Monthly Archives: April 2012


Peter © Fred and Tunie Moreno

One of the loveliest things about the internet is ‘meeting’ people from all over the world. Tunie (peacockmom on Ravelry) PM’d me, oh, last year or so, on Ravelry, and we’ve corresponded since.  She lives in Western Australia, in the area known as the Rainbow Coast, with her husband Fred and a variety of animals…including peacocks!

I thought it would be fun to have Tunie answer some questions about peacocks.


Steph:  What kind of peacocks do you have?

Tunie:  Our peacocks are Indian Blues. We did have one of the pure white ones, but it was killed by an eagle the day after arrival since it was so easily visible here in the forest. There is a sub variety that is pure white and they are not albino, but just have pure white feathers.

How did you get started with peacocks?

Peter walked with his brother (the white one) from the other end of our peninsula where the original peacocks were brought down from Perth (a 5 hour drive north of us) many years ago. I think that flock got too large and the 2 males who came to our end of the peninsula were looking for their own territory. Sadly, Peter was alone until Patrick appeared from the forest a year later. Peter had either a white mother or father and some of his wing feathers were white. We can tell his offspring by the white feathers which appear in the same place. Some of our peacocks don’t have them so we know those are Patrick’s offspring.

Dandie's chicks © Fred and Tunie Moreno

Peter (my Ravatar) arrived on the morning of our 35th wedding anniversary (9 years ago) which was amazing to us. Fred gave him some bread and he adopted us and stayed until a fox killed him. A peahen must have heard Peter and Patrick calling in the Spring and arrived and has been with us ever since. The males take about 3 years to fully mature, but the peahens can hatch their own chicks at one year of age.

Do you have to worry about predation?

We’ve had chicks taken by kookaburras, hawks, eagles, falcons, owls and even magpies. It is a hard fact of life here in the forest. We have 3 kinds of eagles here and all of them like the peacocks of any size. They will kill the large ones and take the meat back to their nestlings. We’ve also lost a couple to tiger snakes (a deadly member of the cobra family). It has been hard to deal with, but we have learned to accept this aspect of having our peas in the wild. Nonetheless, our group has grown to an even dozen this year in spite of losses to wildlife.

Chicks on front walk © Fred and Tunie Moreno

Can you tell more more about the babies? 

The peahens lay their eggs in October and sit on them for 29 days. When they hatch, the chicks are up here immediately. The peahens show their chicks where the fresh water is and we always have turkey crumble (starter food) and oats and barley for them. We also have small sized dog kibble for them and choose the best quality we can find at the stock feed store with no salt or dairy added.

We usually expect the peachicks to arrive around Thanksgiving and up to Christmas. The mothers take them on “field trips” around the yard and are always on guard watching for hawks or eagles. They will act as decoys after taking the chicks to hide in a shrub until the danger is passed.

What do peacocks eat?

They all eat bugs, moths, small lizards and tiny snakes, worms, spiders, etc. They also love white flower blossoms as well as bougainvillea and fuchsia blossoms.

How long do they usually live?

I did a bit of research regarding life spans and it suggests that in the wild, we can expect 20 years while in captivity 40 years is not unusual.

© Fred and Tunie Moreno

Our friend and vet to our male corgi would make house calls at the end of his (our corgi’s) life and she said the peacocks looked extremely happy and healthy to her. They have the “roosties” which are branches my husband attached to the outside wall next to my kitchen window. The peas love to roost on them and watch me cook as well as get out of the wind or rain.

They also have some shaded areas in the yard as well as a large roof overhang to get out of the sun/rain. They particularly like the ten inch diameter posts we sunk into the ground in various locations for them to perch upon. They like to stand on on these and survey their surroundings.

I’ve heard peacocks and they can be loud!  Are they like that all the time?

To be honest, yes, they can be quite noisy at times, but since we love them so much, we just laugh when they make the noises. We are quite isolated here and almost no one else lives here in this “wilderness preserve” between 2 national forests. I think peacocks would be a problem in a normal suburban neighborhood since undoubtedly some people would object to their calls on a moonlit night. But the noisy periods are few and of short duration usually in the Spring.

What else would you like to tell us?

Peacock sleeping tree © Fred and Tunie Moreno

I have added a pic of the sleeping tree taken just after the males who use it on the left side had jumped off. They leave the tree when the sun rises and come up here for a drink and breakfast. They go back to their chosen tree branch at sunset. The females and their chicks sleep in a tree just outside our bedroom window and we love watching them go to their branch and snuggle under the peahens until they get so large that they sleep along side. They stay with their mother until she has a new hatching and then the year old chicks move into a near by tree of their own. The peahens stay in the tree near our bedroom. Right now we have 2 peahens with 5 chicks born in Nov and December sleeping in that tree. They fly down every morning to join the males for breakfast.

© Fred and Tunie Moreno

I hope this will encourage anyone with a lot of land to welcome peafowl into their lives. They are quite smart and have distinctive personalities. Ours know their names and come when we call them. Peacocks are quite sociable and curious. We often find them leaning into the windows to see what we are doing. Little did we know that they would help us in the transition of no longer having a cat or corgi where we live so far from any veterinary care and danger from snakes. We’ve had them for 9 years now and can’t imagine ever being without them. They can recognize us easily and run to us when we walk outside. They also know our friends and no longer fly onto the roof when they visit.


Learn more about peacocks here.

© Fred and Tunie Moreno

Surprised by: Oyster Mushrooms!

Not long after Zac and I inoculated that oak log with Oyster and Shiitake spores, a good friend of ours wrote to torment me.

She said that her CSA teams up with a local mushroom farm, and that, lately, she’d been enjoying the best fresh mushrooms.

And then, because she’s actually a really nice person and the sort of wonderful friend who does things like that, she sent us an Oyster Mushroom Mini-Farm in the mail. This is basically a block of super-inoculated mushroom-growing substrate (hay? sawdust? coffee grounds?) that’s guaranteed to grow.

So, we set up our mushroom farm in the corner of our garage, and more or less forgot about it.

This gently misty morning, we inspected the block of substrate, and found an exceptionally fine-looking crop of Pleurotus ostreatus.

Isn’t it gorgeous?

In other good news, after this harvest, we can expect two or three more flushes of mushrooms before the farm stops producing (I think it dries out? Or maybe the mycelium needs more substrate to feast on? Any mushroom experts? Is there a way to make sure our mushroom farm lives on?)

What I do know is that these colors, textures, and smells are completely entrancing, subtle, and fascinating.

I could have photographed them in different arrangements all morning– and, who knows, maybe mushroom arranging is the next hip thing.

For dinner, I’m thinking of miso soup, radishes shaved to translucent pink thinness, and freshly dug spring onions.

May your Monday be just a subtly-shaded and surprising, friends.


I spent the weekend being spoiled to death by family and friends. Zac threw me a birthday party complete with four kinds of cake and two signature cocktails!

There is a old tradition of giving a piece of wedding cake to the honey bees. We decided that the bees would enjoy a piece of birthday cake just as well, and extended the gluttony to the chickens and geese. A good time was had by all.

It was all very low-key and lovely, and to tell you the truth, I’m not quiet ready to get back to work tonight. I’ll do a more thoughtful birthday post tomorrow but I did want to say thank you for all the lovely cards, emails and twitter shout-outs. You all made me feel like a million bucks today.

On the ball!


At the urging of my massage therapist, I have finally switched to a stability ball as a desk chair. I’ve tried a few times before but had a hard time finding one the right size. As it turns out, the largest one a bit under inflated works well.

Wild and Woolly Weekend

So, I went to the Wild and Woolly Weekend this weekend. I drove up Friday after work, and arrived at the Golden Stage Inn around 9 pm, and mostly I took my bag up to my room, showered, and went to sleep. More about the Inn later….

I woke up early the next morning and met another woman staying at the Inn who was also going to the Weekend, Barbara. Barbara and I talked during the delicious breakfast that Julie and Michael (the owners of the Inn) provided. As it turns out, she’s a spinner as well, and was taking the same classes I was on Saturday. Both classes were taught by Patty Blomgren, a local Vermont spinning instructor.

The first class was Textured Spinning – we went over a few ways to make textured yarn.

The first way was to use some washed but unprocessed fleece – pick and tease apart locks and other fibers, and just use as-is. Then we tried practicing an autowrap. Here’s the yarn I made as a result — it’s definitely textured!

picking and teasing, autowrap sample

I took the rest of the handfuls of unprocessed yarn and ran them through the drum carder – part of the fun of this workshop was playing with one of three drum carders Patty set up for us. So here is the batt I made with the same stuff as is in the yarn above – I have not spun this up yet, but when I do I will spin it worsted and see how much smoother that yarn can be.

batt with same fibers as yarn above

Then I made a colorway I like to call “Creamsicle”:

creamsicle batt

And I spun it into yarn:

Creamsicle yarn

Then I made a thick-and-thin yarn with some targhee from Spunky Eclectic that I’d brought:

thick and thin yarn

Patty had a handout for us, so we’d remember what we did. We did not get to any of the plying techniques officially, but we did make some knots, and I’ve made some bobbles before.

The second class, also with Patty, was corespun yarn. She also provided a handout. These techniques were much more tricky, and we didn’t get to nearly as many.

We did some basic core spinning with commercial yarn as the core. I used a two-ply wool, and found that wrapping roving around was easy once I got the basic motion down and used *very* little fiber. I’ve tried core spinning before and never really got the hang of it. I think the secret really is using a very little bit of roving/top to wrap around the core. Here is some of this first type of core spinning:

first core spun

I then used the thick and thin yarn around the core to make a different kind of core-spun yarn. The little “beads” or “beehives” in the yarn are the thick parts. The most obvious of these are the three on the very bottom, in blue/brown. There are tighter/less fuzzy ones in the 2nd yarn from the top edge, the red/brown yarn. In this sample I showed a lot of the core on purpose:

core spun with beehives and showing the core

I’m working on the rest of the thick and thin targhee, core spinning it over a core where I’m trying not to show the core. It’s mostly working:

thick and thin core spun, not showing core

It’s not totally perfect, but it’s looking good.

All of the yarn is very kinky when I first spin it. I wasn’t able to let any of this rest, as I just spun it this weekend, but I did wash the samples, and dry them under tension – I don’t normally do this, because it will just re-kink up on washing, but I wanted to see what the yarn would look like when it was less kinky. The stuff still on the bobbin is very kinky, and I’ll probably let it rest, and then wash it.

Unfortunately, the vendor times were exactly the same as the classes, so I did not get a chance to shop on Saturday. Luckily, I noticed this ahead of time, so I figured Sunday would be for shopping. At the end of the class, Patty let us raid her stash, so I took home some firestar, Ashland Bay merino/silk, and hand-dyed corriedale. I did have some fiber I gave away – I let Patty take some of the targhee, and I gave her the rest of my Louet Black Diamond, a carbonized bamboo that I did not enjoy spinning (it felt like spinning chalk powder, and has absolutely zero memory). I also gave Jennifer, a fellow classmate, some silk hankies that I wasn’t enjoying pulling apart to spin.

I did, however, win a door prize – a Knit Local canvas bag:

knit local tote bag

Saturday night Barbara and I went to DJ’s Restaurant for dinner, which was a good pick (on Julie’s recommendation). After that, I spun by the fireplace for a few hours, practicing what I’d learned that day.

Sunday I woke up, packed up, had breakfast and a nice long conversation with Julie and Michael, checked out and went to the festival again. A few pictures from the Inn:


The record player:

record player

These chickens were crossing the road. I wonder why?

why did these chickens cross the road?

A bunch of teapots at the Inn. I think my favorite is the fish one (just to the right of the cow one):


This was my shopping day, and it was a lot of browsing and also a lot of talking to people. I started out helping a booth set up, and then bought a few magazines (Cast On and Piecework), and some “knit local” stickers and a “knit local” car magnet, some knitty gift tags and a brooch/shawl pin.

I bought a bunch of fiber, including some locally grown Shetland, some hand-dyed Falkland, and a few batts. I also won some flax in another door prize, and got some spinning done. I talked to a LOT of people, including Dave Paul of The Merlin Tree, maker of the HitchHiker and Road Bug spinning wheels. I spun on one and LOVED it, but resisted buying one:

hitchhiker spinning wheel

It was a great day, topped off with a visit with a friend in White River Junction, Vermont, then a visit with another friend near Manchester, NH, and then finally home to my husband and dinner.


I spent the weekend being spoiled to death by family and friends. Zac threw me a birthday party complete with four kinds of cake and two signature cocktails! There is a old tradition of giving a piece of wedding cake to the honey bees. We decided that the bees would enjoy a piece of birthday cake just as well, and extended the gluttony to the chickens and geese. A good time was had by all.

It was all very low-key and lovely, and to tell you the truth, I’m not quiet ready to get back to work tonight. I’ll do a more thoughtful birthday post tomorrow but I did want to say thank you for all the lovely cards, emails and twitter shout-outs. You all made me feel like a million bucks today.

Abundance Of Irises …

My creation

Iris gardens ~ Upper Montclair, NJ

Quick Pick, Quick Pic

Connecticut Sheep and Wool

065 072 070 069 068 067 066

I drove down with a friend and we spent a delightful day with her mom, wandering the festival. We watched a rav friend clip her German angora bunny, Hoppin’ Fresh, who was incredibly well behaved and enormously fluffy. I met another fellow raveler (Hi Knitnknot!) and came home with all sorts of lovely goodies. I was gifted the beautiful purple and blue roving (angora/cormo, I think) and the gorgeous purple angora and I brought a soap and lotion bar as a gift and would have brought more if I’d known I’d see more friends. I’ll have to pack extras in the future, just in case.

New Object

This freshly dyed yarn is the start of what I hope to be a very large daybreak.