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Is this Paris?  Many of you may remember several years ago a Canada goose arrived at our farm in the company of a little mallard duck.  They lived happily at our pond for a couple of weeks and seemed to be a pair.  There was a lot of head bobbing, they swam together and the goose protected the little duck.  One day a group of mallard ducks landed and stayed awhile, but when they left,  the little Mallard duck left with them.  The Canada goose flew off with them, he circled the field and then came back to our pond. He was devastated.  We named him LG for Lonely Goose, or Loony Goose, or Lost Goose.  It didn't matter which meaning was attributed to the initials--LG.  After a couple of days the little mallard came back.  LG took care of her and everything seemed to be as it had been:  they head bobbed at each other, swam together and he protected her.  After a few weeks a group of mallard drakes flew in.  The little mallard duck flirted with them, oh she flirted and flirted.  Finally she took off with them.  LG was so upset!  It was funny to watch him.  After a week or two the little duck came back.  We named her Paris.  LG was furious with her.  If she got close to him, he would thump her.  One time I saw him grab her by the neck and beat her head back and forth on the ground.  Finally another mallard drake came to the pond and Paris took off with him.  It has been about 4 years since we have had any mallard ducks at our pond.  However, last week we heard a strange duck voice out in the barnyard--actually up in the shed--which turned out to be a mallard duck.  She has been at our house for a week now.  She seems to know all the other birds and they seem to tolerate her--that is except LG.  He gives her a stiff shoulder or tries to run her off when she gets close to him.  She is smaller than our domestic ducks and much smaller than our geese.  She cuts under them to get at the food and acts like she has always lived at our house.  She was even in the shed with me this morning.  Is this the old Paris back?  If so, it has been at least 4 years.  How long do ducks live?  In the wild, I thought maybe a couple of years.  I will have to do some research to see.  Geese can live 30-40 years and other birds have long lifespans so who knows--maybe I can find out on wickipedia.

 
 
Thank heavens we are having a winter thaw this weekend.  The cold was very conducive to knitting and to bird watching.  No, we didn't see a lot of wild birds, but our own birds have been the subject matter.

Merlot the peahen is training Mack beautifully.  She expects a fig newton every time she sees him.  She watches for him through the window and bobs her head up and down excitedly when she sees him.  The last few nights she has moved off her perch and onto his shoulder to eat her little treat.  She fluffs up her tail and the little feathers on top of her head  bob up and down.  These little feathers are like little circles on stalks an inch or so high.    I will try to get a picture of her showing off to post.

Yesterday, we had a particularly funny experience with a goose.  We always take warm water out to our birds in the cold weather and they always crowd around like office workers at a water cooler.  We usually have a couple of buckets, but yesterday, due to the extreme cold I got out some large rubber bowls in addition to the buckets.  I was afraid the ducks couldn't get enough water out of the buckets--the geese were crowding them something fierce.  One of the geese jumped into a bowl while Mack was pouring the water in.  It was all the world like she was taking a warm shower.  He poured the water gently over her and into the bowl.  She preened and fluffed her feathers and turned her head this way and that so that her eyes would get a nice rinse as well.  I don't think I have ever enjoyed a shower as much as she seemed to enjoy hers.  We were mean today and didn't put out the bowl of warm water--only the buckets.  Its warm enough today that they can go down to the pond.
 
 
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No, even though it is the Christmas season, I am not writing of angel wings although they are probably flitting all around us.  I am writing of bird wings--specifically the wings of geese.  We were walking our dogs down below the dam of our pond when we heard wings beating--flap, flap, flap--dozens of pairs.  We looked up and our gaggle of Pilgrim geese (and the one lone Canada Goose, LG) were flying from the top of the hill where we feed them down to the pond.  They actually looked like their wild compatriots!  They were soaring and circling and letting us know in no uncertain terms that they could fly away if they chose to do so.  They circled around us a time or  two as they circumnavigated the pond, then turned east and landed, all facing the same direction.   Each landing is simply beautiful!  They change the orientation of their wings, tuck down their tails, spread out their wide web feet and land on their heels and then settle into the water.  A little V wake stretches behind each heel.  The landings are pretty quiet unless they get to close to each other which causes a bit of a rumpus.

 This is such a change of behavior for them.  They have been trundling up and down the hill all summer and fall because the goslings couldn't fly.  Now with the change in the weather and the winter solstice behind us, they are flying AND the males are starting to fight.  That also involves a beating of wings and loud honking.  The rest of the flock circles around and cheers on their favorites.  It is a noisy, rowdy show.  Sometimes other ganders will join in and 5 or 6 will be fighting at once.  They tend to grab each others necks, flap their wings and try to push their opponent over or out of the way.  The winner always stands up as tall as possible, flaps his wings to show how big  and strong he is while honking loudly.  When they are in the pond the ganders swim around with their tails in the air and a crook in their necks.   It seems to me that they are starting to get ready for spring and are showing off already.  
Note:  This is an older picture--no snow and only a few geese at the upper end of the pond.  It was my opinion at the time that LG was teaching our domestic geese to fly--now they all fly and all 42 of them make a considerable noise!

 
 
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We have a brand new item for sale just in time for Christmas--YARN BOWLS.  They are beautiful!!!!  The picture doesn't do them justice, so you will have to come in and see them for yourself.  They are made locally just for us.  There are no others like them--each one is unique.  The colors are gorgeous and each one is individualized.  In one the yarn runs under a  bird, in another  the word "yarn" guides the yarn, then there are stars, circles, and other shapes on the other bowls.

Also shown in the picture are some yarn kits from HPKY and some hanks from Island yarn.  These are also new to the store and absolutely lovely.

 
 
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Some more vol. 3 fall/winter Magalogs just arrived from Skacel.  They feature cowls made with Cat Bordhi's Moebius Cast On.  The cowls are a tremendous amount of fun and can be completed fairly quickly--there is time to complete one or more before Christmas, if you are still looking for Christmas gifts.

There are patterns for 17 cowls which use patterns or techniques a-s.  Each pattern instructs you on the number of stitches to cast on and which techniques to use--for example g for the first color,  o for the second color and so on.  The techniques include the moebius cast on and a couple of bind-off techniques.

You can't see it from my sample pictured above (I chose a very bad color to demonstrate), but I am working on both sides of the cowl at once.  As the  work progresses the project takes shape between the two coils of the 47 inch circular needle   (which is set up as two coils, with the dreaded twist in between).  It feels great to be doing a moebius on purpose--ha, all you socks and other circular projects that got off on the wrong foot, so to speak look at this!!!

I am thinking of doing a class starting the first week of December  (so we can get in one more Christmas present) or right after Christmas



 
 
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Here is a photo of the October Michelle Hunter/Skacel Knit Along Cowl.  It used 4 color of Kenzie by HiKoo and could be made short or long.  (The one pictured here is a short version.)  The first skill was to learn a provisional cast on using a crochet hook.  Two slipped stitch techniques were featured in the pattern to sharpen knitting technique knowledge.  Finally we learned how to do the Kitchener stitch on a circular project.  The cowl was knit as a tube and the two ends were stitched together after the provisional cast on was pulled out and the live stitches placed on a second needle.

The project was fun and I love the yarn--a really soft tweed composed of merino , nylon, angora, alpaca and silk.  

 
 
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To the left is a picture of our beautiful peacock, Morgan, who is no more.  On Monday night he insisted on staying in his outdoor pen.  He was warned that his feet would get cold, but he insisted on staying out, he was so insistent in fact that he was quite ugly and attacked us.  We gave up and went in--thinking that the pen he was in was secure.  About an hour later we heard a rumpus in the chicken house--where Morgan should have been.  It lasted a few seconds and stopped.  We thought nothing of it.  The next morning when we got up-we saw that there had been a rumpus, but  in the outdoor pen.  Morgan (I can hardly write this) was lying dead in a corner of the pen, no head and feathers everywhere; sitting on his perch was a great horned owl (we think that is what it was--see pictures below ).  The owl, a huge bird, looked to be about 2 feet tall.  Apparently he flew into the side of the outdoor pen so hard that he knocked the staples holding the heavy plastic mesh out of a section big enough to get in and kill Morgan all with one fell blow.  There was nothing for it but to let the owl out of the pen, then pick up what was left of Morgan and bury him.  We re-stapled the wire, but now are worried about the strength of the sides.  We plan on getting boards and screwing them over the joins so that the net will be held with screws on a long board rather than staples, so hopefully, we can protect the other birds.  The good news is that the owl didn't get in the chicken house and kill all the birds.  It was, and still is very sad to watch poor Merlot, the peahen.  On Tuesday morning she went from feather pile to feather pile and made piteous, moaning perk sounds.  She has been sitting all by herself on the heated perch the last two days.  It is clear she misses Morgan.  She was well enough, though, to eat a fig newton cookie (her favorite treat) when it was offered to her.

 

PaquPura

10/26/2013

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Paqu Pura is one of the new yarns we have just gotten in from Mirasol.  I assume Paqu Pura means pure alpaca, but I don't know. ( If some of you Spanish speakers can set me straight please let me know.)  Any way getting back to the subject--PaquPura is a pure Peruvian alpaca, self striping yarn that knits  24 stitches and 32 rows to 4 inches on a US 3.  Each skein has 39 yards.

In addition to the beautiful yarn we have 8 different leaflets each with a pattern specific to PaquPura and featuring a different color, so you can get an idea of how the yarn looks when knitted up.  See photo to left.

The yarn is indescribably soft and lovely to touch and look at.  I am having a hard time deciding what I want to make with it.  AND, really odd, I have chosen the blue and yellow (upper right corner of photo) to make my garment.  I am thinking of making the sweater in the upper left.  I cant believe it is me--the red or the purple should be calling.  I am holding back for a day or two to make sure I still want the blue and yellow.

 
 
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Fall is here and the new yarns are arriving every day.  There are so many beautiful yarns, it is hard to know where to start.  Since I have had so much fun with it, I have decided to feature the new fake fur from Louisa Harding.   I made the little neck scarf in one evening with two balls of yarn.  The yarn is knit on a size 11 and goes very quickly.  I love the feeling and look of this new fake fur.  We have four colors.  The yarn is $25.00 a skein, but if you mention this blog you get the yarn for $20.00 a ball.  Items made from this yarn will make quick, novel and lovely Christmas gifts.

 
 
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For those of you who didn't believe the stories about the bobcat--here is proof.  We think this is a picture of the bobcat who attacked the goose discussed in a previous blog.  Mack says this is the bobcat he saw in our yard, he is close to 100% sure.  Doesn't he look well fed--but lean and mean?  Mack said this  bobcat looked about the size of our small standard poodle and he estimated that it weighs about 35 pounds.   So far no proof of the second one.

The picture was snapped by a wildlife camera operated by our neighbor, Eric.  Yesterday, when we were talking to him about the bobcat, he told us that another neighbor thought he had seen two different cats, also.  Time will tell!  We wish them well, it is nice to see that they are making a comeback in these parts.  After all, they are native and we are not!  That being said, we will have to implement  more security measures. (This is a mind game--not one for a gun.)  In the mean time the birds can help themselves some by staying out of the woods, spending more time in the pond or the chicken houses, etc.  We have already discovered that electric fences don't seem to work.