Sunday, 24 November 2013

And On This Farm

Brr, how the weather's changed! The hens awoke to January-ish temps of -12 C / 10 F with a wind chill of -18 C / 0 F and are huddled together with their feather suits poofed to basketball-size for maximum warmth. Though I don't have a feather suit myself, nowadays I'd be wearing this stylized-feather-and-floral print dress with a sweater or jacket. I figured it was high time to post some outfits so Butane Anvil can at least sort of stay in season. 

If you're curious what kinds of care chickens need in winter, see Terry Golson of HenCam's post here. Terry also just did a 10-post series on her collection of vintage aprons - gorgeous! I could almost reconsider my default at-home gear of old concert t-shirts and ratty pajamas.

dress: Leota, My Habit
wrap belt: 
thrifted at the The Kitty Cat Store, worn here
old shorty cowboy boots: WalM*rt men's section clearance, worn here

Further to time marching on, I realize I haven't shown you the chickens since they were teeny-tiny day-old peepers, here. And now they are grown-up ladies: 

If y'all would like to meet them, I'll introduce you below the jump, and tell about the latest addition to the farm. Keep cosy, everyone!

At 2.5 years old, Henny and Glo are the last survivors of our original flock of seven.  I hate that hens have been bred for egg production at such great expense to longevity - saying goodbye to five of our girls in the past year was so hard. At some point when we're more experienced we may be able to adopt unwanted birds and roosters or help preserve heritage breeds - it's all a big learning if you haven't grown up with it. 

Gloria (Leghorn) and Big Henrietta Lou Hoover Boombalatty Lou (Rhode Island Red - Columbian Rock Cross)

Gloria is exceedingly proud of her brand-new tail, freshly re-grown with this year's moult. Without it, she looked like an adorable little duck. Our dear old battle-axe, Big Hen, that majestic creature, still has new feathers coming in - you can see how her old ones are frayed. Her tail will always be fabulously stubby rather than a tall, elegant sail like Gloria's. 

Attila the Hen and Dracarys Hönker Dü (both named by Beary(Black Sex Link) 

Attila was the first of our new girls to lay an egg, which happened July 25, the same day that that the old flock's leader, Starr (of Travelling Yellow Skirt Freak Show fame) died. That was a tough one - I wore gifts from Megan Mae and Gracey for strength to help me get through it, but was crying too much in my outfit photos to post them! We are amazed by how beautiful these glossy black hens are, with purple and green iridescent feathers in places shot through with gold. Attila is cautious but kind, and Dracarys especially curious, though now without the distinctive honk she had early on. 

Betty Lou lays the cutest round eggs, and has curly toes. When she's excited, which is reasonably often, she can't run or fly in a straight line. Both of the Barred Rocks are wonderfully roly-poly: 

Betty Lou and Beatrice Angelina (Barred Rock)

Beatrice is the most calm and gentle hen, and was at the bottom of the pecking order even before she developed the problem with her left leg which earned her Angelina as a middle name. We've had her to the vet and nothing's broken, she's not otherwise ill - she eats, drinks, and burbles away with enthusiasm - but she became weak on that one side as if she'd had a stroke.

Because of her mobility issues and to keep her safe from the other hens (who by instinct will attack a bird who is sufficiently sick or disabled that they'd attract even greater predator attention to the flock), Beatrice mostly lives in our coop's luxuriously-appointed "granny flat." With care always for fairness around quality and enjoyment of life, we do range-of-motion and strengthening exercises, and she has the amazing ability to make me bring her hulled sunflower seeds with her mind. 

Heidi Hunter the Turkey Lurkey and Arlie (Columbian Rock)

Heidi Hunter quickly outgrew the rest of the hens, she is enormous! Fortunately she also outgrew her initial tendency to be a terror to the others at roosting time and has settled in well. Arlie is friendly yet intense, she's incredibly athletic and has already had a stint of going broody. She is the leader of the younger hens, and recently duked it out with the Big Hen for the #2 spot overall under Gloria. Though Henny really liked having the best sunny spots and first crack at food, treats, and dust-bathing, pecking order for its own sake was never a big slice of her pie chart, and since sorting things out with Arlie, she is holding her own as Gloria's special friend and steady at #3.

Beasley (Old English, means "from the meadow where peas are grown, from the bee keeper's meadow")

Who's this? A kitten-hen?! Driving home from work on Halloween, a brutally blustery afternoon of high winds and cold rain, I came upon a van stopped out of sight of any farmhouses. It sped away as I pulled up, leaving this little guy to dash into the ditch. I have to say it offends me mightily when people don't spay or neuter their animals and then dump their pets' offspring in rural areas to fend for themselves.

Just like when people dump their garbage out of town, other people will still have to deal with it. Beasers was well-socialized and litter-trained, but by his behaviour and very thin fur clearly hadn't spent much time outdoors. I wonder if they thought at all of his chances among the feral population and through the winter. We found an adult cat in December a couple of years ago who had a similarly sparse coat - and was declawed besides. Nice, eh?

We couldn't keep Mr. Clawless due to our allergies - it was sheer luck that we were able to find him a home, because everyone who can have a cat already has too many. With all of his sharp bits intact, The Bease is young enough to adjust to a semi-outdoor life here, and, in a remarkable coincidence, was also just old enough for his first $200 (due to FeLV testing) vet visit. He certainly keeps things lively in the flock, and is a "great help" with my morning chicken chores. I'm headed out to the coop now to check that the waterers aren't icing up, and on my way back will stop by the woodstove in the detached garage to, as we like to say, "get Beasled" for a while.


  1. Love this outfit on you. You wear wide belts so well! I've missed your posts -- welcome back!

  2. I can't STAND how horrible people are to animals, how careless and cruel some can be. Breaks my heart. I'd take that darling on, I am also allergic, but love cats so much I just deal with it!
    Love the pattern on that frock. And those chooks are mightily good looking! XXX

  3. Oftentimes the names of the stores or the items you're wearing are as interesting as the clothing itself. This is a wonderful splash of blues and black, fun enough to evoke thoughts of spring and dark enough to mirror black ice. Thank you for introducing your lady birds. Each is so unique. And you were the perfect person to be bamBeasled. MINUS 18? Eeek. And here I whine over a measly 0. Good to see your gorgeous self, Amber!

  4. It was so wonderful "meeting" your hens! They really do have distinct personalities, don't they? I'm sure yours are all charmers. I love the swirly-ness of the pattern of your dress. It looks lovely on you!

  5. The hens are all beauties, and Attila The Hen may be my current favorite (I adore black cats, so why not black hens?) Hugs to you for taking in little Beasley, and a pox on the thoughtless person who dumped him - how can people be so cruel? And cheers to your gorgeous look, love those short boots.

  6. You're back! Good to see you, Amber, I do miss you when you disappear for a while..., And back with a corker of a post - a bright, bold frock with delicious colour and print, an introduction to all your beautiful girls and their henny-penny ways, accompanied by the most goregous pics, and then little Beasley, who I fell madly in love with at first sight! How kind of you to take the little boy in - and how totally shitty of whoever ditched him.
    Stay warm and beautiful, my dear! xxxxx

  7. So nice to see you! Such a sweet post - I love the names you've chosen for your feather flock, and they are so pretty, especially Betty Lou and Beatrice with their lovely black and white plumage. Honestly, it makes me sick when people are so effing irresponsible about their animals (you just know they don't treat other people well either). I'm so glad Beasley found you - he's a very handsome boy, and will hopefully adjust quite nicely to his half-in/half-out life. Give him a snuggle for me ;)

    Very cool dress - I'm partial to black and royal blue together.

  8. Your flock is GORGEOUS. I'm really in awe of the Barred Rock ladies with their speckled coats. But all of your hens, including the furry one, are lovely.

    Poor Mr. Bees. He's a beautiful kitty cat. I hope he stays happily as a chicken-protector. Gomez, my recently deceased tuxedo cat (aged 20+) was a life long indoor/outdoor cat and remained very healthy for it. I hope you have Mr. Beasley for a long long time.

  9. I never knew how much I liked chickens until now. They are gorgeous, and you speak so eloquently about them, such names and personalities! Historically I'm a cat person, hands down. I'd always had cats until I met severely allergic Joey. So I was entranced with your cutie pie, rolling around and looking adorable. I'm glad you were able to keep him. I don't understand evil and cruelty to any form of life.

    Pretty dress (great print!!), and I love the addition of the tights and boots. Love you!!!!! XXXXXOOOO

  10. -12 and you're parading about in a dress and tights? You're a brave, powerful woman. Thank you for introducing us to your chickens and the cat! :D I was fascinated by all of their narratives. I'm so glad you found Beasley. He's lucky to live with you.

    1. Noooo - these outfit and chicken photos were taken on much more temperate days over the past couple of months, and I am extremely behind in posting them! My frozen-face will be evident soon enough. :) xo

  11. Ah Amber you are my kind of lady. A flock of birds and saving the poor and abandoned! Your hens are gorgeous and of course they are filled with personality, most living beings are. Such a pretty kitten. We have rescued many cats, some from rest stops along the interstate in November. People are so cruel.

    It was 11 degrees here this morning too. You look lovely in this printed dress with your signature belt! Nice to see a post from you.

    blue hue wonderland

  12. Oh, I love the intro to all "the girls" and "the Beas" - he is adorbs. Amber, you are just too cool for school, girl.

  13. What a pretty dress. And your chickens are cute.

  14. Nice outfit, but it looks not very warm enough for this season ... and you write so lovingly about the chickens. I like them (and read more frequently at Nancy about chickens ) and what luck for this beautiful cat that you found them equal.
    I also have a "discarded" cat, despite my allergy, she is very clingy to me, but very suspicious of everyone else. - Of course!
    Glad to see you, I have missed you at Visible Monday , from there, I have often visited your blog in the past...
    Have a great wek :-)

  15. You looked wonderful in that dress. But I must say I've been distracted by all of the FABULOUS chicken plumage!! How lovely are all of your hens!! and how wonderful you were there to rescue darling Bease and give him a new home!! He is adorable!!

  16. Amber, it's lovely to see you again! That black, blue and white dress is gorgeous - and so unseasonal now, but I can pretend you're down in Australia!

    You have quite a brood of beautiful chickens, but it's that little cat that catches my eye. He's adorable, and so lucky you happened along when you did. I can imagine the chickens just love him! ;~)

  17. ARGH. that is a cool temperature. Here it's getting to that stage too. Not something I'm particularly enjoying, it must be said. I feel for the chickens! One of my friends here has chickens too and she was talking about getting hot water bottles for their house during the night.
    Lovely dress!!

  18. Thank you for introducing us to your flock! Mike has said that he wants to keep chickens, but I don't think he wants to do any of the work involved--he just thinks they're cute. (Which they are, I'll give him that.) I had a dress a little like yours a while back, but I had to get rid of it because it had a terminal case of The Clings. The black/white/blue is so nice, though!

  19. I romanticize the idea of ​​having chickens, but the imagination will probably never be reality. I would probably be scared that the foxes and the wolves would eat up the hens. About your outfit: I am so keen on the combination blue / black so I will immediately imitate you!

  20. Your lovely chickens had me all aflutter (to the point I forgot this was a human style blog and was wondering why everyone doesn't wear feathers) and then, BAM! the unexpected KITTEH plot twist! Beasley is my fave kinda cat, gray tabby, right after "Tennessee Blue" (everyone keeps asking if our Sasha Jane is a Russian Blue). I'm so glad Fate brought you together. What Asshats peeps can be regarding unwanted pets :(


Thank you for your comments!
- Amber