Chicken Blog by Natalie

Five Good Things

Chickenblog.com - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 11:07
Good Things...  
1.  Spring break, work break... Any time spent recharging, doing something different. 
2.   Chickens running... captured on high speed camera, shared with friends. 
3.  Watching Cosmos, rewinding, pausing, discussing, and absorbing. 
4.  Watering fruit trees, and appreciating their beauty. 
5.  Me, getting Geoff's car to start, when he couldn't.  {might be the day to buy a lotto ticket, too}
What's good?

The Last One

Chickenblog.com - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 11:08

Take Care, Internet Users

Chickenblog.com - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 16:37
A new security bug means that people all across the Web are vulnerable to having their passwords and other sensitive data stolen. Follow this link and learn what you can do to protect yourselves.

Until they/we can resolve the issue(s,) we will be not be banking, purchasing, or passing around personal information over the Internet. I know there can be a lot of technology cautions, and dire warnings to wade through, but this 'Heartbleed' bug is a serious matter that needs to be addressed.

Chickenblog is going to take a wee break... time to stretch my legs, clear my head, and scratch around in the dirt for a bit.

Be well, friends.

Lemon Poppy Seed Sunshine Waffles of Happiness

Chickenblog.com - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 09:27
A few weeks back I made some really yummy waffles. They had fresh squeezed lemon juice, with lemon zest, a little sugar, and lots of poppy seeds. What inspired me? Max had cooked with lemons the night before, and I didn't want the extra juice and zest to go to waste, so I just tossed everything into the waffle mix! What a worthwhile chance that was... those waffles were delicious. Trouble is, as usual, I have no recollection of what the ratios were. Arggh. Geoff is so very right... I should pay closer attention to what I am doing in the kitchen, and write it all down.

Craving some zesty comfort food this morning, so I am going to see what I can do to recreate Lemon Poppy Seed Sunshine Waffles of Happiness! Wish me luck, please!

****Update****
Well, I won't be preserving this recipe. Today's waffles were not happy, or sunshiny. These waffles were dense and rubbery. Lemon Poppy Seed Sunshine Waffles of Happiness are light, with crisp edges and a soft, airy inside. So. Something with today's attempt went sadly wrong. Before I try again, I will be reading up on egg to flour ratios, for waffle bliss. How do you like your waffles of happiness?

We Call Him Nature Boy

Chickenblog.com - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 09:06
Most of the time Mister Foo is inside.
We want him soft, lazy, and utterly, blissfully domesticated!
But, the Foo hears nature's call, and he cannot suppress his longing to be in the tall grass, beneath the trees,
talking to the birdies, stalking the lizards.
Nature Boy! Don't wander off. Don't stay out late.
And leave those birdies alone!
Foo? Foo!
Are you listening to me?

Oh, dear.

Five Good Things

Chickenblog.com - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:27



A nice thing about having traditions and rituals is that when you don't know what to do, or when you don't want to do anything, there is something in place to coax you, to encourage you to move forward. It helps, I think.

We have had a really lovely start to the spring break Max and Maria are on. Maria and I are playing a little game in which we make a deliberate effort to do something special each day. Friday her cousins came by, and she had a good time sharing her pets, playhouse, and stickers. Saturday we went to a ladybug event at a local nursery. Maria got to paint a tiny birdhouse, and feed a pony. William made friends with the-brown-pony-who-bites. Warning signs were posted everywhere, but Brown Pony and William are friends. Amira was over, and the evening was spent with all kinds of play, followed by a lengthy spell of funny video shorts, and a They Might Be Giants dance party in the kitchen. Sunday... we lounged and lolled, and nibbled the cake William baked. Anna Banana came by. Maria invented a method for making her own stamps. We saw James and John, and then we met Tutu, Holly and Izzy and saw Muppets Most Wanted. That would have been deluxe enough, but then Maria and I stopped at an ocean side restaurant and dined with a view! It was very la-di-da and tasty, too. Our favorite part was watching the bats! They use massive flood lights so diners can watch the surf, and the light draws insects, and the insects attract bats, and we had a great time with our cloth napkins, faux candle light, and the Bat Show!

The closer Geoff gets to the finish line at work, the tougher it gets, so we are all in the deep thick of it right now... counting down, and hoping for the best. He is working every single day/night. Those long hours are rough. Also, there have been some passages in our circles, and a crisis, or two, that have us deeply concerned. {Someone recently called me out for "vague-booking" on FB. Guilty. Hey, I figure... either you "get it" and you can add your two cents, or you don't get it and you can inquire, then add your two cents. But if it doesn't register, or matter to you, then move on!} One thing I've come to realize is no matter how much, or how little, I share, someone will always find something objectionable. Today, I am choosing to say too little, while adding that our prayers, and thoughts are heavy with care and love.

And because life is always mixed with the good, and the striving, the happy, and the messes, I will think about some good things.

Good Things...

1. There are so very many ways we can stay in touch and communicate. Granted, things can still wind up like an unfortunate game of telephone, but mostly our social media, texting, twitting, chatting, calling, writing, and face to face encounters are almost miraculous.

2. Reclining theater chairs. Very la-di-da, and comfy, too.

3. When you vague-book and friends rally around, and say nice things to help you get back on a good course.

4. Nurses, doctors, healers, and all their learning and resources put to best use, and the healing that we pray for.

5. Paint, glitter glue, wood, metal, clay, chocolate, eggs, gears, wires, batteries, paper, bits and pieces, and time to enjoy making.

Please! Come right out and say it... tell us some good things~

Arm Yourself, With Chocolate!

Chickenblog.com - Sun, 04/06/2014 - 12:20
Throwing caution to the wind, flouting all blogging conventions, I will write about cake and zombies, in the same post! Watching a certain televised Walking-Zombies-Not-Quite-Dead program has become a fairly regular event here, but in the last few months the unwatched episodes have been accumulating, so the guys called an emergency marathon viewing weekend. The first installment happened last night, and though they quit at 2 am, they are only half way through.

There are only two reasons you would come to our place tonight: 1. to get creeped out, grossed out, and freaked out, and squee with the rest of the zombie devotees, or... 2. to try some of this flour-less chocolate cake William made!

William wanted a gluten-free dessert to serve to friends, and he hit upon this recipe. I thought he was brave trying, not only a new recipe but one with new techniques, too. In the end, it all came together, and it tastes as rich as it looks. Unfortunately, he didn't notice the last step called for the cake to be refrigerated overnight. It was not ready in time for last night's marathon zombie event, but I am pretty sure there will be plenty left for tonight.

Maria and I will be upstairs, tucked in safely with books, flashlights, lofty quilts, and pure, happy thoughts!

Bird House ~ Barn & Eggs!

Chickenblog.com - Sat, 04/05/2014 - 10:45
... A Farm Visit!

Look at this beautiful picture my cousin, Adriana, shared with me!

When we say we have fresh eggs for sale, or for barter, we aren't kidding! Adriana came by with Araiya and Duke, so they could have a little farm visit.

It only took a couple of minutes for my niece and nephew to warm up to the eager menagerie waiting for them in our backyard, then they were feeling right at home!

Ada and Tasha are always happy to greet visitors.

Gathering your own eggs is a unique offer, reserved for special occasions, and premium tours! I wish I had recorded the sound of delight I heard from Araiya when she spied the nest of eggs!

Just when she started collecting from the nest, Mako hen came in to take her turn laying.

Suddenly, the eggs disappeared! We had to convince Araiya that she could still reach in, and under Mako, to grab eggs. When Araiya isn't too sure, she tells her mom, sweetly, You first. Mako's feather's were not ruffled, and soon enough, Araiya was pulling out very fresh, warm eggs! She found a creamy one, and two brown ones, then a green one, and then she started making color requests! That would be a cool trick if our hens could lay colors by order!

Adriana reached in with her phone and took this great shot. Araiya's all smiles, and Duke... he was on the move the whole time! There are things to be climbed!

After farm "chores," it was time to play in Maria's garden cottage, and for stickers and coloring, too. Maria whispered in my ear, "She's so cute!" And Maria thought it was really funny that Araiya selectively chose all chicken stickers!

We couldn't ask for a sweeter start to our spring break than these visitors to the Bird House.

{this moment}

Chickenblog.com - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 04:30
A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Maker Thursday

Chickenblog.com - Thu, 04/03/2014 - 11:37
This is a Throwback Thursday post, Maker style!

And these are some Makers!
Alex, Max, Maria, Geoff, Natalie, Suki, James, William, Amanda, and Cameron~ Maker Faire, Bay Area 2013.

{Last year's visit to the Faire was epic, but something of a wipeout... we lost the brakes on our behemoth, in the middle of L.A.... this turned into a 15 hour mess... I will spare you the details. We came >< this close to turning back, but through sheer will, and passion for Maker Faire, we stayed the course. The long, exhausting, obstacle strewn course! I think I drained all my batteries, not just from the drive up, but from the insane levels of high pitched fun we had the rest of the time, too! Today, a small glimpse of a big adventure... one I hope inspires you to join us at the Faire, The Greatest Show and Tell on Earth! }

Delayed, and devising our plan a b c d... plan M, Brave Sir Robin reminds us to always have an emergency strategy. Never give up. Never surrender!

We got the RV serviced and safety overhauled, and ten hours later, with mere minutes to spare, Geoff dropped me at the gates just in time to collect our badges, and registration packets! We made it! And the relief and joy I felt were indescribable. I cried. It's true.

And for this, it was all worthwhile. I kid you not, the synchronized bass fish and lobsters, singing and clapping, to Rock Lobster, this alone, made all of our efforts pay off, and I felt like I could go home happy.

These four guys from Houston Texas, with their Sashimi Tabernacle Choir, have created my all time favorite art car, ever, ever, ever. Until I can ride in the Nekobus, Sashimi Tabernacle Choir will reign supreme in art cardom greatness.



Lobsters and bass... riveting performers, absolutely riveting!

First thing in the morning, we were just hearing them tune-up, and I was already totally smitten. "What can be more annoying than a singing fish? Try 250 of them bolted to a Volvo, singing opera."

Okay. Before we go forward, a few background points:

1. This is the Maker Faire, Bay Area.

2. We go and demonstrate the accomplishments of our Young Makers, and mentors, Love & Rockets, Art & Engineering.

3. We have been going to the Faire since 2010, and we were so smitten we organized a Young Makers Club, and determined to return with as many friends and makers as we could rally.

4. 2011 was great. Seriously. Really great.

5. 2012 was our Maker Prom, and it was seriously really great, too!

6. And last year Love & Rockets Young Makers Club was featured in the Make Blog!

7. It would be my pleasure to write at great length about everything. I could do that, except laundry etc. Also, I don't want to scare you/wear you out/overuse the word "awesome." I'll share a bit, and I hope that if anything captures your imagination, or raises a question, you will leave a comment, ask your question... I will be happy to tell you more, or just confirm that you really should get to a Maker Faire in your area!

Maria and James making sandstone beads with bamboo tools. Awesome.

You can buy things at the Faire, but there are many, many things to see, ride, do, make, and enjoy that are free with admission.

Makers are generous, and awesome. Robin is generous, and awesome.

This is a tire swing. It's making music, and lighting up, with Maria's movement on the swing.

In the tire swing is an iPhone.

Think-Love-Create is awesome.

Max, Alex and James, playing. I have never heard the statement "Don't touch that," at Maker Faire.

Maker Faire is a celebration for all the senses, for everyone. It is awesome.

Max and Maria sharing their Maker Faire projects. Maria taught wool needle felting, expanding on her wool demonstration from 2012. Max shared his methods for making foam weapons.

They taught, shared, exchanged, and engaged for four hours, and drew big, enthusiastic crowds.

Tots, Suki, and Alex. New visitors, every year. It is awesome.


This young maker enjoyed learning how to needle felt so much that she made a thank you gift for Maria.

Young makers, and experienced makers, all makers have a place at Maker Faire.

Everyone can learn something at Maker Faire.

Maria's turn to learn something new. Something MakeyMakey, from SparkFun.

Grant says Awesome!

Maria is making circuits, and the creative vibe is magnetic.

Cameron and Amanda, more awesomeness.

You can learn how to make cheeses at Maker Faire.

You can enjoy an awesome East Bay Urban Agricultural Alliance moment at Maker Faire.

The year before, he had one wooden arm and hand, and this year he has two awesome, wooden arms!

The Faire gets busy, but we always meet people that are happy to slow down, talk, and listen. Makers engage with each other, they share their ideas and their time.

Makers share their awesome hats.

We fell in love with the tiny homes Ward Hensill builds.

We think this over hang would look good on the side of our barn.

William and James, hanging out with a Bodega Portable Building.

Awesome biking power for music on the Pedal Powered Stage.

Awesome bike.

Every awesome mode of transportation... futuristic, artistic, real and imagined.

There is no end to all there is to see and do, to inspire, at the Maker Faire.

Anyone feeling nostalgic?

This year, Kits By Kids is working on a hovercraft. Reminds me of the hovercraft Alex designed and made. We met this Young Makers Club, Kits By Kids, at our first visit to the Faire.

A homemade sub. That's awesome. Scary, but awesome.

Also, awesome.


If you want to bounce in, out of the sun, you are welcome to enjoy the the Breast Stop.


We like to think, make, tinker, play, explore, and we like to see new things, learn new ideas, and bring people together to enjoy the same.

Maria, Sean, and the l.e.d's!

At the end of the day, we descend, en masse, at an area restaurant, where Robin and Shawn bedecked all the waitstaff, and us, with awesome light emitting diode creations!

Perfect ending to an awesome day.

Is it any wonder we look forward to going back?

We hope you can visit a Maker Faire, soon.

The Bees of West Virginia

Chickenblog.com - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 04:30
Dear Emily and Warren, thank you. Your package arrived this evening, and it was heavy! Mister Foo loves boxes, and he was as eager to tear through the tape as I was. Thank you for not only sharing your very own back yard honey supply, but sharing such a generous quantity! Everyone here is impressed and grateful... knowing the value of a bee's work, and your family's dedication to the care of those bees, we can't help but feel quite honored to receive this sweet gift.

Our families will meet, someday, I believe. It's such a cool thing that we have connected through our blogs, and our shared interests. It makes me happy that when I talk about the West Virginia family, my own family knows I mean Abigail, Isaac, Warren, and Emily, their bees, their chicks, their projects, and their lives in the Hills of West Virginia.

It wouldn't be right if I failed to make special mention of West Virginia bees! I think they must be extra hard working, industrious bees, because they are making the darkest, sweetest, thickest honey I've ever had the pleasure of tasting! It looks beautiful. Typically, Maria only likes honey in her tea, but after a smidge of a taste test, she asked for a teaspoon of honey to enjoy straight. This stuff is the bees' knees! Please, thank those honeybees for us!

Something Sweet and Foolish For The Ones We Love

Chickenblog.com - Tue, 04/01/2014 - 08:45
Happy Birthday, Mister Washburn Foo!

We cannot be sure of Foo's exact birthday, nor Chango's, but they were both tiny kittens in spring, so we give our cats April, the first day of April, for their birthdays. And it's fitting, I realize, to celebrate cat birthdays, a silly thing, on a Fool's day. Foo is only just one year old, in our estimation. And Chango is fourteen years old. Almost old enough to drive!

Carrot cake! Do I sound a bit excited? I am. I think about this cake all the time, and I remember thinking, next time I make this lovely cake, I will use less oil, add more oats, and switch the walnuts for pecans. And I get happy remembering how good it was the last time I baked carrot cake... and then I am gobsmacked to discover that it's been six years since I last baked one of my favorite cakes in the whole wide world. S.I.X years! How is this possible? It may be that I love this cake so much, that the memory alone fills me with cake satisfaction. It may be that I am getting old. Old-old, like I cannot keep up with how swiftly years are speeding by, and what feels like six months ago, is actually six years ago! Oy.

Tonight we will sing to the cats, who will likely be sleeping, or sitting by the kitchen door, imploring us to let them stay out all night to chase moths, and stalk mice. No, dear kitties. We love you, and so we cherish you, and so we impose our values and desires on you, and insist you stay inside all night and get pudgy 'round your middles, and purr loudly. We will open a can of tuna in your honors, and let you lick the cream cheese from the beater, and cuddle you with effusive affection and endearments. It's going to be great.

Chango Biddy Bongo, our nearly feral, yet resigned to domesticity, dear kitty. Chango El Cubano. It seems, he faces another birthday with some trepidation. Time passes too swiftly, I know, Chango. It's a shock.

Five Good Things

Chickenblog.com - Mon, 03/31/2014 - 09:19
Another photograph to illustrate my endless fascination with egg sizes and comparisons. This stuff never gets old, people! Just look at those Über Jumbos in the back row. I am guessing those will be double yolks, for sure.

And this is why we are selling eggs now. We have more than you see in this picture! So, local friends: Six eggs for three dollars. It's a good deal for fresh, local, and pretty eggs. We've had our very first customer, too! Anna Banana came by with an empty egg carton, and she left with a colorful dozen, including the brown jumbo, and two lemons from our tree. I tell you, I drive a hard bargain!

I'd say I could open a little farm stand, and sell fresh fruit, veggies, eggs, baked goods... but until I can keep the chickens from free-ranging through the Swiss Chard, and digging up the spinach, I think we would struggle to keep much inventory.

Here is a little green egg.

Here is the 2.3 ounce green egg. Über Jumbo.

These are the extras, a few days older and being boiled for lunches, and egg salad.

It's kind of a funny story, how we have so many hens, and so many eggs! I made a risky calculation. Every time I've ever bought chicks, even when they were "pullets," which guarantees a higher chance of getting hens over roosters... every time, I've managed to get roosters. Sunshine, Pip, Amelia, Edison, Zoltar, and more! Lots more. But this time I tried to outsmart fate. I didn't want to raise six chicks and only get three hens for my trouble, so I brought home lots of chicks, so that in the end, we would have about five or six new layers, plus our old hens who had stopped laying. I was very pleased with my brilliant plan. Can you guess what we got? What we got was no roosters! Not one! Every new chick grew into a big fat egg laying hen, and our old hens started laying again! Instead of four or five eggs a day, we get anywhere from eight to ten fresh eggs, every day!

Anna Banana just sent me a message: The double yolker was delish! I knew it would be a double! So, glad our first customer is a happy customer!

Good Things...

1. We are counting down to spring break for Max and Maria.

2. There is more rain in our forecast.

3. Anna Banana found, and enjoyed watching, the Christmas in Yellowstone Nature episode I was telling her about.

4. Geoff and I watched a movie, together, with a happy ending... that's sort of three for one!

5. Everyone got to school and work, with relatively little suffering or woe... not bad for a Monday morning.

I hope your Monday is starting well, and finishing better. Share some good stuff?

Happy Weekending, Here Is A Chicken

Chickenblog.com - Sat, 03/29/2014 - 04:30
She may be little, but she's a big shot on this farm. Little Debbie, small, and mighty, since 2011.

{this moment}

Chickenblog.com - Fri, 03/28/2014 - 04:30
A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary silly moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

The Day It Drizzled

Chickenblog.com - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 04:30









The day it drizzled, William walked into my office and asked if I would make the soup, again. The potatoes, leeks, and cabbage soup. It's cool weather soup. I'm disappointed in myself for not writing down the recipe from the first time I made it... that time, I was measuring everything, because William likes to know exactly what and how much. It's not how I normally cook, but the discipline has its benefits... like being able to duplicate a good recipe. I kept saying to myself, write this one down, but I didn't. It made me nervous, this second time, about being able to recall the steps, the ratios, and making the same soup. Fortunately, it's a simple soup... and it goes something like this:

Leek~Potato~Cabbage Soup

1 clean, diced leak
2 cups red potatoes, bite size
2 cups of diced cabbage
1 carrot, diced
4 ounces of butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup half & half
6 cups water
1 tablespoon parsly
white pepper & salt, to taste

William doesn't like long strands of leek, so I quarter the length of leek, and then slice those narrowly, and set them aside. Then I sliced the potatoes into bite size pieces, and diced the carrots. Using a heavy-bottomed stock pot, I melt the butter, and before it browns I toss in the leeks, cooking them until some are golden on the edges, and then with a whisk in hand, I sprinkle in the flour and mix the flour into the buttery leeks. Next, I add the potatoes and carrots, some salt, some pepper, and stir those around, over low-medium heat. Now, I add about six cups of water, and let all of this get lightly bubbly, then reduce the heat, so it's just simmering. I test it for salt, dash in some parsley, add the half & half, or cream... cream is tasty! I hold back the cabbage until the potatoes are nearly softened, because I want the cabbage to stay a bit firm... no soggy-mushy cabbage, for me. And re-test for salt and flavor... maybe a bit more pepper? Everything is simmering away, and ready to eat when the cabbage and potatoes are cooked to your liking.


The day it drizzled, I made this soup, and then went out into the garden to pick spinach for quiche. I decided to add beet greens, too. Those are my latest garden crush! I like beet greens in my smoothie, and beet greens salad, and I figured they're a lot like spinach, and would work fine in a quiche. I was also looking forward to seeing bright pink splashes of color in the dish. Pretty.

In the garden, I saw our squash are growing... we call that part of the garden our Lasagna Garden! We have high hopes. The branches we trimmed from the apricot tree are full of blossoms! Very concerning: The apricot tree is not full of blossoms! Oh-gob, did we prune the wrong branches?? Won't that be crushing? We have high hopes for apricots, too. The tree is leafy, but not a single bloom. The spinach is leafy, too, and manages to thrive in spite of my hens, who visit the garden beds and upset everything... which brings to mind the fence I want to put in, so the chickens can "free-range" in a controlled zone.

Quiche is good for using up eggs, but nothing is using up our eggs as fast as the are hens laying! We give away eggs, all the time! They're are such good, generous hens. Perhaps it's time for me to think of earning a little egg money. I love sharing, but as I cannot get blogging to pay, I really should be a sensible farmer, and see about making cash for scratch. Any takers? Local folks, who would like fresh eggs from hens who eat organic food, free-range, and are sublimely happy? $3 for half a dozen. They're pretty and delicious!

The day it drizzled, I washed dishes, and gazed out the kitchen window, thinking about my mom, my brothers, my grandmother, and I felt pangs of homesickness, longing for the days when we were often together. I thought about summer plans that need to be made, and plans for spring break. I thought about Pride and Prejudice, which I am reading, again. A book like that can lead to all sorts of lovely thoughts... travel, pinafores, baking, love, relationships, passion, reserve, silly things, and silly notions, and long walks in long skirts. Lovely... the book, the thoughts... the drizzly day.

Color Comfort Confusion

Chickenblog.com - Wed, 03/26/2014 - 04:30
This time, I am sure. That is what I kept telling myself. I was sure of the colors, sure of the plan. This would be a romantic, patchwork quilt, with no scheme... just randomly pieced, for casual comfort. La-di-da... I sang, with the birds, and the chipmunks kept me company, while goats and chickens gamboled across the manicured lawn. I was organized, calculating, full of conviction and confidence, and dashes of whimsy!

Today, I am here to confess, a few things. I have what I am going to call Random Resistors. Some innate, stubborn, artistically rigid thread in my being will not let me just go for it! I could have tossed the squares in a sack, then sewed them together, pulling up one square at a time, and paying no heed to the order or rhyme. But, no.

Max walked by and said something about tones and color intensity, and then I was obsessed with finding a pleasing aesthetic, something interesting, yet romantic, casual, whimsical, simple.

Next, Maria and I were on our hands and knees, making a deliberate attempt at randomness. Then we tried different nine patch patterns. After that came reds in the corner, and alternating shades between.

Hours later, I found myself not at all convinced and confident of anything. So, I called in an expert.

It's been a long time since he does this, but Max has not lost his touch for design, and remarkable ability to see what's possible with what is on hand. I love how beautifully he composed all the prints for his frog quilt, and so I watched, rapt, while Max sorted through all the possibilities.

One challenge... I have different amounts of twenty different prints, and nothing was cut or planned with an actual pattern in mind.

There can be no doubt Max was heading into a really beautiful pattern, but though we had a lot of squares, we did not have a lot of the necessary squares. Another problem had to do with space... the squares were strewn across the floor, and taking shape, but overlapped, and not in a convenient grid, or rows, so it would be impossible to maintain the design, on the floor, until I could piece all the squares... the obstacles were mounting, and that's not even taking into account Mister Foo's curiosity and playful antics.

Seeing this, how beautiful the quilt could be, with thought and planning, I resigned myself to doing something better than random.

For now? I am back to a stack of comforting colors, and no idea where to go next!

Bird House & Barn

Chickenblog.com - Tue, 03/25/2014 - 04:30
... a Goat Farm Report

Tasha and Ada were invited to the Spring Garden Party. Great friends, you say? Awesome neighborhood? I know, right? We love our community, and the gatherings that bring absolutely everyone out for a good time. Goats, too!

People ask, Why goats? And, When did you decided to get goats? And, Are you milking them?

Milking goats: No. We haven't had them bred. No babies, no milk. It's a step we are tempted to make, especially Geoff! But we know it would be a big, big commitment. They're small goats, Nigerian Dwarf goats, but they are well known for their milk production, and if they give birth, not only would be looking out for babies, we would be duty bound to milking the goats twice a day. You cannot get away, travel, make other plans with that responsibility. So, we have to be sure, before we go for it!

This face! Oh, I love my goaters. They are such darlings. They're a bit headstrong, and Ada, here, can speak volumes, but their hearts are sweet, and they make us laugh. It was so easy to fall in love with them, when they were wee babes. They were literally irresistible! And, even now that they are all grown up, I still find them endearing.

Goodness, I was so wrapped up in how much the goats have grown, but as I visit the archives, my heart is touched to see how much Maria has grown, too! *Sigh*

Our goats, are accustomed to walking on leashes, wearing harnesses. Our last travel outing was in the fall, when they were taken to church to be blessed. We kept them in a small fenced area, which was only semi-effective... whenever they got excited about seeing someone, they would lean on the fence and bring the whole thing down! So, for our visit to the garden party, Geoff brought rope and we kept them on extended leashes. That novelty was not a big hit with the goats, who wound themselves up, tangled, and fussed... until we brought out their food!

Their orchard grass and oats, made them calmer.

But those harnesses and ropes were still a bit of a tangle, so Geoff and I took turns keeping them straightened out.

Those are dog harnesses, and goats are not exactly dog shaped, so things can get a bit wonky. And goats expand and deflate through the day, so the fit varies. The big bellies? It's not fat, or pregnancy, it's because they're ruminants, and the grass and hay they've foraged is being processed in multiple stomach chambers... things get gassy in there, and they fill up, and belch, and chew their cud. It's a goat thing.

Do they eat everything? No! And it's not nice to give them just anything. They do try everything, tasting and sampling whatever they can, like a toddler will. They use their lips like fingers, feeling and exploring and discovering what they've found. It's important to keep un-food away from their reach, because they like to chew strings, try plastics, nibble on interesting bits, but those things can get stuck and cause them a heap of trouble.

Sometimes, it seems like their appetites are endless. They love food. They love the dry leaves in fall, and pine needles, and bark off a tree. But they are smart, too, luckily, and when they're full, they step away, settle down and start chewing their cud. Fortunately, we only had to help with bloat, one time. It was when Ada had such a severe case of indigestion, she wouldn't even move, and more shocking! she stopped talking. She got the Pepto cure, and was recovered after a day. We were all relieved!

Their eyes are {weird, strange, pretty, so different!} We agree. Goat eyes are weird, strange, pretty and different. It's those horizontal pupils. Those pupils help them by giving them a wide peripheral field of view... very helpful when foraging on the African plains, and keeping a lookout for predators. They can look really goofy, I know. But even goofier than those googly eyes, is when I see a picture of them with drowsy-half shut googly eyes!

Just the moment none of us wants to be tagged for on social media! Sorry, Tasha. You adorably goofy goat.

A favorite goat moment I enjoy is introducing new friends to Ada and Tasha. Sometimes we'll see someone who is very timid, uncertain about those googly-eyed ungulates. It can take a bit of prodding, gentle encouragement, but once they feed our goats, and feel those soft lips vacuuming up their oats, there is a wonderful moment of elation, connection. Trust and joy! The goats don't bite. They can get a bit clumsy and being so big, they have accidentally toppled Maria, but they have never done anything aggressive or deliberately rough... and we're really happy about this.

Good thing the children had small hands, or the goats would have filled up even sooner than they did! By the time Adam and his buddies came around, Tasha and Ada were about full, and definitely a lot less pushy about having a favorite snack.

And, even though the children were happy to make unlimited offerings, I am happy to report our goats knew better than to take in more than they could digest.

But Tasha and Ada were no less interested in all the sweet attention and company they were getting. They soaked up all the party love, making new friends, and enjoying a beautiful day.

Why goats? Because I am lucky. Because they captured my imagination and made me wish wistful and heartfelt wishes, and sometimes it's worthwhile to take leap, and make a dream come true!

Five Good Things

Chickenblog.com - Mon, 03/24/2014 - 04:30




















This year's Spring Garden Party was definitely the most colorful! The traditional open house, come one and all, garden party, hosted by Michal and Kellie, with Michael and Patricia, was as fun-filled, relaxed, and generous as ever. Everyone is welcome... no kidding! They put a sign out in front of the house. It's a potluck that always brings together a great bunch. This year we celebrated Nikita's ninth birthday, Holi, and water balloons, Spring, Equinox, goats, gardens, good food, new and old friends.

Good Things...

1. Time in the company of friends, and making new friends.

2. My camera... I love my camera.

3. Half a day with Geoff, out of the office.

4. The cabbage-pecan-crunchy-yummy salad that Chaz brought to the potluck!!

5. Smiles, and laughter, and the way it feels to be surrounded by joy.

Have you enjoyed some goodness, too? I hope you'll share with us, please.

Color Comfort

Chickenblog.com - Sat, 03/22/2014 - 04:30



This is a small piece I have carried with me for at least twenty-five years. Too small for clothes, too special to cut into... but now it will appear in six squares of my new patchwork quilt. Out of a box and into a loved quilt... that's more special!

Nineteen different cotton prints, all washed and pressed. I cut six inch strips, then cut those strips into six inch squares. Now I have 329 squares. I have an 86" x 86" poly cotton Ikea comforter. It's light and poufy... the same I used on the last quilt I finished. More or less, accounting for seam allowances, the six inch squares will be about five inch squares after sewing, and so I'll make the quilt top 17 squares by 17 squares... roughly 85" by 85" and then I can either give it a narrow sashing all the way around, or bring the backing forward for the binding.

So. Next up... laying down the comforter and playing around with the 329 squares, to see what looks good. Random... no pattern, no plan. I'm keeping this one simple. Patchwork. Comforting colors, small prints. Romantic. Light. Airy. And tied. I've only ever machine-quilted one quilt, and it was okay but it makes the quilt kind of stiff, compact. Hand quilting would be too much of a challenge with the thick comforter sandwiched in there. Honestly, I am looking forward to finishing another tied quilt... it makes such a cozy and, like I said... poufy quilt.

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