New beginnings

The giant rolling storage crate was pulled from the root cellar and filled with pine shavings, two heat tables, a feeder, and water in preparation for the chicks. But the nasty weather last week slowed things down and chicks didn’t arrive at Tractor Supply (either of them within 30 minutes of home) on Monday. On Tuesday, one got 3 breeds, not ones I want. A call to Rural King on Monday put me on hold for more than 5 minutes, answered again by the front end desk and again transferred and another hold until I hung up. We drove over there and they had bunnies, no chicks. But Rural King was supposed to get several hundred chicks in this morning, and they are supposed to be getting what I want. If the CDC is correct, I should be close to 90% protected with my first vaccine given two weeks ago, so I will mask up and go get babies. (Turns out the info I was given was incorrect and they don’t come in until tomorrow, so I guess it will happen tomorrow instead.) When I start a new flock, I always begin with a dozen, though I know that they won’t all survive the native predators and neighborhood domestics (though that hasn’t happened in a few years). The chicks will start in the basement for a couple of weeks. As the winter fades and the chicks begin to feather out, they will be moved to the garage until they are old enough to move outdoors. The 8 old hens will move in a few weeks from the coop to “The Chicken Palace” a huge A frame structure and they will be allowed more free range time as the replacements move to the coop to learn where they live and while they gain enough size to run around outdoors.

The chicken palace with some of our deer visitors and the ever present stinkbug photo bombing. This is an older shot, we don’t have green grass right now.
I’m ready for them if anyone every gets any in stock.

And tomorrow morning, bright and early, I get my second vaccine. I’m prepared for the sore arm, the possible flu like symptoms for a day or so in hopes that it will make me feel safer when I do have to or want to go out in the world for more than a woods walk, drive thru sandwich, or curbside pickup of supplies.

My breed blanket project continues. There are 6 eight inch blocks completed and enough of some of the already spun yarns to knit a couple more before the next breed comes up next month. Today, a sampler box of fiber arrived, it has 12 breeds, some of which are natural undyed duplicates of some I have dyed and one I have already knit, but they will be used as well to add more squares to make the blanket large enough to be a real wool blanket.

I am finishing up the last of the official February fiber and a sample I got with my March fiber that because it is blended with silk can’t be part of the blanket. Now to decide which one will go in the blanket next.


I have mentioned before that I participate in a couple of spinning challenges during the year. For the past year, my focus has been with a social media group that spins on the Jenkins Turkish spindles that I love to use. The spindles let me spin finer yarn and slow my production down to about 4 ounces, 1 skein a month. In January two different challenges were initiated with the group, one of them a year long challenge. The monthly challenges, most months allow double dipping with the year long one. The year long challenge is a Breed Blanket Project to pick a single pure breed of sheep wool and spin enough on a Jenkins spindle, to knit a square that at the end of the year will be sewn together to produce a blanket at least big enough for a baby blanket. I decided that I would tackle two breeds a month and try to make a blanket large enough for an extra cover on the bed. Most of the wool that I have gathered are natural colors, whites, fawn, gray, and darker browns. A few are pure breeds that are dyed braids. I started the blanket using one pattern, but didn’t care for the way it looked.

Mostly, I didn’t care that each block was attached as I knit which meant that I had to be more careful of planning ahead, and realized that I had started with darker ones which might end up with the blanket very unbalanced with the colors. Then, one of my favorite pattern designers offered a sale on their patterns and I fell in love with one of them. This meant taking apart everything that I had already done and rewinding the wool into individual balls. The new pattern is a center out square which has required that I learn a new skill, doing a pinhole cast on. I finished square 4 of reknitting it and I still have to pull up a slow motion lesson on how to do it. Maybe I will eventually get the point where the video is no longer necessary to get started, but I really like the blocks that the pattern produces and each block only takes a couple of hours to knit. I hope by the end of the month to be back where I started, but the new blocks are 8 inches square instead of 10 so I will have to knit more blocks to get the size I want.

Next month’s monthly challenge won’t allow me to double dip as the fiber has to be silk or blended with silk, so I may not be able to get as many done for the blanket, but the requirement is only for one. If I have to finish it after the end of the year to make it as large as I want, that will be okay too.

There will be a lot more sewing the squares together in the end, but I can lay them out in a pleasing way to make it work.

Now on to knitting the three remaining. I got two done yesterday. Next up is the one from yarn in the lower right corner of the first post. It is interesting to see how it looks different in the new squares. The lower left of the two pictures is the same yarn.


In the winter, I could live entirely on soup. When I got up this morning it was 14f. The sun did finally come out yesterday and began the ice melt. Though the trees are still glistening and glowing, they aren’t totally coated and sagging, but this weekend is cold, bone numbing cold.

Son 1 sent me a photo a while back, to show off them using the rice bowls we gave them for Christmas, but it was what was in them that caught my eye. He had made an Asian inspired broth and filled it with fancy noodles, vegetables, and a boiled egg. We exchanged messages for me to get the gist of what he had produced. Many nights a week, I prepare Texas born DH the Texas staple foods of red meat and starch, but I don’t care for that, so I started experimenting with Son 1’s soup. Now I make potato soup, lentil soup, and vegetable soup that I can eat on Texas nights, but the broth soup full of healthy goodies really held an appeal and I started playing with it a few times a week. A good chicken or vegetable broth with sauteed onion, garlic, ginger, and a little crushed Szechuan pepper simmered for 10 or 15 minutes to meld the flavors, then the fun begins. I have a bag of super green mix (baby chard, baby spinach, baby kale, and mizuna), various noodles, quinoa, and left over cooked brown rice. A tub of red Miso, a quart jar of Daikon radish kimchee, and the hydroponic garden of fresh herbs all ready for my use. If I use quinoa, I put it in while the broth is simmering so it cooks. Noodles cook in under 5 minutes, and left over brown rice just needs to be warmed. Only one of those is added per batch, but a large handful of the super greens and another of fresh herb clippings are added just long enough to wilt them. A bit of the hot broth is pulled off and mixed with the Miso and added back at the last moment. Sometimes the boiled egg is added to the bowl if I have some made (I generally steam half a dozen or so at a time to add to the pup’s breakfast, so there are often some available for me too). To this can be added some Turmeric, with the ginger and garlic, fighting inflammation. Some kimchee at the last minute so it holds its fermented benefits with the fermented benefits of the Miso and two cups of quick delicious healthy soup is made in only about 15-20 minutes. Sliced mushrooms can be added during the saute phase too.

And who says soup is only for lunch or dinner. This morning to warm my chilly body, a couple of cups were made, full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and a good warming broth were enjoyed for breakfast.