Touch the spindle

I had this fabulous idea to re-use my miniature schnauzer’s fur and spin it into yarn. I do not know how to knit or crochet but that was beside the point. I looked into mailing it off to someone to spin into yarn for me. It’s about $50 for and insanely small portion of yarn so I decided I would get the fiber blenders (which I thought would be the same as carders) and the drop spindle and do it myself.

Fast forward two months and I still have this box of hair that I have added to and tried spinning. It isn’t actually ready yet which is why I can’t get it to spin. You have to add wool to dog hair to make it stronger and then you have to comb it and card it correctly. This is starting to be a pain in my ass. So in the meantime I learned how to crochet and bought yarn at the store. I watched several drop spindle videos on how to do this and also watched a video about combing and carding wool and it made it clear.

You can make your own wool combs which look like nails in a piece of wood. So I am going to make those this weekend since I have recently gotten a new tetanus shot. 🙂 I am not giving up on my dog yarn just yet! I will post my next progress soon. The girls are so excited about this whole process whether I am using Odin’s fur or sheep or whatever they just love helping.



Brewing at home

Though I have made wine and mead and cider at home and waited months even a year to drink it, I hadn’t made beer before. I don’t know why except for the fact that it’s a little different. So the foray into homebrewing was made last month when my brewing partner and I made an herbal beer and it turned out! Then we saved the yeast and are making a chocolate oatmeal stout right now.

If you have the bucket and siphon and carboy for making other things you just need a bottle capper and bottle caps and the ingredients of course. It is very temperature controlled so you need a thermometer and then a way to cool off your brew before adding the yeast. We had a really bad time with this until the last time when we put ice and cold water in the bathtub and then put the bucket in there to cool it down to 80 really quick.

There is a link to the oatmeal stout recipe we modified here. At the end of the boiling process of the hops we added 4 oz. of cacoa nibs.  It also says that you can add more chocolate like baking chocolate during the fermenting.



The meat bird experience

ImageYesterday I killed my first chickens. I would say animal but I have killed fish so I count that. I did two Cornish Cross roosters. The first one I did was the one I was slightly attached to, the only one out of the 11. I thought that would be the best way to proceed. Unfortunately the cone I have is too small so I have to hold the bird after I have killed it to make sure it doesn’t pop out after it’s dead. I was surprised how little time it took and how fast the chicken died. I felt ok about this because these animals are raised only for meat and not longevity. This chicken had a wonderful life with attention while it was a chicken, shelter from the rain when it got older and usually three meals a day. It foraged for a lot of it’s food and ate bugs and grass. Some say the Cornish will not forage at all because they are stupid and just want to stay next to their food all the time. I did not find this to be true just that they were a little lazier than my adult hens and sit down more to sunbathe or enjoy the shade.

At 3 weeks I felt like I was doing a great job with these birds but then my husband said I wasn’t really “doing” anything just feeding them. After that phase I did a lot with them and for them. I spent the night on the couch the first night they were out in their shanty shack in case a raccoon came by. I wanted to be close enough to run out if I had to. Fortunately we haven’t had a raccoon problem in a couple years. I had thought about keeping some of the feathers but honestly the feathers were pretty ugly after the processing and I decided against that. They weighed dressed at 2.5 pounds which was shocking to me because they looked and felt bigger. I am letting the others get a little bigger with feather weight (ha ha) until I do them.

I cooked my first chicken in an herb encrusted fashion with salt and pepper and a little butter. The flavor was fabulous and my daughter who doesn’t normally eat a lot of chicken ate all of her’s and asked for more.  I had a little moment before I sampled it and remembered the rooster from which the meat came and felt good about giving it a very good life and partaking in eating it with gratitude and appreciation really.

I am selling 6 of the 11 to friends and family to get back a little profit out of this (after chick and feed costs). That is also almost legitimizing the project for me as I made money off it and also provided a wonderful food item to people that they can’t get at the store down the street and they don’t know where or how it was raised.

Spring is here finally

The wet weather in Spring has made it difficult for me to plant the peas and really everything that most years would be in the ground already. I also have 23 chickens roaming around that like to scratch and I am worried they will dig up the seeds after I plant them. I hope to process most of the meat birds this week and then put the rest back into their chicken area. The meat birds didn’t get their tractor after all but they got a little shanty shack to go in at night and to keep them dry too. It looked like a homeless camp but it worked out. If I do more meat birds I will build something else to move them when they get bigger. I let the younger three hens come out yesterday but they were attacked by one of the chickens and one of the meat chickens as well so I put them back in the bin in the garage for now. I was going to be gone for the day and couldn’t supervise them. They have been out before but in a larger space that wasn’t the regular chicken pen area so that might be why. I am supposed to trade the one that attacks for a black sexlink next weekend. I put a chicken trade post on Craigslist and found someone who will trade me.

The girls and the neighbors all wanted to spread the compost into the raised beds and also the neighbor boy weeded Melody’s flower garden too which was great. I think it was a good project for him because he needed to get out some extra energy and aggression.