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June 1st, 2015

11:55 pm: momentum
in which our plucky heroine starts the month off on an upward trend...

Begin in the way you mean to go on can be a good policy. Today I walked first thing, after letting out the hens, and before writing. This, combined with a bit of bike-riding, brought my step totals for the day just over 10,000, or about three and a half miles. So much easier to do when the weather is in the sixties and a sweet soft misty rain, by next weekend it will be up in the 90's and movement much more of a challenge again.

In and around working today, I was able to put a little more time in with the new hens, getting them acclimated to my presence: This morning I stood within sight of the hen food dispenser while they ate, making "choooook chook chook" noises. They kept an eye on me, but they were willing to continue their breakfast. Each day I will gradually move closer. Eventually they will accept my presence and associate that sound with food. After all, hens are smarter than fish, and I trained my fish to come to the surface when I had food, and eventually they learned to come to the surface when they saw me... I suspect that these hens had a very different upbringing than the young hens I have had in the past, who all came from assorted friends in Olympia, from what were likely to be much smaller chicken set-ups.

More chicken training this afternoon: I stood next to the pen and made the choook chook sound, and gently tossed a few grains at a time into the pen where they were visible and the motion of tossing them wiggled the grasses. Eventually one brave little hen came closer to investigate, and when she discovered it was food, her behavior drew the other hens... they were willing to eat the food within a few feet of my continuing to make "food noise" and gently toss out more and more small amounts of grain. This bodes well for at least half the learning they will need. I love how training theory actually works!...

My chickens are not stupid, they are cautious and careful, as befits young birds of modest size that are prey and not predatory creatures. This evening I fed them again, to continue the acclimatisation process, and had left a flashlight inside the roof of the coop, intending to turn it on when it was closer to dusk (the last two nights I have had to catch them one at a time and stuff them into the hen house, they were too uncertain to go in there themselves, preferring the dubious safety of underneath the ramp to the coop door) I went outside to turn on the light, when I saw one of them walking up the ramp into their house, and as I was looking at the run, didn't see any of the others... I walked quietly, and slowly, closer, and could hear the twittering of the other two birds already inside! I peeked in through the crack in the back panel and saw at least two of them on the perch, as I let down the iron-weighted door. Yay for chickens that put themselves to bed!!
:::

Sometimes when I am out walking, I find bits of succulents on the sidewalk detached from their planted parents. It occurred to me that if I brought them home they could grow new roots here at Acorn Cottage. Five of them are now putting on new growth in an old rusted out muffin tin in a sunny front porch spot. One of my small goals is to have a nice looking mixed succulent planter or wreath, and giving foundlings a good home seemed more my style than spending gobs of money on a trendy garden thing...
:::

Not very big, but successfully red and flavorful: the first strawberry from the backyard! With luck and bird netting, I may be able to have more for me and less for the tree rats. Unfurled the netting today, and realised it would fit a lot better if the tall stakes were about half the height. After all, strawberries are not very tall plants, so don't need a four foot tall enclosure.
:::



Fifty years is a long strange trip...
:::

... did I today ? :
write pages walk 20 minutes make something declutter excess
yes yes yes yes

June SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Jen jumper - bag to Goodwill
2 - - -
3 - - -
4 - - -
5 - - -
6 - - -
7 - - -


7:47 am: discontent

in which our plucky heroine continues to bang away at the brick wall...

Looking over the graphs and charts for May, and I give it a barely passing grade. My walking numbers went down from April, as did my discard/declutter totals. I did improve my make all the things numbers. I did lose a little weight, but not up to my goal amount of 1 pound a week.

My goals for June are to actually walk every day (and find a time/way that will be possible), and to declutter for at least 20 minutes every day. I will and am getting up earlier, which is both necessary and desirable: morning routines will now include setting the window fans running, and letting the young hens out of the coop, in addition to my other daily morning tasks. The things that have fallen by the wayside need to be picked up again! When I was doing morning pages writing, it felt valuable. When I start my day with both physical movement and action taken on useful tasks, I go through the rest of the day feeling positive and hopeful. With that in mind, I am adding a second graph to my SMART chart world, to be filled in daily:

... did I today ? :
write pages walk 20 minutes make something declutter excess
- - - -


May 31st, 2015

8:52 am: thinning the apples

After Bill pruned my trees earlier this year, the apple in the backyard seems to have had a fortuitous year as far as making apples... There are quite a few clusters of young apples on the branches, which need to be thinned out so the ones remaining can grow up big enough to eat. My understanding is that they grow best when there are single apples with at least 6" of space between each one.

This was the most amazing "too many apples" cluster, with five young apples all the size of green walnuts crammed onto one spur. My hope is that by thinning them, that there will actually be a modest and useable apple crop this year
:::

May SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 big garden bed front yard mowed bin of twigs
2 Mindy underdress strawberries planted bin of brush
3 Laurel underdress blackcurrant planted random plastic
4 Norseguy embroidery design fridge plinth drawer bin of twigs
5 chook roost chook house moved -
6 nest box door chook run fencing -
7 - chook shade run -
8 - apples thinned -

June SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 - - -
2 - - -
3 - - -
4 - - -
5 - - -
6 - - -
7 - - -


May 29th, 2015

3:31 pm: chooks at the cottage

in which our plucky heroine acquires some new livestock...

Today Tonya delivered my new chooks: three young Black Australorp pullets. Once inside the backyard hen yard, they headed for the back corner, as their new "safe place", but are making small forays to explore the new habitat This is their first time away from the big flock, but they seem quite comfortable as a small flock of three.

One hen seems a little braver than the other two...

But mostly they all stick together and gradually will find the borders of their new digs...
The hens discover that the other end of the shady fenced area goes somewhere...

... but this is as far as they have gone towards the sunny pen and the chicken house; they turned around to get back to where they had already been.

Exploring is exhausting; time to rest a bit more... Tonya warned me that I would need to help them find their house for tonight, since they have no idea at all where to sleep. They are, as I recall, about 10 weeks old, so it will be the end of the summer before they are old enough to start laying eggs. In the meantime, they will be endless entertainment (chicken TV) and add more resiliency to life here at Acorn Cottage

May 27th, 2015

5:46 pm: Egil's XLI

in which our plucky heroine feels the truth of what a long strange trip it's been...

Camping is wonderful, and Egil's has been a constant in my life for more than twenty years; my first was in AS 27... it is now AS 50... my Caer Lutris friends and I have been camping together for a long time now. I didn't take many photos this year as last year, but these give a taste of our encampment:

The sun has gone down, and the firelight glows as folks finish dinner and gather together for the evening.

Approximately the same viewpoint, on a damp grey day...

Some of my friends, eating breakfast

path to the bath (shower tent) with some of the lovely Roman mosaic floorcloths from 12th Night...

May 20th, 2015

7:43 am: with hammer and saw

In which our plucky heroine cogitates between projects...

...though am only ever between projects for as long as it takes to pick up the tools and supplies for the next one! The yoke embroidery for a new tunic for Mr Blue Cedar House is completed. Still need to make some complementary sleeve or cuff bands, but my cunning plan to have their whole family well-clothed by An Tir West War is moving along nicely

Have been wondering if pages of embroidery designs and variations might be a possible item to have available for purchase; don't know if there is any interest is suchlike, and probably the only way to find out is to try it and see...

May 17th, 2015

5:40 pm: no chooks today

in which our plucky heroine feels like a kid building a fort...

This morning hen lady phoned me to let me know she has the sick and wasn't feeling up to getting out of her house, much less driving here with my new hens. So, a day with more time for getting the things done that were pushed aside by my chook habitat improvements on Friday. Starting by building a new door for the nestbox area of the hen house, since the former door mysteriously disappeared...

My big challenge is to figure out how to use what I already have around the house, instead of going out and purchasing all new supplies and hardware. The other hard part always is figuring out how to assemble pieces to do what I want them to, which is good exercise for synapses, even if it takes all day!

This was made from some old yardstick fragments, doorskin scrap, offcuts from the workroom shelving, and some old garden stakes, plus small eyebolts, a shower curtain clip, and a split ring. (new hinges are spendy, so rather than take a half day to go over to the ReBuilding Center and poke around in their hardware bins, I linked the eyebolts with some copper wire instead; I also figure that it would be difficult for a raccoon to open the clip/ring closure)
The lower portion of the nestbox door opens, with some interior wooden guides to both strengthen the door and to keep it located properly. This time I mounted the "hinges" on the side, which will make it easier to clean out the shavings as necessary (the old door hinged on the bottom edge, which meant it was always in the way at cleanout time)
:::

May SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 big garden bed front yard mowed bin of twigs
2 Mindy underdress strawberries planted bin of brush
3 Laurel underdress blackcurrant planted random plastic
4 Norseguy embroidery design fridge plinth drawer -
5 chook roost chook house moved -
6 nest box door chook run fencing -
7 - chook shade run -


May 15th, 2015

8:05 pm: chooks a'coming...

in which our plucky heroine becomes completely exhausted...

There should be three new Black Australorp hens arriving on Sunday, and am getting the yard sorted out to create space for them that will make the best use of their normal activity, and keep them reasonably safe and also keep the rest of my yard safe from them (I want my strawberries, and I dislike stepping in chicken poop) I suspect that today will simply be written off as a building infrastructure day...

First the roost
Earlier today I started on building a roost to put inside the henhouse, since always in the past my chooks decided to sleep in the nest box, which is not ideal. My hope is that if I give them a higher roost, they will choose to sleep there instead.

I found a child's table discarded by the side of the road a while back, and decided that it would be a good framework to build a roost for the hen house. The first step was to cut down the table legs...

The next step was to figure out *how* to attach and combine various pieces of wood to support a wooden perch for the future hens. I really wish they had let girls take shop classes when I was in school! While I can't help but imagine that someone that "knew" what they were doing wouldn't take ALL DAY to build a chicken roost, when I talk to other folks who are woodworkers, they say it does take a long time to build something with just a concept and no instructions or plans to follow... After much struggle both with the various tools and with mental effort to figure out *how* to get it to fit together and fit in the henhouse and still let there be enough room for chickens, eventually, hours later, I created this contraption.
I hope this will work. I am not a woodworker, I find all this VERY Challenging. But it needs done, since hens arrive on Sunday!! (the floor of the coop is first covered with a piece of vinyl floor protector, then the whole space has a nice soft layer of wood shavings)

...then the fencing
Last weekend the henhouse was moved to a more central spot in the yard. Incremental progress is still progress, though I could wish for all sorts of unlikely things*... Eventually there will be "chicken hurdles" (moveable fencing panels) but for now I am attempting to wrestle the old fencing which was never more than large scraps of welded wire fence, and now after sitting for several years in the backyard much older and rustier and all intertangled, into some semblance of fencing around the old raised bed that will be the new chicken yard. Mighty girl is mighty, and mighty girl is mighty exhausted...

Looking across the backyard while standing near the apple tree: closer bed has strawberries in most of it, and the bamboo poles will support bird netting to hopefully allow some human eating of berries. Behind that is one of the original raised beds; my plan is to pen the hens in there, to let them do the work of cultivating and fertilising. In the far background the corks atop the other fencing of the shade yard are just barely visible.

By cleverly positioning my fascinating assortment of fencing scraps, there is a narrow pathway for chooks to move between the raised bed and a section of the yard against the south fence, which should allow them to find shade at all times, which is very important in the summer! By the time this area is "scorched earth" I hope to have created a number of moveable fence panels that can be used to allow access to other edge zones of the yard. In the meantime, it is still possible to move the wheelbarrow to the back of the coop, so as to allow for cleaning and refurbishment as needed

A shady patch along the south fenceline was easier to get the old fencing to border; bit by bit the new habitat is coming together. So tired. And I still have to make a nestbox door... This is looking towards the hen house from the far back fence; the sharp points on the welded wire have old wine corks stuck atop, to both help prevent painful incidents and to help make the fenced area more visible
:::

May SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 big garden bed front yard mowed bin of twigs
2 Mindy underdress strawberries planted bin of brush
3 Laurel underdress blackcurrant planted random plastic
4 Norseguy embroidery design fridge plinth drawer -
5 chook roost chook house moved -
6 - chook run fencing -
7 - chook shade run -


May 13th, 2015

11:39 pm: litttle green men

in which our plucky heroine counts her verdant blessings...

Well... that was awesome! I poked my nose out the front door, to gather some greens to cook for dinner and to take out the compost, and much to my surprise, I scared off a hummingbird that was hovering in the sage blossoms! So not only are they honeybee habitat, but also hummingbird... What this tells me is that there are hummingbirds around, and should I manage to plant suitable flowering plants, I might see them more often...
:::

Our plucky heroine was feeling well enough (after being sick for several days) to sit on the front porch, eating for my supper tonight: garden fresh greens, steamed atop some already sauteed onion, garlic, and mushroom, then mixed with some cottage cheese for protein... and looking at the verdant salad/greens table thought: "this is what happy tastes like"!

You can barely tell, looking at the salad table plantings, that I cut out an entire portion of dinner greenery, since they are still really full. I mostly cut the mustard greens since they are not a favorite for eating raw, and quite a bit of the mizuna, and some tah tsai. The lettuces are best raw, rather than cooked, but it is still delighting me to have fresh greenery to munch on every day, that would be impossible to grow easily in the ground, because slugs would eat it all. The counterbalance is that it requires frequent watering, but since dishes are washed often, the water caught (while waiting for hot water) is perfectly suited.

I shall have to study Salad Leaves for All Seasons to find out which greens will be best for planting next (possibly some purslane?) and will probably also attempt cilantro, since that will be good for salsa verde later in the year. The difference between the two trays that I focused on thinning out while they were growing up and the two that were more neglected is obvious; the thinned ones, while they are just as full of greenery, are significantly easier to harvest individual leaves, contrary to what I expected. The plants in the unthinned ones are much more attenuated, and it is more difficult to choose what to pick. I ought remember this for the next sowing.
:::


Started working this week on the next yoke embroidery for a new Viking tunic for Mr. Robertson... the little Norse woodworking guys will be stitched in green floss, on some dark indigo linen
a closer view ...
because of the scale of the details, I chose to do outline stitch instead of couching, though if I'd had some more tightly spun floss, couching could have worked. I estimate this will take somewhere upwards of ten to twelve hours, as I've over an hour into it already, not counting the design work. Fortunately this is work I do in the interstices where no other useful work can be done.
:::

May SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 big garden bed front yard mowed bin of twigs
2 Mindy underdress strawberries planted bin of brush
3 Laurel underdress blackcurrant planted random plastic
4 Norseguy embroidery design fridge plinth drawer -
5 - chook house moved -
6 - - -


May 11th, 2015

8:54 am: blindman

... in which our plucky heroine adapts a design...

As my contribution to Blue Cedar House, which balances their kindly assistance here at Acorn Cottage, I have been steadily sewing SCA clothing for three of them. This past weekend I cut out and sewed up a new white linen undergown for Mindy, which is almost completed, and only needs the embroidered yoke and cuffs to be handstitched down. I also sewed a green linen gown for little Laurel, and started on another blue tunic for Mr Robertson.

As an embroidered decoration for his new tunic, I decided (after asking him) to create a design that would highlight his interest and skill at woodworking: two "Norseguy woodworkers", one with a hammer and one with a saw*... I looked at various historical artifact designs in metalwork and carving, and combined several compatible design elements; didn't want them in armor, because crafting, and then I looked at the Mastermyr find for examples of tools like hammers and saws...

*"I see!", said the blind man, as he picked up his hammer and saw...


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