best layer of the month # February

BBrrrr it’s been cold this week!  -15°C this morning around 8 o’clock when we had to go out in the car.  Hens are all fluffed up and I keep having to replace drinking water because it freezes into a solid block in just hours. And I’ve given up with their water fountain for the moment, just using a large plastic “trough” where it’s easier to empty the frozen block out, and pour luke warm water.

hens feb

Here they all are, lining up for a drink lol. 

The cold doesn’t seem to have put the young gals off their laying, but the two older gals aren’t quite as productive.  I suspect it’s more age-related than because of the freezing temperatures.  Miranda laid 5 eggs this month, Miss Moneypenny 18 . . . whereas the two young gals: Miss Plumpton and Mauricette were neck & neck with 26 eggs each.  That makes a total of 75.  Needless to say, neighbours have been enjoying our fresh eggs this month, since that’s way too many for just my husband and myself.

Gibbs 17 months

And a recent photo of Gibbs, who doesn’t seem to mind the cold either.  Hardly surprising with that thick glossy black coat.  Here he is, now 18 months old and looking very handsome in his unique collar, made by Lynn.  I actually commissioned this for Gibb’s Christmas present.  Being a Flat-coated Retriever we like his collar to be nice & roomy so it doesn’t flatten down his lovely coat.  Lynn makes and sells some gorgeous dog collars and bandanas with 50% of the proceeds donated to a home for retired dog.  Just click here and it will take you to her shop.

A close-up of the design on Gibb’s collar (hope Lynn doesn’t mind me using her photo).  I’ve water-marked it with the name of her etsy shop: ouafouaf.



what a clever boy!


A rather blurry Gibbs in above photo, but a very happy Gibbs.   We’ve been taking him to the park/obstacle course every day since July.  And I am pleased to say, he can now do all the obstacles on the course!  Hurdles and tunnels are easy peasey . . . what took more work, and concentration is


the see-saw.  Learning to wait until weight redistributes so it swings down before jumping off is the difficult part.

Gibbs 02

Then there’s this “bridge” which needs to be taken quite slowly since the plank is only 10” wide.

IMGP3906Gibbs 01

And for a young energetic dog who always wants to run, Gibbs has to learn to walk more sedately across this one. 

Gibbs is now 14 months old and a very healthy 38 kilos of glossy coat and muscle. 


Unfortunately, he’s also got a bald patch on his pretty face again – 2 vet visits later and a swab done, he’s on anti-biotics and anti-inflammatories because the area is now infected.  We hope it’s just a minor infection that will sort itself out, but vet wonders if there isn’t a “foreign body”, like a thorn, stuck inside.  If things don’t right themselves with medication she is going to have to sedate, and go exploring. 


such a dashing dog!

I know I’m biaised . . . but when I show you the following photos, I think you’ll all agree, Gibbs is one dashing dog!

First up . . . a reminder of what he looked like as a pup.  Here, aged 4 months, sporting a bandana made for him by Lynn.


Lynn makes and sells bandanas and collars for dogs in her etsy shop ouafouaf and donates 50% of profits to Twilight, a retirement home for dogs.  Twilight is run by volunteers and financed by donations.

Anyway . . . now that Gibbs is all grown up and less likely to chew on things hanging around his neck, he’s been wearing his bandana recently

Gibbs bandana original 

. . . slightly hidden under all that fur and neck!  But it’s a bit Christmasy for autumn.  So what to do? . . . make a few “every day” ones, is the answer!  I had a good look at the bandana made by Lynn first, and then dived in to make my own. 

bandana back 

I used two different prints for the fronts and the same blue for the back.

Gibbs bandana 01

Gibbs bandana 02

And doesn’t Gibbs look gorgeous?  He’s now almost 14 months old, so he’s finished growing.  Weighs in at 38 kilos and has the most glossy coat and the most adorable character. 


and then there were two . . .


Miss Marple (above) is now pecking & scratching in chook heaven.  I’d noticed she was under the weather a few days ago, and I probably didn’t react in time.  By the time I did  react, she was suffering from an enlarged crop (so google brought up various issues like “impacted crop” and “sour crop” for that).  Husband contacted a few vets in the area.  None of whom seemed to know much about hens so it basically became a DIY lesson in hen health (or ill-health), sifting through various articles/videos on the internet to find out what to do.

We isolated her from the other gals and adminstered a small amount of olive oil in the first instance, hoping this would help the blockage.  This was then followed, by some gentle crop massaging to help her vomit and empty her crop.  I thought I had got the hang of things, and was managing to help her bring up lots of foul-smelling gunk . . . but sadly, it was a case of too little, too late.

Miss Marple will be remembered as a very prolific layer, a very good-looking black & tan hen with a bit of an attitude. 

So for now, there’s just Miranda and Miss Moneypenny in the coop  . . . but hopefully, it won’t be long before a couple of new chooks come to join them.  I need to phone our local breeder to find out if there’s still time to reserve a couple of birds for this month, or whether I’ll have to wait until March next year.

In the meantime . . . guinea fowl are growing and seem to have settled in well.

pintades 9 weeks

Here they are, aged 9 weeks, sunning themselves in the back garden. 

We’ve been having an Indian summer this past week with temperatures around 23°C and gorgeous blue skies.  An opportunity to take a few colourful photos



of what’s flowering outside . . . and one, just for laughs, of what Ducky is up to indoors.

ducky 15 10

I know it doesn’t look like it, but he’s actually fast asleep, with his eyes wide open lol. 


“sweet peas” happy dancing

I sometimes wonder if I have my head screwed on properly.  There I was, a few months ago,  knitting when temperatures were high enough to melt ice-cream in seconds . . . and now summer seems to have been and gone, I’m doing some summer sewing!


I pulled out NewLook 6889, which I used last year to make a long cotton dress (the model on the left) and a smallish piece of lovely floral fabric I bought a while back.  I’m no flower expert, but I think they’re sweet peas.  I didn’t have enough to make a second long dress, and I don’t have the legs to wear a shorter or mini dress . . . so I shortened a little more and have made a long tunic.

sweet peas 05

With pockets!


No attempts at pattern matching I’m afraid, as the floral print is rather busy.  But they’re rather nice, and very roomy and I do like the shaping at the top.


You can’t see very well in the photo, but I did French seams, so the inside is lovely and neat.  And I did 2 rows of top stitching around neckline, armholes and on hem line.  I think this is the neatest piece of clothes sewing I’ve ever done.

sweet peas 02

Gibbs seems to approve . . . or maybe he’s hoping there’s something (other than hands) in my pockets?

Anyway, even though the weather forecast for the coming days is cool and wet, I’m really pleased I made this tunic.  Autumn is almost here, so it’ll be going in the wardrobe, to wait for next summer.  And . . . I’ve cut pattern pieces in the feather fabric, so another (summer) tunic is in the making.


cats, “Yarn Cats” and some surprise mail

cats August

Couldn’t resist sharing this photo with you of a peaceful moment . . . that’s Ducky to the left, and Abby to the right (our brother & sister act) having a cuddly snooze in one of their favourite spots.  Aww, don’t they look cute?

Unlike this trio who have got themselves in a right tangle.

yarn cats finished

This is “Yarn Cats”, a kit by Design Works that I snapped up in the xmas sales on sewandso last year.  A nice little stitching project, even though I didn’t much enjoy all the backstitch at the end.  Anyway, a small happy dance going on with that . . . and thinking cap on already to actually make this into something rather than just stuffing it in a drawer.

from Kate

And not only was I happy dancing because of a finished xstitch . . . I was also prancing around with glee because I received some surprise mail (ie I had another unbirthday).  This little stash from Kate of by the babbling brooke.  A lovely hand-made “tag” with some pretty yoyo flowers; a bookmark cross stitch kit, and a quilting pattern. A big thank you to Kate!


Gibbs will do anything for his toy!

I’ve shown you the floatable toy I made for Gibbs, using an empty dairy cream bottle, and crocheting a simple cover to slip over it . . . well I can tell you, it’s the best toy he’s ever had!  Not only does he love diving into the lake to fetch it, he also loves to simply carry it around during our walks.

We have been spending time every day on the obstacle course in the park.  To begin with, we took a small bag of dog biscuits as treats/incentive to reward him, but we soon discovered the toy, and verbal encouragement,  is all it takes.

Here is he, coming out the end of the tunnel


park 01

To encourage him to run up a high ramp . . . we put the toy on the very top, so he runs up to fetch it, and then comes down the other side.  Here he is, at the top, on his way down.


And it works the other way too.

park 02

I am so pleased that he loves his toy, and we are very proud of all the progress he has made on the obstacle course in recent days.  He can now do: the tunnel, several ramps (of various heights and inclinations), leap through hanging tyres, jump over hurdles and “sit & stay” properly on a raised platform.

We’ve still got a few obstacles he’s not too keen on but with patience, we’ll get there.  This week we’re working on the see-saw.  He walks up the plank to the pivot and stays on it while it tips down, but tends to jump off the other side rather than walk down properly.