Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Chickens Threaten To Stop Egg Production if Happy Homesteaders Do Not Provide Warm Quilts for Winter

Sorry about that. Just felt like writing a goofy headline. :P

I felt like quite a homesteader the other day. For lunch, I had a kale and spinach salad grown in our backyard garden, complete with chopped-up boiled egg contributed by our very own backyard chickens. SUCCESS! That means we're REAL homesteaders now, right?


Happy Homesteader Kissing First Egg Produced By Chickens.

About those chickens...ahem. We really want to free-range them, but they keep frustrating our plans to give them the happiest life possible before we eat them in another year or so. (!) At one point, Andrew had a moveable fencing system in place that really seemed to work well. Every couple days he would move the sections of wire fencing to give the chickens fresh “pasture” outside of their coop. They loved it! Buuuut, they finally figured out what wings are for, and decided the grass was greener on the other side of the wire. And now we can't make them stay put. So now, they get to stay inside their coop all day unless we have time to stay outside with them and make sure they don't transgress certain boundaries.

Not what we originally envisioned!

Dean has always been fascinated by the chickens. :)

Dean inspects the chicken coop.

We have seven chickens altogether: Henry VIII and his six wives, Miss Minchin, Becky, Josie Pye, Nellie Olson, Mortola, and Mrs. Chick

This is the free-range set-up we had for the chickens this summer.

Once the weather gets cold, the plan is to enclose the garden with wire fencing, pile it up with straw to protect the chickens from frostbite, and let the chickens roam there all winter to fertilize the ground for a spring garden. Good plan, I think, except those darn chickens still have wings.

We could always clip their wings.

Whiiiiiiich I don't know how to do.

Does it hurt a chicken to clip its wings? Do you have to have specialized equipment or something? (OK—I seriously doubt it.) How do you clip a chicken's wings?

There's always Google, I suppose.

So we're not real homesteaders quite yet…

The other idea is the keep the coop in the middle of the enclosure so the chickens won't get on top and fly over the fence from there (which is what they've been doing). They can't fly very far, so if there is enough space between the coop and the wire, they might not be able to make it over the top. And I don't think they can fly to the top of the fence – it's too light to make a stable perch. We've never seen them perch on the wire.

Maybe that's the answer.

Or we could just booby-trap the top of the coop with something...

We'll have to come up with a solution before the cold weather really hits, though, so I imagine I'll be posting about this again sometime soon. Any ideas? Any chicken experts out there who could offer some advice? (I know there's at least one...)


Gracefully changing subjects…

...to quilting!

So, here's what I learned making my first quilt a couple weeks ago:

1. Cutting up strips of fabric on an ancient, buckled sewing mat leads to inaccurate measurements
2. Old sewing mats provide an excellent excuse for one's own inaccurate measurements
3. Inaccurate measurements lead to embarrassing mistakes, such as squares not lining up properly, “invisible” stitches flaunting themselves, and so on
4. If you measure accurately, everything is a lot easier (at least theoretically – can't say I know this by experience)

Have you noticed a trend yet?

5. Designing your own quilt is REALLY FUN and REALLY DIFFICULT
6. Even when you arrange all the patterns and colors into perfect geometric shapes, someone will still think the arrangement off-balance
7. If you know what you want the quilt to look like beforehand, don't pick random fabrics from a) your mom's closet and b) the fabric store
8. If you do a&b, you will have to give up your original idea
9. If you give up your original idea, you may come up with something better…
10. ...that ends up being not-so-better

Actually, I like the baby quilt I ended up making. Not what I originally envisioned, and my first idea was better, but it's still kind of fun to just work with what you have and make it work.

The quilt was still in progress at this point, obviously. I can't find a picture of the finished quilt!

11. Even if you don't really know what you're doing, quilting is really fun (especially if you have an awesome mom who can tell you how to do the next step, and the next, and the next, etc.).
12. Beauty has power to inspire you to create

In Illinois, we visited a wonderful fabric store called Jackman's. They had several quilts and other projects on display inside, some of which I would love to replicate someday. I'm not fond of cutesy-country quilts, but these quilts were beautiful, so beautiful. One quilt in particular caught my eye:

I would love to make this quilt in time for Christmas next year – I may make that a New Year's resolution. We'll see! :)

Out of curiosity, any quilters or crafters out there? Are you working on any projects? Are there any projects you would like to work on?


  1. Wow, Crista! The situation with the chickens sounds so complicated. I have no advice to give, of course, because I'm lost when it comes to the care of chickens; but I'm sure you'll figure something out. You and Andrew may not be full-fledged homesteaders yet, but I'd say you're headed in that direction!

    I like that picture of you kissing your first egg! :) Oh! And your goofy headline. ;) Wait! That's it! You want to learn how to make quilts, right? And you want to keep your chickens warm during the winter, true? Well, then...make quilts for the chickens! Kill two birds with one stone. (Oh, sorry, chickens. That wasn't very sensitive, was it?) Haha! Just kidding. But it was your headline that suggested the idea to me. I just got this picture in my mind of chickens curled up under colorful patchwork quilts. :D Heehee.

    That Christmas quilt is lovely! I can understand why it stood out to you. I wouldn't mind being able to make quilts like that. :) Oh, and by the way, is that Christmas tree fabric hanging next to the quilt the same as the fabric you bought?

    ~Miss March

  2. Oh, we just probably just clip their wings...those chickens are difficult to catch though! Guess we'll figure something out... Well, thank you! I appreciate your vote of confidence. :)

    Lol...I had a similar image in mind. But now you've given me an idea for a children's story! Now, if I can just convince myself to keep it short and not introduce a hundred subplots before I write the first paragraph, I might end up with a cute little story about a chicken and her quilt. Hmm...

    I love that Christmas quilt. I would love to make quilts for all my children and close family members too---someday--but this is the one I really, really want to make for our own home.

    Yes - I have the Christmas tree fabric. :) I'm hoping to make it into a wall hanging of some sort before Christmas. We'll see how that goes!

    - Crista

    1. Oh! Did I give you an idea?? :D I'm so thrilled! Do write it, Crista. That would be such a cute story!

      Your idea of making quilts for all your children is a really neat idea! I'd like to do that, too, someday...if I can discpline myself well enough to really work at it. :/

      ~Miss March