Monday, May 30, 2011

Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival, Lexington

Last weekend we went to the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival near Lexington. It was our first time in Lexington, and really our first time in Kentucky.

The festival was cool - lots of sheeps and nice people selling fiber. We watched the herding of sheep by children and border collies. The dogs were much more effective. A professor from the University of Kentucky something (livestock?) school brought the world champion of something collie to demonstrate herding sheep. The dog was insane! She was brilliant and had an unreal amount of energy. We listened to the nice professor give different commands by using only a whistle - circle clockwise, circle counterclockwise, creep in, stay. The commands were given at lightening speed and the dog didn't miss a single one.

I wish I grew up to be a professor of sheep dogs...

My purchases were 2 skeins of wool for a shawl and these hand carders.

I don't quite know what to do with them yet, but they are an impressive tool.

Lexington is a neat old city. Very federal architecture and much older than anything in Indiana. It felt like Virginia - Bill said it reminded him of Fredericksburg.

Outside the city there were hills! Most of the fields seemed dedicated to horses.

We camped at Fort Boonesborough State Park, home to the second settlement in Kentucky and named after Daniel Boone.

It was here that we realized Kentucky is not the Midwest. Kentucky is the South.

Standing near the original site of the original fort was a monument dedicated to the "gallant band of axemen pioneers and Indian fighters who...opened the doors of destiny to the white race in Kentucky and the west."

The monument lists those gallant folks by name, and then adds "a negro man, a negro woman." When, do you suppose, this progressive monument was built?

1935. What is UP, 1935? Why did you harbor such discrimination? You had the dedication of the Hoover dam, the release of Monopoly, and of course the depression and the dust was hard times and you should have pulled together. Lame, 1935. Very lame.

Another side of the monument praises the white man as the "advance guard of enlightened civilization," among other things.

The monument was just standing alone near the fort, right off the parking lot. I think there is so much value in the present for really understanding the prejudices of the past. In that way, I can sort of see why this monument is important - to remind us how stupid we were not very long ago.

But, lacking any context...any contemporary message...this monument is gross. It stands in the park as if its fact. History written by the victor. It made the whole state feel very unwelcoming to me. It spoiled a beautiful land.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day is for painting things red

I believe that when you have done the same thing on the same weekend for three years, it officially becomes a tradition. Right?

We seem to traditionally paint things red over Memorial Day weekend. Our first year here, it was the barn. The following year, with the help of Bill's parents, it was the chicken coop.

This year...Coop Mk. II. Our "chicken tractor" for the meat flock. It was built last summer, but never painted. We initially thought it might house ducks this year. But (apparently) we had so much fun raising Dark Cornish last year, that we're doing it again this year.

What's that? You didn't know that we received 30 baby chickens in the mail last month because I forgot to tell you? Yes, this is true. It seems that getting poultry from the mailman is no longer news-worthy.

The coop:

Bill picked out the brown trim and the quilt block. We were inspired by a barn we saw in Kentucky last week (more on that later). Bill - who retains far more knowledge about my hobbies than I do about his - picked a flying geese block... geese being birds and such. He rejected the "hovering hawks" block, given the raptors tendency to eat our pullets. And, though they aren't a worry here in Indy, "bear paw" was also rejected (bears like chicken!).

The birds were a little skittish when we moved them from their brooder box to the coop. They soon settled down and got right to eating bugs.

In other baby bird news...our good mama turkey hatched 6 healthy turkey babies, who are growing well. There was a lot more mortality with our baby turks than the chickens, and our three other turkey hens are rather flakey when it comes to setting on eggs. They are still young - just barely a year old - so we hope they'll do better next year.

PS - I say "chicken tractor" because the intent was to make an easily movable coop that could be relocated every few days, giving the chickens new areas to scratch around (and not deplete), but the Coop Mk. II is a beast and isn't going anywhere unless under the force of an elephant.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Baby chickens!

About two weeks ago baby chicks started hatching from eggs. We had two hens go broody at the same time - a Barred Rock and a Cochin. The babies all started hatching on the same day, and are all about the same size, so everyone is on the same playing field. They seem to be trading moms at will, which is a very good thing. No one is being too defensive and the chicks are looking great.

We started with 13. Everyone hatched well and is growing rapidly.

Just after hatching:

In the two weeks, we've lost just one chick. He disappeared. We're keeping them close to home, so we're not sure what happened, but he likely got lost. :(

This is the Mama Barred Rock teaching the chicks what to eat. She finds something yummy and makes a very specific cluck. The chicks come running and she pecks at the food for a second before allowing the babies to munch on it. In this case it was a worm. Yummo.

These chicks apparently prefer the food that we provide.

They are all little mutts. Our rooster is a Colombian Wyandotte. The hens are Barred Rocks, Partridge Cochins and a single, awesome Black Australorp. You can see all breeds in this photo. The Rocks are the three that are black with yellow beaks and legs. They have white spots on their heads too. The gray one in front is a Cochin, and the chicks with black legs and beaks are the Australorps. Most of our hens...and therefore most of our chicks...are Barred Rocks.

I leave you with a glamor shot of our awesome Barred Rock Mama.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A million updates in one post

This here is what we're going to call a free form post. It has no common theme, no real intro, an unsatisfying conclusion...but lots of info. It's a dashboard update. Big picture. Many updates crammed together in one place.

A few weeks ago, there was an F1 tornado in our town. It completely blew apart a barn just a few miles away. It toppled so many trees across our neighbor's driveway that it took him 5 hours to cut himself out. It sent Bill and me into our basement in the middle of the night, and it broke one of the trees in the beloved canopy that (used to) shade our house.

I took a picture, but it just looked like a tree. So, picture 1/4 of the top of a 75 year old locust tree split in half and being held just feet above our roof by another branch of the same tree.

We called some tree folks (I could not support Bill taking on this tree - it gave me panic attacks. I am not ashamed.)...and decided to take down the whole tree. The tree folks parked their truck outside my window:

...and dismantled the locust. There is an old "before" photo in the right sidebar up over there --->

Here's what it looks like today:

We're splitting and stacking the wood.

Two of our chicken hens hatched chicks. They are adorable little mutts. So far, there are 8 - though one isn't looking so good.

Bernie has decided he's sneaky and stealthy and we can't force him back inside if we can't see him because he's hiding behind the grass.

Our broody turkey is still on her nest. We didn't mark when she started incubating, but it was just after tax day. Turkey eggs take 28 days to hatch, so we're getting close!

The lilacs bloomed and smelled fantastic. is your unsatisfying conclusion. The end.