The broiler chicks (Cornish Rock X) are growing fast, eating like there's no tomorrow. I just opened the second 50# sack of chick starter. The nights here are beginning to cool off, so I turn on the heat lamp about 10 p.m. and turn it off at 7 a.m. Next week, they'll be big enough to keep themselves warm unless the temp drops below 55. I'll let them out of the coop next week, weather permitting, and into their fenced chicken yard.
The layer chicks (Red Stars and Buff Orpingtons--7 of them) are still in the house, in their bathtub brooder (yes, we do have two bathtubs--one for them, one for us). They grow more slowly--will probably go out to the coop in another 10 days or so, and move in with the broilers. I don't think there'll be a problem integrating them: the Cornish are pretty laid back, as long as there's food available.
Needlepoint project: This is "Amber Waves," designed by Laura Perin. (Apologies for the photo: I'm still learning this new camera and not liking it very much.) I started this needlepoint sometime late in August. I usually work on it in the evenings for a couple of hours--not making very fast progress, but that's not the point, is it? I do want to finish this one, though: have a new one waiting and am eager to get started on it.
Book report. The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose is out this month (strong reviews!). I visited Dani Greer's blog, The Blood Red Pencil, blogging about some of the historical background in the book.
Also out this month: the final book in the Cottage Tales: The Tale of Castle Cottage. I posted a page of historical recipes from the book, for those of you who have read your library's copy. All the recipes from all the books are up now--just click on the book cover and you'll go to the page. The link to the printable pdf is at the top.
Writing work currently in progress: Wild Rose (that's the working title: it may change). I'll be focussed on this through Christmas, when I need to start the next China Bayles mystery. I'd like to have a full draft by that time--hoping so, anyway. This is a novel about Rose Wilder Lane (1866-1968), for those of you who have tuned in late. RWL was an enormously complicated woman, and the challenge (in addition to the difficult work of fictionalizing a real person) is doing justice to her rich contradictions and complications. As a basic background text of RWL's life, I'm using William Holtz's splendid biography, The Ghost in the Little House, as well as the collection of articles and books I've put together over the 20+ years of my interest in this topic. For the primary source material, I'm using RWL's diaries and journals for the years 1928-1939, the period covered by the central story of the novel. I'm deeply indebted to the archivists at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library for their help in assembling the primary material. I'm also indebted to Nansie Cleveland for her excellent bibliography of the writings of RWL and her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder. I'll have more about this later, after I've finished the draft. I'm pretty obsessive about the writing just now.
Garden report. Tomatoes blooming, Kentucky Wonder beans climbing the trellis, spinach planted for early spring harvest. I'll be digging sweet potatoes later this month.
Reading note. Somebody commented on Confederate Rose that it was "easy reading." I'm complimented, but it made me think of this: Easy reading is damn hard writing. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne