Warmer Weather Means Washing Wool

For me, warmer weather means it’s time to start washing and dying wool and other fibers.  It’s not quite yet consistent enough to break out the wash gear and the fleeces (although it’s getting there).  But, I was itching to get to the drum carder, so I did the next best thing and pulled out what I had on hand already.   Although my stash is very limited right now I did put together a few fibers.

wool, alpaca, silk, and nylon fibers

wool, alpaca, silk, and nylon fibers

As they went round and round on the drum carder I started to see this:

on the carding cloth

on the carding cloth

I pulled off the batt after the first run through and decided to blend it more.

after the first carding pass

after the first carding pass

So I split the batt into pieces and ran it through again then dizzed off into roving form.

roving

roving

I ended up with 3 ounces of light, airy, yummy goodness ready to go.  Stay tuned to see how it spins up.

The Babies Meet The Big Girls

The past couple of days have been cold, windy, and cloudy.  Consequently, I have been a bit unwilling to let the baby chicks out in the yard.  Wednesday was cloudless and warm and a great day to make backyard introductions.

The babies are growing up

The babies are growing up

At first we kept them in the smaller black pen inside the larger pen area so the big girls could get used to them.  Basically they just ignored each other.  We took the babies out and they all ran to the corner of the pen together.  The two sets of chickens kept their distance from each other.

Staying away from each other.

Staying away from each other.

Finally, Red approached them.  Gave one a quick peck and walked away.

Red, our matriarch giving her peck.

Red, our matriarch, giving her peck.

Then Esther joined in.

Esther giving her peck of approval.

Esther giving her peck of approval.

Soon, all seemed to be getting along well together.  Occasionally one of the older girls would give a quick peck and walk away, but for the most part things went well.

Getting along well together.

Getting along well together.

After spending some time wandering around the pen, the babies found their way into the coop for a break.

That-One takes a break in the coop.

That-One takes a break in the coop.

The next few days are going to be quite warm so there will be lots of outside time for the babies.  They are growing so quickly.  I am more then ready for them to be outside.

Potato, Chicken, & Leek Soup

A few weeks ago, I was introduced to leeks.  I had no idea what to do with them, but they came in a basket of fruits and veggies we got through Bountiful Baskets.  So, I went through cookbooks and did an internet search.  I found a recipe that sounded good and I since I had all the ingredients, I went for it.  It was a hit and the Mr. declared leeks his new favorite vegetable.  Yesterday was a very cold and windy and therefore perfect to make the soup (again).   Each time I make it, I change up little things as this seems to be a great base to experiment with.  Here’s what I did this time.

Ingredients:

  • 4 leeks
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 to 3 lbs potatoes cubed
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups freeze dried chicken or you can use fresh cooked shredded chicken

Directions:

  1. Cut leeks lengthwise, separate, wash well.  Use only the white and pale green parts, chop.  Cook leeks in butter with salt and pepper.  Cover and let saute for 10 minutes.  Check often so they don’t brown.
  2. Add water, broth, and potatoes.  Bring to a low simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until potatoes are on the soft side.
  3. To make the soup creamy use a blender or stick blender.  If using a conventional blender remove about half of the mix and puree in the blender until smooth and return to the pot.  If using a stick blender, just immerse it in the pot and blend away until creamy.  (I used both methods and find both work equally as well…the stick blender is just quicker and easier to clean)
  4. Add chicken, Italian Seasonings and crushed red pepper and more salt and pepper to taste.  Continue to simmer until the chicken is rehydrated (if using freeze dried) or warmed up (if using fresh)
  5. Served with some warm bread or rolls….yum.

potatoleeksoup

*Adapted from Simply Recipes

Free Knitting Pattern

The Sexy Knitter is giving away a free pattern through Ravelry.  You just need to queue or fav at least 5 patterns from her list and send her a private message to let her know which ones you choose.  She will then send you a random pattern from your list.  Everyone is a winner, but hurry on over, the give away only lasts through March 16th.

I already got my free pattern and plan to knit it over our Spring Break.

New Girls In Town

So the other day, a friend asked if we’d be interested in some grown up chickens.  Her friend could no longer keep hers so she thought of us.  We decided to take four of them and brought them home yesterday.  They transitioned quite well into their new home and were soon exploring.

Loomy

Loomy in the back and Esther in the front

Red on the right and yet to be named on the left.

Red on the right and yet to be named on the left.

So far we’ve (or should I say I) have named three of these girls.  Red was already Red from her former home and that just seemed to fit.  Esther just sort of stuck in my mind and Loomy got her name because I love her wing  pattern and it inspired me to try to recreate that at my weaving loom.

Loomy's wing pattern

Loomy’s wing pattern

They dogs did well with their introduction to the new girls.  Merri was interested but soon lost interest with them and went along her merry way (yes pun intended).  Caleb seriously pines and whines away at their pen and doesn’t want to come inside even when it’s raining.

Merri watching her new friends.

Merri watching her new friends.

A few hours later, I went to check on the girls to see how they were doing.  Loomy was in her box pecking and circling.  She’d sit for a minute then get back up.  As I watched, she puffed up really big made some cooing type sounds and then settled down.  She then started taking the pine shavings from the other nesting box and dropping it on herself and around her.  She let me watch all this without making a fuss at me.  I had a feeling there was a surprise inside the box.  Sure enough, we had our first egg.  Let me tell you, for this city girl, watching a chicken lay an egg was a very cool experience.

Our first egg

Our first egg

We then left for a bit for another commitment.  When we returned, it was dark, so the Mr. and I went outside to check on the girls.  With flashlights in hand, we checked their coop and found them huddled together cooing and sleeping.  In the nesting box, I found another present.  Not bad for a first day.

Two pretty eggs

Two pretty eggs

This morning, it’s drizzling and cool outside, but all four girls are out and about walking their run area like they own the place.  If the rain stops and the sun appears, as the forecast says it will, we will bring the baby girls outside and start letting them get to know each other.

Veggie Starts

As we move closer and closer to Spring, it’s time to start getting the garden in gear.  I’ve got seeds or starts already going for tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, onions, kale, lettuce, calendula, and potatoes.  I still need to work on my herbs and lavender. This year, we decided to try using a portable hot house.  Last month we set it up and started our seeds to see how it would work for us.

hothouse

We added a set of plastic shelves and planted the seeds.

hothouse1

For a few days the weather stayed warm and the seeds stayed outside.  Then we dipped below freezing.  I left the starts out there for the first night and they seemed ok.  The hot house kept temperature, but by the second night of below freezing temps, the hot house froze and I was a little worried about the starts.  We moved them inside and kept an eye on them.  The temps were again warm this weekend and I moved my little starters back outside and was happy to see some sprouting occurring.

sprouts1

Kale

sprouts

Pickling Cucumbers

Tonight the temps are supposed to get below freezing again so my starts will be indoors, but tomorrow we are on a warming trend for a few days and outside to the hot house they will return.

Introducing The Chickens

We’ve had our girls for just over three weeks now.  They were small when we brought them home and fit in a plastic tote:

chicks_firstweek

They quickly outgrew the tote and by the second week they took over the shower stall:

chicks_weektwo

It was such a wonderfully warm day yesterday that we decided to take the girls outside to see how they would do.

chicks_weekthree

After just a few minutes of looking around and investigating, they soon felt right at home and began pecking and scratching their food. When we brought the dogs over to meet them, there were a few tense moments but after awhile everyone seemed to get along.

chicks_weekthree1

chicks_weekthree2

Our girls have been handled a lot by the kids and seem to love the attention and constantly perk up and have no problem hopping into a hand or climbing up an arm.

chicks_weekthree3

We also built their run.  It took most of the day for me and two of the kids to construct the frame and get it to work the way we wanted it to work.

chicks_weekthree4

But by the end of the day, it was all put together, anchored down and ready for chicks.

chicks_weekthree5

Except the chicks jump right through the fencing for now.  But that’s ok, because when we were done, the chicks came back inside to their shower stall for a warm, cozy, and safe night.  They are still too young to stay outside all the time anyway, so for now on warm days, we will let them go outside and explore their new world.