...sometimes even a single feather is enough to fly. (Robert Maclean)


sweaters for chickens, and other silliness...

We never seem to be able to go very long before we're doing some wacky chicken project.  

But as wacky as this one may seem,
there's definitely some validity to it.
(so says the crazy woman!)

See, we worry about the chickens being warm enough.

We've been worrying about poor sweet Commie the most 
because not only is she molting (! in this weather !)
but she's so devoted to her ducky children 
that she goes absolutely everywhere with them,
no matter if there's rain, sleet, or snow
or even temperatures approaching zero!

Just the other day I saw her standing guard 
over her ducks while they were in the almost-frozen pond, 
and meanwhile her little skinny chicken feet
 looked like they were getting frostbitten!  
She was trembling and had one foot pulled up inside her feathers 
while she was reluctantly standing on the other foot...

It's her winter yoga pose when she's following her idiotic children around 
(who are impervious to precipitation and have oodles more body fat!)

oh, our little mama!

Normal backyard chicken keepers might not have to deal with this problem,
but Commie is a mixed-up mother with her duck babies 
and she's not being very smart about taking care of herself.

Alas, it is clearer with each passing day 
that her mothering instincts are more powerful than her survival instincts 

But we can't stand by and do nothing...
We can't let her get pneumonia or just turn into a frozen chicken!

We decided if she's not going to be smart enough to take care of herself
we have to do something about it. 

So, I set out on an internet search to see if anyone has ever made a chicken sweater.

Lo and behold, there are some other people out there 
who are as wacky and concerned as we are.
They might not have chickens as duck-mothers, 
but they have their own issues.

Here are bunch of images I found, although original photo credits are unknown.  
(if any of these are your pictures, post a comment and I'll give you due credit!)

Without further ado, here are some fun chicken knits:

These hens look plenty warm without their sweaters...
maybe they're just making a winter fashion statement?

I love this cape-style sweater 
but there's one serious design flaw -- this girl can't flap her wings!

a sleepy girl
in her little zip-up sweater


What I've discovered in my sweater searching
is that there are people who are rescuing industrial/battery hens
who have been neglected and raised in awful, cramped conditions.
(those hens often pluck out their own feathers in frustration,
or they get severely pecked by the other hens who are trapped in with them...)
Those girls really need all the comfy warmth they can get after living that life!

Check out this video:

Doesn't it just make you want to get out your knitting needles and cast on?

Here's a link to the pattern for this one above.
See below -
Boo ended up knitting this style for Commie,
but it's warmer today, so we haven't tried it on her yet to see how she likes it. 

Isn't it super cute?
I jokingly suggested we should add a little flap that says

I'll post again when we actually put it on her.


In the mean time, here are some more really silly photos:

Little Ms. Muffet, perhaps?

Grumpy Mrs. Claus says:  only rotten eggs for you

If this actually stayed on, it would help prevent a frostbitten comb.

And this one
makes me think of little red riding hood
or a something from Beatrix Potter.

and last but not least,
have you heard the legend
of the Easter Chicken?

(Maybe that will be a blog post this spring...)



rekindling a Christmas Eve tradition

Christmas Eve has always been a very special time for me.
This year I've started to rekindle an old tradition, quite literally.

When I was growing up, my best friend's family
shared this tradition of theirs with me
and when I spent holidays with them, 
I got to experience how lovely it truly is. 
Every Christmas Eve
they light a candle.
 The light of the candle 
is to connect them 
with everyone else they love
but can't be with.  

They've given candles to dear friends and extended family 
to continue the tradition. 
If everyone else has a candle, and lights it that night.
The flame unifies everyone across the miles.

In that way, we are all together.

In my friend's family they've always lit a bayberry candle.
True bayberry candles are hard to find, 
since it takes several (some say 15!) pounds of bayberries 
to make 1 pound of bayberry wax,
but they're well worth the price if you can find them.

Bayberry candles also tap into an old New England tradition.
Apparently the colonists used bayberry wax as an alternative 
to their rendered fat/tallow candles, 
and they lit bayberry candles on special occasions
like Christmas Eve or New Year's.
 Over the years, lighting the bayberry candle 
also took on new dimensions,
basically that burning the candle all the way down
"will bring a year of abundance"
or something like that.

 Next year, I'll be giving candles to spread the tradition once again.

It's important to feel connected,
to nurture our relationships.

 are the heart of life.
When it comes down to it, 
that's what matters most.

Oh, one more thing before I sign off.

I couldn't resist sharing two new holiday pieces
that I really love:

 a really poignant, heart-rending piece
"Winter Song"
by Sarah Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson

but my Inner Irish Woman
hops up and gets jiggy
to this toe-tapping Christmas Jig and Reel
by Natalie MacMaster

 The video is a little wobbly at the beginning,
but hang in there, it's a truly joyful tune.



barnyard cookies

We found this chicken cookie cutter on Amazon and just had to get it!
They're handcrafted in the USA -- in Vermont, actually
by Ann Clark Ltd aka "The Cookie Cutter People of Vermont"
And they sure do make us smile.

We also got one other type of hen cookie cutter
and a little duck cookie cutter, too.

The girls all had something to say
to my blog readers.
 Lorpy wanted to say 
Season's Greetings to you.

 Specky wanted to say 
Feliz Navidad.

Commie wanted to say 
Mele Kalikimaka!

 Brahmie wanted to say that
she hopes that your Yule is cool.

 and Jersey
hopes all your days are merry and bright.

 and the ducks
wanted to say 
Merry Ducking Christmas!


Happy Holidays
from our coop
to yours!


friends in the snow

We just had our first big snow of the season!

The chickens and ducks are cozy in the coop,
spoiled with their heaters, 
and luxuriating in what I jokingly call "coop-service."

We are essentially their maids and innkeepers,
coming daily to freshen up the bedding,
trudging out twice a day to bring fresh water when it's really cold,
and delivering other treats 
like cracked corn, oatmeal, shredded cabbage, and sour milk.

The chickens and ducks have quite a bang up deal.
Never mind that they haven't paid their rent (not a single egg!) in weeks now.

They're running up quite a tab, but they promise to pay us back
for their cushy lodging as soon as spring comes around.

Our wild feathered friends aren't quite so lucky...
They're out there, fending for themselves, 
trying to make it in the real world.

Though we do give them seed and suet...
I don't know how they'd stay warm otherwise, but I suppose they'd manage.

One of my favorite things about snowstorms
is sitting back and watching the birds flock to the feeders,
in their efforts to stock up and stay warm.  

The amount of activity before and during a storm seems to increase significantly.
At one point yesterday, we had at least 30 birds visible just from our couch.

First the juncos come in,
then various finches,
then larger birds like jays.
They came in waves, 
with no real lull in between.
Like a busy day at a restaurant.

11 mourning doves all fluffed out up in the trees...!

And our non-feathered friends are fun to watch in the snow, too:
Our big furry friend is practically camouflaged in the snow... 
(at least when she's relatively clean!)

Except for the pink of her tongue and the black of her nose, 
one might mistake her for a snow drift.  

 At least she's one friend we don't have to worry if she's warm enough out there!


a few things for the holidays

Boo got this sweet and festive little garland of mitties at Greenstar.

I love how they make the bed look so cozy.  

Kitras Art Glass makes these beautiful handblown glass balls,
They have a seasonal series called 'Trees of Enchantment', 
with one ball for each season,
depicting a tree in that time of year.  

This is our winter ball.
I love the blues and purples swirling on and around the tree...
It feels very blustery to me. 

I love the changing of the seasons.
They really are such a perfect metaphor for life.

Any excuse for a kiss, right...?

I love the mistletoe tradition, 
and I have been known to leave the mistletoe up all year!

I used to buy the real deal mistletoe from a farm down in Texas,
but then I read about how toxic it is to pets if they happen to eat one of the berries,
and our dog Calvin eats very random things, including bits from our houseplants, 
so I decided to switch to this.  
It's real mistletoe, dipped and plated.


p.s. Stay tuned for some "barnyard" cookies,
coming later this week!