Tag Archives: open studio

A murder mystery

Things are pretty good here, though amazingly busy, hence the lack of updates. Unfortunately, bad news brings me back here… nothing other than a chicken murder mystery this morning. I knew something was off when the speckled sussex was out of the coop when I let the dog out for the second time this morning. I quickly put the (very excited) dog away in her crate with some breakfast and headed back to the yard to re-coop the errant fowl. She had been joined by two of her sisters (the red stars), in the garden path outside the coop run, and I started noticing more clues… I haltingly followed a trail of feathers and then with now-nervous steps, bloodspots in the snow, until I found our buff orpington in the yard by the woodshed (or what was left of her)… something pulled her under the coop-run gate (the hardware cloth was pulled loose from the bottom fence post, and there was a litter of blonde feathers where she was dragged through the wire, poor thing, then down the path, under or over the garden fence, and then found a private spot for a snack. Unfortunately the snow is days old, hard and crunchy, and already covered with tons of tracks, and I left quite a few on the garden side before knowing to look carefully. Not sure if it was our dog when the fella let her out earlier this morning before heading to his man-date doing guy things with his guy buddies (he has Pulaski Day off work), or if it was something else later this morning before I let her out again at 11ish.

I couldn’t see any heavy dog-paw prints on the garden-side of the fence leading to the coop, and am nearly certain it was a raccoon- we have them in the neighborhood, and it looks like the scuffle-signs and missing feathers start *inside* the run and maybe even in the coop itself (the coop scrub brush was knocked off its hook on the wall, there were a few loose feathers, and chaff in the cobwebs on the ceiling- signs of a midnight scuffle? Or a nestbox nabbing?), which would expunge the canine guilt-potential as there are no dog-sized openings in the fence. Whatever it was dragged the hen through and under the fence wire, which seems like typical raccoon m.o… I did hear a bit of squawking around 10:30 am, which I thought was just normal egg-song or them fighting over some tasty bit of scratch… but in retrospect might have been more ominous. Kicking myself now for not going out to check sooner. We do have raccoons nearby, but would have to be pretty ballsy to grab a chicken in broad daylight from a yard with a big dog often about… but this time of year, could easily be hungry enough to try it, or have kits to feed… or perhaps the crime happened in the cover of night and the dog was too entranced by the remaining escaped chickens to care about the carcass or drag it out in the yard (maybe she hoped we’d not find it and she was saving it for a later snack)… though I think she would have hopped the low garden fence to get at the girls in there if they’d been loose earlier- I know she’s capable and would have no qualms about it fence-hopping and chicken chasing, given the possiblity of a chicken caper, she’d choose it. Or maybe it was a really bad-ass alley cat, sick of rat-hunting and going for a bigger snack? My bets on raccoon though. RIP, chicken. Thank you for your contribututions to feeding us, and for being such a willing chicken-ambassador at the Urban Livestock Expo. You are already missed.

Urgh. Now I’m just debating what to do with the remains so I can let the dog out again… and really hoping that it wasn’t the dog’s work- though I wouldn’t put it past her! The ground is frozen solid with a light layer of snow, so this chicky may have to get a burial at the landfill, which seems like such a waste, and trash day isn’t till next Friday. At least it’s freezing out and not August… though if it were August she’d get a shallow grave with a stout rock on top near an apple tree. Oh, sigh. We’ve had a bad run with Buff Orpingtons. Such sweet birds… but lost the first to heat stroke (because the dummy was too dumb to leave the coop and nest box and go out into the fresh air like the other hens) and now this. Time to shore up chicken-Gitmo and be more vigilant about locking up the girls at night… until now we’d been pretty lucky with the dog-deterance-defense and Nite-Guard red blinky light (supposed to scare away predators), and had been putting off coop-renovations as the whole shebang is going to get moved and rebuilt when we (hopefully) close on the vacant lot next door. Need to decide soon… of course poor chicky is right in front of the woodshed entrance, and it’s time to feed the fire. There’s one big log still inside… we try to save those for banking the fire at night though maybe I’ll use it and hopefully the fella will deal with remains removal when he gets home? In that case, better get some hot vittles ready to sweeten the deal for the guy… roasted salmon with oyster mushrooms? Or oyster mushroom empanadas? Or cream of oyster mushroom soup? Are you noticing a theme here? Whatever we have for dinner, it will be fungal-flavored…

On a lighter note, we had another excellent installment of Kedz-mart yesterday… Adela Red, the Finder Things, and I were joined by Safara, with beautiful scarves and textiles from Turkey, Squasht Boutique with hats and knitware, and some other regulars who display their wares with The Finder Things. Bot Bakery brought us their excess vegan snackies from the Logan Square Farmer’s Market- thanks for the baked goods, Betty Bot! I sold some soap and other goodies, and traded soaps and brown sugar scrubs for a super-cute crusher hat from Squasht (it’s reversible, with basic grey chambray on one side, and a green, brown, and white floral on the other side that is sorta girly-urban-camo like… I likey!). Traded a bottle of patchouli oil and some egg futures for a screenprinted and handmade cat pillow that I’ve been eying for awhile, and made a couple homemade pizzas to share. Got to hang out with some old friends and neighbors, and meet some new ones. Good times! Hope to see you all at the next one… Bring handmade or vintage goods and goodies to sell or trade, and tell your friends!

kedzie stop… sunday SUNDAY sunday

TheKedzieStopMarket.Ad.CarrollArtsBuilding

It’s a good time, y’all! We’ll be there, with soap, honey, preserves, and maybe even cupcakes? Maple-whiskey AND chocolate-porter if I bust ’em out tonight… and next month (if not sooner)… gringa loca tamales! Pheasant mole? Rabbit and caramelized onion? Mushroom and kale? Pulled pork and pumpkin? I know, crazy. If you mean, crazy good!

The fella has been down the the flu and has required much tending, but hopefully after all the spicy miso soup, emergen-c, and rest will be right as rain by tomorrow… we’re both looking forward to another installment of the market!

Fermentation, Transformation, and Retreat

http://www.nwedible.com/2012/11/giveaway-farm-curious-wide-mouth-recap-fermenting-kit.html

I like this idea… but don’t like buying stuff when I can alter something I already have to do the trick. I’ll post pics of the experiment when my camera is back online (I’ve recently been hit with a double-whammy technology mutiny of laptop-meltdown and camera-on-strike… hopefully a new battery will bring the camera back, but the laptop has been pronounced dead. Memorial services forthcoming, after I return the refurbished hard drive that did not resurrect it. Sigh.).
So… plastic jar lid + holesaw + drill should = bungable mason jar, $0. Hooray! Time to go raid the airlock and stopper drawer! Yes, we have one of those. Or rather, two. A whole drawer of each. I know. It’s a sickness… I call it Hobby Disorder, or other more colorful but FCC-banned epithets when I’m frustrated with trying to impose order on our oft-chaotic and crammed-to-the-gills with mostly-useful-but-often-in-the-way-or-superfluous-stuff studio…

I dream of an uncluttered space but I don’t think it will ever happen, at least not here, and certainly not now. I look at craigslist ads for yurts the way some folks dream of a time share in the tropics- escape! Tranquility! Exotic destinations! For me that would be just a little fabric room out back that will have NOTHING IN IT… ok, maybe some candles and a tatami mat. A girl can dream, right? I’d take a strawbale studio too… I’m not picky. With a rocketstove cob bench and a desk in front, I would never have frozen writer’s fingers again!

www.thetinylife.com

www.thetinylife.com


Instead, for now I’ve got the Frigid Future Pantry Bathroom office (current temperature, a frosty fourty-eight degrees Farenheit, but it could be worse…)- a computer on a tabletop perched on the claw-foot tub, as it’s waay too cold to shower at the house till the spring. Thank goodness for our cozy studio two blocks away with a full bathroom… and also for lots of blankets, the woodstove, and buckets and buckets of scrap wood to burn to take the chill off…

But back to fermentation talk… we’ve got an exciting brewing event coming up next week… most likely Wednesday, 12/12/2012!, we’ll be brewing a batch of New CapitALE: to celebrate transformation, flux, and future festivities… the beer will be brewed and ferment at the New Capitol gallery (3114 W. Carroll) and will be kegged in time for the January 6th open studio! Stay tuned for more details about this delicious performance piece! Our dear friends (and one a future neighbor! we hope we hope…) will be rocking the crowd with a life-size Alligator puppet (A. is the head, and B. is the butt… delightful ladies both! And a damn fine alligator, I’m certain). They’ll go on around 9, and we’ll be brewing from 6ish till we’re done. Stop by! Celebrate the beginning of the world with us!

Dark and Quickly

photo by Dennis Calvert

photo by Dennis Calvert

Already early December, and while the days are spinning by, the light is short and the nights fall so quickly, outside it passes for an eerie October day. Sixty-six degrees and damp, waking to dense fog and drizzle in lieu of frozen ground and flurries… we’ve been having the oddest spell of weather lately. I’m not complaining, but it is a little strange! As the old year winds down, we’re trying to get everything squared away for the next, tie up old projects and loose ends, tuck in the garden, plant the last of the spring bulbs, winterize the chicken waterers, stack high the woodpile, and batten down the hatches for whatever this winter has hidden up its parka sleeve.

Our first open studio joint effort was a smashing success yesterday- thanks to those of you who made it out! The Alewyfe studio was joined by Adela Red and The Finder Things, and by some visitors to the New Capital gallery’s 25 Days/24 Hours programming. We had a blast, too much coffee, and made a little bit more headway on the never-ending stuff-purging project. Plenty of treasures left, so stop by next month- we’ve got at least two more studios and perhaps a few visiting vendors joining in on the fun! Put January 6th on your post-holiday calender now, return all those unwanted gifts to the store, and come get yourself some handmade and one-of-a-kind goodies instead… or just come have a brew (caffeinated or carbonated, we’re usually stocked with coffee and beer for guests) and enjoy some good company!

Ok… enough chatting. I’ve got a pile of free firewood on top of my front flowerbed and a chainsaw with my name on it, and only a few hours of daylight to go.

October Open Studio!

Door’s open, c’mon in!

Late breaking news (sorry to not get this up sooner, it’s been a madhouse over here)… we are ON for tomorrow, to continue the first Sunday tradition of open studios at Alewyfe… “A trading post for the exchange of goods, ideas, and good will!!”

11 am-6 pm, Sunday Oct. 7th
Coffee and beer (to drink), soaps and sundries (for sale), ideas and good will (priceless).

We’re also concurrently hosting the October meeting of the Chicago Young Aggies group, so come by for farm chatter, soil schemes and dreams, or to meet others agriculturally minded! Afterwards, (or before, if you’re an early bird) head down the street to the Conservatory to visit the Garfield Goats, who are snacking on the prairie grasses this week! Sani, Salvi, and Gracie are dairy goats who live near Midway airport but spend a week a month vacationing in our ‘hood, grooming the park grounds, and getting some fresh forage. I only wish I’d thought of it first. 🙂

Tell friends and bring friendly strangers, or just stop by for a beverage!

We’ll of course have our usual selection of handmade organic soap, local honey, jams, salsas, and relishes, dry herbal teas from the garden, and all manner of various and assorted sundries to offer.

Do you need; A pair of cast iron corn stick pans? A couple Kodak Brownies and a Holga camera, and lots of darkroom ephemera? Canning jar lids? Homebrewing bits and pieces? Misc bike parts? A saltwater reef tank? Leather pants? A traffic light? We’ve (still) got all that, and much much more!!! Despite what Alefellow may tell you, the dog is NOT for sale. Actually, he’s mostly stopped trying to sell her now that he likes her despite still claiming to not be a pet-person. She’s pretty charming. Except for the gas. Though I could say the same for myself, or the fellow… so it works out.

Virtually no offer refused, stuff has to go and we need to raise funds for things like masonry pointing, insulation, windows, a new roof, and the crew of 18 or so weight lifters it will take to get the bowling lanes back OUT of our basement and installed upstairs for floors… Thanks a million times again to those of you (and gravity) that helped get them in there! We will have to have a bowling party and set up some pins when they’re installed (and before we put up drywall, haha). Aaand we may board up the lower sections of the windows (those that aren’t already, that is). 😀

Email alewyfe (at) gmail to RSVP or if you need the address. Hope to see you tomorrow!

studio redux

The first Open Studio was a success, and we’ll definitely be doing it again next month! We somehow forgot that it was a holiday weekend until we’d scheduled, but plenty of folks came out anyway. We sold and exchanged some goods and goodies, made some new friends, and perhaps most importantly, made huge headway in creating order from chaos at both the studio and the cabin. We’ll be bringing more treasures from the house to the studio and doubling down next month… so stay tuned! And let us know if you’d like to stop by before then for a sneak-peak or pre-sale options. 🙂

Otherwise, we spent our Labor Day labors focusing on the house project with renewed vigor- the fellow made massive inroads on the organization and stuff-purging fronts in preparation for rehanging the insulation in the first floor ceiling, and I got 3/4’s of the front door trim stripped of 110 years worth of paint layers. The Silent Paint Remover is my new favorite toy- that, plus a good coating of citrus stripper gel, has revealed that we have decent looking wood trim with detailing that was hidden under a centimeter or so of paint-crud. Win! Wrapped that up in time for nightfall and the arrival of a couple friends to grill some dogs and sausages, chitchat, entertain the wee-one (our friend’s dino-obsessed 7 year old) and enjoy some birthday cake (now, with Zucchini!) and ice cream in our buddies honor. Good times.

It finally rained at about 4 this morning, after being oppressively muggy and overcast for two days (yesterday was gorgeous though, while still hot). Last weekend we filled up almost 800 gallons in the rain tanks off of one half of the roof during Sunday’s all day drizzle and downpour… haven’t checked the level in the big tank this morning but should be enough to get the garden through till the next fill. How’s your early fall garden doing? We’re finally getting tomatoes, and endless eggplant… time to start planting fall and winter greens and other goodies!

Open Studios, coming soon!

All you local readers… we’re going to start a regular series of events starting next month, probably the first and third Sunday afternoons of each month, though that’s still being finalized. We’re trying to clear out the studio in anticipation of eventually having to fit all that stuff into the house… so think of it as a regular market, an estate sale, and a beer-drinkin’, coffee swillin’, snackin’ affair. We’ll have soap, local honey, dry herbal teas from the garden, and all manner of various and assorted sundries on offer. We might even have some fundraiser dinners and bbq’s as an afterparty over at the cabin… winter’s coming, and we need insulation! Tuckpointing! A new roof! Walls! Floors! Goats! (just… kidding. har.har.har.) I know, crazy. We’ll also be offering classes soon- canning, brewing, soap making, food storage, chickens 101, mushroom log culture, rainwater harvesting… what do you all want to learn? Let us know!

We also have MOUNTAINS of mulch- a couple truckloads of donated woodchips to spread at the Factory Farm studio garden and at the house… and at least four apple trees to plant! I love mulch, and mulching… but I am only one girl. Lend me your legs and your shovels (and the rest of you) for an afternoon, and I will feed you and quench your thirst with beer! If you want to help, let me know and we’ll find a time… Mondays and Wednesdays are usually good ones. Or, if you’re more into building things, a friend and I will be enclosing the back porch with polycarbonate panels and reused windows to make a greenhouse of sorts… let me know if that’s more your speed, or something like it!