G Freden

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since Jul 27, 2012
West Yorkshire, UK
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Recent posts by G Freden

I wore one as a teenager, which I sewed myself from green velvet--it was my pride and joy for several years until I got tired of being stared at by strangers all the time.  I gave it away to a male friend who started his own cloak journey :)

I have a wool coat now which is somewhat like a cloak.  It has that full drape but also has sleeves and buttons up the front.  I got it for £20 at a charity shop;  the label says Givenchy!  I don't have a photo of the front but here's the back.

For me, a cloak is more about style;  it's not very practical.  That's not a bad thing--I like to be stylish sometimes.  Who says I always have to be practical?
1 week ago

Myron Platte wrote:Thanks, guys! That’s what I wanted to know. Although I’m hoping I can find out what breed of ducks that is, G Fredan.

I have two Pekins, a Khaki Campbell, and a big mongrel drake.  The drake we got at about 8 weeks old, but the other three ducks are ex-factory farm birds, and never saw the great outdoors till we adopted them at 2 years old.  They took to foraging very happily regardless.
1 week ago
My ducks slurp down slugs big and small;  they even swallow big snails whole.  I definitely recommend ducks for slugs and any other bugs--when I was a kid in the southwest of the US we had a grasshopper plague and our ducks cleaned them out completely from our garden, so much that we kids would go out every night catching jarfuls from other neighbors' gardens to keep them fed.

My chickens on the other hand, are not particularly interested in slugs though they will eat snails if I crack the shells first.  I believe geese are herbivores, though I have no experience with them.
1 week ago
Rebecca, I really like tarragon vinegar for salad dressing.  Mint too, which we also serve on lamb.  I use fresh leaves and blitz in the blender then refrigerate after.

My preferred salad dressing for 1-2 people:

1 tsp herb vinegar
1T heavy cream
A very small garlic clove, crushed (optional;  my kids find it too strong)
pinch of salt

Stir and taste;  too creamy:  add a tiny drop more vinegar.  Too tart:  it won't taste so tart after dressing a salad, but can add a little more cream.
3 weeks ago
If it's flexible and somewhat long, you can probably weave with it.  Might as well just try some stuff out.  I made a couple ribbed baskets (search for images if unsure what they look like) with some sycamore maple shoots as the ribs, and dried yucca leaves for the weavers.  Both I just collected from my small suburban garden--the yucca leaves just shed off the plant and I collected the least dusty ones from the ground underneath (and split them into narrower lengths to make weaving easier).  I use them both as harvest baskets, and it doesn't matter how long they hold up because I can make another just as quickly and easily.

I have also woven with willow but it's more of a plan-ahead project.  I'm sure you, like me, have a lot of flexible plant material that could be woven with right now.  Vines, suckers from trees/shrubs, daffodil leaves, rushes or sedges, lots of things.  Try bending the material and if it doesn't snap, cut a handful and make a little basket with it.  Take 20 minutes over it.  It's fun!

Not the best basketry photo, but here's one of my yucca baskets in use last spring.
Edited:  found the better photo!
1 month ago
Hi Debbie, you could weave some willow wands in situ to make them into wicker chairs--it's not too hard to do;  other trees/shrubs with long flexible branches could work too.  Or use some heavy canvas material and sew a new seat and back--it could be as simple as a long piece of material with opposite edges sewn together into a rectangular tube, then slotted onto the frame.  I'm sure there are lots of other ways to make them useable again.
1 month ago
Here's one I appliqued and quilted by hand (I sewed the large blocks together by machine, but everything else was by hand).  The applique was fairly quick considering, but the quilting took me ages.  I actually prefer to hand quilt instead of machine quilt because it is precise and neat.  I have machine quilted on my regular sewing machine, and I always seem to end up with tucks and puckers, and it's hard work heaving the quilt in and out of the machine to get all the stitches in;  last time I machine quilted, it took several hours and I spread it over two days.  Last time I hand quilted (a scrappy log cabin quilt, not pictured), it took me several months.  I didn't quilt daily, or sometimes even weekly;  I even made larger spaces in between the quilting lines compared to the appliqued quilt--but it was still a long time before it was ready for my bed.  

I do not use a frame or hoop.  I baste the quilt layers together first, mark my quilting lines with chalk, then just hold it on my lap to quilt.  I use a short quilting needle and short lengths of thread, plus a thimble;  these make it easier on my hand and arm.

For me, hand quilting is worth the time and effort it takes to get a superior result.  It is not worth it for many people and that is absolutely fine.  
2 months ago
Truth time....

We used cloth for our oldest.  We also potty trained (elimination communication) by 18 months, so we no longer used them after this, though he still had occasional accidents, mainly of the bed-wetting type.  He never went to childcare as my husband and I managed to trade off shifts at our respective workplaces.

We used cloth for our youngest until she was 12 months old, and used elimination communication pretty much from birth, so she was reliably dry by 12 months and out of nappies completely.  However, I also went back to work then and she went to childcare...and while being mostly brilliant in all other respects, they were not prepared to potty a little girl of this age (she gets one potty visit for her 5.5 hour stay).  So she was wetting herself daily and we had to start sending her in disposibles after a few weeks (they don't do cloth nappies).  

And now at nearly two she's in disposibles every day...and wets herself again at home on the weekends if we put her in her undies.  Sigh.  
3 months ago
I had a white leghorn who was like that;  she was constantly on the lookout for food, almost like a dog.  She laid an egg almost every day of the year, even in winter so I figured she was just hungry all the time to keep up the production.  
3 months ago
Through a series of events, we ended up with a mixed flock of three drakes and three ducks.  After a year of two drakes to two ducks, getting two more ducks, losing one, adding a duckling...we had too many drakes and they were being very hard on the ducks.  One in particular was Not Allowed to mate--the ducks would run away from him (as a contrast, they would do the head bobbing dance with the alpha before willingly mating), and if he could catch a duck, the alpha drake would jump on top of him to try and get him off (which was always completely ineffectual and our small duck would just be squashed underneath the both of them).  This drake would even have a go at us humans, and if disciplined by us would immediately go and take it out on that poor little duck.  Yeah.  This drake was a jerk, and the youngest drake was starting to follow in his footsteps.  The flock was not in harmony whatsoever.  

So I took the decision to kill and cook both the youngest and the meanest of these drakes.  I'd always planned on eating excess drakes from any we'd hatched anyway so when that cute little duckling our broody hen hatched turned out to be male, I decided to kill two birds with one stone so to speak, and solve the problem of the jerk at the same time.  

I've killed quite a few cockerels for eating over the years (and have put down a very badly injured hen too) by using the broomstick method.  It's quick and clean, but I'd read that duck legs aren't sturdy enough to make this reliable, and I accidently popped a joint out of a socket while plucking a dead drake, so I completely believe it.  Instead I got myself a sharp hatchet and did it the time honored way.  It was even quicker, though not quite so clean, but I had no qualms and got it done.

Previous to this, I'd bought myself some parafin wax--after watching duck hunting videos on youtube--so that plucking wasn't too much of a trial.  It still took a good amount of time as I had to roughly pluck the outer feathers first, then dunk the whole carcass in hot water with melted wax and let it harden, but afterwards it was just a case of peeling it all off easily and almost completely cleanly.  I used 500 g for the two large drakes, and I probably could have done another one or even two more with that amount of wax.

Finally, and again on the advice of the duck hunters, I aged the two carcasses in the fridge;  five days for the younger and a week for the older.  The younger duck was about four months old and the older was around three years old, but both turned out very tender and not at all stringy like some of the cockerels we've raised;  the husband joked that he knew that jerk was just a big softy all along.  The younger one was slow roasted to make crispy duck (so so tasty), and the older was made into confit (which sort of ended up like duck bacon?  not sure if that's what it's supposed to taste like, but it was great anyway).

That's my first experience of raising and eating my own duck and I would definitely do it again.  And the flock of four is now cohesive;  no one chases anyone else and everyone gets to hang out.

duckling with mama hen

grown up

crispy duck
6 months ago