Saturday, February 28, 2009

It Seems You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

I'm fairly new to quilting. I think I started what? Three years ago? For the most part I'm self taught. Although I did take a Quilting 101 class to learn hand piecing and quilting. I learned a lot in that class. More than what any of the books could teach me. It's the tips and tricks the instructor can give you that is worth the price of admission.

So since then I've been muddling along doing my thing. I'm starting to feel pretty competent about my quilting skills. I know what to do. That doesn't mean things turn out the way I want them. But I know what I'm supposed to do.

I waltzed into my favorite quilt shop one day and fell head over heals in love with a pattern. It is a drop dead gorgeous creation called Amaretto Rose by The Vintage Spool.

I had no clue how to applique but I had to have it. Then I bought fabrics. Then I prewashed and ironed the fabrics. Then I started tracing the pattern pieces onto freezer paper. Then reality set in and I panicked. Then it sat in my closet for a year.

So while moving into Sheville, I found this project again and decided "By golly I'm going to do it". So I opened the box, browsed the directions, started to hyperventilate and them promptly called the quilt shop and asked to be placed in their next applique class. I knew I had bitten off WAY more than I could chew.

On Monday, nine of us sat around the room and were properly introduced to the art of needle turn applique. I always wondered what the greatest thing since sliced bread really was. Well, is a Clover bias tape maker! Let me tell you, that little gadget is slicker than snot! And let's not forget that I'm a recent snot viscosity expert. I also never would have figured out the trick to folding the freezer paper and cutting multiple copies at once. I would have been here 'til Tuesday cutting out each piece one by one. Once again the class was worth the price of admission. I now feel confident I can tackle Amaretto Rose. And I ended up with a cute block to make into a pillow to boot.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Join The Club

It goes against all my motherly instincts. Even though they're wearing masks it still seems like someone could put an eye out. Yet we all spent the evening last night checking out the boys and girls club where the Indianapolis Fencing Club meets regularly. The kid has graduated from the beginner class he was taking through our homeschool group and wants to continue on to the intermediate level at the club.

Last night was open fencing night. No formal class, just members getting together to practice. We quickly assessed that if they had their name and country on their attire that probably meant they knew what they were doing. I mean why would you need your country noted if you were just doing this as a hobby? Once they got going it was clear we were correct in our assumptions. I would not want to meet any of these folks in a dark alley with a sharp stick.

But as it turns out, while they're quite skilled at their weapons, they're some of the nicest people you'll meet. They were more than happy to talk with us about what the club is all about and fencing in general. Most of them were in it for the exercise and claim it's a great stress reliever. They even suggested that the engineer should start taking classes too. I think that's a fabulous idea. Don't you?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

If It Walks Like a Duck...

and talks like a duck it must be a chicken. The guy that I purchased Minnie and Pearl from had a little bit of this that and what-have-you in his barnyard. I've started to grow suspicious of Pearl's paternity. She walks and talks like a duck. I even flipped her upside down and checked a few things, but sure enough she's got all the parts a chicken should.

I try not to play favorites. But Pearl is such a character it's hard not to be partial to her. She's the first one out to greet me in the morning. When she's not waddling like a duck, she skips like a schoolgirl. If I walk around outside the coop she follows me. She likes to jump and run around and chase the others just for fun. She's the class clown. She has the personality of Lucille Ball.

Yep, she's my girl that Pearl.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chickens Caught Taking Performance Enhancing Substances

And you thought you were having a bad hair day? Take a look at poor Sweet Pea here. While Bob was still in the coop Blackbeard felt the need to display his dominance by doing the wild thing with Sweet Pea every couple of hours. Yep, every couple of HOURS. You see why Bob now lives elsewhere.

And while Blackbeard treats his ladies well and has a dapper, Johnny Depp quality about him, he lacks some finesse in the romance area when he has an audience. The fact that he grips the feathers on the back of the hen's head with his beak in order to prevent being thrown off by another rooster is not preferred by hens 9 out of ten times. Then poor little Sweet Pea here got thrown in with Old Jack and well, lets just say he was happy to see her and now she's bald.

Normally if a hen is having issues you can provide her with some protection like an apron. Only in Sweet Pea's case she'd need a helmet. Or a wig. Hmm, I wonder if those Locks of Love people would do a chicken?

And if that weren't bad enough. Some of the Fat Bottom Girls decided to moult. It started looking like a chicken exploded inside the coop. Feathers everywhere. Then suddenly there were no feathers anywhere. I thought that was a little odd. Then I noticed one eating a feather. In and of itself that wouldn't be so bad. Feathers have lots of protein in them.

But these gals, once they figured out they liked the yummy feathers decided they wanted more. Only there were none available. But before long one of them put two and two together and realized "Hey, I'm covered in these things" and proceeded to start plucking feathers out of her own chest. It's now become a fad.

Which would be all fine and dandy except the next step would be to start plucking them right out of their neighbor. I suspect the neighbor may not like that. If that starts to happen you can rest assured they will eventually peck at a tiny feather trying to grow back in causing it to bleed. Then things start spinning out of control and they all start pecking at the blood and the next thing you know the peckee is dead. Happens all the time.

But luckily there are a couple of things we can do to prevent this. Number one is to provide them with plenty of entertainment to keep their wee little minds off plucking feathers. I'm now raking up piles of leaves to throw into their run every morning. They love to scratch through the pile looking for bugs. You would be amazed how long this keeps them entertained.

Secondly, this could be a sign that they have a protein deficiency. Avia Charge 2000 is a vitamin supplement and comes in a powder form that can be mixed into their water. It turns the water brown and stinks to high heaven, but they seem to like it. It claims it will stop the picking and will expedite feather regrowth. So far so good. But I'll tell ya, some of the ingredients are fish emulsion and garlic. Anybody know where I can get some chicken breath mints? Yeesh!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Crowing on the Pearly Gates

No, no. Don't worry, Old One-Eyed Calico Jack is just fine. Better than fine. In fact he's so good he surely thinks he's died and gone to heaven.

You see, now that the male population has been thinned down to the bare minimum things are certainly looking up for Old Jack. Way up. Not only does he have his own swingin' bachelor pad and his own lady friends brought in especially for his pleasure, now that Little Jack is gone Precious and Sweet Pea have moved in with Old Jack as well. So now he is surrounded by pretty young things while Blackbeard is living with the Old Wenches and the Fat Bottom Girls. (I swear I heard a laugh coming from Jack's side of the coop the other day that reminded me of Rosco P. Coltrane.)

Yep, Old One-Eyed Calico Jack is holding his head high and crowing on the pearly gates. I fully expect to catch him wearing a smoking jacket any day now. And ten bucks says once the weather warms up he's gonna want a hot tub.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bidding Bob Buh-Bye

It was two long, grueling weeks of playing chicken, chicken, who's got the chicken. Bob, you see, couldn't stay in the coop another day with Blackbeard. Because once the decision was made for him to find a new home, well he just couldn't take the thought of not ever having that top roost again. It was late that Sunday afternoon that the Engineer came knocking at the door of Sheville and announced "Bob is all bloody". Panic struck my heart and I ran out to the coop. There he was, bloody alright. His waddles (those things that hang under his beak) had been torn and blood was everywhere.

I scooped him up and rushed him inside to clean him up. It wouldn't stop bleeding and I didn't have any blood stop powder handy so I had to pull out the flour canister and was attempting to hold Bob and douse him with flour at the same time. Bob was not impressed with or appreciative of my nursing skills. Gee, I don't know why dousing him with flour in my kitchen was making him so nervous. Needless to say I was making one heck of a mess. After finally getting the blood to stop flowing I was better able to assess his wounds.

He was looking down right pathetic with all his battle scars and whatnot on his comb and wattles. I couldn't let him meet his new lady friends looking like that so I had to come up with some creative place for Bob to stay while I subjected him to some spa treatments. You'll recall Beth was still on the back porch with her wounded foot. She and her sister Sammie had been living there for what seems like forever. Sammie's feet were healed, she was only there for moral support. Little Jack occupied the small plastic brooder next to their cage. And then of course there are the two dogs and the cat who thinks she's a dog that live out there too. What was I going to do with Bob?

Did I mention there was also a foot of snow on the ground? So when I had the brilliant idea to drag the parts of the old brooder from the barn onto the back porch and reassemble it, it wasn't exactly easy to do. But I managed. All by myself I might add. And so Sammie went to live back in the coop with Blackbeard and the Fat Bottom Girls and Bob and Beth got to live in their new deluxe 8'x3' cage. Note I then had TWO roosters living on the back porch. Crowing.

Luckily, Little Jack soon was delivered to his new owners. I'm happy to report they're pleased as punch with him and I might get some of his babies later this spring. Then it was just Bob. Crowing.

Did you know roosters don't just crow in the morning? Nope. They crow ALL DAY LONG. Whenever the mood strikes them. So when the guy came over to plow my driveway I had to quickly explain that I don't normally keep roosters in my house. He was just wounded and this was only temporary. And again when people stopped to buy eggs. And again when the water softener salt guys stopped, and the LP Gas guy and so on and so on. I assure you everyone in this small town now refers to me as "that crazy chicken lady". I can hear them saying "Ya know, she's got 'em livin' on her back porch."


Anyway, Saturday, Valentines Day was the day Bob was going to finally meet his new ladies. Not that we picked that day for sentimental reasons. It was blacksmithing weekend and since the guys would be driving through the town where Bob's new family lives anyway it just made sense to wait until then. I got up early to get his delivery box ready and make sure he had a chance to get food and water before they left. He even got a special treat. Because even though he crowed day and night, tried to bite me and embarrassed me in front of the whole town I knew I was going to miss him terribly. When the kid and the engineer were ready to go I had to pull on my big girl panties and choke back the tears in my eyes as I put Bob in the delivery box.

You'll be happy to know his new owners are a nice young family. He has seven new ladies that they report are just tickled pink with Bob and he seems happy to finally be king of the roost.

Stupid bird. I don't need him anyway. *sniff*

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My Finest Moment

I am terribly, terribly sick. It started Saturday morning with a sore throat. A really, really sore throat. Then the next day my sinuses got involved. They hurt too. So all my big plans for the weekend didn't happen. Well, that's not true. The engineer and the kid cleaned out the chicken coop for me while the weather was nice and I stayed quarantined in Sheville and quilted.

But the third day was the charm. Yep, on the third day the floods came. Out my nose that is. In the past three days I've used up two whole boxes of tissues. First I just used them like any normal and civilized person would. But by day two I was starting to look like Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. So then I started stuffing them IN my nose. Kind of like little tampons for your face. I've since perfected it by just twisting two of the corners of a single tissue and shoving up inside each nostril. This allows the other two corners to hang loose and cover my mouth while sneezing. I think I'm going to market it and call it a Nasal Nellie.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I Have Needs

The chicken pincushion. If you are a quilter you know what I'm talking about. I must have one. Where can I get the pattern?

Monday, February 2, 2009