Warmer Days and Some Completed Projects

Posted by mrssmythe on May 19, 2019 in Chickens, Crafting, Critters, Garden, Seasons, Toys, Week in Review |

Finally! The weather is improving.


I was able to get some good gardening time in this week, and the girls were able to have some outdoor fun with the chickens.

We’ve discovered that the chickens love mealworms. They’ve learned to distinguish the sound the container makes when we shake it, and they come running from all corners of the yard whenever they hear that sound. It makes rounding them up much easier!

Ginger has even gotten them to run laps of the yard by shaking the mealworm bucket.

Pam, our guinea hen, continues to find new ways to surprise us.

Last week, Pepper woke up to find her on the roof, greeting the sunrise.

And we’re having a hard time keeping up with all of the eggs at this point. Everybody but the turkey is laying, and even with eggs for breakfast almost daily, I’m falling behind.

We bake some and are always on the look-out for recipes that use eggs, but, in the end, we give a lot away to friends and neighbors.

A different sort of chicken:

This is one of Ginger’s newest crochet creations.

She made up the pattern herself, and, we’re trying to persuade her to make more to resemble the other birds in our backyard flock. Wouldn’t that be cute?

In knitting news, I finished the raglan sweater I’d been working on since March.

I used a pattern I found in Elizabeth Zimmerman’s book, Knitting WorkshopI’ve made two of these sweaters now, and both had been successful. And, I’ve even gotten to wear the sweater a bit, despite its being wool, thanks to last week’s cooler weather.

I had enough yarn left over to make this vest:

This time, I adapted another Elizabeth Zimmermann vest pattern to suit the yarn I was using. The project came together quickly and was so fun that I ordered yarn for another vest…

…and started working on that this week. My goal is to be finished with it by fall. It will be knit with much smaller stitches and will be more complicated than the solid colored vest, but I think it’ll be doable. I’m really excited to start working with all of those beautiful colors!

Other colors that please me – the blossoms on my Bleeding Heart…

…and, the pretty pink blossoms of our backyard apple trees.

Isn’t it wonderful to see things growing again and to have weather that makes spending time outside a joy? Don’t the warmer days make such a difference? I sure think so!

From the dining room table, listening to Pam making her “goodnight call” to the neighborhood (Go to bed, Pam!),

Mrs. Smythe




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An Abundance of Eggs, A Broody Turkey, and Sundry Other Spring-ish Things

Posted by mrssmythe on April 29, 2019 in Baking, Chickens, Cooking, Crafting, Critters, Garden, Seasons, Week in Review |

At left, a turkey egg. At far right, a guinea hen egg. All other eggs from chickens.


Right now we’re getting so many eggs. All through the winter…nothing. Now, we’re overrun. We give some away, and I try to include eggs with my breakfasts, but when you’re getting 4-5 a day, you really need something that will make a bigger dent in the surplus.

Cakes! Cakes are the answer.

Specifically chiffon cakes. Above, you see a Lemon Chiffon Cake I made this past week. Light, airy, delicious – and it uses SEVEN eggs. Perfect. I’m actually rather enamored with chiffon cakes at the moment. I wonder what a chocolate chiffon cake would taste like….

In other kitchen news, CPT A continues to explore skillet cookery.

Saturday, he put together a Beef & Bacon Gnocchi Skillet – very tasty, and, according to CPT A, easily managed. It tasted excellent warmed up the next day, too.

On the weather front, we’ve had cooler temps and lots of rain, but, even so, the yard is waking up. The azaleas were among the first things to bloom this year.

Also, these cheerful little flowers, which I planted last summer, but can’t remember the name for.

Inside, the cactus is greeting spring with the beginnings of another frond…paddle…arm? What do you call those things?

And, we’ve seen many more squirrels lately as well as a lone chipmunk.

(I really enjoy seeing these little guys, even though I know they can be a nuisance.)

Warmer temperatures mean Opal can get outdoors. Ginger likes to take her out on a leash.

And, Ursa got her annual spring haircut – compliments of CPT A and his dog clippers.

Ursa has such thick fur, that this is an all day process, with CPT A taking regular breaks to let the clippers cool down. At the end, we had a much happier, livelier dog…but also one who clearly will need to lose some weight in the coming months. All of that fur was hiding significant winter weight gain.

It’s mating season for wild turkeys, and ours has become extremely broody.

Here she is, holed up in the compost bin with one of the chickens. She has been spending all day, every day there for about two weeks now. We have to drive her into the barn at night where she gulps water and catches up on her food. I don’t know how turkeys manage to eat and drink in the wild if they’re on their nests all the time, but they must manage it somehow. Ours has also become extremely defensive, hissing and puffing up when anyone comes near her.

At the other extreme, the chickens have become much more social since Pepper introduced meal worms to their diet. They react to those like toddlers do to candy.

All Pepper has to do is shake the meal worm canister and chickens come running from all corners of the yard. It’s pretty entertaining.

Something else entertaining….the collection of animals Ginger has managed to crochet in the past month.

Aren’t these adorable? My favorite is the guinea hen – a pattern of Ginger’s own making.

And here is “Pam”, the inspiration for this toy:

What a crazy bird!

From the dining room table, hoping to have a completed knitting project to show you with my next post,

Mrs. Smythe

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More Backyard Birds, More Crochet, and a Bit of Spring

Posted by mrssmythe on April 14, 2019 in Chickens, Cooking, CPT's Lens, Crafting, Critters, Toys, Week in Review |


Here I am, yesterday, sitting in the sun in the backyard – the first time I was out and about in just about two weeks.

Otherwise, I’ve been bedridden, overcoming a bout with the flu that slid into a case of pneumonia.

It’s definitely good to be feeling better.

And here, you see the cats – my constant companions while I was bed-bound. Cats can be very good for morale…especially when you’re sick.

Whilst I was on the mend, the family stayed plenty busy…especially CPT A, who took time off from work to keep things going smoothly around the house.

The biggest happening, was the addition of several birds to our backyard flock.

Here you see the old birds (outside the barn) peering in at the new birds (inside the barn) on their first day home. CPT A and Pepper adopted the birds from an assortment at an animal rescue organization near Boston. I believe the ones we brought home ended up at the shelter because they were presumed too old to lay eggs. This has since proven false…at least for one of the birds – a pleasant surprise!

Here are the new birds – as photographed by CPT A.



And Sedgewick.

Yes, I realize these are all female birds and two have been given male names, but the girls like to name the chickens after characters in The Great Escape. (Though “Clementina is not from The Great Escape – she’s from an episode of Jeeves and Wooster – it’s complicated). Anyway, I wish the girls would not name the birds after Great Escape characters. I think it gives the birds ideas. Roger is already a prodigious digger and Sedgewick manages to pop over the fence regularly to visit the neighbor’s bird feeder.

Here are another couple of photos – this time of the turkey and the guinea hen.

They’re a very amusing pair and two of our best egg-layers at present. In fact, we’ve got more eggs than we know what to do with these days. The turkey lays an egg a day, and we’ve collected three from the guinea hen just this week.

Here you see their eggs in relation to a chicken’s egg (center). The guinea hen egg is at left, the turkey egg at right.

Another shot of the guinea hen egg:

All are excellent for eating, with the turkey and guinea hen eggs being considered the most healthful because those birds are “foragers”.

And what have we been doing with all of these eggs?

CPT A has been cooking and baking with them. Here’s his skillet lasagna, which he made using a turkey egg. (Probably the best lasagna I’ve ever eaten!)

CPT A is enamored with skillets right now and has been using the two we own to make all sorts of things.

Things like pizzas…

and pies…

He and the girls even baked a pineapple upside down cake in the skillet. It’ll be fun to see what they come up with next.

Meanwhile, Ginger has been busily producing more crocheted creations. To her collection of cats, she’s added a dinosaur – something she put together without a pattern, a feat that always amazes me since I’m so pattern dependent, myself.


And, finally, a weather report…

Spring must be here since my giant allium have finally emerged. Also, the lilac and the apple trees are budding, but those are about the only signs of spring in our yard. We’re still far behind many of you, as I only saw one tree blooming on the way to church this morning while photos my sister shared from Idaho showed her prom-going daughter standing beneath a blooming cherry tree. One of the rough things about living in New England is that regardless of what the calendar says, Spring comes late.

BUT – it will get here eventually. And, hopefully, something in the yard will be blooming by the next time I post.

From the dining room table, with the windows wide open and a bit of rain pattering down,

Mrs. Smythe




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Ballroom Dance and an Escaped Turkey…Plus Crochet

Posted by mrssmythe on March 27, 2019 in Chickens, Crafting, Critters, Museums, Week in Review |

Sorry for the delay in posts – it’s been a busy couple of weeks!

Last week’s craziness was a ballroom dance competition in Connecticut…Pepper’s first.

Here you see her fresh from hair and makeup the morning of the competition.

She went in looking barely awake and very low key and left with false eyelashes, bright pink lipstick, and gravity-defying hair. It was very entertaining to see.

Also entertaining was watching the train of normal, everyday looking women troop in, spend thirty minutes with the hair/makeup ladies, then leave looking glamorous and sparkly. The transformations were amazing. Everyone was very heavily made up, but once on the dance floor, they all looked about thirty and very glamorous. I can see why people get caught up in the ballroom world.

Pepper had a lot of fun and did pretty well. She would certainly like to compete again.

Less glamorous, but certainly fun was a trip to the American Museum of Natural History for CPT A and the girls.

This was in honor of Pepper’s 17th birthday. We’d planned the trip for January, but had to put it on hold when the government shut down occurred. Pepper was a good sport about the whole delay. I’m glad they had such a good time.

It’s been an exciting few weeks on the pet front as well. While we were at Pepper’s ballroom competition, the wind blew our barn door open and the turkey escaped. As soon as we realized what had happened, we searched the neighborhood and called animal control. Meanwhile, we wondered if she’d joined one of the wild turkey flocks in the woods behind our house. Two days later, animal control called saying someone about a mile away from us had reported seeing a gray turkey on their back patio – sure enough, it was ours. CPT A and the girls drove over and brought her home.

There was a bit of scuffling as the flock got readjusted, but everyone is back to normal now, and hopefully the turkey will remain in the yard from here on out …although as I write this I remember that she was next door peering through our neighbor’s basement window today, so maybe that’s not a very realistic hope.

Meanwhile, our chicken, Cassie, has decided the compost pile is a wonderful place to nest. She’s even laid eggs there.

Such a ridiculous bird!

On the crafting front, Ginger recently learned to crochet and has been busy making all sorts of little creatures for her collection.

(Mr. Wa finds the whole process very interesting.)

GInger’s first project was an Amineko (the little pink cat on the left).

Then, she altered the Amineko pattern to create a duck based on a drawing she’d done.

Another Amineko followed the duck – this one out of sock yarn and about half the size of the first one.

I think these are so cute and love that she’s now so interested in crochet. I’ve derived so much enjoyment over the years with my own knitting and crochet, and it’s nice to think Ginger will have similar memories and experiences with her own handcrafts.

From the upstairs bedroom, ready to turn in for the evening and grateful that our lives have returned to a more normal, less-exciting pace,

Mrs. Smythe


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More Snow…and a bit of Crochet

Posted by mrssmythe on March 10, 2019 in Crafting, Critters, Seasons, Week in Review |

I don’t mean to harp on snow, but that seems to have been the theme of our week here.

This photo was taken on Monday:

And this photo was taken this morning, as we drove to church.

Fresh snow plus Daylight Savings Time made for a very sparse crowd in the pews.

But, back to the beginning of the week.

The snow was heavy enough on Monday for CPT A’s office to close. He took care of our driveway and then headed to the backyard with his plow to clear some ground for the chickens.

He blew the snow at a single area, and now Ginger has a nice sledding hill in the backyard – very clever, I thought

Ursa is thrilled that the snow is lasting so long.

And, I must confess, weve had some pretty moments…

But, Spring will be very welcome when it finally arrives.

In the meantime, I have tulips.

Aren’t these lovely?

Another bright spot – I’ve been crocheting again. I’m at work on another afghan. This one is a gift, or I’d show you a photo, but it will have to stay under wraps until it goes off to the recipient. In the meantime, I’ll show you a photo of someone else’s afghan – a blanket someone in my mother’s crochet group put together for Project Linus.

love the colors this woman chose! I think they are so pretty and so cheerful. Whoever gets this blanket will get a treasure.

And, finally, I’ll leave you with a photo of Mr. Wa and Opal. The girls were watching Thor in the living room last night and brought Opal down for some hang-out time. Mr. Wa arrived and didn’t want to be left out.

Opal loves Mr. Wa and was thrilled he spent so much time snuggled up with her. Mr. Wa is definitely getting more social as he ages. (He’s now 13).

From the upstairs bedroom, wondering if people get more social as they age…or, if it’s just the opposite. What do you think?

Mrs. Smythe

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