spectating participant

April 30, 2008

Fabric and more Fabric

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 10:49 am

I’m in super prep mode right now, preparing for a couple shows and restocking supplies that have been dwindling rapidly in the past few weeks. Yesterday, 28 yards of fabric showed up at my door. Today, I placed an order for 70 more yards. We’re gonna be drowning in fabric soon!

April 24, 2008

don’t they know?

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 5:46 am

For some folks, 5:30am is a perfectly reasonable start of the day. To others, it’s god awful early, especially when the sun isn’t up yet. To our local bird population, it’s just a point in time in marathon serenading. The birds have been going at it, chirping that is, since about 4:00am. Perhaps they’re the designated alarm clock for the local commuters. Birds start singing at 4am and commuters start rolling past shortly past 5am.

For me, I just couldn’t sleep and eventually gave up trying. I’ve been pretty achey all evening and the stress over my car is really getting to me. After waking up every 45 minutes or so, I finally abandoned hope and just got out of bed. Typically, I’d be happy to just lie in bed listening to the morning unfold, especially with the cool breeze flowing in off our bedroom balcony, but the stress drug me to my laptop to google-obsess and get all anxious about things to come.

Thanks to the accident, I’m sure I need to go see the chiropractor again. However, I’m worried about the costs, as always, since I stopped going before because the money just wasn’t there. Part of my brain rationalizes that it’s something that should be covered, but my safe-bet worst-case-scenario-approach to life tells me that I better accept that I’ll end up eating the cost of visits I can’t really afford. I’m staying home tomorrow, instead of working, cause caring for a little infant when everything hurts doesn’t sound so appealing. But again, the cost really gets to me and it’s a day of pay that I’ll not be getting. Taking care of oneself, mentally and physically, sure is easy to do when money isn’t tight. Add that stress along with the indignation I’m feeling about the unfairness of losing my car at the cost of some else’s carelessness, and it’s no surprise that sleep isn’t happening. Instead, I’m smirking at birds who don’t care if there’s daylight and constantly fighting back a flood of overwhelmed tear at the whole situation.

April 23, 2008

Oh the irony!

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 8:22 pm

At 1:23pm I sent Chris the following text message:

oh man I want a new car with ac. It’s gonna be a hot summer.

At approximately 1:40pm, I was side swiped by a large GMC pickup truck pulling out of a parking lot.

My Car - Accident Damage

Based on the damage and the relative value of my car, I’m expecting the insurance company to “total” my car and offer a lump sum settlement versus paying for repairs. I’m extremely upset by this because I really love my car. Even though the lack of a/c does make me fairly miserable during the summer, I still really love my car. I’m slowly accepting that my 9 year relationship with my car may be coming to and end.

I originally thought the car was still drivable, but after additional inspections this afternoon I no longer agree. While I thought the damage was limited to the side and was more cosmetic (well, structural too considering the passenger door is inoperable), further inspection shows that the wheel was also impacted. Test driving at highway speeds (versus the 20mpg I did on the mile drive from the accident site to my home) shows additional indication that there is some damage either to the wheel/rim or to the axle as well. Sigh, now I have to struggle with vanity issues as I’m left with the option of driving Chris’ less-attractive vehicles.

April 21, 2008

MD Sustainable Living Fair

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 7:39 pm

Chris forwarded me this recent article from the Carroll County Times on the upcoming MD Sustainable Living Fair. I’m glad to see this getting some press and I would love to see some more. I should probably start talking about it more since it’s a little more than a month away.

A good day for rain

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 10:29 am

The joy of owning your own house is the reassurance that something will always break. Add 140 years to that house and you spend you time hoping that it’s not something major. Saturday was a super productive day outside, getting lots of yard work one and what not. While we were watering a re-sodded area, I noticed the water pressure to the hose was lacking somehow. After enough complaining, Chris went to see if something was causing the problem. The shut off valve for the outdoor spigot is under the kitchen sink and there he found a very wet cabinet - obviously a problem. We yanked the pipe out out the wall and viola:

2008 Busted Water Pipe

The busted pipe had been leaking in the wall/under the cabinet - fun, fun. As for how long it’s been leaking… We turned the outside water back on last week and it could have busted over the winter as we might have remembered to turn the water off but failed to drain the water remaining in the pipe. Or it could have frozen and burst this week during one of our two nighttime freezes. Luckily, it’s a fairly simple fix when you know what you’re doing. In the meantime, I’m appreciating all the rain we’re getting because I can’t water the garden right now anyways.

We took out baby chicks outside for the first time on Saturday. They had a blast digging up worms in our freshly dug garden bed. We weren’t sure how they’d act outside and we planned to only bring out two at a time. We didn’t thinking chasing down 10 chicks would be any fun if they tried to get away. But, once in the 4′x4′ garden plot, they were content to explore that area and never tried to go anywhere else. We kept bringing more and more out until they were all happily scratching away, stealing worms from each other, and gobbling them up. I had hoped to get good individual pictures of each one, but that gets hard to do when they’re herded together.

White Rock Chick Fluffly Ameraucana

Sunday was a good day for rain. I was pretty exhausted from all the work on Saturday, plus a little sunburned, but had planned on having company over in my craft room. I spent all morning getting it cleaned up, which was half putting things where they go and half shoving stuff somewhere. Jamie and Jen came over and it was great hanging out with them, reminds me that I need to be more social every now and again. They got some projects started and/or completed and I managed to get nothing done. But, I do have a clean craft room waiting for my attention today. Since it’s still cold and rainy and I’m feeling a bit sluggish, think I’ll take advantage of another day indoors.

April 18, 2008

Dinner Theatre: Sports Addition

Filed under: garden, food — suzanne henderson @ 1:37 am

Two-Week Old Chicks

The chickens continue to provide us with endless entertainment, though Alex’s fascination seems to be fading a little. We’re still weighing them daily - I’ve yet to make a graph that I find useful enough to share - and we’re still watching them on the TV when we’re not peering over the edge of the brooder. I’m impressed at their growth and feathering rates and at how they seem to be getting more and more accustomed to handling. But, this is the sport addition, so lets get to that part.

I was goofing off online and ignoring the tv while Chris was over playing with the birds. It seems he’s noticed they have a new game to play - chicken football. While he was watching them, a chick grabbed a large piece of wood shaving (their bedding material/litter) and started running around, peeping wildly. Several other chicks joined in and the lucky chick with the “ball” then started doing quick little touch-downs in each of the brooder corners, all while being chased by louder and louder peeping chicks. It was hilarious to watch because they were clearly having a ton of fun in their little game.

Chris has since learned tricks to get a new game started. He’ll reach into the brooder and slowly pick up some litter - this gets them all excited and one or two birds will come pecking after him and take it away. The first few tries, the chicks seem more interested in just getting that wood shaving back into their domain and will go about their business. But, as a critical mass of chicken attention develops, the excitement builds on repeated attempts and eventually a chick will steal the shaving/ball and start running around, peeping madly with it’s prize. Sometimes the other chicks follow, sometimes they just watch the antics of the lucky winner. Chris and I, on the other hand, are laughing hysterically each time.

April 14, 2008

Chicken Update

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 11:35 am

Rhode Island Red Chick

Originally uploaded by xixstar

Our chicks are growing like crazy it seems. I’m working on some charts that I’ll add to this post on their overall growth the past two weeks. We’re still watching Chick TV/Dinner Theatre regularly and it is incredibly entertaining. I’d always read that chickens are far more interesting than people give them credit for and I have to agree.

Each one has a pretty distinct personality and I’m noticing some breed personality traits too. The Rhode Island Red (RIR), pictured here, is very curious about anything and everything happening around the brooder. She’s always the first one to run up when we stick our hands in to either catch one or to change out the food/water. Most of the others tend to shy away. We have two RIRs and they’re both more forward and somewhat more aggressive than the other breeds.

I still have my favorite chicken and I think Alex has developed a preference for one as well. The Araucanas seem to be our overall favorites, probably because of their colorful markings. The birds are really starting to feather out now and are hitting the ugly puberty stage. Some of feathers coming out at funny angles in odd little places, making them look rather comical. Our New Hampshire breed have all look very similar from the start - only a problem when tracking their daily weight gain and you need to tell them apart - and hopefully their incoming feathers will help us distinguish differences soon. Otherwise, I’m thinking about some colorful hair dye or something!

[posted via BlogThis on flickr]

April 9, 2008

flickr delima

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 1:44 pm

I like using flickr and am currently planning on using them for my new business site hosted craft blog. It’s time to get a pro membership, but I’m not sure if I want to upgrade my personal account or if I want to create a new account for my business blog. Part of me thinks it’d be good to separate the two, but the other part of me wants to keep everything together and just use my existing account. Oh the choices are too complicated. I really want to decide as I’m tired of not having enough sets and I’ve crossed display limits on the free account.

April 6, 2008

Adventures in Chicken Farming - Part One

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 11:06 pm

Chick TV/Dinner Theatre

Originally uploaded by xixstar

Raising chicks is a completely new and un-charted territory for us. In the short week we’ve been doing it, we’ve already learned a lot of things. Today was our most exciting day in chicken raising so far. But first, some background.

As I mentioned, we bought 10 one-day old baby chicks and they’ve been providing us an endless source of entertainment. Against my better judgment, we brought them home before we had a proper brooder set up. However, Chris and Alex had set up reasonable looking accommodations in a large galvanized tub that we were sure would work for the first week, at least. When I got them home, the tub seemed like a great starting point. Being new to raising chicks, we didn’t realize just how fast they were going to grow. We began weighing them daily (chick stats to come) and it wasn’t unusual for them to put on 10% of their body weight in one day.

This weekend, Chris spent most of Saturday designing and building the brooder box. The tub was still serving it’s purpose but I was getting more and more nervous about the chicks increasing size and ability to jump. I was very happy to see the brooder built, but we didn’t move the chicks over right away. We still had to make space in the mud room to make it fit. That was put on Sunday’s agenda.

This morning, we planned to visit one of Chris’ friends, about 45 minutes away, to check out his place and see if he had any chicken wire or building supplies we could use for building our chicken tractors. Before leaving, I commented on how it seemed like at least one chick was testing the height limits of the tub and how the brooder couldn’t come any sooner. Instead of bring responsible chick owners and placing some wire over the tub, just in case, we headed out the door assuming all would be well when we got home.

While visiting, we even commented on how we hoped to get home and find 10 chicks still in the brooder. Seems our intuition was kicking in. About 5 hours after we left, we finally got home and the first thing I did is check the tub - one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine… nine… Shit! Literally, shit on the floor and no baby chick in sight.

The chicken hunt began and it wasn’t a pretty sight. For those who’ve visited our place, you might recall that we’ve got a lot of crap every where and there are lots of places for a little chick to hide. Plus, the basement door had been left open, even more places to check. We basically tore the mudroom apart, flinging stuff on the porch and in the dining room — a challenging and aggravating process (to me) because there were 3 people, stressed over finding a missing chick, in a tiny mudroom crammed with too much stuff. The basement was searched, each corner and possible hiding spot was excavated, and we had no baby chick.

I finally gave up, decided that the chick was gone and that someday we’d finally find it’s body somewhere. The fact that it wasn’t making any noise (chicks will chirp loudly when cold or upset) had me convinced it was already dead. This failure to properly care for our chicks really upset me. Also, as much as I usually find that I form no emotional attachments to animals, I’d taken a liking to one of them - the missing one. I was so upset that it couldn’t have been one of the “dumb white rocks or the boring new hampshires”. Instead, it was one of the Araucanas with the squirrel face markings. Several times, hormones took over (that’s my story) and I was bawling over a missing chicken.

While I was pouting at the dining room table, I watched another chick make a near escape from the tub. The brooder couldn’t wait any longer and Chris and I got the new brooder set up. Within moments of being in their new space, a couple of them had already taken to zooming across the brooder with wings flapping; they were happy. The new brooder’s biggest downside was the it limited our visibility of the chicks; we can no longer just stand around and watch the chicks. The only space we could find, in the house, was on top of the dryer. The new brooder had to be elevated even higher to extend past the dryer and basically took over a corner of the mudroom (I’ll try to post pictures later, they’d make more sense)

At this point the chicken hunt is over; Chris is putting the mudroom back together and I’m trying to get some work done. Then, Chris comes and tells us that he’s pretty sure he hears the chick in the basement. We rush down there and sure enough, we find the little chick hiding under a random piece of insulation. Alex gets her back in the brooder with her friends (all this time, they’ve seemed to be completely indifferent to her absence) and she struts around taking stock of the new digs. Sigh of relief, I’m so happy that she’s back.

So, we’ve got all 10 chicks again, though we’re now lacking access to our primary form of entertainment of the past week - chick watching. While I’m busy working on some sewing projects, Chris sets up Chick TV — or Dinner Theatre as he calls it ( appropriately so). There is a camera on the chicks with lines feeding into the television, providing us continued access to watching our baby chicks. I must say, this is decadently entertaining and a decent end to a rather stressful day of chicken rearing.

[posted via BlogThis on flickr]

April 1, 2008

Baby Chicks - Day 2

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 11:15 am

Baby Chicks - Day 2

Originally uploaded by xixstar

Last night’s entertainment was watching our brand new baby chicks. Alex was anxious to pick them up, but respected our statement that you should leave them alone for at least 24 hours to reduce the stress of their new environment. Of course, that didn’t stop her from peering over the edge and making them a little nervous anyways.

Of course, Chris and I spent a good long while just standing and watching them chirp and move around. They seem fairly content as far as we can tell. Occasionally, one or two of them seemed determined to pick on the others, either picking at their feathers or poking at their eyes (ouch). We know that pecking each other can be a sign of over crowding, but we’re not convinced we were seeing that behavior and not just some random pecking that happens naturally.

They seem to have a lot of group think going on. One starts pecking at something on the side of the brooder and they all flock over to check it out. Or, one will eat from one of the feeder holes and four more will decide that the one they want to eat from. But, that seems pretty natural to descend on whoever has found something to peck at cause that means food! One funny thing is that they really like white dots — our metal tub has a tiny little white speck that they’ll occasionally come up and peck at (ding, ding, ding) and there is another speck on the cardboard they they like going after too.

I got up once (well, I had to get up anyways) in the middle of the night to check on them and they were sleeping soundly.

Alex is anxious to get home today so that she can finally pick them up. I think she’ll be surprised when she gets home and finds I’m running a little late and she’s gone and left her house key at home. Normally, I’d still make sure she can get in, but her exuberance about the chicks has me happy to make her just wait outside until I get home — for their sake.

[posted via BlogThis on flickr]