Friday, March 31, 2006

The Big Box of Crayons

I was feeling kind of sad yesterday, a little let down, and a little unmotivated and sad in my poor heart. So I got myself a big box of crayons.

Aren't they just lovely?? And on sale at Webs for $4.79 a skein during the Annual Anniversary Sale?? Who could resist? And what is better for any occasion than Cascade 220? Bags, hats, mittens, you name it. I have no specific plans as yet, beyond staring at it, touching it, and possibly rolling in it. If I could find a way to hang it on the wall I think I would. A Wool Color Wheel. Bit tough to spin, but still worthy.

And about this sale - anyone close enough should drop by and just have a little look-see. There's an awful lot of really good stuff for really good money. AND we have the Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee coming on April 22nd...very cool. Unfortunately, MelissaKnits will be teaching Knitting 1 and 2 in the back of the store while she's speaking, but hey, we can't have everything, and maybe some dear kind soul (anybody? Katy? Kristen? I'll make it worth your while...I'll bring something decadent to drop-in that week...) will take pity on me and get one of my books signed for me.

Nothing else to show today - who wants to see a sleeveless sweater and 2" of a pair of socks? By the way, I totally adore Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock. All other sock yarns now feel like sandpaper. I may be ruined for life. Considering the amount of Non-Lorna's Laces sock yarn present in this house, we may have to make some sort of new rule. Three pair of Non-Lorna's from stash only must be completed before we can touch the Lorna's Laces...something like that. Should work. Should. Of course, so should my rule - which you can see I adhere to religiously - "We must empty a bin of current stash before adding enough to fill a new bin". Riiight...I knit up 30 balls of yarn out of stash this week to make room for the Cascade...sure I did!

It's a scary day to be a chicken mom...this is the second day the "babies" are out on range. They are guarded by a six year old rooster. This is a little scary. At 6, he's on the far side of the hill and heading down. He's a little...geriatric. Some days his mind is a little fuzzy. You can see him thinking "Plane? Hawk? Plane?? Hawk??" and then just in time he yells "HAWK!! DEFINATELY HAWK!!" and everyone runs for cover. From a plane. Sigh. But he's still got enough of "it" to keep them safe. I hope. And he has a loyal sidekick who's name is either Plush or Softy, I forget which, who is my NewRoo In Training. This is them six months ago. About half now live in New Hampshire. Today they are a bit bigger...and for those of you who wanted to see Girl's Tut-A-Roo, whom we believed was a rooster but isn't, here she is. This is not your average chicken. She comes when called (they all come to "chick-ens, chick-ens, chick-ens", but Tut comes to her name). She also jumps onto Girl's shoulder and sit there while Girl wanders around the yard. She's not what we'd call a "normal" chicken. But she's very lovable. Amazing what six months is to a chicken. When they came in the fall they were 1 day old, and fluffy and tiny, and their sole goals in life were 'eat, drink, sleep'. Mostly they slept. Weeks move forward and there was more eating and drinking and less sleeping. At about 12 weeks they have all their grown-up feathers, and can sleep in the hen house if the temperature is not too cold. At six months they start (well, the hens start) spitting out eggs, which they'll do if allowed just about once a day for as many as ten years. Natural Chickens will lay until they die. Factory Chickens lay for 18 months and are slaughtered. This process is referred to as "culling" and is supposed to be necessary to maintain production and profit margins in the acceptable range. But I have a six year old hen who lays an egg a day all spring and summer, and one every other day all winter. She's the human equivalent of a 60 year old women giving birth every nine months without the use of fertility drugs which is not a natural function for us, but is for chickens. If she were in a factory farm - and this includes most of the "natural" eggs currently on the market - she'd have been dead long ago, when she hit 18 months. It's not enough to buy vegetarian cage free eggs...most of those farms cull at 18 months, and "free range" as defined by the USDA isn't. If you can, find a small farm and get to know the owner a little, find out their management practices, and get your eggs from them. You'll be serving two greater goods - the good of the gentic pool, and the good of the birds themselves. Not to mention you'll be supporting local agriculture. And getting more Omega-3's in your eggs, and less cholesterol and fat. Small farms often allow their birds to breed naturally, and chose hardy, thrifty stock. Many let their hens sit eggs themselves so successive generations are hen-raised. The birds have more disease resistance, natural instinct and intelligence. End Chicken Rant!

3 comments:

Persnickety Knitter said...

I really like that picture of the chickens on the steps. And interesting info about the culling.

Melissa said...

Egg farms get chicks as day-olds, raise them for 4 months to lay (they're bred to reach point-of-lay at 4 mo versus 6 -8 mo for a naturally reared bird), they lay for one full season, then get shut into darkness to force a molt, have a second laying season and by 18 - 24 mo are heading for the slaughter room. Some farms have stopped the forced molting, but cull early to keep production up. On big commercial farms the slaughter is all mechanized and there's a lot of "error". Poultry is not held to the same slaughter standard as large animals - and even those standards suck. Consumer demand for larger and larger quantities of cheap animal products mean corners get cut. We buy locally whenever possible - I know the cow and the pig by name, I know what they ate, how they lived and died, and have taken care of them when their farm family go on vacation. Makes me feel better about life, death and the food web.

Mary Alice said...

I begged for eggs, I cried for eggs, I brought my cooler for eggs. I swatched with the owner, I tended llamas with the owner, I tended shop with the owner; So where's those eggs??!!!
Love ya, Mary Alice