It's been almost nine months since I last posted. Wow. It's been so long that not only are the hens in the last post all grown up, one (the Silver Wyandotte) is no longer with us and one (the Plymouth Barred Rock) is molting. I went outside one morning in September and knew instantly that something was wrong with one of the dark birds. Sylvie died sometime in the very early morning, probably from a blocked egg. What a way to go. She was perfectly fine the night before, but she'd been passing weird eggs since she started laying. Anyway, I know she's "just" a chicken, but I was sad. I had to make a decision. If I kept only the two birds and something happened over the winter to one of them... you can't have just one hen. So I called the hatchery and ordered another Silver Wyandotte (and you can't have just one chick) and a Gold Wyandotte. I went and picked them up the day they were hatched (Sep 29th). About a month ago I was able to start putting them in with the older girls, but only at night. As of the last couple of weeks they are finally together full time. Shelly (the Buff Orpington) is still a little mean to them, but they're just working out the pecking order.
I haven't been doing a lot of knitting, but I am weaving again. I found a Schacht Mighty Wolf for sale in Austin and I'm loving it. Here is my first project still on the loom:
It's the pinwheel towel kit from Yarn Barn in Kansas.
The biggest thing that's happened since the last post is that Jeremy graduated from college!
He's living the dream this winter as Snow Patrol in Breckenridge. He gets paid to do what he loves most, snowboard and ski. Not sure what he'll be doing once this little break is over, but he deserves it after five long years in the Army and then college.
I've been woodworking a lot. Dan and I built two pergolas last summer. The city changed the power lines last month and they now go RIGHT over one of our pergolas. Argh! Thankfully we have shade cloth over the top of it, but the bird poop is going to have to be cleaned off occasionally now. Very annoying.
I also built a new coop and run for the girls. Pictures below. I wanted something cuter and I wanted something that was easier to move around. We have a good routine, the girls and I. In the morning I let them out and they follow me to the run for their morning treat (scratch or spinach leaves or whatever...) about an hour before sundown I go out and let them run around the yard for a while. I sweep out the coop and dump the poo into the compost bin (takes all of two minutes). Just before the sun disappears they all meander to the coop, up the ramp and put themselves to bed. I pull up the ramp, say goodnight and that's it until the next morning. Every couple of days I roll the run to another part of the yard for them to scratch and fertilize. When I move it I take a couple of minutes to hose down where they were and you'd never know they were there, but we're going to have some beautiful grass this year.
So, that's what I've been up to....
It's winter (even here in Central Texas) so the pics aren't so pretty, but...
I have plastic over the window because I still have to build shutters. When the girls are in the coop, they try to fly out the window. Ding bats. The slanted roof lifts. The ramp is right under it and so is an nest box they'll probably never use. They use the one in the run. I say they, when I mean Shelly. Priscilla has been molting for months now and the young ones haven't started laying yet.
Under the eaves is a three inch gap for ventilation. Right now they are stuffed with newspaper because it's getting in the 20s at night. There's also two vents on the backside and one on the other side where the double doors are (you'll see below). You can't see it from this angle, but just under the window is a little door that I can open in the summer for more ventilation. I'll probably leave the ramp down as well, but it makes me nervous because that fence is up against a large drainage ditch where all kinds of snakes and such live....
Inside the coop. They all go up the ramp, jump on the roost bar and stay put for the night til I go let them out in the morning. See the vent over the door? There are two more on the back. It's important, even in cold weather, to provide ventilation:
Looking down through the run from the nest door on the end. I have a plastic tarp over one side because this was a very cold, windy day. In nasty weather I leave the run against the coop so they can go up inside the warmer coop if they want to. Usually though, it's somewhere else in the yard. You can just make out the chicks in the very back. This was when they were still staying clear of big bad Shelly.
The second pergola... almost cost us our marriage. Oy vey... this one was tough for some reason... but we made it through and are still happily married! lol. Lesson number one. Don't build in Central Texas in August. Period. Oh yea... I built the table one afternoon too!