Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

This is a photo of Sophie, our pet chicken, in front of the wood-stove in our house in Ellensburg, WA. We have nine hens and a rooster. Chickens typically molt and replace all the feathers once a year in the fall. The duration can be anywhere from a few weeks to more than a month. This year, all of our chickens finished molting by Thanksgiving, except Sophie.

Sophie finally started molting a couple of weeks ago. She lost a bunch of feathers, and she looks bare and freezing. She's been shedding her feathers everywhere, in a sequence as new ones grow back. As her body is covered with pin feathers, new feathers in waxy tubes, she looks like a porcupine under skimpy plumage. In our town, Ellensburg, it often gets below freezing all day during December. Our chickens are cold-hardy, but they still appreciate warmth in the middle of winter.

I have my studio in a separate building on our property, but it gets fairy cold there in the winter. So I spend more time painting inside the house than in the studio. We usually invite our chickens into the house to take a break from the cold. This also allows me to spend more time with them while I work on painting. Sophie probably appreciates this more than anyone else at the moment. We decided to let her sleep in our second bathroom tonight. It won't be long before she will complete molting and enjoy her brand new set of warm and beautiful plumage. Can't wait do to more painting of her. That's one thing to look forward to in the new year.

Wishing you a happy new year!

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