Thursday, September 8, 2011


On Saturday, I’m taking my drop spindle and various wool and fiber samples to a fundraising effort for a garden restoration. We'll be selling jams, baked goods, heirloom veggies and plants to help recreate the garden according to the original, 100-year-old landscape plan. There will also be beekeeping, canning, and weaving demonstrations. I agreed to bring my spindle and some fiber samples for a small demonstration, and as usual, my spindle and wool have languished a bit through the heat of summer, tucked under my desk in a large box. Some organizing was in order, but it was too nice outside to work on it inside.

I carried the box outside to sort through it, pull out fiber samples that I wanted to take, and to decide which fiber to use for the demonstration. I have a basketful of snowy white alpaca in pencil roving that spins like air, so I twisted a little onto the leader and spun enough to get a good start on it. I pulled out some lambswool—Wensleydale, curly lengths of baby wool, soft and delicate. Then some mohair from my sister-in-law’s pygora goat—it was silky white and easy to see why it has been used for years to replicate Santa’s beard in Christmas decorations.

Together with some lovely wool my friend Paula sent me from England, I had a good stock of samples to share.

"Can you hear me NOW?" says Violet.
I let my mind wander as I sorted, thinking about M&L, work projects, and weekend plans, worrying over pressing thoughts and distant concerns when all of the sudden I saw a flurry of feathers and heard the chickens peripherally. I was on the patio, next to the fence, and looked over to see Violet was sitting on top of the privet bush right next to me, attempting to climb closer, over the fence. She was looking at me with consternation. I realized then that they’d been stirring about making noise and looking at me while I was standing there sorting wool, completely oblivious to them. Apparently, Violet had taken matters into her own… wings.

I picked Violet up out of the bush where she perched uneasily, and she clucked, discontented. And then I noticed that the wind had blown their coop door closed. I put Violet down, then walked over and opened it as she escorted me. I propped it open more securely with a brick, and three hens rushed in like they were late to church. One to the nesting box, and the other two to their water.

By way of an apology I hurried back to the house, found a few overripe nectarines, and carried them back out as a treat that was happily pecked to pieces in short order.

I told M about it later, wondering if they were really trying to get my attention or just impatient for treats. It seemed so intentional to me. They've never really tried to climb the shrubbery before.

M nodded without a trace of doubt. “Violet is a smart chicken.”


  1. Oh man, the "like they were late to church" part had me laughing out loud! I seriously love hearing these stories. Your hens are hilarious. :)