Tag Archives: weather changes

Olio – February 2, 2016

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

After a few spring like days, the lower field looks like a tonsured head with the fringe of snow around the edges of the bald field.  Yesterday was rainy but warm, today gray, drizzly and chilly.  The kind of day where I want to read and knit and so that it mostly what I did, along with a brief nap as I am still coughing and somewhat congested, a week and a half after contracting this latest round of winter crud.  Having 2 school aged kids, a daughter that works in a school and a SIL that works in a hospital, someone is always bringing home a new variety of it.

I finished one sock of the Unplanned Peacock Twisty Sock yarn, Rainbow and it fits.  Maybe a tad looser around the leg than I need, but at least it goes over my heel and high instep easily.  Sock #2 is in process, my carry along knitting, the cuff done and the leg well on the way to the heel flap.

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Because the socks are my carry along knitting, I started my latest sweater two nights ago.  The socks on tiny size 1 double pointed needles, the sweater on a huge size 10 circular needle.  The pattern is Shalom cardigan, the yarn, my own handspun.  Last February at the spinning retreat, I purchased a pound of beautiful Coopsworth overdyed fiber.

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Off and on, I spun this fiber into a heavy worsted weight yarn for me.

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The fiber was all spun, the yarn washed and measured and it isn’t enough to make me a full sweater.  Shalom is a cap sleeve cardigan, I have knit it before and added 3/4 sleeves.  As luck would have it, Hearts of the Meadow Farm where I purchased the fiber, still has some of last year’s in that color and she has set aside another 8 ounces for me to purchase at this month’s fiber festival.  My plan is to not bind off the cap sleeve, but put them on holders, knit the body and see what I have left over.  Purchase the additional fiber and spin it and hope to have enough to put long sleeves on this one.  Since the yarn is heavy, a full long sleeved sweater would be best.

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Shalom is a triple yoked sweater with a single button.  I loved the pattern the first time I knit it, but ended up hating the yarn as it pills terrible.  This yarn shouldn’t do that and I am loving the teal and gray.

The longer days as we march toward the Vernal Equinox has stimulated the Buffy’s desire to lay for us.  Where I was getting one egg every two or three days and always from the same hen, I am now getting 2 to 3 per day and they are coming from various hens as seen in the variation of color and size that I am bringing in each day.

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Only one of the Americaunas has ever laid an egg.  I haven’t figured out which of the two it is, but as they are already the odd gals out, I will keep them both to hang out together.  Perhaps both will lay come full on spring.  I have 6 Buff Orpington hens, 2 Americaunas, and two young roosters.  I hope we have success raising chicks this year, as I want to increase my flock back up to 14 from the current 10.  The young rooster who has recently found his voice is practicing more and getting better and more vocal each day.  I still haven’t heard the other one try to crow.  Yesterday, the flock finally left the small area of hay in front of the coop and ventured across a band of remaining snow to the bare spots in the garden.  Today, most of that snow is gone and the garden open for their scratching and digging.

Our spring like days have ended and we are again looking at seasonal temperatures, frigid nights and possibly more snow in the next week.  Phil may have predicted an early spring for Pennsylvania, but I doubt we will see it here.

The Shake Up

The Americaunas are 19 weeks old and one of the pullets showed to be a cockerel early on.  In the past couple of weeks, he has gotten both quite randy and aggressive toward the young chicks, perhaps killing and inflicting pecking damage to a couple of them.  A few weeks ago, I posted about building a new coop here, but we didn’t fully enclose it, so this week I made it my goal to make it secure enough for adult birds that are due for freezer camp come fall.  With a 10 foot roll of hardware cloth and 30 some feet of metal poultry net, a few old rotting cedar posts to hold the poultry net to the ground, a couple of metal handles and a length of chain with an S hook and it was ready to go.  I still needed perches and since it is A-framed and has poultry net stapled up to and over the tops of the nailers, that was a dilemma, but then I remembered an old hand made ladder of 13 foot long locust posts and nailed on slats.  The ladder was too rickety to use, not pretty enough to display and so it was cut in half and the halves leaned against opposite walls to provide the perches.  A fruit crate reconfigured as a nest box and away we go.

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First move on the agenda was to capture Midnight and put him in isolation for a bit.  He was surprisingly easy to capture with a close mesh fishing net on a long pole.  He was not happy with me, but he soon had 144 square feet of space to himself.

Next move might have been a bit cruel, but of the 24 eggs that were being brooded last week by 3 hens we had only 11 hatch because of the two older hens abandoning their nests before full hatch to try to “adopt” the ones that hatched first under the younger hen.  We then lost a couple from the chicken tractor, a couple injured and moved to the brooder in the garage, leaving 3 hens trying to sit on 7 chicks in one nesting box each night.  At dark last night, those two older hens were removed from the nest, leaving the 7 chicks to the younger hen who hatched most of them and she settled right in to sit on all of them.  The two older hens who are to be culls were put in with Midnight.

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In a few weeks, they should begin laying again, I hope.

Momma is doing great with her brood, but really doesn’t seem to want to bring them outside of the chicken tractor and into the yard.

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The two in the brooder are healing nicely, but may never be able to be reintroduced to the hen as one has a scab on his back that may take weeks to fully heal, so they may just stay in the brooder until they are fully feathered and can be introduced to the flock.

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They are adorable and granddaughter is enthralled by them.  The Brinsea brooder table will be here Wednesday and they will have that as a heat source instead of the heat-lamp.

Two nights ago, another hen flattened herself into a nesting box at bed time.  I moved her and took the eggs, but last night she was there again, so we put 10 marked eggs from yesterday and the day before under her to start yet another brood of chicks.  By the time they hatch, the littles will be feathered and will move to the coop, the mature hens except for the two younger hens that raised chicks this year, will be moved to the cull coop with Midnight and the two old ladies, the hen and her chicks will occupy the chicken tractor.  As this summer’s chicks develop and we can tell who is a pullet and who is a cockerel, the cockerels will also be moved to the cull coop.  By the end of the summer, the coop will contain the three Americauna pullets who should begin to lay by mid July, the two younger hens who raised good families this summer and 5 of this summer’s pullets along with Romeo (who needs his spurs trimmed again).  That will be my over winter flock of layers and their beau.

The chicken tractor is too heavy for me to move alone and it lacks wheels, so I am going to buy two sheets of exterior grade plywood, a sheet of floor vinyl and some pavers and it is going to be leveled and set on a solid base to become a permanent brooder coop for next summer’s chicks whether hen raised or brooder raised.

I’m not sure about this outdoor chick raising.  I thought it would be easier, but the abandonment, the predator loss and chick death is almost more stressful than buying day olds and brooding them in the garage for 5 or 6 weeks.  I may rethink having a rooster and return to brooding replacement layers and meat chicks in the garage.

Today is almost 20 degrees cooler than the past couple of weeks and it is finally dry.  A walk through the garden shows that the rain has engulfed the garden in weeds again.  I should be out there weeding again, but I think I’ll just pick peas and berries and wait for another day.