I'm finding it difficult to move into Valentine and spring themed projects for some reason, wanting to hold onto snowmen and snowflakes and cocoa and woolies. I don't want spring to come just yet, even though I think it is the best season in Texas. We haven't had enough winter, and we desperately need more rain before the onset of summer 2012. Lately the weather has been very spring-like, minus all the lovely wildflowers that bloom in Texas. Hopefully the weather gets a bit colder, and we get some of the rain that the weather-people say is coming our way tomorrow.
If I MUST think about spring, let it be of baby chickens. That I can handle.
Several years ago at a local auction house, I bought several photo albums (5 to be exact), each one of them FULL of vintage postcards - someone's collection. One of the folders is all Easter cards, and soooo many of them feature chickens or chicks. The above image is from one of the postcards I bought that day. Maybe flipping through those old cute postcards will put me into the mood to work on spring projects...?
Meet Pippy. Pippy is a Buff Laced Polish hen with lovely cream and white colored feathers. She's very timid, not the "brightest" gal, and has never been the most coordinated gal in the chicken yard. She really has a lot going for her ... sweet as can be!
She's lost a number of feathers on her back over the past few weeks or so. Spring is in the air and I guess Tiny Tim and Little Buddy like her (they're not the most coordinated with the hens that are larger then they are). I've also seen some of the other hens pick on her, which leads to broken feathers.
I have been applying a healing no-pick lotion to her back feathers to discourage the other hens from picking on her, but the lotion discolored her skin and feathers -- unsightly! In the above photo, you can still see the purplish tint she has from the lotion. Fortunately, she's got a lot of new feathers coming in! I want to protect the new feathers so that they have a chance to grow nicely, without continuing to put the staining no-pick lotion on her. Time for some poultry fashioning!
I wanted to create something that was a bit more open and airy than Tiny Tim's coat, but couldn't decide on how to fasten the garment to Pippy. She doesn't need her wings covered like Tiny Tim does, and she doesn't need it to wrap around her breast, like Tiny Tim does. She's no where near as naked as Tiny Tim! Amazing enough, as I was browsing some blogs this morning, the answer became evident! Rooster Hill Farm recently ordered an apron for one of their turkey hens and she blogged about it this weekend. Perfect timing -- I thought I'd give the fastening method a try!
I brought Pippy in, gave her a bath (every chicken needs a bath now and then, I think!), and measured her up for the right size of the vest. I decided to make it long enough to cover a good portion of her tail feathers, to keep her incoming feathers really hidden. The vest I made is made of cotton and lined with a sturdier linen/woven fabric that's chocolate brown. I chose to use the lighter cream/white polka dot fabric to act as sort of a camouflage for Pippy's feathers.
Here she is all fitted in her new polka dot vest. Of course, it's 10pm as I'm taking this photo, and all she wants to do is snooze. Photographing chickens at night is a task that's near impossible, regardless of how many lights you have on in the room. They have sun-downers, BIG TIME!
Maybe it's time for a pedicure, as well... Doesn't she have funny gray legs and feet!!
I took some other chicken photos yesterday and thought I'd share a few just for fun.
Tiny Tim in his coat. He's on watch guard over the "ladies". Hopefully when the weather warms up, he'll grow in some new feathers! He's pretty much naked! And it looks like he's been busy dusting himself as well. What a mess!
Toe Picker, being cute on a perch. Toe Picker is a small buff Silkie hen, who is ALWAYS under-foot. She weighs about 24oz (small!). In the summer, when I'm wearing open-toe sandals, she loves to peck at my toe nail polish. *grin* She is very fuzzy, and very "silky". Ha! Silkies are like holding a stuffed animal -- they feel so different from regular chickens.
Gretta, one of the Cuckoo Marans girls. We have 8 of them, and they can be difficult to tell apart if you're not looking for something specific on each hen. They're responsible for the very dark brown eggs you've seen in the photos. Very nice hens to have around! But boy, she sure looks serious, doesn't she!
This little guy is a Black Japanese Bantam rooster. I usually call him Little Fella, but he gets called a few other choice names when he's being a troublemaker. If you happened to watch the first video I posted last year, this is the little guy that crowed on demand. He hasn't changed much. But his comb sure got big!
Tonight the temps are dropping down into the low 30s, and it's supposed to get a bit cooler than that over the weekend. I had to move Tiny Tim's "sweater" up the priority list. When I was in town last weekend, I picked up a yard of brown fleece. Couldn't beat the price at less than $3/yard! Just right for chicken outerwear.
Learn more about Tiny Tim and his extra frizzle-frizzledness HERE and HERE.
I started by creating a little body form about the same size as Tiny Tim. I used one of the dog toys and a couple of sheets of tissue paper, and it worked like a charm! I was able to wrap the form and create a pattern before I cut into the fleece. Once I had what I thought might work for a pattern, I cut it out and hand stitched it together! The original version was a bit longer, and the seam you can see was supposed to help the overcoat wrap around his body. But, it was just a bit too long, so I ended up having to shorten it a bit. The front of the coat is fastened with a single button so that the rest of the opening allows his little legs to move.
On the back there's a shoulder flap to cover up his nearly-bare wings. I needed to make some V-shaped slits over his shoulders so his wings could move freely. But to keep them warm, I added a shoulder flap that's even tack-stitched down at the center to help keep it in place if he gets too flap-happy.
Overall, I think it's a good design. (OMW, I am laughing so hard!!) He seems to like it so far. Every now and then he slips into "reverse" and tries to back out of it, but as soon as he bumps into something, he's back in forward motion. (*snort!*)
Let's just hope his chicken friends don't laugh at him! He's got enough problems as it is!
I laugh hysterically when I see these photos! And seeing him in action is even more hysterical! It might be time for a farm video! Eat your heart out, Tim Gunn!
This cracks me up ... here's a little sketch I thought I'd post that shows Tiny Tim's measurements (4" around his neck is a loose measurement). And yes, Alan and I actually took is measurements using a tape measure. I laughed and LAUGHED the entire time! Poor Tiny Tim wasn't too thrilled with the situation. He's such an odd little bird! And I told you he was LITTLE!
I thought it was time to pull out my little she-crow again from Harvest Blessings for a fall
inspired card! I stamped her in black StazOn ink and painted her with re-inkers and a water brush. I added some warmth to the layers by sponging on some brown inks.
Every time I use the little square chick from the Crazy
for Chickens set, Alan chuckles and tells me that chickens aren't square. I don't
know about that though... Little Buddy is as square as they come!
Cosmo Cricket came out with the cutest paper and accessory line this year called Happy Camper. I *love* it! One of those paper lines that I'll use again and again, so I should probably find more of it! I used one sheet of paper from the line for the background on this card. The paper is double-sided which makes coordinating a snap!
The temps are finally feeling like fall around here. Tonight it's supposed to get down in the mid to low 30s, so we'll be bundling up the critters tonight.
Speaking of bundling up the critters, Tiny Tim is a Red Frizzle Bantam. He got a little too much "frizzle" in his genes, and doesn't have the nice soft fuzzy feathers that he would have if he didn't have so much frizzle in him. So, he's always cold. He shivers.
I don't want to remove him from the flock, but I'd like to help him stay warm. I think he needs a chicken sweater, but I don't crochet. If I measured him up, is there anyone who would be able to crochet him a little chicken sweater? He's not very big, and it wouldn't take much yarn! *grin* Anyone?