About Me

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I am a 50+ yr old stay at home wife of a scientist/Military man.  I raise chickens for eggs, rescue dogs & cats & spoil them all.  I am a silver/metal smith & stained glass artist.  I, at one time was an secondary art teacher & Social Studies teacher.  I am sorta a eclectic earth mother who recycles everything I can get my hands on.  Enjoy working with power tools & even built my own 10ft by 6ft chicken coop.  am pretty much interested in learning everything I can thur books, magazines & friends. I enjoy veggie gardening & doing gardens just for the chickens. I also sew & love making pioneer style comfortable clothes for myself & adding vintage lace when I can find it. I am pretty easygoing, but need my coffee first before I am ready to face the world & day.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Winter has FINALLY arrived!

Not everyone likes the cold & snow but for me it brings out the child in me.  I can sit & watch it for hours & the first snow of the season always makes me smile.

The big coop I built in April has proved itself & the chickens are staying warm & happy inside even when it hit 1 degree.  but then again I do have a red heat lamp on one side above their water-er & a ceramic heat lamp on the other side where they roost at night.  I put up  old burlap coffee bags between the 2 sides a week ago so they could have a dark area to roost & light if they need a midnight snack.

I was sad to have 2 of my hens die in the last 2 weeks, one unknown causes, she was fine when she went in for the night but I found her dead the next morning in a laying box.  The other girl I brought in one morning cause she was hiding...a sure sign something is wrong.  Poor little girl started throwing up the most awful smelling stuff & couldn't keep anything down which in my experience shows gizzard bound.  she didn't make it through the night but at least she was not alone to die.

I finally figured out why my hens who get along with Jasper the duck where pecking him.  He is sexually frustrated & is trying to mount the hens, but since he is so small he can't get on their backs so he grabs them by the neck to pull them down.  which of course they are not happy about so they peck at him to get him to let go.

Now I am not really into the whole Duck thing, but I got him from Kelley when a cat killed one of her silkies that Jasper was raised with.  But I think I am going to have to get him a little girl duck so he can be happy & leave the hens alone. Right now I keep him in a dog kennel in the laundry room or in the bathroom but he is not very happy being by himself.  I had tried to place him back with the hens after the first time he got pecked near his eye, not knowing why they were doing this to him.  Well he wasn't with them 24 hours before his eye area was swollen again so I removed him again.  It wasn't until later that day I saw him try to mount one of the hens that I finally knew why he was getting picked on.......poor little boy!

Thank goodness he is not one of those huge ducks that are super loud & aggressive.....I have forgotten his breed but he is very small like a silkie hen. So I think I can handle one more so he is not so lonely.

Rosey, the dog from Georgia we have got to experience her first ever snow, she loves it....... not the cold, but try to keep a sweater on her is not possible.  She has even gotten out of the ones that fit tight to her body!

The holidays here are quiet, we really don't celebrate.  My son is in Oklahoma so it seems silly to do a big holiday when my husband &I don't care.  He spent the day playing on the computer & I sewed.  I have been sewing for 42 years but I will say, I was about to burn the dress I was making!  Its a dress pattern from the 1920's that had the worse direction & diagrams.  What should have taking me maybe a few hours ended up 2 days!

 I love old clothes so I try to make the things I like from the 1920's,1930's & 1950's whenever I can find a pattern from that time.  I have been lucky to get some great patterns from the web for about the same price as new ones, but some of the patterns I get are Costume patterns.  This was a costume pattern & very tough.
Since I now know how to make it the next one I do, it won't make me want to pull my hair out... but I think I will first sew the 1940's coat before I try another dress with that pattern.

I use my guest bedroom as a sewing room & I take Willow, my crippled hen up with me & put her in the middle of the bed on a feather mattress so she can be with me.  She listens to my Murder She Wrote DVD's & sleeps while I sew. The nice thing about having her with me is she doesn't tear up the pattern pieces or bat around the thread like Macy, the kitten does or sit on my ironing pad that's on the floor like Rosey does.  I had to kick them out & close the door which they hate cause there is now another room they are not allowed it!

Have a great & safe Holiday everyone!

Monday, December 13, 2010

When it rains, it pours! Weather affecting my animals behavior

We are having alot of rain up here in Massachusetts, USA when we should be getting lots of snow & I swear it is affecting the way my animals are acting.

On day its 1 degree, the next its 51 degrees & weird things are going on in my household.  Let me re-define that to things are weirder than normal.  I get that my dog from the warm state of Georgia will not be liking the cold, so having her laying pretty close to on to of the wood stove when its going I think is normal, though how she does not burn her tail end is beyond me.

My one & only duck Jasper is in love with my hen Bowzer & follows hr every where but when the weater started going from hot to cold over & over, Bowzer got a bit testy & pecked him near his eye.  So the poor little guy is now in a dog crate in the laundry room with medication on his eye & surrounding area.  He will not lose the eye, thank goodness!

Gracie, one of my beautiful 5 year old white leg-horns went into the coop one night normal, next morning dead in a nesting box.  No signs of illness, injury or anything just died.

Gertie, my limping white leg-horn decided to take on a bigger & heavier black hen & got her crown all torn up within a matter of seconds & it took an hour & 15 minutes to get the really bad wound to stop bleeding.  I really though with the amount of blood she was losing it would kill her.

This weather has also caused my chickns to quit eating as much as they normally do,but the ones that lay are still laying each day.

I have noticed that it is also affecting me, as I am getting more headaches which cause me to be short tempered & moody.  See, I am allergic to all my animals except for the lizard so I get headaches more often than most people & rain seems to make them worst & last longer even though I have medicene for them.

I also have a over-weight cat (Big Momma)that is more impatient as well, Ok  so she's always in a bad mood & hates everyone, but since she can't go out when its raining.....she hates to get her feet wet! She has been screaming at everyone over everything. She has food in her bowl but she wants more in it, her water is the wrong temp & on & on.  And lets not even mention the kitten Macy, who just wants to play with her. 

So the last few days have been unsettling with all this strange behavior from my fairly normal animals.  But I do know that weather can & does create changes in animal behavior, so I have a feeling with our so called wet winter I will be dealing with a lot of adnormal stuff from the animals & have to buy a case of asprin just to get through it unless we get some snow!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Just trying to get settled for the cold months

It seems no matter what I get done, there is always more to do around here.  Today I spent 2 1/2 hours cleaning the big coop & re-arranging the roosting rods for the chickens since I hated the way it was.  I was forever bumping my head on the one roosting bar when I tried to get things done.  Solution was to move it to the other side of the coop with the other rod, so they are all together in one area instead of two.

Plus I am now starting to bring in the last 3 hens that had leg mites & trying to get a large rabbit cage into the coop wasn't easy with the way it was set up.  I now have room for the new cage & an area that will not get as dirty (I hope).

I named the 3 leg mite girls: Maiden, Mother & Crone....Crones legs are completely healed so she went out today & hopefully in a few days, I can let her loose with the others.  She managed to get out of the cage & was bossing the others around when I went to lock them in for the night.  She has no fear that's for sure.  But to be on the safe side, back in the cage she went!

The white wounded one from my last Blog...Coraline is now also healed up & down in the basement coop in a dog cage adjusting to those chickens.  She is doing very well with the aprin that covers her poor naked back.  Soon she also will be released into that flock since she is one of the babies I have to watch more carefully.

So as I write I am down to only 5 in the house & will be happy to see at least 2 of them go in the coming weeks to their coop outside.  Gertie & Piper are still limping so they will stay in until their legs are hopefully back to normal or near normal.  Willow will always be a in-house hen since she still can't use her legs well enough to really walk.
                                  This is Willow, my lame pretty sweet girl

Even with all that I did make a batch of old fashioned fudge this weekend using cocoa powder, that came out pretty good though it said to beat it for 10 minutes & I got 3 minutes into it & it set up so fast I barely got it out of the pan! And forget stirring in the nuts those had to be sprinkled on the top.  Good lesson though & enjoyable.

I finally got all the 31 pumpkins cooked....11 were field pumpkins & 20 were sugar pumpkins.  I did 8 field pumpkins for my Co-op lady, Mary & 20 for my sweet neighbor girl.  I did up only 3 field pumpkins for myself because I ran out of freezer space!  But I have enough for me to bake pumpkin bread with & some for the chickens....I thaw it out, heat it & mix it with their morning feed mix when its really cold outside.

I did learn something though I wanted to share since I know there are others out there that cut, cook & freeze pumpkins.  I suffer from carpel tunnel in both wrists & cutting & scraping out seeds was killing my hands & wrist.  I grew up learning to cut a pumpkin in half so that when you scrap the seeds it takes forever & a day to do. So I thought why not try cutting the pumpkin from the top down so I don't have to fight the seed membrane? It worked wonderfully & instead of 5 minutes to scrap out seeds I was doing it in seconds. I cut the middle section, as you can see at a slant so I was not cutting through the tough stem.

I could not believe I had not though of this before but am sure glad I did this time around with all the pumpkins I had to cut, scrap & cook up.  Guess this old dog learned a new trick. I have a extra long sharp knife that made it really easy to cut for the sugar pumpkins......the field pumpkins all got done the old hard way before I thought to try this.  Will sure be using this idea next pumpkin season!

We have yet to get our first big snow up here in Massachusetts & I have yet to get my antique wood cook stove in the house....seems I never have the time to get it from the shop or am just plain worn out. Sure would be nice to get in the house as I am wanting to make up a big batch of old fashioned lye soap on it.  I used to make lye soap a lot & sure miss making it......I do everything from render the fats & so on....been wanting to make my own lye as well since I have the wood ash from our wood stove.  That may have to be something I try this spring since you really need to do it outside.  Will keep you posted when I start that new adventure.

I got a few questions on the Marigold Salve I listed on my last post & if any of you that try to make it & use it, let me know what you think. I have been using it & making it since around 1995 & love it so I want to hear what you all think of it as well.

Well its time for me to get some more coffee & hit the rocking chair so I can hold Willow for a bit.