Tag Archives: chickens

Treasuring Abundance

Today is one of those rare and wonderful days when I can shut the door to the outside world for several hours, appreciate the abundance in my life and, naturally, spend a lot of time working with my fiber.

cat sleeping

my little sweetheart

I can’t possibly take time to make the bed because the cat is sleeping on it.

Mother Nature is on my side and it is raining so I don’t have to water.

I have good books to read.books reading

And I have an abundance of alpaca that I have dyed to work with all day long.

alpaca dyed and natural

Thanks to alpacas named Wilmington and Lenox.

I have alpaca yarn and batts I have made which I can admire.

alpaca yarn

Alpaca batt for spinning from dyed and naturally colored alpaca

 

 

 

 

 

 

white alpaca (2)

Yet to be washed white alpaca

alpaca batt

Alpaca batt for spinning from dyed and natural alpaca fiber.

I can revel in the thought that even with this much alpaca I still have a lot more to wash,  dye and enjoy in the future.

 

white alpaca (1)

Alpaca to dye or leave white.

My chickens have even brought me lunch for today and longer.

eggs

Thanks Lilac, Marigold and Daisy!

Tomorrow I will face the outside world again. Today I will let myself get absorbed in

Alpacas For Sale – Pet and Fiber Boys

Beautiful alpaca!

Here is hoping that during the next week everyone can have a few hours to enjoy the  abundance in their lives and emerge refreshed! I would love to hear about what is abundant and enjoyable in your lives.

 

“In Heaven There is No Dirt”

That title sure is different from the one I wrote last week! It is a quote from Mother Ann Lee, the founder of the utopian community of the Shakers. The Shakers were supposed to create heaven on earth and so were advised to be meticulous housekeepers because for some reason she felt there was no dirt in heaven. I have been thinking about the Shakers because a few days ago we were “hawking our wares” as a mutual friend said at the Fiber Loft (thefiberloft.com) in the town of Harvard MA.

This town is not to be confused with Harvard University. Harvard MA is a beautiful little New England town that is picture perfect. I remember one winter day years ago being there and kids were sledding down the hill from the white Congregational Church. It almost looked as though Hollywood had designed a set to look like New England. We are selling our handspun yarns and our hand dyed spinning fibers there and were lucky to go on a perfect spring morning.  Harvard is also historically known for its Shaker settlements in the 1800s into the 1900s and is the site of the first one in MA. All the buildings are now privately owned but it is fun to drive through the area and look at the Shaker architecture still preserved. I like to think about them going about their business creating beautiful furniture, and selling seeds.

The expression also sticks in my head because I have been cleaning everything here, or so it feels.  First, several hours were spent on the annual spring cleaning of the chicken coop. All the bedding was removed and the walls and floor and everything else scrubbed. All my pets have always been fascinated with whatever I am doing. Maybe I am sort of their tv. The hens watched with interest but no alarm until the shop vac was brought in and then they understandably freaked out. They calmed down after it stopped. Here they seem to be saying “Why did you make our cozy coop look like a jail cell?”

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Everybody look in different directions until we find our bedding!

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Phew- that’s better. But everything is better with treats anyway!

 

 

 

 

 

Next day I took on the attic. Spent hours organizing and getting rid of things, lots of things. People who have old houses may recognize this sight:

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Hundreds of chances for tetanus.

The eaves slope and are full of old old nails. There is a wide berth in the middle of the attic where I can stand upright. There are no nails in the ceiling and I never come in contact with the nails in the eaves but it is imposing. However there is one vaccination spinners keep up with and that is the tetanus one. We work with sharp pointy metal things a lot so it is best to be prepared!

Our little scaredy cat even confidently participated with the attic clean up. Last night after I went to sleep Steve said she came up to him with a mouse in her mouth! Maybe I dislodged it from the attic. She then did the let go and catch again game with the poor thing but after awhile got distracted and lost it. Since this morning when I opened my eyes she wasn’t next to my head on the bed staring intently at me to be sure she gets her breakfast, I suspect she found it and wasn’t hungry. I may yet find pieces of it as I used to with another cat in another home. Yuck.

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If I can’t get out of this house at least mice come to me.

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Wool blanket drying on future chicken tractor.

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Glorious alpaca drying.

 

I’ve been washing wool and alpaca. Wool fleece for spinning and snuggly wool blankets that we won’t need again for a long time. There is room for them now in the attic! Steve is building a chicken tractor for our pampered hens so they can be moved around the yard and eat bugs and grass but not get eaten by our ever present predators. Right now it is a good blanket dryer.

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Lovely colors and scents

And of course doing a lot of gardening. May is one of my favorite months because so many bulbs, bushes and trees are blooming.

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So bright.

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The hummingbirds have already found this one and it is only beginning to bloom.

I can’t say that I agree with Mother Ann that there is no dirt in heaven. How would I garden? And see all my pets again? It wouldn’t be heaven for me without gardens and animals. I do like to clean things up and get them fresh again- but there is still a lot of dirt in my world and I hope there always is.

The Smallest of Encouragements

I am a firm believer in appreciating and enjoying even the smallest positive things in life for many reasons, not the least of which is that they are always present if we look for them. Life has ups and it has downs and enjoying the small things is a big help in the challenging times. And fun in the up times!

I found enjoyment and encouragement in two small Spring signs in the past two days when I least expected them. On Monday I noticed that some ground against the back of our house was bare and that spring bulbs are taking advantage and coming up! Here they are and if they are difficult to see since they are short now, my next picture of the snow pile next to them will explain why I didn’t get closer to take the picture. I guess I could lie on top of the snow pile to get one but I am not that avid a photographer! I have made the first one large so the bulbs can be spotted. The next two won’t be because they might scare you if too large.

spring bulbs March 2015

Spring Bulbs in March

snowbank March 2015

Snowbank March 2015

The snow isn’t as deep everywhere as this because it has been piled here. It is all working on melting now.

The ability of living things to survive in weather extremes in nature has always fascinated me. I remember seeing 3 deer a few years ago and thinking they looked young- then realized they were probably just thin because it was near the end of winter. On the deer front, in October I was in the yard when a buck walked into it. I stood watching him from maybe 150′ away and he watched me. When he started to paw the ground like a bull I decided it might be time to quietly go inside! The other day my husband heard the chickens making a ruckus and looked out to see what was wrong. He saw a deer in the yard. Apparently they were angry at the intrusion. The deer didn’t seem to care.

The chickens keep on going despite the cold too. Of course we have tried to create the best winter environment for them by only leaving a few spots for ventilation so they won’t be in a draft, and have taken several other measures. My criteria when choosing the breed was cold hardiness and being docile. They live up to it. They keep on cranking out 3 brown eggs a day without us adding heat or extra light to fool them as some do. They are very social with humans but not deer apparently. This is an old picture and they are bigger now. Buff Orpington hens can get to 7 pounds but I don’t know how much they weigh. They are very social with humans and one always scurries to the top of this ladder when anyone approaches the run and they make happy noises. They know treats are likely involved!

Lilac

Lilac

Just as animal behavior interests me I also find human behavior interesting. When we have visitors I enjoy seeing their reactions to the chickens. Some give a cursory glance and continue the discussion in progress, some watch them with interest, and others- the majority because I would be drawn to friendships with animal lovers- talk right back to them, sometimes in chicken language, and then ask to go in the hen house and feed and hold them, all of which is easily accommodated.

Today I am off to spin at the yarn shop, Auntie Zaza’s Fiber Works, where I teach spinning and fiber preparation, and now soap making in a joint workshop she and I have where I teach soap making and she has them make  facecloths. Later I am looking forward to a talk at the Sharon Historical Society about life in the 1600’s. Of course if the speaker doesn’t bring up spinning I will. He must be doing that. I am reminded of the fact that many of the words and expressions in our language today come from our history with sheep and wool. I think I will start mentioning one in every blog post. Spinster is a fun one. At least it is for people like me for whom spinning is a fun hobby, not a survival skill. Spinsters were unmarried woman usually beyond what was then considered marriageable age, who lived with family and spun a lot of wool for the family and to bring income. Of course we link it with the other out of date term,  an “old maid,” which sounds negative but it gets me to thinking- food and shelter would be provided for me if I just… spun all day?? Hmmmm.

Okay, my other sign of spring happened yesterday when I was leaving work. I heard a redwing blackbird in a nearby marsh. Very exciting for me every year but especially this one. They traditionally come back from wherever they go in the month of March and I hope that shows that they think spring is on its way. I think I saw an Osprey last week on the Cape and they too come back now but I can’t say for sure if that is what I saw.

I am also looking forward to having my spinning group here on Saturday. I am pondering what to serve for lunch but know it will be something that uses eggs. A lot of eggs.