Chickens with a Side of Dog

Posted by mrssmythe on May 28, 2016 in Critters |

It’s the sweetest little scene. Just a girl and her chickens…


…and her dogs.


Those dogs!


They’re fascinated by the chickens.


At the time we took this photo, we were letting the chickens walk around freely behind their fence – despite the dogs. Since then, we’ve found out Manny can jump the chicken fence.


So, for now, we’re erring on the side of caution. When dogs are out, the chickens are in their run.


I think everyone will stay happiest (and alive-est) that way.

From the dining room table, with the sun down and the temperature still in the 80’s (today was a scorcher!),

Mrs. Smythe

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In Bloom

Posted by mrssmythe on May 26, 2016 in Garden |

Lots of pink and purple in the yard this week…

Near the front door, the Columbine is in full flower.


The girls gave this particular plant to me for Mother’s Day years back, and it’s still one of my favorites.

Next door, the smaller of my Bleeding Hearts is flowering – along with some violets (which are technically weeds).


The Scabiosa is out – looking much prettier than its name would suggest.


I’ve also heard this plant called “Pincushion Flower”, which, in my opinion, is much nicer.

And the first flowers on the Clematis have just opened up.


This plant has really taken off, much to my delight. It was one of those July grocery store purchases – a spindly little thing that didn’t look like much in the beginning but was extremely cheap. I think I paid $2.99. It was money well spent, and I’m so glad I took a chance on it. It’s amazing what a couple of years and some fertilizer can do.

The Azaleas are putting on their annual show – looking rather tropical, I think.


We have these in both red and white – the legacy of a former home owner.

Also inherited – this Rhododendron.


We foolishly tried to cut it down, once, but didn’t do a thorough job. The Rhododendron rebounded and has been going strong ever since. I’m glad it doesn’t hold a grudge.

Relatively new to the yard – a Honeysuckle bush.


I thought I was so original when I bought this. However, now I see honeysuckle everywhere – even growing wild in the woods behind us. Isn’t it funny how you don’t notice a plant until you’ve got it in your yard. Then, suddenly you can’t help but see it in everyone else’s.

And, speaking of the woods, there are some interesting things blooming back there as well.


I’m not sure what this is, but it looks like some sort of Pitcher Plant.

And this lovely flower is blooming in the woods in abundance – in shades of both pink and white.


I think it’s some kind of wild phlox.

Whatever it is, it’s lovely.

So there you are – the yard at present. We’re starting to get consistent warm weather now, and things are really taking off. Also – I’m in a last minute rush to get new purchases and seeds into the ground. I’d be able to catch up if only I didn’t keep bringing things home. But then everything looks so beautiful and inviting this time of year….

At some point, though, I’ll have to call it quits and switch into maintenance mode…unless I find some more $2.99 Clematis at the grocery store.

From the dining room table, with ten Hollyhock plants on the back patio waiting to go into the ground,

Mrs. Smythe

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Selfies – With Chickens

Posted by mrssmythe on May 23, 2016 in Critters |

Pleasant weather meant lots of time of time outdoors with the chickens this weekend. They’ve been handled a lot and so are pretty tame, but Pepper, who feeds and cleans up after them, enjoys a special bond with the birds. They are always happy to see any of us approaching, but when Pepper enters the scene, they become especially animated.


It’s not enough for them to see her – they want to be on her.


The Lavender Orpington (named Everest) is especially attached and was more than willing to pose for some selfies last night.


Pepper thinks she was intrigued by her reflection in the phone.


Which makes sense – the chickens love looking at themselves in a mirror. Why not on a phone?


The newcomer in this photo is the Speckled Sussex (Cassie) – who grows more speckled every day.


And there’s CPT A in the background, working on the chicken enclosure. Because, while the rest of us are playing with the chickens and laughing at them, he’s diligently putting together a safe and pleasant outdoor space for them.

Thank you, CPT A.

From the dining room table, up early and enjoying the serenity of a sleeping house,

Mrs. Smythe

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A Day Out for the Chickens

Posted by mrssmythe on May 18, 2016 in Critters |

Here are some photos from the chickens’ first day outside.


Of course Pepper brought the mealworms. These helped make the transition a smooth one. I think the chickens would go just about anywhere if mealworms were involved.


The cats squeezed out the basement door when we weren’t looking and came to see what all the excitement was about.


We let them hang out on the lawn for a bit before shooing them back inside.

Ginger brought her rabbit, Opal, out and popped her into the run. Opal loved all the extra space and didn’t seem to mind the chickens a bit.


The chickens seemed mildly interested in Opal. We let everyone mingle for about ten minutes and then moved Opal to her own outdoor pen.

And then it was the dogs’ turn.

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Admittedly, we’ve been concerned about this mix. But, for a first meeting, things went pretty well. Manny sat and leered at the chickens. Any time they’d hop or flutter, he’d start trembling. He was fascinated in much the same way he was when he first saw Opal. Since then, he’s calmed down some regarding the rabbit. That’s what we’re hoping will happen with the chickens.

Kipper was wonderful. He seemed to want to protect the chickens. I think he would try to herd them if he got a chance. He won’t be getting that chance, though.


And, Ursa – well, there aren’t any pictures of Ursa with the chickens because Ursa was naughty. Ursa really wanted to get at the chickens. We put her back inside and will probably have to work with her some in this area.

And we should probably stop feeding her chicken flavored treats.


From the living room, getting ready to do a bit of crocheting,

Mrs. Smythe

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Cloning Amy

Posted by mrssmythe on May 15, 2016 in Crafting, Toys |

Ginger brought another toy to me this weekend to be mended. This time it was “Amy” – a stuffed cat she’s had for years.

Amy had already been repaired before (see HERE), and, as I examined her, my thought was that she was really beyond patching. Full-on limb replacement was what she needed. We had already done that for Jean, Amy’s twin (see HERE), but Amy needed attention on multiple limbs. I started to wonder if it would be best to just recreate the cats. When things slowed down a bit on Saturday, I examined Amy’s seams and made a pattern. Then I got to work.


It didn’t take long. These cats are tiny, and even though I sewed the entire project by hand, I was done in less than 90 minutes. The hardest part was turning the legs. Ugh – that was awful! I had to get a pair of tweezers to do the job. And then I kept worrying I’d burst the stitches I’d sewn. I didn’t want to be too aggressive as I worked, but at the same time, I had to really tug and prod the fabric. I think if I make another one, I’ll sew it by machine so I won’t have to be so concerned about pulling out the seams when I work.

Anyway – the little legs eventually got turned. And, once that was done, sewing the Amy clone together was pretty easy. Suddenly, I had another cat doll very much like the originals.


Ginger was thrilled. Of course, she began envisioning a whole army of cat dolls. (I pretended not to hear). And then she dressed Amy, Jean, and the newly christened “Martha” in dresses (Calico Critter clothes, in case you’re wondering).


So cute.


There’s something very satisfying about toy making. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but it feels very creative – as though you’re both making something and breathing life into it.

Of course the cats aren’t really alive. I know that as well as you do. But, sometimes it’s very easy to imagine they could be…

From the dining room table, on a very chilly May evening,

Mrs Smythe

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