Monday, January 25, 2010

What we've been up to

I haven't checked in here for over a week I'm long overdue for a post. Here's a quick update about what's been going on. I didn't have preschool because our local school district called a two-hour late start due to blowing snow. However, I was not aware of this until I went to school. I had gotten up early to work out and checked the school closings on TV before switching over to a cable channel while I ran on the treadmill. Afterwards I figured we were still on since by that time it was getting too late to call a delay (or so I thought). It was pretty bad driving on the back roads I take to get to school, but our superintendent rarely calls a late-start due to weather. It wasn't until I drove past our high school and noticed there were very few cars and NO busses that it dawned on me that perhaps something was amiss. I immediately called our local elementary school (where I used to work) when I got into my office and then found out that there was a two-hour late start. I guess the teacher was truly the last to know today. I stayed and worked for a while before heading home with my little boy.

When I got home I decided to sew a chicken saddle for one of our hens. I had cut it out this weekend and just had to put it together. For those of you who are not fully aware of the tools of the modern chicken farmer, a chicken saddle is a piece of fabric that is attached to the back of a hen who has been "overloved" by a rooster. Unfortunately one of our hens, Clara, is apparently very popular with our rooster, Arthur, and has developed a very nasty sore on her back due to his overzealous advances. Yuck, huh? Fortunately I was able to research this problem on Backyard Chickens and found that some people put a "saddle" on the hen to protect her back during mating. I found a great pattern on Back To Basic Living and sewed it up just a little bit ago. Since Clara has tan feathers (she is a Buff Orpington chicken) I tried to find a fabric in my stash that would color coordinate with her feathers. To slap any old fabric on her back would just be wrong. Of course it has to look good with her coloring. Lucky for Clara I found a scrap of designer Amy Butler fabric in my scrap stash. In case she really starts to love wearing high fashion I already have a handbag to match.........isn't that awesome?

Below you can see two photos showing the new chicken saddle. It basically lays right on the hen's back and the elastic straps snap under her wings.

OK..........chicken saddle done, all very well and good, right? The hard part, of course, was getting the dang thing on the chicken. Of course I wanted to try it on her right away. So, armed with my chicken boots, "chore" coat, camera and the new saddle, I headed out to the coop. First I took the photo you see below. I wanted to show you the sore on Clara's back that prompted this little sewing project. It is so gross looking and her feathers have come out in that area.

It took me quite a while to catch Clara to put the saddle on her, even though the interior space of the chicken coop is only about 64 square feet. She was just not grasping the idea that she was soon to become the most fashionable girl in the flock. During the "dressing" I had stuffed my camera in the pocket of my coat so I could have both hands free to wrestle with Clara. I managed to successfully get the saddle on her and put her down. Then the other chickens started pulling on it and one of the straps came loose. So...........I had to catch her again to reattach it. When I leaned over to pick her up two funny things happened. My camera fell out of my pocket and into the not-so-clean pine shavings on the floor of the coop AND Sarah, our little white chicken, flew up and sat on my back!! I'm sure that had this been filmed I could have won our family a large amount of money on "America's Funniest Home Videos". I finally got the saddle back on Clara and released her, much to her relief, I'm sure. She immediately turned her head and started trying to pull the saddle off her back. The first photo shows her doing just that.

Here is the best picture I got of Clara with her saddle. I probably don't need to tell you that chickens are hard to photograph under any circumstances, but they are especially difficult to photograph when they have recently undergone the trauma of having clothing attached to their body. I'm just sayin'..........forgive me for the poor photo, 'kay? I am thinking that the saddle might be a little big for her because it should really fit closer to her body. However, it does completely cover her "owie" which is the goal after all.

After all this hullaballoo I would not be the least bit surprised to go out to the coop later this afternoon to find my beautiful, handmade chicken saddle trampled and dirty on the floor of the coop. In fact, I am pretty sure that I WILL find it off Clara's back and buried in the pine shavings. I'll keep you posted. ;-)
PS: In other news, my husband has been busy this weekend helping our sons make their cars for the upcoming Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. We were excited to find out at last week's pack meeting that there is a separate category for siblings, so our little boy gets to make a car too. He is BEYOND excited about it. I will post more about that soon, FOR SURE!!
Edited to add: At 4:00 p.m. I went out to the coop to do my afternoon "chicken chores". As predicted, the chicken saddle was off Clara's back and lying on the pine shavings. So..........I think I'm going to try a design that doesn't use snaps and see if she'll keep that on. If that doesn't work then.............too bad, so sad. At least I tried. And for heaven's sake, if she would just keep her clothes on she probably wouldn't be in this situation to begin with!! (Sorry..............I couldn't resist writing that. Please know that I'm KIDDING!!)


Gigi said...

Very funny post!! said...

You did a great job on that chicken saddle - and it looked so nice on her! I'm so sorry she managed to pull it off. When I put them on my chickens, I always do it at night, after they've gone in to roost. I slip in on them by the light of a flash light, and then put the hen back on her roost. I've never had one fight to get it off of her. Maybe you could try putting it on her after dark, and see if it's any better the next morning? At any rate, great post and I'm so glad the pattern worked for you! You really did such a nice job on it!