A New Month and New Challenges

March roared in like a lion with strong wind, heavy rain, dark and gloomy. The rain eventually stopped and yesterday instead of feeling like late spring was more seasonal temperatures. The wind calmed only to pick back up last night, rattling screens and disturbing sleep. In the strength of yesterday’s storm, the HVAC technician came to do our semiannual servicing. We always need a new filter, living on a dirt driveway off a dirt road and having two big dogs in the house. The system is now 15 years old and the capacitor was degrading. He said it might be okay for another year, but it might go out at any time and leave us in need of a service call, so we had it replaced. I wanted to joke and ask him how we would get back to 1955 if the flux capacitor failed, but feared he wouldn’t get the joke.

I finished February with 9 squares from my January and February breed blanket project yarn. All 9 were knit in the last half of the month when I decided I didn’t like the way they looked in mitered squares and all the January and start of February knitting were ripped apart.

Since the March challenge requires silk in the blend and can’t be used in the blanket, the one I have chosen is nice colors, so my breeds for the blanket are undyed. I am spinning white Dorset Horn and dark brown Coopworth, enough to do 6 more squares I hope by the end of the month.

This is the BFL/Silk braid I am doing for March. I think it will look lovely woven when it is done.
My spinning start for the two challenges for March.

The other challenge has been the chicks. I think they were in transit too long in too changing weather. My initial purchase of 12 had a 1/3 loss in 24 hours. They were replaced and 3 more added for a total of 19 chicks and only 11 of them are still alive. I lost most of the Buff Orpingtons that I wanted to build my flock around this year, and I have lost a Maran, an NH Red, and an Easter egger or Olive egger, I can’t tell them apart at this point. I am almost afraid to say this, but none died last night and all look good this morning. I hope they continue to thrive. Maybe I will keep a couple of the mature hens to round out the flock to a dozen or 14. The coop can handle that many, though the older hens will be 3 years old in December and their production has already begun falling lower than their first two years, they will still provide a few eggs. I still enjoy raising them.

In a couple of weeks, I need to get the onions and the peas planted, but the garden is so wet right now. The rest of this week looks drier with some sun and moderate days, but nights in the 20’s. Next week looks more promising, so maybe I can get it done before the next round of rain begins. I wonder if the spring rains are going to provide another March challenge as the garden is started, paths re mulched, and new beds created. I need to finish granddaughter’s garden plan and get the binder for it so she can get her onions and peas planted too.

It is so fickle

The weather this time of year is so unpredictable. Mid week it was spring like, just a light sweater needed, then it snowed on Friday, but it is gone already. It rained off and on overnight Friday, most of Saturday, and is still raining, hard at times. It was supposed to reach 58 yesterday and drop only to 52 last night. It didn’t get there, but I think the current temperature is supposed to hold overnight and reach near 70 today. But we have rain in the forecast for days and they still haven’t opened our culvert at the top of the driveway, since my report in December, my call in January, and another report this month. I may have to try to dig it out with the tractor bucket which never produces good results, even if I get the opening in the right place, the pipe itself will be at least partially blocked and I lack the strength to hand dig it out.

The 5th chick, the one I didn’t think was healthy, did not survive, however the remaining 14 are hale and hearty, active, eating, drinking, and trying to see if they can jump over the sides of the brooder. I suspect that I will have to put a lid on the box sooner than I expected. Two of the little replacements look like little penguins, dark on top, white on the bottom.

Two are uniformly charcoal gray. The adults are going to be so different from the current flock. Speaking of them, egg production is finally up a bit with the lengthening days. Yesterday, I got 5 eggs, two olive, three brown, so more of the hens are laying again. That is the most I have gotten since before the molt last fall.

I finished another square for the blanket and have it wet blocked, and another nearly done. One more and I will have used all the yarn spun for it in January and February and will have 9 blocks knit, blocked, and labelled. Tomorrow starts a new month and new breeds to spin. Since the March challenge requires a silk content, it can’t be part of the blanket and is beautiful blues and purples, so I think I will spin white breeds for the blanket challenge. There won’t be a third challenge this month, it was just too complicated to keep up with and I felt like I was not fully participating to skip over all the conversation in the thread and they were a very chatty bunch. If I can’t engage fully, I will just stand away. The Jenkins group I have come to “know” and enjoy the chatter a couple times a day. There will be more time to spin, knowing that soon the garden is going to demand more of my time and spinning will become an evening or passenger in the car activity only with less time indoors to commit to it. Enough will get done to create a square or two for the blanket, but not enough to get the entire blanket done by the end of the year.

Rough Night, New Day

We got home with the dozen new chicks yesterday after lunch, put them in the brooder, and I could tell we would lose a couple. By late afternoon, the reaction to my vaccine was kicking in, but I was still functional and got dinner made, eaten, and cleaned up and a final walk to the basement to check on the chicks. Two had died. Not totally unexpected with any new batch of little birds, but still disheartening.

Last night was not a comfortable night. The vaccine had produced the expected sore shoulder, but also a royal headache and body aches. I slept fitfully, getting up every few hours to dose on the alternating Tylenol and Ibuprofen, and the last dose allowing me to sleep in until about 8 a.m. By the time I was up, it was mostly just a headache, one that with meds I could deal with. And the trip to the basement showed that two more chicks had died overnight. That brought my dozen down to 8 and half of my Buff Orpingtons were victims.

The weather app, indicated that we were going to get snow, again, beginning around 2 p.m., eventually overnight, turning to rain. We were low on some grocery store supplies and decided to go back to Rural King to see about replacing the chicks. It turned out to be the same guy was in that area and he stated he was replacing the 4 free, however, there were no more Buff Orpingtons. I asked him what the typical attrition rate was and he said that usually it was very low, but he had lost about 1/3 of the ones that came in yesterday. They had hatched and shipped on Monday and didn’t arrive until Thursday morning. I agreed to taking other breeds for the 4 and add a couple more in case I lost anymore, I would still have a dozen. The coop is going to produce an Easter basket of egg colors. The Buffs and New Hampshire Reds lay light brown eggs and the Americaunas lay blue eggs. I came home with another Americauna as that was one that died, 2 Olive eggers, 2 Easter eggers, and 2 Marans, so dark chocolate eggs, Olive green eggs, and the possibility of pink, green, or blue from the Easter eggers. When I put them in the brooder, I could see that one of them was wobbly and tonight it looks like she won’t last the night, but there will be 14 young hens come mid summer producing a variety of egg colors.

About the time they were settled in, my energy faded and a long nap followed while it did indeed snow.

The driveway has stayed clear, so I expect the roadways have also and when I went out just before dinner to check for eggs, food and water for the locked up hens, there was sleet mixed in with the snow.

The February spinning challenges are winding down, so much of what was spun has been plyed, January and February’s yarns reknit into 6 blanket squares with another on the needles and yarn for two more spun and plied. And some spinning of other fibers begun.

The nap rejuvenated me enough to put dinner on and work on granddaughter’s garden plan some. I hope to get the plan and some seed to her in time to do the early spring planting in a couple of weeks. As I couldn’t remember what I had done with the copies of what I gave her last year, daughter, who was apparently more organized was able to come up with it and send me a scan back. Granddaughter is going to be given a notebook with the reference pages and the plans from last year and this year so she can keep her garden history. DD and GD are planning to double their garden in size this year and add a few vegetables they didn’t grow last year. I am making a duplicate copy of her plan as the reference pages, I also use and I will have the information I shared with her.

I think this is going to be an early night, I still have no energy and a bit of a headache. Tomorrow I should be fine, except for the sore shoulder.