Monday, February 28, 2011

Strangers in the Night

1. More Chicken Adventures

El Husbando came into the house around 10 last night and reported that the chickens were acting odd.  Or, to be accurate, odder than usual.  Instead of roosting inside the coop, they had decided to camp out in the run.  This is pretty unusual for our chickens.  Aside from the briefly aberrant behavior of our newbie chickens last September, the birds have been entirely reliable about putting themselves to bed at night, which is one of the advantages they offer over the children. It's not as if the night was one to lure them out of bed, either: cloudy and wet, with temperatures only slightly above freezing. At first, El Husbando thought something was wrong with one of the chickens, who was lying in the snow, but this turned out just to be more weird chicken behavior. Being a man of action, El Husbando picked up the chickens, chucked them back into the coop, collected the day's eggs, and came in to tell me all about it.  Our first thought-- aside from the usual "gee, chickens sure are weird"-- was that something else was in the coop, in which case it was probably a bad idea to lock the chickens inside with it. It seemed unlikely, though, that any non-chicken animal in the coop wouldn't have reacted when El Husbando was stomping around in there counting chickens and collecting eggs.  Still, things didn't seem quite right. so E.H. marched back outside with the flashlight to have a good look around.

A few minutes later, as I was brushing my teeth and thinking how comfy my bed looked, he was back in the driveway flapping his arms at the window to get my attention.  There very definitely was something in the coop, all curled up and cozy under one of the nesting boxes with a bunch of our eggs. He thought it might be a skunk.

OH.  A skunk?  Great.  Now what?  Leave the skunk in there and worry about what it might do to our birds? Try to evict it, and get sprayed? Trap it in its new nest and hope that it wouldn't spray? Would a skunk even eat a chicken, or was it a grass and leaves kind of animal?  We fired up the internet and learned that skunks are, in fact, carnivores.  However, they are also distinctly black and white, and El Husbando was seeing only greyish white fur under the nesting box, no black at all.  Which meant that we had an opossum in the coop. Possums, as we learned last night, are mostly scavengers but will occasionally go after other animals, including chickens. Ah.

No longer afraid of having to smell like skunks for the next few weeks, we decided to evict our squatter.  El Husbando grabbed the tool of choice in this house, a hockey stick, and we went out to play a little possum hockey.  We expected to have to spring out of the way of an angry animal, but this possum did what  possums are known for doing.  He pretended to be asleep.  It went a lot like this:

Prod.  zzzzzzzzzzzz

Prod. Prod.  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

PROD.  POKE. SCOOP.   zzzzzzzzzzzzz

At one point, we dislodged him (or her, let's not discriminate) from the nest, only to have the animal give us a look that would make a groggy toddler look chipper by comparison before crawling back under the nesting box and going back to sleep.

A few more strategic prods, though, and we had the possum out of the nest again.  He paused at the door to the coop, which has a 2x4 across it to keep the shavings in, apparently shocked that we expected him to climb all the way over that. El Husbando, not wanting to be rude, assisted Mr. Possum over with a nudge from the business end of the hockey stick. Before departing, Mr. P gave use a look of deepest reproach, as if to say "I wasn't bothering you".  Then he walked-- ambled might even be a better description-- away across the snow, leaving us wondering how on earth he got into the coop.

We still haven't figured it out, although we know enough now to pay attention to our birds when they refuse to sleep in the coop.

2. The Knitting, etc., Update

Crafting around here has been a good news/bad news venture.  First up, some socks for Nate.  I finished the first sock, which is good, but I still have to knit the second sock, which is not so good.  My goal is to be done by March 11, which is a date mostly pulled from thin air, but which can-- with a little effort-- be related to the fact that it is 2011 and I have 11 (or so) projects/goals I have set for myself as part of a group support and encouragement thing over on Ravelry. 


I like the pattern that I finally chose for the socks (good thing), although you can see that it took me two or three repeats to make it come out the way I wanted it to, and now I have to duplicate this mess  design innovation on the second sock (bad thing).  Plus, in the time that it took me to knit the first sock, Nate's feet have grown (developmentally appropriate, but unfortunate as far as these socks are concerned).  This means that the socks will fit him only until the end of winter (if we're lucky), which is too bad.  On the other hand, he won't have a chance to put holes in the socks (as if he could--I knit them so densely that they are more like body armor than cushy socks) and now I can say that I have a head start on Matty's socks for 2012.

On the clearly bad front, the socks from the class I took with my friend Knitting Deb (here's the link to the post about the socks--scroll down a bit)-- which I worked so hard on and was so pleased with and which I finished sooooooo recently--  have done this:


It seems to be the result of premature yarn fatigue:  I used a yarn that is not truly a sock yarn, so it is not reinforced with nylon, and I knit that yarn into a sock that was just slightly small for my feet.  And I love them so I wore them regularly.  I will try to fix it with some sock yarn that matches pretty well, and in the process I'll try to make the heel a little bigger so the socks aren't so stretched on my feet (gah! sock stress).  I'm not sure it will look pretty, though.

On the up side, I have knit a bunch of these little preemie hats:



People (mostly kids, who seem to have fewer reservations about finding out what that lady is doing with those sticks) keep asking who they are for, and the answer (yay!) is that they are for donation to charity, not for any specific baby that I know of. I have finished 5 of them and have a sixth on the needles; they make a great project for long basketball days or when I have to wait for a few minutes for someone to be done with something.  Totally mindless knitting, very quick project, cleans the scrap yarn out of my drawers, and it's for a good cause. And they are just so cute!

Weaving has also been a good/bad thing.  Below is the result of all that warp-winding and recalculating  I was whining about back in January.  I was extremely conscientious in warping the loom (yes, it took a ^%$#ing lifetime) and have so far been rewarded with a well-behaved project. 


Now that all those bits of string are on the loom, the weaving part is going pretty quickly; I can sit down and knock out a few inches of these placemats in half an hour and I'm enjoying the process and the product.

Which makes my table loom project totally different from the rigid heddle project below.  This placemat has been on the loom since some long-gone time in the fall.  I am an inch from the end of the first mat, but I don't like it, so I haven't been working on it.  Which is really dumb, because if I were to sit down for 10 minutes and finish the mat, I could then start the new mat and, in the process, advance the warp enough that I won't have too look at the zig-zaggy vertical stripe thing that is going on down there. Bleah.

photo.jpg photo.jpg

And really, that's all for now. I took almost all of February off from work, which means that, at 11:19 a.m. on a Monday, it's high time I got my boo-tocks in gear.  See you next time.

1 comment:

  1. Oh what lovely knitting and weaving pictures. Maybe I need knitting lessons from you.
    Possum hockey. I love it. El Husbando is mucho brave. El Husbando, we applaud you!!!!!