Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Meet the girls

Thought I would introduce my girls to the world. I have posted in the past about my Chantecler roosters and I thought it was time to let the ladies shine a little. Heres one:

The girls are very gentle. They are not flighty or unfriendly birds as a whole. If anything, they are timid and shy, not aloof. They are not hard to chase down and catch, they just give up and crouch after a while. I am not a good chicken-catcher, it doesn't take much to get away from me. So of course I like my ladies, they not too much for me to handle. 

They don't show as well as the boys, due to their shyness. You need a feistier bird to show off for the judge. I have had some success with the bolder ones, don't get me wrong. I received a reserve AOCCL at poultry show last fall on a pullet. In fact she is the lady pictured here today. The boys do better though :(.  (I hate it when that happens!) I have a little more work to do with these girls, but they are coming along. I need a more upright tail carriage; 30 degrees from horizontal is ideal. Also, a little better tail spread would be nice.  The good news is the younger ones look better than my older stock. I am slowly making progress. 

I'll have to take pictures now that the snow is off the ground (these are older photos) and everybody gets to go outside. They are so HAPPY now. Even the older guys and girls were flying and bouncing off the fencing. I love springtime!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Just holding my breath........

Sunday was just an awful day here. Weather-wise, I mean. March is such a changeable month here in Wisconsin. You can go from zero to 60 within 24 hours. And back again unfortunately. 

My flock had been enjoying the mild weather for days last week after being cooped up (chicken joke!) all winter. I had the bright idea to build their pens at the bottom of a slope, so they did have to deal with the run off from the melting snow as the ground was still frozen, but it didn't seem to bother them. Anything to be outside! Then the weekend arrived.

Nothing but rain on Saturday. Lots of it to add to the run-off problem. The pens are now standing in water at their ends. I can live with this as they are very large. Then Sunday came. First rain, then ice, then sleet, then snow. It was a meteorological smorgasbord. Still not a problem except for all the dead elm trees in my back yard. I forgot to look up when installing all the chicken fencing. Otherwise I would have seen them all, right?  It was raining branches on the netting I put over the pens to keep the hawks out, the fence is sagging and bending from the stress. You can see that below beyond the coop on the left:

I don''t know if any trees came down. I am into my work week now and haven't looked for myself. My son says its all fine. I'm not sure though, sometimes he looks but he doesn't see. Do you know what I mean? Today, we have had sustained 50 mph winds. Perhaps the trees, already weakened, are down now? I'll find out tonight. My husband will take down the trees this spring, its time for him to do that now. Well, actually that would have been last year..........

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Finally started sewing

I finally got the sewing machine going this weekend! The lining and interfacing were ordered and have arrived. I did end up ordering from Ely E Yawitz. As soon as I posted that I was considering another company, their answer to my email arrived. Figures....

I got the hymo, fleece backed lining and silk topstitching thread on Thursday. It's very nice. Being used to the type of lining you get at JoAnnes or that is put in a coat you buy at the store, I was thrilled with how substantial the material I ordered is. My lining (if I sew it right!), will not rip out of this coat. I did end up getting black. Not very original, but black does go with everything, right? I used it in the pocket above. I will be using the topstitching thread for handwork, saddlestitching the front edges of the coat and the yoke in back.

So yes, I put the back of the pocket on. Twice so far as a matter of fact. Soon to be three times, seeing as I sewed tape to the back of the pocket for reinforcing instead the front, where it should be. At this rate I will be done by Christmas. The instructions on this pattern, being older, are vague. Women just KNEW how to sew 50 years ago. Didn't need detailed instructions. So the modern woman, of course got it wrong. 

I do have a book I am following, "Tailoring: Traditional and Contemporary Techniques", by N. Marie Ledbetter. A little dry, but very comprehensive. Well worth buying if you want to tailor, it'll be well worth it. I just need to read it before I start a section of the coat like I had planned. I just got excited and dove into sewing, so I will have to restrain myself for the rest of this project.  Good thing it was just the pockets :).

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My son's Brahma roosters

Today seems to be a good day to show off a few photos of my son's 2 Brahma roosters, Jake and Elroy. Yes, he is a fan of the "Blues Brothers" movie. Elroy is in front and Jake is behind and to the left. They are both year-olds, so we haven't seen how they perform in the breed pen yet. Mike has had poor luck keeping his Brahma roosters around. They keep getting sick and dying, so he is looking to these two young ones to be his foundation roosters. Elroy does have about 20 chicks in my house right now.

Elroy is the better of the two. He is just a little taller and skinnier. Current fashion from what I have seen, is to have a bantam that is very short and wide, with barely any back. The hackles merge into the saddle, without any back showing, almost like a "V". A bantam should look like the larger counterpart. The standard version is a tall bird with hackles, then a back, then the saddle, like a "U". Elroy looks like that to me. Part of breeding is sticking to the Standard descriptions, not just to what is winning in the showroom. Elroy does win because he also has other good qualities, his head and his coloring. I'll deal with the coloring in a separate post, thats a subject unto itself.

A brahma head should look "worried". Lots of loose flesh in the wattles and eye area. Look at his eyebrow, it should extend over his eye. Eyes should look sunken. The comb is a pea comb. An ideal pea comb has 3 rows with bumps going down them. Brahmas don't have ideal combs, but what Elroy has here is normal for a Brahma.

He has a good head for a Brahma, they should look like this when you are looking for one for yourself. The roosters also have a good temperament, very gentle in most cases. I'm not afraid of them. 

Wish them both luck! If their chicks are good, they get to live here another year. If you're a chicken, you want to live at my house, you get treated like the special birds you are.