Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Spiced Cocoa Wristwamers

Right before we headed out of town for our trip up north, I had the realization that I didn't have a knitting project ready to go. I scrambled to match stash yarn to a pattern and came up with the Spiced Cocoa mitts (or are they wristwarmers? maybe fingerless gloves? wristers? who knows?!).

I was drawn to the pattern because of the great diagonal line and how the sections of different stitches all fit together so smartly.

Other reasons to make these included the fact that my other wristwarmers are getting a bit worn and the chilly morning bike commutes are much more pleasant when I am wearing wristwarmers.

photo credit to Paul
The yarn was purchased for a steal ($2.50/ball) at the Shepherd's Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival in 2014. One set of wristwarmers used just one ball of Galler Yarns Tweedy Pima.

photo credit (and pose suggestion) to Paul
The only modification I made was to lengthen the thumb by a few more rows. In retrospect, I could have lengthened it a bit more and still found them to be functional.

When I was taking pictures in the backyard, Uli kept trying to get in on the action. So, I let him. Lest you think puppies are always cuddly, I give you this evidence to the contrary. Photo also evidence that his puppy teeth have fallen out and his large and in charge adult teeth are coming in!

photo credit to Paul
Ravelry link to my project

Monday, June 8, 2015

Bibs for Baby Ryan

My friend Sarah recently gave birth to a baby boy. Ryan came a little bit early so I ended up getting this gift to her just barely in time. Sarah's last baby was a fall/winter baby so I knit her a sweater. This time, since her due date meant a summer baby, I went with a set of sewn baby bibs.

I followed the baby bib pattern from Bend-the-Rules Sewing by Amy Karol.

The front is a cotton quilting fabric and the backing is a cotton flannel. Plus: snaps! This was the first time I have used snaps so I had to get a snap setter. It requires the use of a hammer and was really satisfying to use! Now I want to make more things with snaps!

Welcome to the world, Baby Ryan!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Up North With Uli

At the end of May, we took Uli on his first trip to Wisconsin to visit family. He has experienced backyard time without a leash and a leash-free dog park, but never before had he experienced acres of land to explore.

We haven't trained him on any hunting skills, but pointing comes naturally to a Pointer.

We took multiple walks around the woods, letting him explore and training him to stay within sight of us. This involves a lot of calling him back, praising him, giving him a treat and then letting him take off again. He did really well! Recall is SO SO SO important, so we were really encouraged by how great he did.

The ferns were unfurling and the lady slipper orchids were blooming.

Uli ran...

 and ran...

 and ran...

until he couldn't run any more!

Puppy life is grand.

On this trip, we visited my dad's house and my Grandma/Aunt's house. They all have chickens and one house had ducks.

Uli's interpretation:
a few day old chicks = super scary and intimidating
a flock with a rooster = SO INTERESTING! MUST INVESTIGATE!
ducks = tasty poop

My Grandma and Aunt live on a lake. This was Uli's first time at a lake. He nearly ran off the dock before his brain computed that water is not the same as ground.

He explored a little, but didn't go in.

By all accounts, he got passing marks on this visit and is welcomed back!

Oh! And! I don't have a picture, but I have to share this anecdote from the trip. We usually stop at the Burnett Dairy Cooperative on the drive up for a snack and a bathroom break. They have a new dog exercise area there, so right after we parked, we headed straight to it with Uli. His bladder must have been really full, which will be important in a minute. As soon as he got to the grass, another dog came charging over to him. As he usually does, he went down to the ground and flipped over on his back to show submission to the dog that was charging him. Well. Remember that full bladder? It must have been too much to hold in because he let a nice, strong stream of urine out and it happened to be perfectly aimed at the other dog's face. Ah! We got him standing up as quickly as we could but visions of that scene kept popping into our minds and giving us a good laugh for the rest of the drive.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Who Rules the Roost

Our ladies made it through the winter! The winter sure is boring for chickens. They spend time in the run when the weather is warm enough and make occasional trips out into the snow-covered yard, but when there isn't anything green to eat, life as a chicken is not fulfilling. They spend lots and lots of time eating, pooping and scratching around inside the coop. Thankfully, spring is now here!

They get let out into the yard at least once, if not twice, a day to roam free and fill their bellies with bugs, grass, weeds and dirt/grit.

Camilla hasn't changed one bit. She is still the most curious, engaging and food driven of the flock. She is also the smallest, lowest on the pecking order within the flock yet bravest in running Uli off. In short, she is awesome. I suspect she might be the smartest of the flock as well, as she realizes where the scratch treats come from and makes attempts to help herself.

And, Petunia, oh Petunia. Over the winter, our flock developed a little bit of an issue. Nellie and Camilla's butts got a little poopy and it pulled out some of their tail feathers. Then, since they had naked patches on their bums, someone (not naming names) thought it was a good idea to peck at their skin and pull out any feathers that might try to grow in. Someone did that. And then someone got a set of pinless peepers.

Pinless peepers are annoying to the chicken but not harmful. There are little plastic pegs that go into their nostrils to hold them in place and blinders to make it harder to go after what is right in front of you.

She can still eat and move around fine, but the pinless peepers did seem to knock her down a notch or two in the pecking order. She is still on top, but not so dramatically so. The process of putting them on her did nothing to grow her trust in us. In her eyes, we are to be avoided if possible. Exceptions are made when we offer really appetizing treats.

It seems to be working, though, since the other 2 are slowly regrowing their feathers. You can see a peak of Camilla's naked bum in the photo below.

You know what is hard to do? Take pictures of chickens that are foraging. Especially chickens who know you are the bringer of good stuff to eat. You might get one photo like this:

But, your next photo would look like this as the chicken charges towards you:

The chickens are just over a year old now and are experiencing their 2nd summer in the backyard. However, this year, things are not the same. There is a whole new dynamic: Uli. Uli is a German Shorthaired Pointer, which is a sporting breed meant for bird hunting. We knew this when we got him, but we were hoping we could train him to accept OUR birds as family and not prey. It seems to be going pretty well. He spends a lot of time hanging out with them when they are in their run.

The chickens free roaming time does not usually overlap with Uli's outside time. When Uli naps inside, the chickens come out to play. When Uli is outside, the chickens chill out in their run. It works pretty well but takes a bit of extra juggling and attention from us to rotate them. And occasionally, there is an overlap. Like this one:

photo credit to Paul
 Paul let Uli out and went out with him to make sure nobody got hurt. Our bird hunting dog was promptly corralled under the deck but our brave little Camilla!

It doesn't always go that way, though. Uli has brave moments where he runs at them and they flap their wings and squawk, which gets him even more excited. We are hoping that we can gradually work up to them all being out in the yard while we are nearby doing yard or garden work.

But, for now, they will take turns roaming the yard and hanging out on the back steps.
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