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Unpromising beginnings and unintended consequences

I have spent the last two nights casting on and knitting the first four rounds of my latest project. It is a huge cowl knit in fingering weight yarn, but the instant I saw a swatch of the pattern, I kind of lost my mind. (Language NSFW.)

miri cowl

As part of all the renovation work this summer, the area under my cabin got cleaned out. It had been packed full of random bits of leftover construction material – cement pipes, plastic tubes, boards, railings, all that sort of stuff.

Not only was it somewhat unsightly, but it also harbored dampness and also mice. Now it looks great! And a plastic sheet was laid down as a moisture barrier: awesome!

miri cowl

Additionally, more of the floor had insulation applied. This kind of insulation basically takes the form of big sheets of styrofoam.

Now we come to the down side of all this: turns out the chickens love to eat styrofoam. So much so that they will grab a chunk and run around with it, like it’s a prized delicacy.

miri cowl

You can’t really see in that picture, but Dolly has tell-tale flecks of styrofoam on her beak.

A little bit of styrofoam’s not going to hurt them. It gets ground up in their gizzard and passes right through. But there is a lot of styrofoam down there, not just the big leftover sheets but lots of bits and chunks and pieces.

There is a limit to how much styrofoam I’m willing to let my chickens eat, you know?

I have been using a leaf rake to reach under the cabin and pull out all the chunks of styrofoam I could reach. And when I let the chickens out, I periodically stick my head out to listen for the tell-tale sound of chickens pecking at styrofoam. Here’s what I have collected so far.

miri cowl

I really hope I don’t end up having to crawl under the cabin to pull out the last of it. It’s narrow down there, and dirty, and there are spiders.

10 comments to Unpromising beginnings and unintended consequences

  • Lisa Eaton

    One of my cats is crazy for styrofoam packing peanuts! We can’t leave any shipping boxes open around him.

  • Chicken wire around the insulated area? Leash the chickens? (just kidding) (Oh, that reminds me. Have you read Lois McMaster Bujold’s Cryoburn? One character leashes Miles so he won’t fall off the roof in the dark, a technique he’d used on his chickens.)

  • suenapse

    hi- so my family has chickens and discovered the “love of styrofoam” thing early this summer and ended up not letting the chickens roam because of it. Also, their styrofoam had a blue coating so they had to deal with blue chicken poop which is of those amusing in retrospect kind of things.

  • I’m right there with you on that pattern. Holy crap, what a gotta-make!
    Chickens and their dietary adventures… *sigh*

  • Karen in Michigan

    If the chickens eat the styrofoam, will they lay eggs that are already in cartons?

  • Yup. Gotta make that cowl. For me? As a gift? Who cares, it’s the knitting that will be awesome.

    • Erika

      That’s pretty much where I’m at, too! I don’t even particularly care for this color combination, but it’s yarn I happened to already have on hand, and I just had to start knitting it ASAP.

  • Sara

    Gwyndolyn used to eat styrofoam, too. It made her poops float.

    (TMI, sorry!)