Spinning, Knitting, Crocheting, Organic Gardening, Living off-grid, and chasing sheep - because- I'm, like, NOT SANE!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fertile Myrtle

For the last few years, we've been honored to have a very special hen. Well, that's not entirely true. Around August/September we feel honored to have her. The rest of the year? We all try to avoid her! The rest of the year, she pecks and hisses when you try to collect eggs.

broody's chicksBroody is so named because she has defied modern intervention and husbandry by establishing herself as the brood hen every year. Brood hens are rare, most breeds having been so bred apart from those instincts that is is totally something to celebrate when a hen takes back her mother role and refuses to let a hatchery take credit for the monumental task of bringing up smart chicks. And, her chicks ARE smarter. Unlike when we've bought day old chicks from the hatcheries at our local feed store, these chicks need no special care. No heat lamps, no medicated chick feed, just Broody and her sharp, pointy beak to keep all right and proper in the world. Her chicks learn to scratch for food hours after they are hatched. Here she is, showing them that there are excellent opportunities for bugs and grass and seed under the wood pile. In no time, they learn to scratch the small bits of bark back and delve into the ants and beetles beneath.

hide n seek in the squash plantsAfter that, (one thing I've noticed is a natural hatched chick gets LOTS of exercise, their moms taking them all over the farm before, like a wise mother, having worn them out and takes them back to the safe barn for a night of roosting) there is a need for shade. And, for bugs, shade, and general fun - the squash leaves are a real thrill. Don't they look like they're having fun?

Last year, Broody hatched a clutch of chicks. We were excited to see that her hatchling, Hedwig (who, we might add, has her mother's temperament and was formerly called 'barfy' by the Things until I forced them to find a more appreciative name. One cannot allow a woman with her own mind - and really sharp beak - to be dissed in such a way) set a clutch of eggs this year as well. It would seem that Hedwig's first attempt didn't turn out a smashing success as the eggs have not hatched. Still, it took Broody a year or so to get it right so I think there's hope for Hedwig after all. And, because I am so partial to the overall health and intellect of the hen hatched clutches - I am all about trying to help these mamas be the beaky, opinionated women that their natural instincts are compelling them to be.

handspun 014In other news, we are all recovering from the nasty little cold that seemed to descend upon our domain with a vengeance last week! In that time, there has been a bit of spinning done - this one being my personal pet. 'She sells sea shells' batts that were out last week and the week before. I got 420 yards of fingering wgt from the four ounce set, plenty to make socks but, then the mind starts playing trickses with me and saying, 'yeah, but one more skein like that and you'd have a great shoulder shawl'. Clearly, I am out to deceive AND torture myself.

Tomorrow be the first of the month and I will be celebrating it by doing some special dyeing of some Cotswold/mix yarn I had spun up at Stonehedge Fiber Mill. I can't say enough about this mill....the yarn was spun spectacularly and I will send my wool to them again and again! But, being the first of the month, that calls for a new Great Giveaway. This time around, I'll be giving away a skein of single spun handspun yarn. To be entered into the pool of randomly drawn people, you just need to leave a comment in the comments of this post. Winner is announced in the middle of the month. Oh, and the comment? I'm all sweater lust these days....but I have to wait until the Common Ground Fair is over to start on a project of that stature (three weeks to go!). So, what about you? What sweater pattern has you organizing the stash, searching for needles, and generally living for an afternoon of uninterrupted knitting?