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Posts Tagged ‘silver laced wyandotte’


Of goodbyes. Really. Usually, I’m not. There have been a few times when ‘goodbye’ meant ‘good riddance,’ but those episodes are few and far between.

Sometimes, goodbyes come suddenly; unexpectedly. Sometimes, they come after a long period of languishing; dragging feet to delay the inevitable.

This episode falls into the latter category. *sigh*

I really, really did not want to have to. And I’m sure there’s a part of me that will always remember that sadness lingering, as it does today.

Ya know, another thing in this category is change. Change is not always good. I don’t mind change when I know about it; when I can plan for the variables. Sometimes, though, things change in the blink of an eye and there’s not a darn thing a person can do about it.

This episode falls somewhere in between those two poles. *sigh*

The thing that gets me, though, is when that change means saying goodbye, especially when you’re not ready for it. I’m not a fan of that. At. All.

We’ve been through a lot together in the last 17/18 years. I’ve shown my love; I’ve done my fair share of cursing. I’ve stayed up all night, making things right.

And last week, I had no choice but to sadly, say goodbye. 😥

My sewing machine died.  😦   😥

A few years ago, I began having problems with bird-nesting on light-weight cotton fabrics. I cleaned. I oiled. I changed needles. I diddled with tensions. I read and researched until I was cross-eyed. And then I put it away out of frustration.

If you’ve been reading along, you’ll no doubt remember that I’ve sewed some curtains since we’ve been here, and I thought my sewing issue had pretty much disappeared. So much so that I made plans to make curtains for every window in the house, and got the fabric for the living room.

Well.

Ahem.

Last Saturday, I got my machine out because desperate measures needed to be taken, and in a hurry. You can image my frustration when not only was I bird-nesting again, but then my bobbin casing popped out and refused to stay in once reinserted.

After several hours of cussing and praying, it was apparent the inevitable had arrived. And I was not ready.

Looking at my machine, I remember all the things I’ve made- pillow cases, throw pillows, bed sheets, other bedding, curtains, more curtains, and still more curtains, and baby clothes, etc. *sigh* And I was not ready to let it go. I have plans, after all!

I briefly thought about getting it repaired. As I learned, anything over ten years old is technically considered vintage, and not only are many parts not made anymore, but if replacement are found, they are usually salvages, which means at some point, they are going to wear out because they already have some of the life used.

Plus, I really didn’t have time to wait. No, really. My chickens needed clothes, and they needed them NOW! 😆

Ok, really, it’s only the girls that needed something.

Ok, well, not really ‘something’ in general- something in particular. My girls needed saddles!

If you’ve ever done an internet search for ‘hen saddles,’ despite the feathery ones, I can tell you, those are not the right ones. Besides being for fly fishing, they are much too small. 😀

While I personally prefer to call them “aprons” or “capes,” saddles is more appropriate. As in,

“Move ’em out, head ’em up,
Head ’em up, move ’em on.
Move ’em out, head ’em up:
Rawhide.
Cut ’em out, ride ’em in,
Ride ’em in, cut ’em out,
Cut ’em out, ride ’em in:
Rawhide!”

Ya. That kind of saddle. :/

Have I mentioned I have 12 crowing boys? Yep, I do. The suggested ratio is 1  male per every 10/12 females. This is not to prevent the boys from fighting. It’s to prevent the girls from getting worn out.

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Jumbo, Silver Laced Wyandotte cockerel

My head roo-in-in-waiting (he’s not quite a year yet, so he’s not “officially” a roo), Jumbo, is a gentleman. He is very gentle with the girls, and they adore him. He does his morning ‘hello,’ his evening ‘goodnight’ and in-between ‘just so you don’t forget me’s.

One of my silkie girls is terribly smitten with him, snuggling with him on the roost when she’s not broody. 😆 And he, bless his heart, tries to be accommodating to satisfy her loving desires. So far, he hasn’t killed her, but it is hilarious to watch, if not a bit concerning. 😆

Sparkles is another handsome cockerel, but he’s really nice, like Jumbo.

Sparkles, Silver Spangled Hamburg, and Jumbo, Silver Laced Wyandotte

Sparkles, Silver Spangled Hamburg, and Jumbo, Silver Laced Wyandotte

They often hang together, and can be found tag-teaming the girls during the day. We have no run, which means unless they are in bed for the night, they are free-ranging.  Together, they take the large groups of the girls out and about, which is fantastic to watch.

I think one of the real culprits, though, is Snowy, our Easter Egger cockerel.

Snowy, Easter Egger cockerel

Snowy, Easter Egger cockerel

You may remember the Mayhem in the Coop many months ago, which left both he and one of my Cuckoo Marans with cross beaks.

While his cross-beak is not as severe as Betty’s, it does interfere with his extracurricular activities, because he can’t hang on with his beak very well. This means he uses his feet *a lot* more, which is rough on the girls. And, he likes loves them allllllllllll. 😆

In addition to our three large fowl boys, we also have a plethora of bantam boys; 9 more, if we’re counting.  The worst culprits are my pair of black Cochin bantams, Bob and Snickers.

Black Bantam Cochins Bob and Snickers; Birchen Cochin Bantam, Coconut

Black Bantam Cochins Bob and Snickers; Birchen Cochin Bantam, Coconut

Despite having mostly large fowl girlies, I can say without reservation that these boys are successfully fertilizing the big girls, because my newest hatchlings have feathery feet and 4 toes, which means it’s most likely that one of these boys made it to home base. 😆 And yes, while the mama is a Silver Spangled Hamburg  {same breed as Sparkles; aka “The Polka Dotted Chickens”}, she is a large fowl bird, even though she’s the smallest large fowl breed we have. Make sense?

So anyhow.

My girls are getting too much love, and are starting to look a bit rough. The problem is that once those feathers are gone, there is no protection from toenails or spurs, and numerous hens have been laid open by super-duper amorous boys.

The fix is to provide them with some protection, a la hen saddles. I prefer to call them ‘aprons,’ myself. There are gazillions of patterns out there; most of them are free. Of course, there are lots of folks selling completed aprons, too, but because I know how to sew and had all the required materials on hand, I figured I’d give it a shot.

In a pinch, I had tied a scrap of fabric shaped like a bandana around one of my girls, but obviously, that’s not ideal. I wanted to find an easy pattern that wasn’t labor-intensive, because I had a lot to make.

In my wanderings, I found a thread on the BackYard Chickens forum that had a pattern. The poster originally found it on http://www.homesteadingtoday.com, from “Wisconsin Ann”.

It looked easy enough.

Hen apron or saddle pattern

Hen apron or saddle pattern

But when I got started, not only did I start bird-nesting, but then the bobbin case came flying out and refused to let me seat it back in, despite unscrewing the lever to keep it in place and then tightening it down again. The icing on the cake, though, was when my hand wheel got jammed.

Since you know I research everything, I asked on Facebook 😆 , knowing all my sewy friends would help me out. In the meantime, I researched, and narrowed down what features I wanted.

I like a top drop in bobbin as opposed to a front loading bobbin. Computerized machines just leave more for me to break, with my magnetic personality and all. 😆 That meant mechanical for me. I also like stitches, because even though I don’t use many, I like to have the option. It goes without saying I wanted the one-step buttonholing, because I do actually use that.

I found a brand that came highly recommended, but the nearest retailer was 70 some miles away. 😦 Then, because even though we’re in a much more populated area, it seems there are not a lot of sewing/crafty stores here. That left me with big-box stores like Wally World, Target, etc. The following day was Sunday, so I knew Hobby Lobby wouldn’t be open.

And, since I don’t really want to buy a sewing machine from Wal-Mart, despite the large selection (including Singer, Brother, and Janome), JoAnn Fabrics had one of the models I had settled on; at least online.

Thrilled to find it open on Sunday, I did a quick looky-loo at Wal-Mart before heading there. I was surprised to find a single brand in-stock; the others had to be ordered online. The one I wanted was in-stock, and even on sale! So home I went, with more fancy stuff than I really needed, and a DVD to boot.

It took me a few days, and we had some rain, so the chickie kids weren’t as active, which meant I didn’t get to it until yesterday. I made my template from a cereal box, and got to work.

This pattern called for heavier fabric, but I wanted to use cotton. I thought, though, I would try a few other things first before using the pattern. Using the general shape, I did a single layer. I also made the elastic a lot longer, because it just didn’t look like it would fit

FAIL! The general shape was ok, but too short, and a single layer was not going to work because a breeze would flip the fabric right up.

Several other patterns I had seen called for doubling the pattern; folding, and then sewing. I gave that a try and tweaked the elastic length.

In the end, I made another template from the other side of the cereal box, kind of sort of using the original dimensions. I lengthened the end-to-end length by about an inch, and added about 1/2 an inch to the side lengths. I made 4 of those, tweaking it as I went, and adjusting the elastic to fit some of the smaller, large fowl birds, like my Lakenvelders.

The biggest difference was that I doubled the pattern; folding it over on the neck line. This made the fabric heavy enough to defy the wind; but not so heavy as to be hot. We are in the South, after all. 😀

My total was 16; 15 are on birds now; another we’ll have to do in the morning. Initially, I read it would take about 30 minutes to make one. Yesterday, while I was still diddling with the fit, I was cutting and then sewing each one. This time might be about right.

Today, I  traced and cut out all the fabric ahead of time. Once I got to sewing, it took me about 10 minutes per apron. I will say, though- this are not professional grade. 😆 Had this been for people, I would have taken more care to carefully watch my seams, etc. I knew I had to get them done and on my girls, so I was blowing and going. 😀

The fabric I had on hand was last used making baby dresses for my oldest daughter. 🙂 I knew there was a reason I had saved it all these years!

aprons1

On that neckline, be SURE not to sew the elastic stationary. When you put the wings in, you’ll want to slide the neck piece to the side; particularly on the second wing.

The elastic piece was 10 inches for my big birds; 9 3/4 for the Lakenvelders. I think it probably would have been ok, but I didn’t want it too loose on them. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be thinking, “There’s NO WAY that is long enough!” but I promise you, it is. 🙂

One of the first girls to get one yesterday was one of my Silver Laced Wyandotte ladies. pink1

pink2

Snowy in hot pursuit!

Snowy in hot pursuit!

pinkginham1

flowers1

purple1

yellow1

yellow2

I wasn’t planning on a fashion show, but there you have it. :mrgreen:

While I don’t like saying “goodbye” most of the time and this was no exception, saying “hello” to my new sewing machine got me back on track, and got my girlies covered before they got scabby backs. Totally worth it, in my opinion!

Because life is a soundtrack, I’m going to leave you with two songs that are stuck in my head. {Ya, can you hear that mash-up? 😆 }

Not quite the Frankie Laine original, but I love me some Clint!

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShOiHPrwtHk%5D

And, because I can’t part with the old sewing machine….. {don’t laugh, you know you do it too! 😆 } and of course, it goes without saying I love me some Jon BonJovi, too!

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifm00JEjSeo%5D

 

:mrgreen:

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I’m tellin’ ya, it’s a drug. A heavy- hitting, fly -to -the moon, squee-all-afternoon kind of drug that leaves you high and darn near breathless with euphoria.

Raise your hand if you are nodding along because you know what I’m talking about. {I’ll pretend I see you :lol:}

When we moved, as you may remember, one of the primary criteria for the new digs was the ability to have chickens. You may also recall that we ended up with horses instead.

Hunny finally got tired of me whining decided that despite the chaos, it was ok for me to order some chickens. I had been looking online for a while and came to the realization that it was going to be a few months out before all the breeds I wanted were ready to ship.

I spent the entire morning shopping. While I generally despise shopping {as you know because you’ve been reading along all this time} the only kind of shopping I don’t completely hate is- {wait for it……} shopping for chickens. 😆  There is something about checking out your breeds and then finding the best dates and prices on them.

This time, we were going to do it right, without falling victim to chicken math. Every time I’ve gone to buy chickens, I’ve fallen prey to it. Literally every. Single. Time. {Like, the time I Almost Did Something Bad and then ended up with Babies anyhow…….}

This time was going to be different, though. “Why,” you might ask? Well, we’re in the country for one thing, and for another thing, I was planning on getting more than the 23 I ended up with last time.

So you see, there was no reason for chicken math to creep up on me this time because I was already going to get as many as I wanted. 😆

I spent all morning shopping online, and had my breeds and quantities picked out. The only real issue was that I couldn’t get them until the end of June, which is, well, meh.  😥  😆

I thought, “Gee, well, as long as I’m down at tractor Supply, I’ll ask them how their shipping works. After all, the hatchery I talked to this morning would mix large fowl with bantams with no problem.”

So I asked. And they told me no. No biggy; I can order my silkies in a smaller quantity.

In the meantime, my oldest daughter had found another cool looking breed that she though would be neat to have. And I thought, “No biggy; I’ll just order a few of those and tack them on to the order.”

Are you laughing yet? 😆

Come to find out, yes, there’s a minimum order of 25 chickens. BUT. You have to order the breeds in quantities of 5. I called Hunny and talked it over with him before I did anything. And bless his heart, he was fine with it!

Initially, I was going to have a total of 31 without the guineas; 8 silkies and 23 large fowl. Because I was not going to pay megabucks to have the 90% accurate DNA testing done, the silkies were going to be straight run.

When it’s straight run, you can figure on about a 50/50 mix of boys and girls. So, in reality, that means we would only end up keeping 4 silkies, unless I could con talk Hunny into breeding and selling down the road. {Keeping my fingers crossed, but not holding my breath!}

So, in reality, that would put me around 27 chickens, which is a good amount of chickens.  😆

One other thing we decided on was getting guineas. Now, you may be scratching your head and wondering why, since we would have plenty of chickens.

Guineas are great at getting bugs. So are chickens, but the specialty of guineas is ticks. And, they will eat the bad bugs in the garden without eating the garden {I’ve heard- we’ll see- I’m a bit skeptical on that one, though}. While I’ve heard guineas are messy and loud, they are very good at alerting to predators and other unannounced “visitors.”

Another primary reasons guineas are such a good thing when you live in the country is that they will help control the snake population. I could do without snakes, so this seems like a win-win to me!

One of my bigger concerns is that because they roam, they might get chased by hunting dogs and then shot. In theory, this land is off-limits, but since we’re new and some haven’t figured that out, we’ve seen hunters from the hunting club out here. I don’t remember if I wrote it up, but there was one set of hunters in the front pasture with my HORSES that went and dragged a deer carcass right in front of them and my daughter who was out there. Ya, things are going to change next year!

We’ll have to see where we land with that.

I did a lot of looking online, and I finally ordered 15. Tractor Supply had a minimum of 25, and I just do not want that many.

Which ones did I settle on? I ordered 5 of each:

Lavender guinea: lavenderguinea

Royal Purple guinea:  royalpurpleguinea

and White guinea:   whiteguinea

Now. Onto the chickens! 😀

I actually did not order silkies today. Tractor Supply is getting bantams on Friday, so I’m going down there first thing in the morning to dig through them like we did last time. Hopefully, they will have a good variety, or else I may order the ones I want in a few weeks. That would put them here late June.

I did, however, order 5 Buff Orpington pullets. eggs and grass 010

The two big yellow chickens were our BOs, Butternut and Daisy. Butternut was the flock mistress, and would protect the chicks from the dogs. She would even peck Little Dog, who learned she didn’t like having her nose poked. Butternut was huge, and it was awesome to see her fluff her neck feathers out.

This was one of my absolute favorite breeds because of being a dual-purpose breed: good for meat and eggs. {We don’t eat our friends, though. 🙂 }

They are good all around- good in confinement and heat and cold tolerant. It’s also listed as a “Recovering Heritage Breed” with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

Blue Andalusian.   BA3I got 5 Blue Andis, too.  After having our hearts broken saying Goodbye, Dear Jasmine, I vowed if I ever got the chance, we would get more Blue Andalusians, but all girls {pullets}. So we did. 😀

Andalusians are a “Threatened Heritage Breed,” and they are simply gorgeous! They are medium layers of nice white eggs and are heat tolerant.

If you’ve seen pictures of my eggs before we moved, you will no doubt know that none of my flocks are ever complete without Easter Eggers. EEs are commonly found at hatcheries listed as Ameraucanas, but because they come from hatcheries, they are actually Easter Egges. This is because hatchery birds don’t meet the breed standard all the time; some of them are rumpless; some are muffless and/or beardless, and of course, some of them lay brown eggs.

Out of our last flock, we had one that laid a brown egg; two laid olive eggs {yay for olive eggers!} and the rest laid the typical blue/green eggs.

They are SO cute as chicks because they look like chipmunks! chicks1

EEs are an all-around great chicken- they do well confined and are a cold and heat tolerant breed. I can’t say enough good about this breed. I settled on ordering 10 of these girls.

As I was choosing breeds, I was looking for a balance of egg color. I, personally, like to see a nice variety of egg colors in the carton. A very nice brown egg layer that is something special to look at is the Silver Laced Wyandotte.

silverlacedwyandotte

SLWs are another breed that are cold and heat tolerant and do ok being confined. While I was happy to see that this breed is listed as “Recovering,” it didn’t deter me from ordering 5. 😆

Before getting chickens, I had no idea the wide variety of colors chickens could come in. I admit to going a bit hog-wild this time. 😆

One of the egg-colors I have always drooled over was the really dark brown chocolatey eggs.  cuckoomaraneggs

YUMMY!!! Marans lay these eggs, so I got 5 Cuckoo Marans. I was particularly pleased, because Cuckoo Marans look a bit like Barred (Plymouth) Rocks, and since we weren’t getting any, I knew my middle daughter would be thrilled, because her favorites were the BRs.  cuckoomaran

As I was thinking about breeds, my daughter noticed the Silver Lakenvelder, and I remembered that it was also listed as a “Threatened” breed. I thought, “I’ll just add a few of those” and that’s how we ended up ordering 5. The Lakenvelder lays a nice white egg and does well in confinement and is heat tolerant.

silverlakenvelder

One of the more interesting and unique chicken breeds is the Silver Spangled Hamburg, also known as “the polka-dotted chicken,”

silverspangledhamburg

When I discovered these a few years ago, I swore I’d get some if I didn’t have to order a boatload. So, I ordered 5. The Silver Spangled Hamburg is on the “Watch” list. It lays a white egg; does best free-ranging and is heat tolerant.

So. Let’s recap:

Brown egg layers: Buff Orpingtons (5), Silver Laced Wyandottes (5)

Dark chocolate eggs: Cuckoo Maran (5)

White egg layers: Blue Andalusian (5), Silver Spangled Hamburg (5) and Silver Lakenvelder (5)

Colored eggs: Easter Eggers (10)

Regular math: 23 large fowl + 8 silkies= 31 + 8 guineas= 39. {I probably would have rounded to an even 40.}

Chicken math: 40 large fowl + 8 slkies + 15 guineas= running afowl of 63 birds! 😆

Ahhhh, my loves, I’ve been waiting! 😆

**pictures courtesy of Google, My Pet Chicken, Meyer Hatchery, Feathersite, Backyard Chickens, etc etc

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