We have a bit of a poultry problem in our neighborhood. Or, if you're in the market for some hens... a perfect opportunity. There has always been a small group of stray chickens roaming our neighborhood, keeping an eye out for pesky grubs and overflowing compost bins...but things seem to have gotten a bit out of hand lately. For the past few weeks our backyard has been visited a few tines a day by a new larger flock. I'm talking 15 or more young chickens, a couple mature hens and a rooster. I don't care all that much that they are foraging for grub in our yard, but was concerned about the dogs killing them, Callie in particular.
A few years ago I made the assumption that I could not have any laying hens because I was certain she would make quick work of them. Either I was completely wrong, or the welt Callie had on her back last week explains her new found tolerance, and or, respect for our feathered visitors. We can't be sure, but we think the rooster may have given her a piece of his mind. Much to my surprise the dogs couldn't care less about the chickens, though Callie will make a show of chasing a few of them when I arrive home each day. She usually jumps up from slumber to do this.
Im curious where they are roosting? I found one up in a pecan tree a couple weeks ago, it was just before dusk so assumed it was looking for somewhere to spend the night... or avoiding the orange tabby that was also in my yard staring up at it.
I am pretty sure they do not belong to any of our neighbors, but will find out before I do anything. They do seem to be very attracted to our backyard, so I think that if I were to provide then with somewhere to roost I may be able to keep some of them.
So I ask you... any advise? And more importantly, do you want some chickens?
I'll be the first to admit that I am not a good public speaker... which I know is not a usual quality in an elected official. I am, however, a pretty good photographer and good with visuals. That was my plan of attack when was asked to speak and participate in a panel at The Farm and Food Leadership Conference yesterday. I was going to dazzle them with pretty pictures while I stumbled through my talk. The topic was Local Initiatives and Challenges: Urban Farm Regulation, Building Community, and Reaching out to Schools. One panelist could not make it due to illness and the other two were present and very good speakers. They were also where they were supposed to be on time. I was in the other conference room speaking with one of our Elgin farmers when the moderator began introductions. Whoops.
So I hustle across the hall for the walk of shame up to the front to take my seat. Along the way I hand my jump drive with my dazzling slideshow to the guy at the laptop near the LCD projector only to find out he's just a guy sitting near the laptop near the LCD projector... there is noone running the laptop. He kindly says he'll pop it in for me. Nice guy, I think he may work at Johnson's Backyard Garden. It was just a handful of photos to play as a slideshow, no order, no text...what could go wrong, right?
Well none of the other panelists brought visuals so my first image popped up right away. Lettuce. It just kinda hung there. Staring. Every once in a while the screen would time out and go blue, and the nice young man would lean over and the lettuce would pop up again. I was sure he was just waiting for me to start before he started to play the slideshow. Nope, he wasn't able to get it to run at all. He was very sweet, and since it was clearly not his job to figure it out, I just spoke... well until I was cut off. And every few minutes the kind young man would lean over, push a button and the lettuce would reappear.
Pattern: Flora Poste's Cap Yarn: Shibui Alpaca Needle: US 2 and 3 16" addi lace
The shawl... I really had no desire to knit this pattern before I saw Melissa's three-color Bridgewater on Ravelry. Inspired, I immediatley frogged another project and cast on for Bridgewater as soon as I could. Melissa was kind enough to allow me to grab some of her photos to post here. Such beautiful color choices.
I'm knitting mine in Madelinetosh Prairie also...
Turquoise for the center Square. I won't lie, this center square is one big square of snoozy garter stitch, but I'm so pleased with the size and drape of it, that it was worth trudging through.
Wilted Rose for the Horeshoe Lace Frame. Picking up the edges of the sqaure was a bit hinky, but all stiches are ready to to roll. Last weekend I was on a weekend trip with friends and knew the lace pattern would require more attention than I had to give. The good news is that this frame is only 39 rows. 39 looong rows that is.
and Nutmeg for the Knitted on Lace Edging
Speaking of last weekend I did persuade my friends to stop in Comfort so I could go to The Tinsmith's Wife. Love this shop. They recently moved into the old general store building next door. The new store seems larger, but with lots of cozy nooks to sit and knit.
So yesterday Steve and I pull into the driveway around 5:40. The dogs had a squirrel treed. As we were approaching it leapt from the tree and was soon screaming as it was in a three-way tug-of-war with the dogs. At this point I ran into the house crying, because I'm made of tough stuff.
Steve came in a minute later to tell me about the events that followed. I was happy to have missed Roscoe trying to shake the squirrel off his face. (update, I've since been told that Callie was trying to pull the squirrel off his face too) I am pretty sure I would have lost my shit if I had seen that. I immediatley ran out to check on him and he came prancing around the corner with a limp squirrel in his mouth and a very bloody eye.
This not being the first eye injury in our almost 10 years together... I scooped him up, grabbed my purse, called my vet that was closing in 15 minutes and told them I was on my way. They were so kind to stay late for us. He burst an blood vessel and did get scratched, but luckily his cornia was untouched. At times like this I am so happy to living in a small town where not only will the vet stay late, but I can get there lickety split.
I'd hoped this morning that he might be worn out and wanting to rest, but he sat right at the window looking for squirrels.
Here's hoping for more of the same this weekend. My husband is sick today, and I'm feeling a bit iffy too, so perhaps just the knitting part would do.
I'm almost done with this great beret pattern from Churchmouse Yarns & Teas and though I've cast on for Topiary in a lovely blue green wool, I think I mayswing by Hill Country Weavers right now to pick up an oatmealy Berroco Vintage so that the stitches will be more pronounced. Yep, that' sexactly what I'm gonna do. I'm not normally a big fan of a wool/acrylic blend, but this yarn is really great.
We bought a Thanksgiving CSA from our friends Tim & Charlotte, they have a small farm in town. I swung by Tuesday night (butchering day) to pick up my basket which, in addition to the heritage breed turkey, contained fresh eggs, pecans, tatsoi, bok choi, lettuce, pumpkin butter, grape jelly, onion prickly pear sauce, rosemary, thyme and sage for roasting the bird...and also this feather.
Steve and I don't live near either of our families so we have a long established tradition of hosting Thanksgiving (and Christmas too). We usually have anywhere from 12-25 people. And there is usually at least one person I've never met before at our table. This year the gathering was smaller but still an eclectic bunch... a punk rocker, a lawyer (the punck rocker's wife), an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, a plumber, an insurance agent (the lawyer's aunt visiting from Connecticut), two farmers, and a 7th grader. And us. Everyone brought lovely food and beautiful pies. apple. sweet potato, pear, pecan.
Heritage turkeys have really long legs which present a challenge when roasting, but I just extended the roasting pan with some foil to catch the drippings from the drumsticks. I usually like to free up my oven by using a countertop roasting oven, but there was no way this bird was going to fit in it nicely.
I am not a fan of stuffing the turkey so I simply fill the cavity with aromatics such as celery, onions, rosemary, sage, thyme and fruit, this year it was an apple.
My go to recipe for dressing Cornbread-Sausage Stuffing with Apples from The Silver Palate Cookbook. I realize as I stroke this is that I am totally dating myself with this cookbook reference. I was learning to love to cook when this cookbook was published in 1982. This book was key in my learning to cook with new to me ingredients and i loved the charming Moosewoodesque illustrations... which also dates me.
I had a constant parade of dogs following me yesterday. Notice how they act all non-chalant when I turn around... "what, we're not following you."
I felt the feather deserved a place at the table. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Today being the 115th birthday of Amelia Earhart had me thinking of a song my father used to play written by Red River Dave McEnery, titled "Amelia Earhart's Last Flight". I have always been in love with this song and for some reason during my mid twenties I was on a quest to find a recorded version of this song. At the time I was living in DC and stepped into a small record store in Silver Spring, Maryland, just to browse. I picked up a copy of Freakwater's 1993 Thrill Jockey release Feels Like the Third Time. My youngest sister, Jess was with me, saw what I had in my hand and said, "oh, I think you'd like them, I saw them at Iota." I flipped over the CD to see the track names and right there on track #10 there it was… my song! My heart flipped and I'm pretty sure I squealed. I could not wait to get home and listen to it. What happened next is that I also fell in love with the band. I was so pleased that my quest for a peculiar, seldom recorded song led me to find a band whose weird voices definitely struck a chord. Synchronicity.
Catherine Irwin and Janet Bean have voices that are pretty in a Mary McCaslin, Alice Gerard and Hazel Dickens, Lucinda Williams, Victoria Williams kinda way. To me they are as crystalline and lovely as Allison Krauss and Patty Griffin, just a lot more honest, whiskey smoked and hard working. They are the voice of a woman who's tired like she's been waiting tables all day, has had it up to here with your shit, and has better things to do with her time.
I remember going to see Catherine Irwin at a SXSW daytime show and recounting that very story of stumbling across her music while looking for the Amelia Earhart song that my father used to sing... she smiled. Awkward. This reminded me of a night years before when I waited on Lucinda at the Ausitn Grill in DC and told her that I'd just seen Darden Smith the week before at The Birchmere and he was raving about her just released Sweet Old World, she stared at me with her heavily-lined eyes without blinking and said, "can I have a Dos Equis?" Again, awkward.
This is what the front porch looked like when we moved in a few years ago...not bad, but not great either.
I still need to repaint the window frames and we now need a new screen door, but how sweet is this porch? I can honestly say I never wanted to live in a big fancy house, but always wanted to live in a red one.
This summer I have decided to look at the FO stash of things I never wear and decide which items I want to gift people and which I'd like to frog and re-knit. The deciding factor is the yarn, really. As was the case with this linen stole. I knit this feather and fan wrap when I was a new knitter and it is rife with errors. So much so that I never wear it, which is a shame because the wrap has such nice heft and drape. It's a gorgeous garment if you ignore the gaping holes in the lace pattern.
Oh, and while you're here... feast your eyes upon my new island countertop. My husband added shelves and a concrete top to extend my butcher block kitchen island. It's beautiful... more pictures when i've moved back into this space. I'm lucky to have such a talented husband. If you don't have one, you should get yourself one... they are good. Speaking of talented husbands, he took this picture for me, though I could not resist giving art direction by text from my car.
My neighbor offered these up this morning as a trade for some of our plums. Deal! So now I will be making both plummy and peachy things during my staycation. Speaking of which, I have now compiled a list of things I'd like to do next week, but may just opt for numbers 8 & 12.
These may be small, but each little gem packs a lot of plummy goodness. This plum tree only fruits when it wants to, but when it does it's crazy how much fruit there is. Steve thought it was funny when I said the tree was heavy with fruit... I guess that did sound a bit goofy. I seriously need to lay down tarps and just shake the branches...the plopping is a funny sound. I don't feel the need to harvest all the fruit so will leave some for the birds. I think a plum galette would be great to try, though I may try using almond flour since it should be rustic.
Next week I am on a staycation which I plan to do a little printing, cooking, gardening, knitting, and a whole lotta nothing if I can manage.
It's one of those warm afternoons that make being inside nose pressed to a monitor PAINFUL. Luckily we have plenty of those days here. I want to be home throwing the ball to Callie and smelling my tomato leaves. I'm already dreaming of tomato pie, dilly beans, and quick pickle cucumbers.
Had a great visit with my little sister last weekend.
We spent some time at Universal Studios costume department
Ate lunch at Forage a Silverlake restaurant that buys food from local farms and a network of backyard gardens and fruit trees, which they call their home growers circle
Huevos Divorciados. Funny name for a dish that would make anyone love the person who made it for them even more.
This is Happy, no really, his name is Happy.
We couldn't decide... so we didn't.
Left to Right: lemon chiffon meringue cake, flourless chocolate tort, strawberry rhubarb galette.
Visited this yarn store for more Koigu spent a little time knitting up some more of these squares for my Barn Raiser Quilt.
aaaand had Jessie model my recently finished Nefertem... lovely on her, but it's all mine.