Monday, May 30, 2011

Bolder Boulder

I hope everyone enjoyed a restful, relaxing, and rejuvenating Memorial Day weekend.  I know we did.  It's not hard to do when your town celebrates with one of the funnest road races ANYWHERE!  This was our 20th running of the Bolder Boulder, definetely a favorite tradition.  Not only is it the best that Boulder has to offer, but it is the reason why Brad and I ended up together.  Thank you for another great year!

The day started earlier for the boys (they were the runners in our group), and the ladies followed up in the walking wave. 
"AB," Rachel & Melissa
 The Bolder Boulder is 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of a feast for the senses.
Sights and sounds of all varieties.

Participants come out dressed to the nines.

 We even have cheerleaders,
 of all varieties.

 If you feel the urge, there are Slip N' Slides and sprinklers along the course to cool you off.

 Along with the Gatorade and water provided on the race course, residents and restaurants make plenty of snacks available.

There are gardens to admire,

and Bands to enjoy.

 All to keep you going because this race is not for sissies.

 But, this race is for EVERYONE. 
Looks like they have the right altitude, er, attitude.

This town is all about the power of positive thinking!

Thank you Bolder Boulder, we'll see you next year!
Brad, Max, Rachel & Melissa

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Don't Count Your Chickens

until they're hatched.  We've all heard this one before, but this past week the point was driven home like never before.  It's not that I intentionally embarked on this "let's hatch some eggs" journey.  It was my broody hens' ideas.  You see I couldn't keep them off the eggs.  After I figured out what their behaviour meant (they were 'nesting' get it?) I had to make a conscious choice about whether to interrupt nature's way, or go with it.  When it comes to nature, I am definetely a 'go-with-it' kind of girl. 
That's not to say that everything will go smoothly, and that nothing 'bad' will happen even though I seem to be perpetually caught by surprise when it does.  Last week I was so excited when I found the egg with the heartbeat, and even more shocked when it disappeared.  After moving through the sadness of the loss, I was resolved to create a better environment for the ladies.

A simple solution was to retro-fit a dog kennel with some wire mesh to thwart any marauders from stealing the eggs.  I lined the openings on the sides and the front door with this handy wire mesh:
Cozy and safe.  What more could my girls ask for?  I happily put the ladies and their 3 eggs back in for a snug fest.  Feeling very accomplished, I proudly showed my work to my husband upon his return a few hours later.  What was this?  ANOTHER EGG GONE!  More shock, dismay, and RESOLVE.  It must be one of the hens, how awful!  By pure chance, I had my husband remove 'Little Blacky' to leave our other Orpington in peace.  Fingers crossed we chose the right hen to boot.  I made sure the remaining lady had easy access to plenty of water and food.  She won't even need to leave her Broody Hen Palace.

Even though the lessons are hard, I am so grateful for my chickens and all they are teaching me about life.  It is a miracle, fragile yet resilient.  You just have to stay in there, ride that wave of loss, keep an open and buoyant heart, and you'll catch a glimpse of that new beginning.

And the hens and chicks?  Well, suffice it to say our Lady is still sitting on the same two eggs (plus another new one).  But I'm not counting on anything.  Let's just ride this one out shall we?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mommy Chicken Prayer Flags

I have long admired the Tibetan Prayer Flags that homes around Boulder County dispaly, and although I do my best to practice mindfulness everyday, I just don't know all the Tibetan chants.  That's why when I was thinking of sewing a Bunting for my niece's graduation, I thought of Mommy Chicken Prayer Flags.  It's kind of a mish-mash of the two.  I would be making a Bunting, but not just with any old fabric purchased for this reason.  I was going to used leftover scraps from the bags, skirts, tops, and even a dress that I had made for loved ones, including my niece.  With this in mind, I would be sewing my prayers and love into each and every one.  Here's how!

I measured and found the smallest scrap that I would be working with.
Now I could come up with a template that would fit all the fabrics.  I used poster board to cut a triangle.
Then used said triangle and pencil to trace the "penants" on the wrong side of each fabric.
Before cutting, I starched and ironed each fabric. This made for easier cutting, and made the flags look a bit more proud! I used pinking shears so I wouldn't have to hassle with a hem or unravelling.
Now it was time to "do the shuffle!"  I moved the flags around and around until my eye, and my daughter Rachel's, liked what they saw.

The final step.  I used single-fold biasis tape in a pretty coordinating color to sew the flags on.  I started by unfolding, ironing flat, then refolding and ironing in half.  I'm sure there has got to be a better way, but I'm known to sometimes "take the long road."  Don't forget, slow and steady wins the race.  But I digress.  You could use a pretty ribbon, twine, whatever you have on hand or whatever fancies your heart.
I carefully spaced out the flags and pinned them in place.  Now that all the detail was taken care of, it was time for the fun part.  Zoom!  With foot to the pedal the Prayer Flags were created.
And hung with much back and forth of the ladder.  Bless my dear sister for putting up with me during this process.  But what can I say, we Mommy Chickens tend to be a bit fussy!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, and I more than hope you will make and enjoy your own.

Paper Garlands - For the Graduate!

I've been a big admirer of paper garlands, and my niece's graduation party was the perfect reason to give this craft a spin.  Of course, I wanted to add Mommy Chicken's touch, so I thought why not use some of her old term papers to make the decor that much more personal?  Here's how!

Beg and plead your student to take his/her precious time away from their studies to root through their junk and retrieve and deliver some old exams (not an easy task, I'm sure my niece was shaking her head thinking "what is my crazy Aunt up to now?").

Brew up some strong, black tea.  I used 4 standard size Lipton bags for a quart of water. Here's a thought, if you use a stronger tea you could cut down on the soak time.
Soak paper for as long as 1/2 hour. 
Lay out to dry.  I laid my paper in the rock garden in the shade.  I used rocks conveniently located to weigh down the pages so they wouldn't blow away.  I even think the warmth from the rocks helped speed the drying process.
Now you're ready to start punching.  I bought one of Martha's Paper Stamps awhile back, on sale, just for this occassion.  I've always gone the cheaper route, but let me tell you, the price is worth it.  This is one powerful punch. 
I also used some pretty tissue paper to add a bit of color.
Before I knew it, I had a slew of paper circles to work with.  From here, I fed them into my sewing machine along with wax paper.  The wax paper helped give it the right weight, and helped prevent any tangling (sorry no photo for this, no one was around to take one!)  Just before using, I stripped off the wax paper. 
I love this craft and have plans to use it in the future.  I hope you find a great reason to use this craft as well!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Do-Si-Do Your Partner

Yesterday we had a wee break in the colder, cloudy, rainy weather here (Are we really in Boulder folks?  Feels more like the Pacific Northwest). So with shovel and wheelbarrow in tow I ventured into the garden for some much anticipated pottering about.  Certain flowers had been catching my eye and demanding I move them to a more appropriate place where they could be better show-cased.
Well, my gardening is a bit like dominoes, or sqare dancing.  Once started, its hard to stop, and one move affects another.  Move this hellebore, and oops, make room by moving that rose, and so on.  It was a glorious early morning until I could stand the stink eye from the pups no longer.

Off we ventured to the North Shore.  It was lovely.  The clouds were breaking up and the sun was peeking through just enough to highlight the water and provide some warmth. 
The pups enjoyed their run, perhaps a little too much.  After snake hunting in the grass, and rolling in a much decomposed carcass by the water's edge, it was a happy, albeit stinky, ride home.
Quick baths, and a quicker lunch and they were settled into their afternoon naps.  How I envy them, it is a dog's life afterall.

A good day with all its comings and goings.  Speaking of comings and goings.  Sad news from the farm.  The dear little egg with the hearbeat is no more.  Such sadness.  I was shocked when collecting the days' eggs to find that it was gone.  Gone without a trace!  How can that be?

After consulting an online chicken forum, I've surmised it could be one of a few things.  Rat (Darn you Templeton!), Snake (Let's NOT go there shall we?), or eek Cannibalism?  I've gleened some ideas and after more than a bit of grieving, moping, and basic wallowing, I'm determined to thwart the culprit!  No one said this chicken keeping was for the faint of heart.  So, its off to the hardware store for some hardware cloth.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Babies On Board

Exciting news here at Brigadoon Farm!  Today when I was collecting eggs I had a first time ever experience.  When I gather eggs I have to remove all the eggs from under the 2 broody hens (yes, we have co-parents here in Boulder Colorado). 
Why you may ask?  Well, for some odd reason, the other laying hens are laying on the soon to be hatchlings.  There is another nesting box, but for some reason they prefer the one that has been occupied round the clock for almost a month now.  So I have to gingerly remove all the eggs, and return the ones that have been marked with an "X and a Dot, Dot, Dot . . ."  As I was doing so today, I FELT A HEARTBEAT!  How cool is that?  Let me tell you, I didn't expect that one.  It gave me quite a shot of adrenaline.  Even more amazing, this was the egg that I accidentally gathered a week ago, and had in the house overnight before I realized it was marked for hatching.  What a miracle!

Ain't life grand?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Coming Full Circle

Well, THAT was a L-O-N-G week, wasn't it?  More like two!  I have my excuses, though, I always do.  I intended on posting earlier this week, complete with pictures of last weekend's celebration of my niece's graduation, Mother's Day, and My Birthday.  But my camera went on a field trip with the Boys, all before I had a chance to upload any photos.  They are back now after spending 3 exciting days doing rope courses through the Pine Trees of Bailey Colorado, complete with fresh snow fall (somewhere around 6"- got to love Spring in the Rockies).  So, they have inspired me to say "onward and upward" and get on with the blog!

Looking back on last weekend I am struck by one phrase, over and over, "full circle."  It was such a rich experience to see all my niece's loved ones come together to celebrate her accomplishment.  It was a beautiful day, made even more so by people reconnecting with eachother.  In some cases this reconnection was made after a long period of time, as in 20 years.  Touching really.

As I was preparing her slideshow I found this:
Yup, that's me circa 1989, holding Shannon (my niece) at my graduation from CU.  Again, full circle.  Which makes me think of what my friend Marilyn would say, "God (Love) is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere."  Rich, yes?  Full to overflowing.

Which brings me to the lighter side of this celebration, decorations!  But not just any decorations.  I wanted decorations with meaning, with symbolism, of couse!  And what were they made of?  Yup, you guessed it, circles!  But not just any circles, these were made using Shannon's old exams.

The other decoration that was created for this past weekend was Mommy Chicken Prayer Flags.
I used leftover fabric from skirts, dresses, blouses and bags I had put together over the past few years.  Click here for a full tutorial.
Try as I might, I can hardly express my deepest gratitude for all those who helped out this past weekend, from the prepartion, food, pictures, heck, to all that everyone has done to help support and raise my niece to be the incredible young lady she is today.  It's true what they say, it does take a village to raise a child.  And if you don't believe me, believe my chickens!
Remember the eggs that I left in the coop to be hatched?  Well, they have 2 hens sitting on them, not one, but 2 and sometimes 3!  I just love that.  They don't care who they belong to, or even whether or not they laid them.  They see a need and if the time is right, and they are able, they fill it.  It's just that simple folks.
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