The Mystery of the Egg Size Discrepancy

It’s been 8 months since my hens started laying, and it still completely baffles me why Cleo’s eggs are consistently so much bigger than Gloria’s, with the exception of her freakishly large “Frankenstein” egg, after which she skipped a day of laying and then laid a dwarf -sized egg. Cleo seems to be a superior layer in other ways as well. She’s much more consistent and hardly ever misses a day, but Gloria misses about 1 in 5 days on average. And I’ve already mentioned how Cleo’s eggs are even easy to peel when hard-boiled, which is unusual with fresh eggs in general. Gloria is a bigger bird, but has a smaller comb, and I believe she is not pure Rhode Island Red, but has some Barred Rock in her as well. So what gives? Does any of this make a difference? Any theories out there???

Gloria’s smaller, inconsistently sized and colored eggs are on the left, and Cleo’s perfect, large, consistently sized ones are on the right… but they both taste great, and once we crack them open, we can’t tell the difference!

free range egg size comparison

Even if she is not the best layer, Gloria is still a very sweet chicken who also enjoys a good bedtime story:

hen in hammock being read a bedtime story

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Knitted Boston Bull Terrier

Continuing with my knitted toy obsession… I made this puppy for my Dad for Father’s Day. He grew up with Boston Bull Terriers… they’re his favorite dog breed. I used the French Bulldog pattern in the book “Knit Your Own Dog”  by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne and modified it to look more “Boston”. I posted the details on how to do this on my Ravelry page, in case anyone is interested. Ruff!

knitted boston bull terrier puppy knitted boston bull terrier puppy

Chloe Hearts Pixie

My niece Chloe’s woodland birthday party was a great success! She absolutely loved her Pixie doll (now named Princess Sparkle) and the pink poodle (Princess Doggy), and she and Mae had a blast playing with their dollies together. They also looked adorable and cool and cozy in their matching hand-made dresses from my super-talented sister. They didn’t even plan to wear them on the same day!

chloe-opening-pixie

girls-walking girls-in-netgirls-from-backknitted pixie dolls

And check out these gorgeous butterfly wings my sister made for all of the girls! (the boys got bat wings) She’s thinking of selling them someday soon… so patent pending 🙂 … they are so beautiful and comfy, the kids loved wearing them all day long!

girls butterfly wings costume girls butterfly wings costume

Dandelion Lesson

dandelion flower and greens

I rarely post anything about our guinea pigs, and they prefer it that way. They are very cute, but extremely shy and are perfectly content to be left alone to eat their days away in peace and tranquility. And I do mean EAT… about 6 hours a day they are nibbling on something. Maybe that’s why they are called “pigs”?

But I have been musing about how animals can change our perspective on the world. Dandelions in our city are considered one of the most pervasive weeds, and there are many who ravage their lawns (and our ecosystem) with weed killer to get rid of them. I’ve tried not to stoop to such measures, instead I’ve pulled them up (when I could be bothered), or mowed them short… until we got our guinea pigs.

Upon researching how to care for the guineas, we learned that they need a source of vitamin C every day, as their bodies can’t produce it on their own. We often give them a couple of leaves of kale, sometimes oranges, but their ABSOLUTE favorite thing to eat is dandelion greens. I never realized how chock full of vitamin C dandelions are, as well as a superb source of many other vitamins and herbal remedies. And the guineas really can’t get enough of them.

guinea pigs eating dandelions

So now, when I’m out on a walk, or in our own yard, and spot dandelions, I get really excited. FREE guinea pig food!!! And it’s made me more aware of how there is a purpose for everything natural in our world, and that maybe nature wouldn’t mind if we tried to help her balance things out a bit more. Instead of complaining about the dandelions, we should be eating them ourselves! If only they weren’t quite so bitter, I probably would. If we were all starving, we DEFINITELY would. And we’d be healthier for it!

Another example of our crazy Northwest US city dwelling values: blackberries are hailed as even more pervasive weeds than dandelions! Most of our neighbors can’t stand them, and get rid of them through any possible measures, as they can quickly take over a garden. But I have consciously let them take over and share the ground with part of our VERY hardy laurel bushes, because at the end of the summer, we can’t get enough of their sun-ripened goodness. The kids go out and pick them for supper practically every night for a couple of months. Judging from the flowers we have right now, we’re going to get a bumper crop this year.

blackberry vines in laurel bushes

We will also owe this bounty to our local bees, who are loving the blackberry flowers right now. You can see the green blackberries already starting to poke their way through here:

bee in blackberry flowers

This looks pretty cozy. Almost makes me want to be a bee.

bee in blackberry flower

We live in such a rich climate and society, we can hardly wrap our brains around just how spoiled and ungrateful and wasteful we can be sometimes. Food, right in our own backyards, is unwanted and despised, and the earth is poisoned just so we don’t have to look at it.

Or maybe my perspective is skewed by the fact that I’m a terrible gardener, and I don’t mind if my yard looks messy. I’m just grateful for whatever goodies nature decides to bring my way. As are my chickens.

backyard chickens

More Pixie Magic

And now, back to something much cuter and more fun than insects: Chloe’s Pixie doll’s wardrobe is DONE and ready for her birthday next weekend! Once again, I am super in love with Claire Garland’s knitted toy patterns, especially this zig zaggy sweater! I want one in my size! It’s from Claire’s Pixie’s Fun Day Clothes pattern collection, and the stripy pants are as well.

Pixie Moon knitted doll clothes by Claire Garland

Pixie Moon knitted doll clothes by Claire Garland

also cute unbuttoned

Pixie Moon knitted doll clothes by Claire Garland

and from the back

And the original Pixie outfit, plus a simple elastic hand-sewn skirt. I love the way her eyes are catching the light in this photo. Suncatcher Eyes, handpainted by Michelle in Maine, are amazing!!!

Pixie - a new knitted doll by Claire Garland

She also gets a poodle for a pet… in pink of course… Chloe’s favorite color. I got this pattern from the book “Knit Your Own Dog”, which I borrowed from the library. Lot’s of cute, realistic dog breeds in there.

pink knitted poodle - knit your own dog

pixie knitted doll and knitted pink poodle

And these sweet pajamas are from Claire’s Bumper Pattern Package, the alternate version of the “Love my Playsuit” without the straps, sewn up in flannel.

pixie knitted doll - flannel hand-sewn pajamas playsuit

I’m so excited to see her face when she opens everything! I’ll try to capture the moment photographically. 🙂

I’ve come to a decision about sewing, though. As much as I’m glad that it doesn’t completely scare me anymore, I still like knitting much better. Even though things take much longer to make, the process is so much more relaxing, more tactile, and MUCH less dangerous than sewing. I’m tired of pricking my fingers and ironing my hands!