Here's The Latest

Homegrown Linen Project Update

My homegrown and hand-woven linen dish towel and bread cloth project from last summer hit a few  snags over the winter.

Homegrown Linen Yarn

Hand Spun & Homegrown Linen Yarn

The first set back was a major problem: I donated my last loom to the Salvation Army.
I live in a small house and was on a space reclaiming kick. I wanted the use of a very needed upstairs bedroom.
“People are more important than things”, is what I was thinking.

Winter Donation To Clear Out A Bedroom

Winter Donation To Clear Out A Bedroom

So at present I’m “loomless”.
At the time of the donation I intended to pick up a small used 8 harness loom. A floor loom that won’t take up too much floor space, and will fold and fit into a closet is what I’ve been looking for.
I haven’t come across the right loom yet.

So my plan now is to spring for a Baby Wolf floor loom as soon as I save enough money or maybe sell a couple of heifers.
I used to have a 4 harness Baby Wolf loom but I donated it to a convent in New York about 5 years ago. At the time the nuns seemed to need it more than me.
Notice a pattern here?

4 Harness Baby Wolf Floor Loom With A Yellow Warp

4 Harness Baby Wolf Floor Loom With A Yellow Warp

The second linen project detour was the weather.
Winter came very early and stayed.
It was honest to goodness so cold last winter that there was no way I was going to spend one minute more than I had to in the barn.

Winter 2013

Winter 2013

But there’s almost always a silver lining in every cloud.

I belong to a local spinner’s & weaver’s guild.
We meet once a month, and next month I’ve volunteered to do a linen production workshop. All the flax that has been sitting up in the barn for the last year is going to that guild meeting. 
It will be worked on by the other guild members as part of the demonstration and workshop.

Of course I’m going to share the flax with guild members and won’t have as much for my dishtowels as I had planned.
But I don’t really care.
The project will go forward. I’ll have enough linen for a couple of towels or bread cloths.

Now all I have to do is find the money for a new loom…….

Current Happenings

Speckled Sussex Chickens

Now that there’s just the two of us, I don’t keep as many laying hens as I use to.
These days six to eight good hens supply my kitchen with more than enough eggs.

3 Hens

3 Hens In The Barn

In May I culled all of my old laying hens because they had stopped laying dependably.
I wanted to start a new flock and choose Speckled Sussex chickens.

I haven’t had Speckled Sussex for about 15 years and I missed them. As a new homesteader they were one of the breeds I first started out with almost 30 years ago. I’m particular about chicken genetics and have a strong preference for the darker mahogany brown type of Sussex. I ordered my chicks from Murry McMurry because I like their strain the best.

July 2014 Chicks

2 Day Old Speckled Sussex & Cornish X Rock Meat Chicks

The Speckled Sussex is a very calm and quiet brown egg layer. They are an older English breed and have been a favorite on American small farms since the early part of the 20th century.

The Speckled Sussex is often described as a “dual purpose” chicken that will tolerate confinement well.
If you don’t already know, a dual purpose chicken is one that is used for both meat and eggs.
But it’s been my experience that unless the cockerels are caponized they make more bone than meat.
I think intact Sussex roosters aren’t worth the bother when it comes to using them for food. They make a tough and boney assed fryer.

Speckled Sussex Hen

A Speckled Sussex Hen

In so far as tolerating confinement, I think the Speckled Sussex is happiest when they have lots of room to roam. They are a very people friendly, large bird that cannot fly well. Since they can’t really fly, they put up with whatever arrangements their keeper wants for them.
So if the criteria for tolerating confinement is putting up with any treatment you’re given – then I guess the Speckled Sussex fits the bill.

In the past I’ve had a few Speckled Sussex hens go broody if they are given plenty of space and are allowed to free range.
My Speckled Sussex hens always seemed to have a preference to sit a clutch of eggs in the mid autumn instead of the spring like some other breeds of chickens.
Around here, inevitably the broody hen will go missing for a few weeks and then turned up later with her newly hatched brood in tow.

This year I ordered 8 pullets and 2 cockerel chicks. Eight hens will be plenty of eggs for the house.
I plan on growing out the two roosters and will keep the better of the pair.

3 Week Old Speckled Sussex Chick

3 Week Old Speckled Sussex Chick

Chicken House Paint Job

Remember my chicken house that needed a paint job?

Old paint scraped away and ready for a fresh coat of paint

Old paint scraped away and ready to be painted

Well it got one last week.
Isn’t it amazing what two coats of good paint can accomplish?

Fresh Painted Chicken House

Chicken house with a fresh coat of paint