The great chicken experiment

We got our first batch of chickens about a year ago. Raised them in a Rubbermaid box while I built a coop for them. The coop had an attached run and I painted it blue. I named it the C.H.A.R.D.I.S. as an homage to Doctor Who. We also named all the chickens after characters from the show.



I love my chickens. It was the best time of the day when I could let them run in the yard. I would just sit out in my chair and watch them run, fly and feed. I also fed them by hand when I needed them to get back in the coop.


We must have pulled 100 dozen eggs out of the nesting boxes since they started laying. They were the best tasting eggs I’ve ever had! I had four Barred Plymouth Rocks, two Production Reds, two, Buff Orpingtons and a pair of Bantams: one hen and the prettiest little rooster you’ve ever seen.


That all came to an end tonight. We got home from work and there were a pair of stray dogs in the yard. They had been seen before, digging around the coop trying to get in, but I had always chased them off. This time, one of them got up on top of the run and clawed through the chicken wire into the pen with my chicks. They were mostly dead by the time I chased the dogs off and the two or three that weren’t didn’t last long.

It’s a heart breaker. We were planning on killing them when they quit laying, but that was more than a year from now if they were average chickens. So I guess I will head out tomorrow and pick up a bunch more chicks and start raising them.

I also need to address the coop situation. I will build another one. This time I will use better materials. I did a pretty good job with the current one. I had no idea what I was doing when I started, but it was functional and I was very proud of it. I have seen through use where I can improve upon the design and will start on that tomorrow.

This one will be much stronger. I will install drainage pipes and prep the ground to not hold water; use heavier wire to enclose the chicks and install staggered boards. That will let air circulate while providing a barrier for all but the smallest predators.

I also need to build it taller so that nothing can climb on top of it. I would also like to be able to walk in it standing upright. That would make cleaning and maintenance a little easier.

So we have had a setback, but now it’s time to look forward and hit the reset button. Wish me luck.


What knitting teaches me about life

As you may or may not know, I taught myself to knit a few years ago. I knitted myself a 20 foot long Doctor Who scarf. Tom Baker played the Doctor when I was growing up and I LOVED watching him on PBS. He still holds the record or playing the Doctor longer than any other actor … seven seasons! What I didn’t like was that PBS only showed Doctor Who during their fund drives.


Tom Baker was, and is still, an amiable old fellow. I liked him because he had curly hair like me. He wore a floppy old brown hat and that scarf and I thought that was the coolest thing ever! That scarf … I deeply coveted that scarf. Before I taught myself to knit, I had looked for them on the web. They were selling for more than $100 and they looked like crap. I wanted one, but not that much for THAT low quality scarf so I finally decided to knit one myself.

I found a website, The Witty Little Knitter, and, after reading every page, following every link, realized that I could actually do this! She had talked with the BBC, seen the original scarf and had everything I needed to accomplish this goal I had set or myself. She had authentic patterns for every scarf by season; YouTube links to teach me all the tricks and techniques I would need; and the specific colors/numbers of the yarn I would need.

It took me six months to make that first scarf and you can see me still wearing it today. I was very proud of the way it came out with a few small exceptions. You see in teaching yourself to do something like that with no help, you make mistakes that aren’t caught until it’s too late to fix them. Well, an EXPERIENCED knitter could have fixed it probably, but I was far from that so my mistakes stayed in the final product. Still, people tell me that unless I had showed them, they wouldn’t have noticed them. I believe them but even with the mistakes am proud of myself.

I decided to knit another one. The first one was the “First One,” both for me and the Doctor and it was the longest one they made. As the seasons went along, the scarf got worn and damaged and they removes those sections and gave it back. So it got shorter and shorter every year. I am knitting the shortest scarf they used in the series now and here is the life lesson stuff.

Knitting requires me to have patience. Not because I’m slow but for other reasons. First, I see the pattern and know I want it, but I can’t have it because it doesn’t exist yet. This denies me instant gratification which is a good thing. I see the pattern, I see the yarn and the needles, but I have to put those things together and sprinkle in a little (lot of) time in order to be able to put the thing around my neck.

Second, it forces me to pay attention. The mistakes in the first scarf came when I didn’t know what to look for. I started out with 55 stitches across. Suddenly I noticed I was up to about 70 stitches. I had no idea how THAT happened and had no idea how to fix it. I finally realized I had split a number of stitches due to my inattention (and not really knowing what the heck I was doing) and had added 15 extra stitches that way. I had to figure out how to fix it without unraveling the whole section. I ended up doubling up on stiches randomly until I was back to 55. As a result, I know have a perfect example of a Bell Curve in one section of the scarf. Live and learn.

Third, it forces me to slow down. I’ve gained some speed in my technique since I began, but I have to watch it. Even after I realized about the stitch-splitting problem, I’d be speeding along and realize I had done it again. I also find that when I slow down and take my time and everything is going well, time flies and I am really enjoying myself! The mistakes I made with the first scarf will not happen with this one. I want it to be perfect. It’s not GOING to be, but that is my goal.

So, teaching myself a new skill, having patience, paying attention and slowing down to enjoy things … those are the things knitting teaches me about life. For me anyway, they are lessons I can always use a refresher course in. And in the end, there are worse ways of spending the next six months. Right?

The Doctor is in …

I have been a Doctor Who fan for years. I know. Nerdy-Fanboy alert. Whatever. I admit it, I’m proud of it, in fact, I OWN it and wear it with pride!

It started with Tom Baker. He was the fourth Doctor and also the actor who held the role for the most seasons. (He’s the one with the loooooong scarf.) I guess I was flipping around one day and landed on PBS. During their money-grubbi … er, membership drives they always played Doctor Who and as Tom Baker was the most popular (especially in America) his were inevitably the episodes they showed.

I noticed they NEVER show the Doctor outside the membership drives and that really ticks me off. Ah, but that’s another post.

So there I was, a Doctor Who fan with very little chance to indulge myself. I was resigned to that and just went on with life. I never watched any of the other Doctors (we are currently on the 11th version) and didn’t really care to learn anything about them. Tom Baker was all I needed.

Ah, but THEN … THEN that technology that we talked about yesterday came into my life and showed me the light. It was like I had been living amongst the Morlocks and Guy Pearce came along and brought me to the surface.

I was kicking around Netflix a while back and came across the new Doctor Who series. They rebooted a few years back after being off the air for a while. There were 69 episodes online and I thought to myself “Meh, why not?”

Big mistake. I got sucked in like a sailboat in a whirlpool. I was hooked from episode one and have to tell you that I have watched every available episode since. I even scratched around the intertubes and have watched all the Christmas and other special episodes. It’s like crack … Except I don’t have to leave the house to get it and where I get my fix is a much nicer, and more comfortable, neighborhood.

Another thing about it? It’s like a gateway drug. Like crack leads to meth, Laverne leads to Shirley and the yellow brick road leads to the Emerald City, Netflix has led me down the dark, rocky path to the depths of addiction. I speak of Amazon.

I have a sonic screwdriver (the 11th Doctor’s) and just ordered a frameable poster of an exploding Tardis. I’m afraid a levitating, spinning Tardis; a Bowtie and fez combo; and possibly a Dalek and a couple of more screwdrivers may find their way into my shopping cart.

But it’s okay, right? I mean I can stop anytime I want … I just don’t want to, right? I go to work and function okay. I pay my bills on time. Sure my cable bill has gone up a bit since I ordered the expanded package that includes BBC America, but it’s cool. I’ve got everything under control, right?

Everybody writes Rose Tyler to apologize for her being trapped in an alternate dimension and ask her how the Doctor is, right?

And besides, bowties are cool, right?