The Shadow Knows…

Posted by mrssmythe on April 27, 2016 in Critters |

I don’t post much about the cats. They don’t chew up toys. They don’t run away. They don’t arrive in boxes through the mail. They’re wonderfully boring.

But, occasionally, they do manage to do things that put them in the spotlight. Like today, when Shadow seemed to be everywhere and into everything…

Beginning with the potato bag in the pantry.


Can you see her? She’s a bit hard to spot, but there she is – in the paper bag – lurking where I store the potatoes.

Later, when Pepper was cleaning the brooder, we put the chicks in an old kiddy pool in the basement. Guess who joined us.


That’s right. Shadow.


She seemed to find the chickens interesting – though not in a predator/prey way.

Pepper brought one of the chicks over to give her a closer look.


Shadow gave a polite sniff…


…and then moved on.


Her look implied she had better things to do…

…like take a nap in a pizza box.


I know. So appetizing. Don’t worry, there wasn’t any pizza left.

From the dining room table, remembering a kitchen magnet I once saw that read: “Everything Tastes Better with Cat Hair”,

Mrs. Smythe

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The Latest “Blarf” – an Adventure in Color

Posted by mrssmythe on April 24, 2016 in Crafting |


I’ve been having more fun with the “Stashbuster Blarf” pattern. This time, I bought yarn (rather than using leftovers). I chose mostly fingering weight merino wool – the bulk of which came from a pre-mixed color pack from Wonderland Yarns called “Gyre & Gimble.”


I fell in love with the colors at the store. They looked wonderful side by side in the yarn pack. But, by the time I started crocheting, I wasn’t so sure. These are not the earth tones I’m used to wearing, and I still think they’d be more complimentary on a blue-eyed blond.

But, the pattern was so fun to crochet, and the yarn so pleasant to handle, I persevered. I threw in some mohair and a multi-colored cotton for texture and ended up with a fabric that is surprisingly warm, but also light – just the thing for Spring.

And the colors?

I’m still getting used to them. I’m not completely comfortable with the combination, but the more I wear the scarf, the more I like it.


And, anyway, as the weather warms up, these just seem like fun colors to wear.


From the dining room table, with fence-building on the coming week’s agenda,

Mrs. Smythe


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Meet the Chickens

Posted by mrssmythe on April 21, 2016 in Critters |

So, a little background on the chickens….


This is something Pepper has wanted to do for years. Years. Even before we got the dogs, she was clamoring for chickens. And I said “no”. Then we got the dogs. And we got the rabbits. And we got goldfish…and, always, underneath it all, was Pepper’s longing for chickens. Maybe we’d have fewer pets today if I’d just broken down initially and said “yes” when the clamoring for pets started.

But I didn’t. I said “no”. I had read about chickens, and my main thought was that chickens sounded like a lot of work.

And then, we went to the fair. This was back in August of last year. We took a turn through the poultry building and Pepper came out starry-eyed. The chicken longing was back. All she talked about for weeks was chickens.


This time, I knew my “too much work” excuse wasn’t going to cut it. At that point, Pepper was helping out with all of the pets – the dogs, the cats, the rabbits – and doing a pretty good job of it. I knew she’d be able to handle poultry, too. So, I caved, and told her to start doing some research.

All winter, she studied websites and books. She debated the merits of various breeds. The learned about backyard chicken-keeping. And, throughout it all, her enthusiasm never waned.


In February, she placed an order with My Pet Chicken for five chicks. She chose:

  • A Dorking
  • A Speckled Sussex
  • A Lavender Orpington
  • A Partridge Plymouth Rock, and
  • An Easter Egger

Pepper chose these breeds based on coloring (the Orpington, the Speckled Sussex, the Plymouth Rock), temperament (also the Plymouth Rock), cool eggs (the Easter Egger), and historical value (the Dorking – an old breed from Rome).


Once the order was placed, all we had to do was wait. The chicks came through the mail in a little box, freshly hatched and ready to go.

For now, they are living in a brooder in our basement. They’ll be there for the next six weeks, and after that, they’ll be in a coop in the backyard.

We have lots of predators to consider – hawks, coyotes, raccoons, etc. We also aren’t sure how the dogs are going to handle all of this, but, at this point, we’re taking it one week at a time. Mainly, we’re enjoying the fun of watching the chicks mature.

Here’s our little flock:


So sweet.

From the dining room table, admitting that the chicks are much cuter than I expected them to be (I really didn’t expect to like them so much).

Mrs. Smythe


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A Stop at the Garden Store…and Chicks

Posted by mrssmythe on April 18, 2016 in Critters, Garden |

I stopped at the pet store for cat litter this evening and ended up strolling through the adjacent garden center. For months, the outdoor racks have been barren, but not today. Today, they were stocked with lettuce and shrubs, pussy willows and pansies. Everything smelled incredible, and it felt so nice to be back among the plants again.


There were plenty of plants I didn’t recognize. Things like “Thrift”…


…which looks like something that might work in one of my front borders.

And these – which turned out to be creeping phlox with the lovely name, “Home Fires”.


The blueberry bushes were lovely…almost ethereal.


And even the names on some of the tags brought me joy. Who could resist a clematis called “Crystal Fountain”?


Or, “Diana’s Delight”?


If I didn’t already have a clematis, I’d have probably picked one of these up.

As for the chicks – I hadn’t intended to blog about them tonight, but when I got home, CPT A was hand-feeding them.


The Lavender Orpington (the grey chick) had found one of his freckles and started pecking. The other chicks zoomed in as well. Who knew hand-feeding could be so perilous?

Their wing feathers are coming in nicely, and some of the chicks are even sprouting tails.


And they are enchanted with their reflections. Pepper put a hand mirror in the brooder, and they’ve been fascinated ever since.


Endless entertainment (for them and us).

From the dining room table, still marveling at how quickly the chicks are changing,

Mrs. Smythe

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We Have Chickens!

Posted by mrssmythe on April 16, 2016 in Critters |

A quick post to show you pictures of the baby chicks that arrived in the mail this past Tuesday.


They’re really cute – but they won’t look like this for long. Already, they’re sprouting wing feathers and seem noticeably bigger than when we got them. They’ll be ready for their coop in about six weeks. For now, they’re in a brooder in our basement.


I’ll post with more details later.


Until then….


From the dining room table, with the windows open because it’s finally warm,


Mrs. Smythe


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