Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Three strikes and you're... still in?

It's time for the old girls to be 'taken care of'... They've reached that certain age when they consume more than the produce. Sorry to all the urban chicken owners out there! Animals on a farm need to be useful, or they're out.

So we set a date with the butcher. But we had to reschedule for the next week because that was the only day that we could meet up with some friends from out of town. Then the girls started laying again... With quite a fervor too. It's almost as if they knew that they were destined for the freezer. The next week rolled around, and we loaded the old girls into the truck the night before their 'date'. We parked the truck in the barn to keep them warm and dry since a cold weather system was coming through. But what should happen? We got snow. Quite a bit of snow too. I'd hate to think of the mess that would be an accident with a truck full of chickens. That would not be very lovely...

As I'm writing this, I'm finding the whole scenario quite humorous in a morbid sort of way. Currently, we have not set a new time with the butcher, so the girls are safe for now. What do you think? Should we take care of them? Or try again for a later date?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Los Dos Ganzos

Don't let their looks deceive you. They may look peaceful, graceful, dare I say, maybe even cute from a distance, but beware. Behind those innocent looks is an evil that never sleeps. They are watching, always watching, for that one moment when you will least expect the stinkers to sneak up on you. Those unblinking, blue eyes will stare at you forever.

This time of year, when Miss Goose is either soon to be laying her eggs or is currently sitting on the nest, the goose AND the gander get mean. And when I say mean, I truly and honestly mean mean. She will either be cheering on the dude and won't be quiet or biting him to get him out of the way so that she can get at the 'intruder' (aka - me) who dares approach within eyesight of her egg-less nest. I was on the other side of the barn for crying out loud! Not even intending to come near the nest, but no. The annoying couple would not hear of it. While she was going for my legs and feet, he went for my hand and got it. They go after my brother who conveniently had a stick, but that didn't deter them at all. You can stick your foot next to the fence, and they will bite your shoe through the wire mesh.
There are not many things that I loathe in life. But geese are on that black list. Right next to alpacas. Geese have a place in this life, slathered in gravy. But these two are pets. So they are here to stay until further notice. Maybe I should carry around a rake or pitchfork. They seem to be scared of those.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Picture credit goes to these guys
I walk out into the garage and am greeted with a happy 'Peep, peep!' They're here! We haz our bebe chickies! I don't think that I need to describe how adorable the little pompoms are since everyone and their dog knows how cute they are. Even the cats are very excited about the whole ordeal too. They like to sit on the protective barrier/lid that we put over the tub and 'supervise' the little downies from the elevated perch. Sometimes all the cats will sit above the babies. That's when I really wish that I had a camera handy.

While I was at the craft store surprising the cashier lady with how many coupons I had, Dad and some of the crew braved the Friday spring break traffic and headed the opposite direction to get the replacements for part of our current flock. Twenty-four of our chickens have reached that special age when they stopped laying, theoretically. For weeks, we've been discussing which breed(s) to get, where to get them from, how many, etc... In a strange turn of events we all ended up all agreeing on the same breeds: Buff Orpingtons, Speckled Sussex and Americanas (since we love putting green eggs into random dozens or creating an entire dozen out of green eggs just for kicks).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

March Madness

Our Jubilee. She's seven years old and still acts like a puppy. I can't believe that I was able to get a picture of her sitting still.
No, I'm not going to talk about basketball. Actually, I don't even know enough about the sport to write a short blog post about it.

...back to your regularly scheduled program...

In like a lion, out like a lamb. Or vice versa. At least that's the theory. What if March just can't decide if it's going to be a lion or a lamb?  Over the past couple of weeks, we've had just about every possible weather system for this area. Even in one week we've had warm, sunny, cold, snowing, and rainy. There is a running joke in the family... if Sarah (me) is wearing slippers it's gotta be cold. I haven't been able to put the slippers away yet.

If there is one profession that I would absolutely hate to have, it would be a weather forecaster in the Northwest. Sometimes I wonder if the best he (or she) is able to do is give a guess. Goodness knows what that jet stream is going to do. Who knows what those clouds are bringing with them. As a weatherman, you can be wrong every day and still keep your job. As a forecaster, you can get it right and people will still hate you for what you 'bring'.

Whatever they say... just roll with the punches for now. Hang in there. March is almost done. Spring is just around the corner. In fact, one of the trees in the front yard started to leaf out this week despite the snow. ;)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

4-patch Baby Quilt: Pt. 1

First tutorial... here I go. 

Pick out your fabrics. You'll need:
- 1/2 yd Fabric A (four patch)
- 1/2 yd Fabric B (four patch)
- 3/4 alternate focus print
- 1/2 yd inner border and binding
- 1/2 yd outer border
- 1 1/2 yd backing
You can mix and match whatever fabrics you want. Have fun with it! 
I raided my stash for this one. ;)

Time to cut. 
Of Fabrics A and B, cut out thirty 3.5" squares
Of the alternate focus print, cut fifteen 6.5" squares
Of the inner border, cut 4 strips that are 1.5" by the width of the fabric
For the outer border, cut 4 strips 3.5" by the width of the fabric

You'll end up with this:

Take the little squares and sew the opposing colors together at 1/4" seam using a 'chain' method. All you've got to do is put one set through just as you're about to finish the previous one. 

Cut the extra thread in between the squares. 

Ironing time. You don't want to iron the seam open. That would get really tedious really fast. Instead, you'll iron it flat to one side. You generally want to iron it towards the darker fabric so that it won't show through. 

You're going to end up with 30 - 3.5" x 6.5" units. You're going to sew these together now via same method you used to put the two pieces together. 

One thing I must urge is lining up your seams. All quilting really is is cutting fabric as precisely as you can and lining up the seams as best you can. Good luck. I have trouble with that sometimes. Below you can see my efforts to keep things lined up. Pins are you best friends on this step. Iron the seam to one side. 

Congratulations! You have now completed 15 four-patch squares for your baby blanket. 

Back to work.

Taking one four-patch and one alternate print, sew them together using the same chain method that we've been using. Iron the seams

You now have 15 units that are made up of the four patch and the alternate print.
Sew the pieces together to make 10 units that are four big squares across. Then sew the left over units to make your strip 6 squares long. You're still using the chain method, right? ;)  

You have 5 strips that are 6 squares long. Sew the strips together, lining up the seams, to create the main part of your quilt top. 
And that is all for tonight! I'll make up part 2 as soon as I have the pictures. :)


Monday, March 5, 2012

My fan club

picture from here
I have a big fan club. A big fan club. There are about 50 members, and they haunt the front yard. Always watching me. And I can't seem to shake them. They follow me everywhere. Especially if I'm carrying a large bowl that is overflowing with food scraps to the compost pile. Oh, did I not explain... my chickens adore me. And they have associated me with free handouts. Sometimes I don't even get a step out of the garage, and I have poultry running towards me. Then I trill out the 'come and get it' chicken call, and they all come running. Have you ever seen a chicken running? It is most unnatural. Then they realize that they don't like everything that was in the compost bowl and give me a funny look as if to say, "Excuse me, ma'am, I ordered some apples and oatmeal. Not slimy lettuce. I'd like a refund." Of course, I take pity on the chickens because they just ran across the yard. I have to make the run worth it somehow. So they follow me over to the barn and wait patiently for a couple handfuls of their feed. With the girls ravenously pecking through the free meal, I'm able to continue on my work without tripping on an excited chicken.