obsession for some time. Having been possessed of the idea I could not let it go and I found a cute design on Ravelry and added it to my library but I cannot get the file to open… still. So in my fevered count down to the day I decided to buy a pattern instead and found This One over on Etsy. Yeek! I am not a slow crocheter but it was already a busy sort of week and the pressure to get it done was gnawing at me!!
I worked as often as possible on him all week and had to announce my intention to continue working on the “Ninja Suit” as a distraction from the dragon forming in my hands. In the end he really stole the show. J. adores him and has not spent a day not playing with him since he arrived. BTW: isn’t it lovely when a kid who seems like they might be little to old for toys continues to play. Its a beautiful thing.
It really is cute: the pattern itself is pretty good and the finished product is very professional looking. The pattern is in English and Czech however the English is clearly translated by Google or someone who has no clue about the functioning of the English language. In general it was totally OK however where the instructions veer away from pure pattern speak (2sc, 1ss, 3hdc etc etc) the language barrier breaks down and the pattern dissolves into an unclear photography tutorial and confused instructions. I got there eventually but had to change a few things en-route just because I didn’t have a bloomin’ clue what the pattern was saying… and the photos (crochet in black yarn is hard enough to see stitch detail in person!) were not very big, well lit, or detailed. So all in all- yes I’d would buy the pattern again (the final thing is gorgeous) but I would like to be more prepared for the moments when head-scratching confusion ensues!!
I used a black cotton worsted yarn of some in-determinant origins but it was inexpensive and on sale ages ago and I had to use a 3.5 mm hook rather than 4 mm like the pattern calls for. Having finished the crochet I had a sudden sinking feeling because Toothless has very distinctive green eyes. I thought it was hopeless! None of our craft stores are great and they had nothing suitable: there was no way I was going to be able to order the right eyes in time for the gift giving on Wednesday. I won’t bore you with my stupid mistakes and failed attempts using felt and crochet- which were all appalling BTW and resulted in much grumpiness with myself. BUT as I was going through my buttons I suddenly had a wonderful idea- why couldn’t I try to make his eyes myself by painting on buttons?
LOOK! It totally worked!
I used simple green buttons with posts- not holes. Using black acrylic paint I painted on the almond shape of Toothless’ pupils and made them wide like they are when he is happy! Then I used two layers of Aleene’s Jewelry Gel which is an awesome clear liquid that dries into a thick glossy varnish which I have used for so many things it was never intended for it might be my favorite craft ingredient! I thought afterward I could probably have draw on the buttons with black sharpie rather than paint and make them even easier.
Have a lovey day my friends… I am just going to move Toothless off the GOLDEN THRONE before Esme’s envy gets the better of her.
Oh! Its Okay: she found some gold ribbon, that will help.
Joanna the dragon tamer
I had exciting visions of sharing this awesome project with you today:
I had designed the project and planned it ages ago with anticipation: a Monday Project I would get to keep and wear myself! Yay! AND (for husbands who worry over the bursting craft supply room) it was being made entirely with supplies I already had! Double Yay!!
It was almost done but that- dear readers- is the moment to beware of… CRAFT CATASTROPHE STRUCK!
Sadly it has been one of those weeks. things just keep getting away from me.
First- I lost J.’s birthday bracelet. It still hasn’t showed up.
Second- It may be a cause for my first problem and then exacerbated in the hunt for J.’s bracelet but my craft room looks like this…
Now… The Monday Crap-tastrophe. Excuse me while I go cry.
1: My weekend is going to start at the Mendocino County Fair and Apple Show which is our local fair in Boonville. It is my favorite ever because of the delicious California State Wool and Fiber Festival which is housed in one of the main pavilions. So many different vendors and displays! Last year I learned how to use a barrel carding machine and began to seriously mourn my spinning wheel (sold in England before we moved a year and 9 months ago). As Death would say: I AM SADNESS. I got so excited last year I forgot to take a single photo of anything in the pavilion! Seriously if you have never seen the State Wool and Fiber Festival get on up here!! This year I am committed to be helping out at the 4-H booth on Friday but I shall be scooting over to pet some lovely soft roving and slobber over the hand dyed skeins.
2: A certain Birthday Girl wanted only one thing for her birthday and that was a trip to Six Flags Great America. Well, we told her no and then they came out with a spectacular annual membership deal which made the trip worthwhile. This time however we will try out Six Flags Discovery Kingdom which is about an hour closer to us and we’ve never been to that one so… Yee-haw!
3: The CCPRA
finals -excuse me- semi-finals are held at the Apple Show on Sunday afternoon. You better believe I’m gonna be there baby!!
Have a wonderful weekend friends!
Today I am celebrating your 11th birthday though it has felt like you are well past that age for some time. You are pretty responsible for one so young and you generally take a lot of pride in doing the very best you can so it is easy for me to see you as older. It’s no wonder I am asked at regular intervals if you and E. are twins you behave much older… not to mention you are about a foot taller than the other children your age! For your sake I often have to look back at pictures of K. and E. to remind myself how young you actually are.
Looking back at a picture from exactly one year ago I cannot fathom how much you have changed, grown and grown up.
You probably represent the best and worst of both Daddy and me. So often I will be watching you and see Daddy. You share the ability to be totally happy and cheerful about almost anything. You are both social creatures and in all honesty you do both like an audience! The worst of Daddy in you is that you tend to get lost in the fun- you just don’t know when to wind it down. However where Daddy’s lightheartedness has a tendency to miss when the laughter starts to feel at someone rather than with someone: you have a very careful emotional response to other people. You have a kind of 6th sense for how people feel and your empathetic nature makes you respond in kind. That’s the best of me in you. It is a great strength but I am afraid it is also a heavy burden at times: the best and worst of me in you.
I want you to know this about yourself now because I think this is why you’re struggling to adjust to the social whirl of the classroom. You have a tendency to feel things too deeply. You take other people’s emotional swings into your soul and allow them to either lift you or bring you down. When I was working as a midwife in the UK and getting increasingly horribly stressed by the job and the NHS trust Daddy and I did our very best to shelter you all from the turmoil going on. K. and E. remained oblivious at the time but you- my darling- sunk into a little depression, became clingy and desperately worried about everything from me to school to getting to sleep at night. That was the event in 2009 that prompted us to take you out of school and homeschool instead.
This last six month back in public school has come with its own trials. You haven’t found it easy to take in stride the chaotic nature of the classroom or the political undercurrents of your classmates. You have come away feeling rather rejected and cannot explain why as you usually have someone to play with and have suffered no genuine negativity. I think- my love- that going to school just when girls are coming into the most spiteful age in their development may not have been the best timing but things will get easier. Through this year you will stop being the new girl and stop being the one tagging along with other people’s friends. Maybe Ek. or S. will turn out to be the friends you think they are, but even if they don’t rest assured you are a wonderful person to know- full of joy and laughter, kindness and generosity. Those other girls who have spent the last few years jockeying for top dog position just aren’t developed socially in the same way you are– give them a few years to mature before you judge them too harshly. Don’t let the confident happy girl you are be undermined by little girls who are still just little girls.
Maybe next year you will feel ready to invite a few friends over for a celebration. Until then don’t sweat it. Forget the discomfort of settling in and remember this year that every single person you celebrated your day with thinks you are something extraordinary!
Happy birthday beautiful girl.
Yay! Happy Monday peoples. The Sweet Little Wood has been an amazing place to be over the weekend! Just look at those sweet big eyes over there browsing on the wild apple! And if you come sit over here I will share my freshly pressed grape juice with you!
We have another birthday this week as J. gets properly into the tween years. Yike- how did that happen?!? I spent our trip around the states planning and making something for her that would hit the right balance between pretty and grown up but not TOO grown up. I’ve been seeing all over the place on Pintrest, Etsy and the craftoshpere bracelets made with beads sandwiched between two medium strands of leather cord. And then I saw Sarah Evans in concert with a beautiful turquoise bracelet and all I could think was “WANT” quickly followed by “WANT TO MAKE!”
I got all my supplies from Michaels- not because it is the best but because its the best of what is available.
What You Will Need: Strong bead thread, leather cording long enough to wrap (doubled) around your wrist 2-3 times plus about 8 inches, beads- enough to wrap around your wrist 2-3 times, a hard steel needle with an eye small enough to go through your beads, closing clasp/button/concho whatever you choose to use to secure your bracelet.
The easiest fixtures are probably buttons for accessibility but I really like the look of conchos. If you do use a button you can actually keep your leather cord as one long piece and thread your button on first then tie a loop in the two leather lengths about and 1/4 inch past the radius of your button then start beading just after the knot. For J.’s bracelet I joined two lengths of leather cord with a jewelry clasp but only after I’d threaded all the beads on. For this bracelet tutorial photographed I put on a concho so I threaded the beads between to separate lengths of leather cord.
First secure the beading thread THROUGH the leather cord about 4 inches from the end:
Tie off in a slip knot the tail of the thread around the needle length of the thread so that the knot can be pulled and slipped down tight against the leather cord:
Thread through your bead and go THROUGH the other side of your leather cord:
Wrap the thread backward around the second cord and go back through the bead and in front of the first leather cord. Wrap your thread over and under the first leather cord like so:
When you need to lengthen your thread tie a slip knot in your thread to extra length and then a slip knot in the extra length around your thread so that the two knots slide together. When you reach the thread length that is knotted make an extra pass through the next bead to hide the knot (shown in next photo):
For the rest of the beaded length you want to repeat the pattern with your beading thread going:
over the first cord, through a bead, wrap under your second cord, back through the bead in front of the first cord as below:
When you reach the length you want that is long enough to wrap round your wrist a couple times with at least 4- 6 inches of length to spare take a moment to lay your bracelet flat and adjust the beads if you need to so they are evenly and well spaced. In general the larger the bead the harder this is to get right. Thread your final bead going THROUGH the leather cord again as at the start and secure with a knot. It is a good idea to do a second threading through all your beads again to give the bracelet stability and prevent a snapping thread making your bracelet dissolve off your wrist in a clatter of bouncing beads.
For a concho closure tie both leather cords together twice with enough gap between the knots so that the neck of the concho can only just fit through the gap then secure with the concho screw. For the final end closure with a button or concho tie both leather cords together twice with enough gap between the knots to securely hold your chosen closure. Or tie the leather cord back on itself into a loop which can be adjustable or fixed. Don’t cut the ends till you know you got your fit right- leather is monstrously difficult to tie off good and tight without enough length.
With thicker leather cord its a nice solution to just make a loop and a knot for the closure.
For J.’s to make it a little more dainty on her thin wrists I fixed the ends with jewelry alligator clamps (which I mangled with the tool I used, darn it), jump rings and clasps.
There is a slightly different method a a fantastic tutorial with really clear photography at each step over at Handmade Jade for those of you looking for something more detailed.