Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Egils 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...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

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...

Sunday, May 17, 2015

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
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 -

Friday, May 15, 2015

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
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 -

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

little 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
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 - - -

Monday, May 11, 2015


... 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...

Sunday, May 10, 2015

bizzy buzz buzz, or return of Blue Cedar House

in which our plucky heroine appreciates the amazing efforts of her Blue Cedar House pals; the Acorn Cottage environs had a whole assortment of useful improvements this weekend, in addition to the regular maintenance of weeding out morning glory and campanula and mowing the backyard lawn...

Various salvaged materials, one of the parking strip boxes, and some venerable salvaged fence boards, were recombined to make a new raised bed in the middle of the mulched area in the backyard. Mighty Mindy filled the new raised garden bed and replanted ALL the strawberries... the ones from my Mud Bay friends (Bill and Cathy and Jen), and the ones from Julia. Still need to drape it with netting, after adding some stakes padded at the top, to keep away marauding squirrels. I am determined to get at least a few homegrown berries this year, and eventually dream of homegrown strawberry-rhubarb goodness

Since the lesser of the front parking strip crates moved to become part of the new strawberry bed, the blackcurrant (that has been sitting in a pot for several years) now resides to the left of the hopeful-someday persimmon tree. Some of the sturdy sticks from pruning the ornamental plum have been used to create a support tripod, to encourage it to grow more vertically
Mindy did a bangup job of dry brick work, creating a nice tidy home for the poor blackcurrant. My hope is that with some attention and actual ground to grow in,  instead of a nursery pot, that it will be a happier plant, and maybe produce fruit in a year or two. Blackcurrant is supposedly good for jam/jelly/cordials, but I've never yet tasted any.

The kitchen fridge plinth now has a drawer, (thank you Mr. Robertson) which is a useful place to store rarely used kitchen tools and equipment, like the turkey roasting pan, and the apple peeler gizmo. This is a very gradual project, initially begun in January, and not quite finished yet. There still needs to be some sort of wood finish, probably either black paint or stain on the case, and another layer of plywood on the top to overhang the drawer would also be a help

While her parents were working inside and outside the house, young Laurel helped by using various brush and sticks and things to build an elaborate if ephemeral fairy house in my driveway. She also drew the most adorable flip book animation as a Mother's Day gift for Mindy, but sadly I had no way to document it. I don't remember knowing how to do that when I was six!!

The chicken house has been moved adjacent to the old garden bed, and once I acquire some hens, they can happily turn the bed, eat the weeds and bugs, and have a nice spot for their initial foray into the land of Acorn Cottage... I will, of course, fence off their space from the rest of the yard, and will gradually build chicken hurdles, and chunnels to allow for more rotational grazing...

The salad table, now dense with tasty greenery, has been moved out of the direct southern sun exposure to the more shady side of the front porch.
Here is the new improved summertime porch configuration: salad table more shaded, and two chairs and a small table for pleasant outdoor time in the shade. Yet to come will be a canvas sunshade on the south end of the porch; one of the last errands we ran before my pals had to hit the road for their long drive home, was to the big box hardware store to get a large canvas tarp, which I'll be configuring to match the slant of the porch roof, and will hang from the rafters. I'd also like to do some refurbishing of the chair cushions, once I look through my fabric stash and see if there is anything "upholstery" weight.