Monthly Archives: June 2015

Six New Hens

It was my birthday at the beginning of May, and my husband racked his brains for ideas of what to buy me as a present. What do you give the woman who has all the electrical gadgets she can safely carry? Why, six more hens of course!
We lost our two remaining Cream Legbar hens at the end of 2014, and since I very much like the breed, we chose to increment our flock with six Legbars. It is a popular breed at the moment, as people seem to think that the blue-green eggs are fashionably desirable. I like the hens because they are busy little chooks and carry their fan-like tails with aplomb! And Charlie and Freddie, our two Legbar cockerels, needed some more ladies.

Sorrel

Sorrel

Suzie and Sage

Suzie and Sage

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off we went to Storrs Poultry, and bought their last remaining half-dozen POL hens. It was a day of high winds and torrential rain, but we managed to keep them separate with some shelter, until chicken bedtime, when we distributed them among the houses. There was some resistance, involving chasing and cornering!

The next morning, when we came to let them out of the coops, we let them select where they would prefer to live, and three decided to live with Charlie, the other three being happy with Freddie. They were accepted into their new homes with a minimum of fuss and the boys have been most attentive, finding them tasty treats, shepherding them into bed at night, and generally looking after them. They have all come into lay, most days giving us four blue eggs, one greenish blue egg and one egg so pale it is almost white.

Lovage and Lupin

Lovage and Lupin

A belated welcome to Suzie, Sorrel and Sage (all with Freddie), and Lucy, Lovage and Lupin (with Charlie).

Lucy

Lucy

 

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The Year of Knitting Lacily: June Update

Well, with only a few hours left of the month of May, I have finished Asterope, May’s challenge shawl. It is not a difficult pattern, the charts and instructions are clear, and the finished article stunning, so why did I have so much trouble with it?

wpid-20150430_090255.jpgI paced myself on this one, working on a couple of baby blankets and taking a sock knitting class in between knitting this lovely lace. I like that the laciness really stands out against the stocking stitch body. But perhaps I paced myself too much; I should have cracked on with it and at least started the final chart before I got complacent and had a rest! By the 28th May, with only 3 days left to go, I started having trouble with chart E. The row repeats were well nigh impossible to memorise, so I end up having to recheck (and rework) each segment, making for very slow knitting. And I still managed to lose my way, particularly in the two edge segments! I didn’t really enjoying that bit at all, or perhaps I was just tired and frustrated.

The finished shawl with yarn remaining from 385m

The finished shawl with yarn remaining from 385m

I think I finally worked out why I was finding this so difficult. I rely heavily on stitch markers to keep me on the straight and narrow, but for most of the rows, especially on chart E, it is necessary to move the markers every pattern row, making counting and rechecking essential. I prefer repeats where the markers definitely help in keeping track. That said, this is a beautiful pattern, and I love the colour of the yarn. I feel that this month I have been challenged!

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Detail showing the beautiful mottling of the yarn

Detail showing the beautiful mottling of the yarn

Technical notes:
Pattern – Asterope by Romi Hill
Yarn – Wharfedale Woolworks Yorkshire Rose BFL, colour Sweet Peas
Needle – Clover Takumi bamboo fixed circular needle 3.75mm 80cm long

 

June’s Challenge Shawl
For June’s shawl I have selected one of Verybusymonkey’s Scientist Collection shawls, Tesla. This shawl has a solid stocking stitch centre with only a hint of lace on the border, and I think it will be perfect for a variegated yarn that I have had in my stash for a year now. I shall be using Wharfedale Woolworks Yorkshire Rose BFL sock yarn hand-dyed for the 2014 Flora Sock Yarn Club; its name is Petal Storm, a pale blue with a lot of varying shades of pink rippling through it.

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Amber the Fenton Rose

One warm July day, back in 2012, we drove all the way to Stafford to collect three POL hens. They were a new hybrid breed called Fenton Rose, from the same breeder who developed the Fenton Blue. They lay the same blue-green eggs as a Fenton Blue but are pale apricot in colour, with a little crest and floppy comb like a Cream Legbar. They are a beautiful hen, with a calm inquisitive nature. We took Honeybun, Goldilocks (named because her crest was the same colour as her feathers) and Amber (her crest was largely white) home with us and put them into our separate house and run for a few days quarantine before introducing them to the main flock. Amber and Goldilocks settled in quickly, enjoyed exploring and ate voraciously. Honeybun, on the other hand, refused to eat and spent most of her time searching, and crying, for another hen. I think we must have inadvertently separated her from a friend, but there was  nothing we could do about it, just hope that she would eventually accept the situation. But she didn’t.  She mourned the loss, she wouldn’t eat, eventually she refused to drink, and despite a visit to the vet (who found nothing wrong with her) and attempts to force feed her, she declined and died three weeks after we had collected her.

Amber being photobombed by Polly, 2013

Amber being photobombed by Polly, 2013

But Amber and Goldilocks went from strength to strength and integrated well into the flock. Amber laid pale brown eggs (only 80% of the breed will produce blue eggs) and Goldilocks laid blue eggs until late last year when they both stopped laying and did not resume this spring. Both have had problems with mild cases of peritonitis, treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories; both recovered well from their problems. But Amber seemed to suffer a recurrence this April, and became very lethargic. Some more drugs and a lot of tender loving care seemed to do the trick, and she recovered her appetite and her zest for life.
It was on Friday afternoon that I noticed she had become rather dozy again, and started her on the drug regime once more, but on Saturday morning she did not come out of the henhouse for her breakfast, and was showing signs of not being able to see. We put her on the grass in the sunshine  and she wandered around rather aimlessly, then just sat and went to sleep. We gave her lots of cuddles, but her prospects did not look good, and I was not really surprised (although very upset) to find the next morning that she had died during the night.
Amber was a little hen with a lot of personality. Since Hetty died in December last year she had become Betty’s companion, and Betty has been very upset losing yet another friend in such a short space of time.

Amber, April 2015

Amber, April 2015

RIP Amber, born early 2012, died 24 May 2015.

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