Chicks rule

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In a random event of conversation began our foray into the land of 4H.  The 4H pledge goes “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world,” indeed a pledge I could believe in.  The Rolling Hills 4H Club introduced us to the wonderful world of farm animals.

The chicken AKA, the gateway animal to urban farming according to Novella Carpenter, introduced us to caring for an animal that provides us with delicious eggs. Little did we know when we signed up for the Chicken Project that we would learn to love these girls! Going to a chicken show in Modesto we saw the many breeds that we are now raising in little brooding boxes.

 

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This Serama chick may be a rooster!
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The Polish chick is wondering what is going on with the Silkie chick doing yoga

 

We have been having a great time in the house having the chicks in the lounge room listening to their little peeps whenever they are awake.

We took them outside for some sunshine the other day and saw a cute hummingbird in the tree with red leaves flying overhead. The next moment we saw a hawk swooping overhead and we were so lucky as we quickly ran inside with all the chicks to save them from a near death experience! The little pullets (a chick under a year old) were hiding out underneath an overgrown Italian parsley bush for safety – they knew how to do it but we had them out in broad daylight on open grass, we all learned a valuable lesson about keeping the chicks safe!

When you look after chicks in brooding boxes you conduct your own research on whether there are roosters in the gang. So Missy discovered while she was Google searching that the chicks with the crests already are most likely roosters. Time will tell, and the roosters will not be staying at the farm with the girls, eventually, they will be rehoused – someone did mention Hidden Villa in Los Altos?!

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Outstretched Silkie getting some rays
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A very inquisitive Serama chick

These chicks have been an excellent distraction from my last two assessments, and I love watching them. These two above have very interesting personalities with the fluffy Cochin chick spreading her little body out flat on the grass in the sunshine, and the little black Serama (a breed from Malaysia, the world’s smallest chicken) is quite the people’s chick and loves any interaction with humans.

Only 1 week to go and my 2nd teaching period is done, a combination of Science and Maths has been excellent, and I now have a newfound appreciation for both of these subjects and how to teach them to get the kids excited!

 

Sunshine and springtime chicks

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Finally, the weather has been consistent for the last few days and the weekend was just amazing! These roses are in a garden in the Los Altos Hills where the kids go swimming – the colours are breathtaking.

It is the best time of year to go bike riding as the wildlife and the flowers after the rain are super and there is also a super bloom that you can see from space. Now that the flowers are settled so is my allergies, so it was the perfect day to go riding on Sunday on the path where there were hardly any people and enjoy the peace of the bay. Check out that trail – there is no one there! This is off the main trail heading out to the Bay, but I allowed myself a short ride so I could get back home to clean out the garden and do some sewing and study.

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Missy’s Bantam Silkie chick – fingers crossed it is a girl

 

 

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A Bantam Polish chick
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My fave cute Bantam chick
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Another cute chick
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Cleaning chick feet
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The world’s smallest chicken – a Serama

 

Friday we picked up some Bantam chicks that have just hatched from an egg project from a homeschool family. The eggs were from a very special place in Sonoma where rare breeds of chickens are raised in an organic environment – they are closed to the public due to their breeding programs and having to keep the farm safe from any biohazards. Their collection of chicks and images on their site is so inspiring and make me want to move to the country to a yurt and raise chickens – it is always nice to dream! Still, we are fostering these chicks for the 4H poultry project where the kids will take care of them at home until they are ready to go into the coop with the other 2 bantam chicks. This time we are raising quite a few bantams, and it will be so exciting to watch them grow, they are quite small chickens but oh so cute! I love how the kids are so mesmerised by the chicks and how gentle they are taking care of them every day, 4H really is an incredible program for kids. The chicks sleep a lot of the time flat out on their bellies with their heads in front of them – I had no idea how chicks slept, and they are just gorgeous to watch and such a distraction.

 

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Miss Bella

 

Bella has been sad for the last month or so and has been hanging out with us more as she is really missing her brother Mack – they were the best of friends. She is such a loving cat when she wants to be and is sleeping on our bed a lot at night which we love! I am still missing my best cat friend though as each day passes, I think of all the good times we had together.

A piece a Week – Bias detailing on a Black Dress

This week was the final week of teaching the Arts Focus program at school and for the final class I thought I would wear a new dress. As one of my students likes to observe what I am wearing! She is one of my students who absolutely enjoys the class and everything sewing encompasses – so hopefully I will see her in 5th grade if she chooses sewing again as her final Arts Focus class 🙂

I did not have much time to make something from scratch as other projects and life generally take over my creative time. But I did have a chance to jazz up a dress with some bias fabric I made that I was using to add detail to cashmere cardigans I cut and bound in the center. The bias fabric idea is from a great book called The Party Dress book where you can see the use of bias fabric on the dress on the front cover. It is just beautifully applied in so many of the dresses in the book. My job was more experimental and to see if I enjoyed the process? I found it was like throwing on the wheel where I am working on the machine in a spiral pattern first attaching the bias binding and then continually going around and around in a spiral on the skirt. I love how my the symbiosis of my art projects sometimes blend together.

This dress I wore when I was a witch one Halloween and had not worn again since but as it has long sleeves and pockets it works as a great dress for teaching. I like to have pockets when I am teaching as I can have my phone for photos or even a pencil for drawing lines ready to go! So as I enjoyed the application and adding an interesting detail to the dress I think I will use this process in skirts for my upcoming collection in October for the Textile Art Boutique.

Detail of the bias on the dress
The dress hanging with pockets and all

It was a rainy weekend and we enjoyed our Saturday catching up on things and preparing to Spring forward for daylight saving!! Yes I lost an hour of sleep and it was quite annoying but still we managed to get up in time on Sunday to drive to Modesto – 1.5 hours away to check out a Poultry Show. Yes, why drive all that way to see Poultry LOL?? Well it was our family excursion for the day and my daughter has taken on the Poultry Project at our local 4H Club Rolling Hills. She is enjoying it so far and really wanting to get chickens for our small little garden! We will see as there is a bit of research first we have to do before setting up a coop in the back garden. 

We eventually managed to find the Agriculture Pavilion at the Modesto Junior College campus after many failed attempts at finding a decent map! I was already feeling very tired as I came home from hanging out with friends the night before starting off with a happy hour with friends from my dance class and afterwards a Downton Abbey finale party which finished at midnight – which is way past my bedtime!! Still stay positive I thought and see what you can learn from this experience! Most of the judging had happened by the time we arrived at lunch time but all the chickens were on display. I had never seen so many breeds and such beautiful birds too! So with that positive spin check out some of the fancy breeds we saw at the show…

Cool looking chicken – White Crested Black Polish Cockerel.
You really can tell the difference between the males and females in the bird world, this guy is very fancy!

A Seabright Chicken – I love the feather detail

Super cute chicken

An arty chicken butt

A Frizzle chicken – their feathers are everywhere and such a mess but they still look good!

Fancy chicken feathers

Ash and the New Jersey giant – the biggest chicken I have ever seen!!!
Yes it was bigger than his head – there is no distortion in this pic!

Now I know I am in the country with the trucks and the tractors

A chicken at the judging table doing the funky chicken

Another unusual breed – the naked neck chicken

 

Someone who should be doing the chicken project – who loves chickens more than his sister

This chicken had enough and was ready for bed!

So there you go a lesson in chicken breeds and how beautiful chickens are! My vegetarian diet appreciates these little guys and look in their eyes to see what a lovely companion animal they can be. The kids seem to enjoy them very much, so maybe we can build a coop later on in the summer as a project? Their favorite chicken is a bantam – not very fancy at all. They are a a nice size for handling and a Pullet is a hen less than a year old – so I am learning new things about chickens too!

One day the kids hope to get a couple of these chicks