Wednesday, November 28, 2012


On Monday I realized that I could no longer ignore how LadyHawk has been picked on by her flock mates. Her poor little rear, devoid of feathers, and openly bleeding was a fright. It was clear I had to do something.
Could I confine her within sight of the others and give her a chance to recover while (hopefully) breaking the pattern of abuse? Unfortunately, we have had night temperatures in the low teens and I worried that she wouldn't be warm enough without the body heat of the others during sleep. What to do?

I decided to set up an infirmary inside of the chicken house. I put the dog crate in a cozy corner, stuffing extra bedding around and inside, and giving her a wicker box to nest in. Putting a lid on the crate keeps the others from sitting above her and soiling her area. Because of the cold temperatures I've had to check her water a few times a day, but I had been doing that anyway so they wouldn't be drinking water near freezing. 

Phoebie enjoying a dust bath
Minerva and The Big Guy enjoying fresh warm water
enjoying a sunflower seed treat in the sunshine

This morning is sunny with almost no wind. You can see that everyone looked grand and though LadyHawk is vocalizing her discontent at being confined, she looks better, too. The forecast for the week ahead is milder nights which will help also. Any idea how long it takes to break chickens of a habit?? 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"and the days dwindle down to a precious few...

September, November....
and these few precious days, I'll spend with you."
Jerome spent a few sweet days here for Thanksgiving, and as always happens during his stay at the farm, we accomplished MUCH! The weather was about as mercurial as it could be. He arrived Tuesday and though it had been foggy all day it was also mild for this late in the year. We made a stop in town at our favorite agri-center and then stopped to drop off some music Jerome was donating to the local chapter of the American Guild of Organists. We had a lovely though short visit with friends in town then returned to the farm to have dinner.  I had been planning on attending my quilt guild meeting that night but Mother Nature intervened and produced fog so thick the meeting was cancelled. I got a call just as I was getting ready to leave the house. Now wasn't that a splendid surprise? Sorry to have the meeting cancelled and miss the agenda, but so very pleased to stay home with my sweetie his first night here.
Wednesday and Thursday were 60 degrees and we spent the days outside putting the gardens to bed for the winter, pulling out nuisance weeds, preparing the summer machines for winter storage, caulking the gaps in the garage where the west wall didn't quite meet the floor, adding weather stripping to the door frame out there, refilling the bird feeders, getting the car washed, cleaning out the chicken house, and spreading the vegetable bed with all the grass clippings, shredded leaves, and chicken bedding.
cleaning out the old bedding was a dusty, not a smelly, job
When we built the chicken house I spent a good deal of time thinking how to protect the wooden floor. I came up with the idea of lining the floor and the lower portion of the walls with a sheet of vinyl. The floor is ridiculously easy to clean and the wood below it is as new. 

a bit windy for spreading the bedding so eye and face protection was needed
We were blessed to have such good weather to get all this done. By Friday the wind nearly blew the chickens off their feet and the air was full of horizontal snow showers all day. It was freezing! and never got warmer than the low 20s. So we turned our efforts to inside work, including adding a shelf and  putting three coats of finish on the basement work bench we built the last time Jerome was here.
the new shelf going up over the work bench
Jerome is doing the initial sanding 
Despite the cold and wind, we decided we'd brave the elements and attend the town's Twinkle Fest Parade at 7 Friday night. We first ate at our favorite restaurant, The Driftless Cafe. Then we did a little shopping in the stores in town, open late to start the holiday shopping season. Then the parade, 39 floats ending with Santa on the town's hook and ladder. Lots of folks came out for the event and I was pretty proud of this small town of 4400 people. The theme of this year's parade was The Angels Among Us. Though chilled through we were really glad we went.
Saturday we stopped at the recycling center to get rid of our collection and reorganized the garage. I practiced starting the snow blower again and walking it to and from the chicken house should I need to do this some time this winter. A few last branches clipped on a bush that Jerome thought made it hard to see traffic when driving out of the driveway and a bit of weather stripping on the first floor windows, and it was time to say goodbye again.
Though my heart is heavy in its loneliness for my sweetheart, it is also full of thankfulness.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

the 4th thursday of november

May we all reach within and find a special reason to be grateful. And may this gratitude reverberate for many days to come.

Friday, November 16, 2012

a little gift to myself

Yes, Simone, you guessed it.

I've made a patchwork lavender pillow of the Luna Notte packet in my Moda candy bar. The fabrics are from the Three Sisters line.
My last pillow was ancient and each time I heated it in the microwave, instead of emitting the essence of lavender I smelled roasted old flax. Even the old quilted patchwork cover showed scorch marks from months of use. I don't know why I waited so long....

We've had a spell of marvelous weather, sunny and 50 degrees. It certainly has been a gift, especially for my Amish friends who have been rebuilding after the fire. This past Monday I had the honor of being invited to lunch when I went out to deliver some supplies. It was a truly grace-filled experience. Two long benches made of planks set on upturned buckets served as seating for the menfolk. The table filled with foodstuffs including venison stew made from a deer that was given to the family, the women and teenaged girls sitting along one side of the serving table, always waiting for the men to serve themselves first. The soft sounds of German being spoken and much laughter. I caught a few words and Lovina translated some of it. But I didn't mind. It was a pleasure to hear their laughter and see their animated faces. And all of us females made quick work of the cleanup when the men returned to their task. Mary ladled all of the leftovers into one large pot. I told her my mother would call this combination brunse munse. She said her boys call it pantry soup.
On Wednesday I was a taxi for several of my Amish friends who were going to a wedding in Minnesota and needed a ride to catch their bus in a town about 45 minutes from here. When we arrived I was introduced to other family members who had already assembled there also waiting for the bus. I gave Eli my home phone number and my cell number in the event he needed to contact me. Since I only use my cell phone for emergencies, I couldn't remember my number. It took me a while to find it on my cell phone and while I was pressing buttons looking for it, it became pretty obvious that I was not very experienced. Mary's brother-in-law said I was "almost Amish" for my lack of cell phone experience. It was the sweetest thing I'd been called in a long while.
Wherever you are, I hope our sunny, mild weather is embracing you as well.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

life is what happens . . .

when you've planned something else.
Here it is nearly midway through the month of November, my first attempt at participating in AEDM, and I've managed to complete one new thing since my last post.

Here is the companion doily, a pattern called Sunny Morning, to my last work, Woodland Lace. There was just enough thread to complete these two on the spool Elin gave me a few weeks back. She had found it on a sale table somewhere and thought I should have it. Thanks, Elin. And you can see my constant helper, Dovey, providing perspective as to size.
No matter how I'm distracted from my plans in the day time, my evenings are mostly uninterrupted hours of relaxing with a good film or a good book. I prefer to put something on to watch, for the company and distraction from the day and to allow me to pick up my crochet hook.
My days, however, have gone in other directions. I have made a start on a project I've had in mind for weeks now. Here are the elements that go into it.

Back in April I attended my first quilt shop hop bus trip and won the Moda bar pictured above. I learned on that trip that ladies who love fabrics and quilting also love to eat! No wonder Moda came up with the wildly successful packaging scheme of precut fabrics named for sweets. During the on board raffle I won the pictured bar which contains samples of 4 Moda lines of fabric as you can see in the 2nd and 3rd photos.
This summer, with Jerome's help harvesting the lavender in our city garden, I was able to dry and collect this jar of blossoms. And a trip to the Market in Coon Valley resulted in this bag of flax seed.
Any ideas how they'll all come together??
I hope to be able to post a photo soon.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

heart hurt

All thoughts of postings for today have fled.
This afternoon I learned of a tragedy that requires the power of corporate prayer and healing energies.
Yesterday an Amish family, Lovina's elder sister's family, suffered one more blow in a year that rivals the trials of Job.
In January, 5 of their 9 milk cows drowned when they fell through the ice on their pond.
In March, one of their 7 sons had a leg broken in a logging accident.
In April, Mary, the mother, broke her ankle and the second oldest son, while using a borrowed mule to plow a field, nearly lost a leg when the animal bolted and the plow landed on him.
In June, Mary and her son were driving home from the farmer's market in their buggy. A car hit them from behind with such force that the tongue on the buggy snapped, the horses bolted, the son was thrown to the pavement, and Mary was trapped in the overturned buggy. Much of her market stock was destroyed, the buggy was rendered useless, and one of the horses had to be put down. They are still seeing the chiropractor regularly.
Yesterday in the late afternoon a fire struck a storage building next to their home. The building housed all of their heirloom seed saved from this summer's crops, and among other things their winter supply of kerosine. The fire was soon extremely hot and out of control. Half of the house was also consumed. Thankfully, no one was hurt. But the damage was severe and much was lost.
Please take some time to hold this family in your good thoughts.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A thought regarding AEDM

Since I talked myself into participating in AEDM, I've been giving the idea much thought. Its purpose, I've come to conclude, is not to add an art elective to the daily schedule but to live in an artful frame of mind. Whether it's giving the pillows an extra plumping after making the bed,  or arranging then admiring the canned goods on the new pantry shelf in the basement reflecting on the accomplishment with satisfaction and glee, or preparing a simple meal that when plated and paused over, evokes a sense of plenty.

I will be bringing myself to the sewing machine or studio desk often this month and will post about this. But it will be the mindfulness within which I move throughout the day that will be my real art.

hug a chcken day

Some consider November 5th "hug a chicken day." Personally, I think every day is hug a chicken day.
In any event, I did take a few photos of the flock this morning to share. I've given them their favorite treat, freeze dried mealworms, high in protein and to a chicken, heavenly.
left to right, Rosie, Phoebie, Minerva

LadyHawk and the kingpin, Big Guy, oka Polish

Don't they look well? I am marginally concerned about the girls. Suddenly they are laying fewer eggs. I've been asking everyone I know who has chicken experience. The answers are always the same: hens have suddenly slowed or stopped laying eggs. I'm getting a few eggs, just enough for my own kitchen. The girls look marvelously healthy and are eating as well as ever. Any ideas?
Back to hug a chicken. I found this on the internet this morning. Thought you might find it interesting. I'm sure the applications are endless, but it all started with hugging a chicken. If you get the urge, come on over.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Always nice to have a crochet project in the basket next to the tv chair...

A simple hook, a spool of thread and a few evenings in the company of Hercule Poirot.

A bit old fashioned, but I do love doilies

Friday, November 2, 2012

Nov. 2 and a view of AEDM day 1

frosty moonrise
It's a struggle living alone a lot of the time. The "little grey cells" become a bit dopey.
Got a bit ahead of myself yesterday trying to catch up and move forward at the same time.
November 1, All Saints Day.
November 2, All Souls Day.
Thank you Jerome, editor extraordinaire.  And they say dates are the things that slip through editing most easily!
Yesterday my fiber arts group assembled (1st and 3rd Thursdays) at Katherine's glorious shop, Ewetopia. She had just returned from Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago with all of her treasures and ideas vibrating throughout her already humming shop. Many of the women in this ever widening circle are spinners, weavers, knitters. I crochet and they love me anyway. I've always wanted to learn the other crafts and know I will finally now that these women have embraced me. But with the cauldron already bubbling I dare not add another ingredient at this time.

AEDM day1: Woodland Lace doily under way.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

All Souls day

The calendar says the first day of November. The skies and the very air hum November. How can it be already?
It is All Souls Day. As a child I was confused by the notion of saying particular prayers on behalf of the "faithful departed" and being able to get them out of purgatory on this day. Does the Catholic church even teach this any more? One thing that remains from those days as a child,  when I turn the calendar from Oct to Nov I think of those I love who are gone and spend a few moments connecting to them in memories. I also remember to be thankful for those I love who are still in my life. A good habit I think.

field dust rising from harvesters just at sundown

It also is a day that reminds one that life is fleeting. So, shake off that growing feeling of hibernation and jump into a distraction. And just in time one has presented itself.
I've decided to use Art Every Day Month as a catalyst and encouragement from the sidelines to get to some of the great projects I've been planning and collecting over the summer. Now that the garden is just about put to bed for the year there will be hours each day free and with the end of Daylight Savings Time, there will be long nights watching PBS and videos from the library and I'll want to keep my hands busy. 
Thank you Judy for the spark.