Archive | April 2016

First Chick Hatch

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This year’s first Ameraucana chick hatch here at Phoenix Farm was on April 19-20.  There was a problem with the incubator and only nine babies survived.  A rather dismal result.  These nine little ones are strong to have made it out of the eggs.  At least a dozen, probably more, were lost.  Such is life (and death) on the farm.

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Silver rooster, black hens, silver hen

The babies are from either the pen with a silver rooster and silver or black hens or the pen with wheaten and blue wheaten roosters and hens.  The ones that lived are healthy and active chicks.  Once they make it past day three, they usually survive to old chicken age.  chick2

Today I will set up forty-two more eggs to start the second clutch.  We will probably have a third hatch as well since the first was so poor.  I like to have forty to fifty young ones to choose among for the best quality breeding stock for next year.

Just couldn’t resist sharing this picture with a baby stretching its wings.  So cute!chick3

 

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Shortbread

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My husband truly loves butter cookies and shortbread.  Sometimes I find old shortbread and cookie molds at secondhand shops and have always wondered how to use them.  Finally, I decided to explore making shortbread and to treat my husband to a homemade crispy, buttery treat.a2  I found two shortbread pans for decent prices on eBay.  These are vintage ceramic pans made by Brown Bag Cookie Art.  The design on one is Fruits and Flowers and the other is Farm Animals.

Shortbread is a very old type of cookie or biscuit as it is called in the UK.  It originated in Scotland in the mid 1700s.  The basic recipe is very simple and rich in butter.  It is not possible to substitute or scrimp on the butter.  Shortbread requires butter.

My first attempt did not turn out the perfectly molded cookies I had hoped for.  I will have to work on my method to perfect it.  There are many variations on the shortbread recipe, but here are the basics.

Basic Shortbread

1 cup salted butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all purpose flour

Cream the butter with the sugar until smooth.  Mix in the vanilla then slowly stir in the flour.  When the flour is all added, knead the dough gently until is is smooth and uniform in texture.  Split into two balls.a3

Lightly spray two 8″ square shortbread pans.  Place a ball of dough in the center of each pan and press the dough flat until it evenly fills the pans.  Lightly pierce the entire surface of the dough with a fork to prevent bubbles from forming during baking.

Bake in the bottom third of a pre-heated 325F oven for 30-35 mins, until the bread is lightly browned over the entire surface.  The center must be browned so the cookies will unmold properly.  Remove from the oven and cool for 10 mins.a4

Place a towel or large cutting board on the counter, turn the pans over and drop from a height of about 2″ onto the counter.  The shock will jar the shortbread loose from the pan.  Flip the bread over and cut with a sharp knife while still warm so it does not crumble.a5

These can be stored tightly sealed at room temperature for a week or so.  Delicious served with tea or coffee.

A variation I want to try:

Lemon Shortbread

1 cup salted butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/8 cup lemon juice

2 teaspoons lemon zest

2 1/4 cups flour

To make other flavors add 1/4 teaspoon of extracts such as mint, almond or coconut to the basic recipe.

My husband found he loves shortbread warm from the oven and ate several more than is good for his boyish figure!

Vintage Lingerie

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Barbizon pink satin jacquard half slip, size L, Style # 74025, near new, likely vintage 1970s-early 1980s, Sold $12

A small but lucrative department in my online stores is devoted to vintage lingerie.  Collecting vintage lingerie seems to be popular, and as with many collectors, money is not always much of a consideration. The condition of the clothing and any packaging is paramount.  A sense of nostalgia must play a big role for collectors:  clothing that evokes another time.  Whenever I find a choice piece of vintage lingerie in a secondhand shop, I know I’ve struck gold.  Most items I pay between $1-$5 to acquire.

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Van Raalte Opaquelon Full Slip White Size 38, Metal Fittings, near new, likely vintage 1970s, Sold $17

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Bali Beyond Beautiful Camisole Bra, Black, sz 36B, Style 3356, New Old Stock, vintage 1990s, Sold $27

Most vintage lingerie I find in thrift shops or yard sales has been well-loved (worn a lot) and is not worth speculation.  Once in a while I find old new stock.  These items still have hang tags attached or are in the original packaging.  They are in new condition but quite old.  Someone probably bought the stuff years ago and stashed it in a drawer until they died.  When the house was cleaned out, the contents were sent to a thrift shop and Voila! a new old stock item for my shop!  This is, of course, the most desirable category of vintage clothing.  People pay BIG money for New Old Stock.

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Dandy Bra by Youthcraft, Style 2162, Beige, 44B, New Without Tags, For Sale in Shop, Likely vintage late 1970s-early 1980s

The next best condition is vintage unworn to nearly new.  These are the wares I deal in the most.  Care is needed to scrupulously check every inch of an old piece of lingerie to find any damage.  Pulls, stains, rips, stretches, fading, pilling, loss of lace or decals, and any other damage will greatly affect the resale price of the garment.  A pull in an otherwise gorgeous nylon nightgown could render it unsalable.

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Two lace overlay satin half slips, Malom Lingerie, NYC, Size Small, Color Pink, New Old Stock, For Sale in Shop, Likely Vintage 1950s-1970s

I have learned a few things about brands over the years.  Some very popular brands that I have carried include Barbizon, Van Raalte, Vanity Fair, Playtex, Bali, Warner’s, Olga, and Kayser, old designers and old department stores like Sak’s, Caldor and Macy’s.

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Caldor Regal Width Pantyhose, Wonderlon nylon, Color Beige, New Old Stock, likely Vintage 1960s-early 1970s, For Sale in Shop

Things I look for to find true prizes are lingerie made in the USA (most modern stuff is imported,) good brand names, metal fittings, and old material names like Opaquelon, Wonderlon, or Taffreda. Permanently affixed material care labels were not required until 1972 so age can sometimes be estimated by the labels the garment carries.  Various companies invented their own synthetic material formulas and gave them fancy names.  Barbizon is famous for this. Old silk lingerie pieces are a major score!

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Barbizon Taffreda Half Slip, Color Ivory, Size Small, Lace Applique Insets at Hem, Like New, Likely Vintage 1970s, For Sale in Shop

The fastest selling lingerie or intimates in my shop are lovely cotton or synthetic nightgowns with lots of lace that are new old stock.  Second-most popular are full length black slips with lace and gathers in the form-fitted styles of the 1950s.  A perfect old Barbizon Taffreda full slip with lots of lace, a fitted bodice and full skirt, in a regular size like Medium or Large will sell for as much as $75-$100 or more.  The heavy, rich Taffreda fabric that produces a satisfying rustle as you walk is sought after.  Van Raalte full slips with 12″ lace hems or beautiful pleating command big prices, $150-200.  Perfect full-length peignoir sets (gown and robe) can sell for hundreds of dollars.

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Jockey For Her, Combed Cotton Brief, Size 6, Color Pink, New Old Stock, Vintage 1990s, For Sale in Shop

Sometimes a buyer is looking for a particular style or brand that is discontinued.  These customers are willing to pay well for something they love and can no longer get on store shelves.  I’m one of those buyers.  Manufacturers always seem to discontinue my favorite styles.  EBay and Etsy are rich sources for discontinued styles, as well as online specialty shops.  The best deals are usually on eBay.

Discovering a vintage intimate wear treasure is a thrill and I am willing to dig through endless bins and racks to find a few hidden gems.

 

Nest Building

a1Mama bunny Jade has a secret!  She is building a nest for a surprise.  She thinks babies are on the way. This rabbit can have false pregnancies, so I won’t get my hopes up.  She is due to kindle somewhere between April 8-9.

Nest building is a good indication she is pregnant.  Also, her belly feels very full, and her appetite has changed, all positive signs.  Rabbits have a strong nest building instinct.  To satisfy her needs, I give her some hay each day.a2Jade carefully gathers the hay in her mouth, strand by strand.  Then, she hops to her chosen spot and goes to work.  She drops the hay and using her front feet and head, pushes and pats to make a mound. When she is happy with the hay arrangement, she pulls hair from her belly to line the nest.  The super warm and soft fiber keeps hairless babies nice and snug.  Removing the belly hair frees her teats for nursing.a3Mama is intent on having a large, luxurious bed for her little ones.  She has built the nest in the same corner she used last year for a successful litter.  My fingers are crossed that all goes well!

4/11/16  Update:  sad news, on 4/8 she gave birth to 10 full term stillborn babies.  Wish I knew what was up with this rabbit.  She’s had 2 normal litters and two stillborn now.  We will try again in a month.