May 28, 2013
I started this project (Ravelry link) on March 16th, using the Lion Brand Fishermen's wool I had in my stash. It's not the most ideal wool for a project like this because it's so itchy against the skin, but because this was my first knitted garment, I didn't want to invest any extra money. I was essentially viewing this as a practice attempt for the real thing.
Things started off okay. I finished most of the body portion quickly, but then the sun came out, and I started spending most of my time outside, so I put the project down for awhile. 'Awhile' turned into almost two whole months.
Well, recently this part of Oregon has reverted back to its typical cold and rainy self, so I was able to get back to my knitting. Luckily, the pattern is really simple, so it wasn't hard to find my place. It only took me a few evenings worth of work to make and attach the sleeves, and to finish the rest of the sweater. And, like usual, this project was a lot less intimidating than I thought it'd be.
After soaking the sweater, and laying it flat to try, I'm really pleased with how it turned out. It fits really well! I do have two major issues with it, though:
1. It's really, really itchy.
2. Off-white doesn't go well with my skin tone.
So, from now on I'll invest in better wool for my knitted garments. As for this sweater, I hear Rit dye works pretty well...
May 21, 2013
Seven and Starbuck
Starbuck and Olive
Just a quick chicken update: these girls are big enough now that they look like proper chickens. Unfortunately, Matt and I haven't been able to finish their coop yet, so they're still living in the basement for now. It's not a terrible situation, especially because we let them outside daily, but we need to get their coop up and running as soon as possible. We have all the materials needed to build it, so now we just need some extra time and cooperative weather
A couple weeks ago, when I first let the girls outside, I had a box (or rather several boxes taped together) I would use to keep them contained and safe from predators. Nowadays, I just grab Starbuck, place her somewhere in the yard, and the other three girls follow. Yesterday, all four chickens hung out under the same rosebush for nearly two hours while I weeded the vegetable garden. They don't seem to want to travel very far.
And the funniest part, for me, is when they've decided they've had enough. They walk straight back into the basement, without any intervention from me, and roost on their perches in the brooder with the door wide open.
Easiest pet ever.
But I totally get the whole chicken poop issue now. It's pretty disgusting.
May 10, 2013
We're harvesting radishes, peas, spinach, lettuce, arugula, and endives from our garden these days, which means we're eating salad for dinner almost every night. For our salad, I like to make my own croutons and dressings. Most salad dressings don't take very long to make, and can be prepared only moments before serving. Ranch dressing, on the other hand, is best if prepared a few hours in advance so the flavors have time to develop.
Still, despite the fact that it takes some thinking in advance, homemade ranch dressing is worth the effort. It's one of my favorites, so I thought I'd share my recipe with you so you can try it at home. Enjoy!
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 to 1 cup mayonnaise, depending on desired consistency
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1-2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1-2 tablespoons chives, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
A few drops of Worcestershire sauce, to taste
Freshly cracked pepper
Salt, to taste
Mix all the ingredients together and pour into an airtight container. Refrigerate for 3-5 hours before serving to let the flavors meld. Serve over salad or as a dip for vegetables, chips, and breads.
May 9, 2013
This week's chicken update is short and sweet. We've been too busy to work on the chicken coop, and there hasn't been much physical change with the girls, so there's not much to report.
The weather has been uncommonly nice here, so I've taken the girls outside for an hour or two each day, and they seem to really enjoy it. I'm tempted to let them roam free in the backyard (under my supervision, of course), but they're still a little too small for that, so I generally confine them to a small area in the yard while I sit close by with a book.
Amelia Pond's comb is turning a nice, bright pink, and she's always been the most aggressive and curious of the flock, so I posted the above video on the forums at backyardchicken.com to get some opinions about her gender. It seems she is indeed a girl, so I'm almost certain we won't have any roosters to give away this year. What a relief!
Because of our schedules, we're hoping to finish the chicken coop by the beginning of June, so I'll keep you updated as we make progress. My weekly updates will probably become less frequent now, but I'll still post anytime something exciting happens. For instance, the girls are just now starting to display some pecking order-type behavior. So far, I think Starbuck is top dog because she's the largest, but with Amelia Pond's personality, I wouldn't be surprised if she ends up boss. Then again, you can't discount little Olive Snook. She's feisty. The only chicken that will remain out of contention is Seven-of-Nine. She's seems content to be assimilated.
Here are a couple more helpful chicken-related links I've run into that may be of use to you if you're just starting out with backyard chickens:
Best Treats for Backyard Chickens
Types of Chicken Poo (don't read this if you're eating something)
May 8, 2013
The nearly 90°F temperatures from the weekend have caused my vegetables to explode. I almost wish I had planted tomatoes back when I was sticking my radish and turnip seeds into the ground. Oh well. Our Willamette Valley weather can be hard to predict sometimes.
At first, it seemed like my Dwarf Gray peas were going to start producing long before my Tom Thumbs, but when I went out to water my plants sometime last week, I noticed that my peas had been tampered with. Perhaps it was a neighborhood cat, or a negligent mailman. Either way, the damage seemed to stall my peas long enough for my Tom Thumbs, which were unharmed, to pull ahead. My Dwarf Gray peas have only sprouted their first tiny purple flower yesterday, so hopefully we'll see pods growing in their place in the next week or two.
Meanwhile, I'm making lots of radish fridge pickles, radish green pesto, and eating tons and tons of salad. Good times.
May 2, 2013
The girls are getting huge! I try to be consistent, and take pictures of them every Monday to get an idea of how much they're changing week by week, but I don't think these images really capture their growth as well as I'd like them to. I guess you'll have to trust me when I tell you that they're starting to look like 'real' chickens now.
I recently discovered the Vine app for my iPhone, so I thought I'd share a video of them exploring their new surroundings. We finally moved them down to the basement over the weekend, and they seem to be doing really well now that they have more room to flap their wings. I think this video gives you a better idea about their size, too.
Vine is awesome, by the way. I can't stop playing with it.
The basement brooder is approximately 42"x 42"x 3', with a stationary top made of hardware cloth. We get in and out through a door on the side that makes cleaning much easier because you can just reach in with a rake and sweep or shovel everything out. We had to add another heat lamp to keep things warm, and even with two heat lamps, the cool side gets down under 60°F. I forgot to include photos of their perches made by 2 x 4's, but they are attached right under the heat lamps, so the chicks stay nice and warm while they sleep.
As for the coop, we're almost finished with the hen house. I'll go into further detail about that next week (hopefully), but things are really coming together. As for now, we're supposed to have 80°F+ weather for the next few days (in May!), so I'm planning to build a temporary run for the chicks outside so they can dig in the dirt for worms and bugs.
So that's it for chicken-related news this week. I'd love to hear how the rest of you are doing with your chicks this year, so feel free to chat me up in the comments. Have a happy weekend!