Barn yarn: Retirees knit sweaters for chilly chickens

MILTON, Massachusetts — Sweaters for chickens? It sounds like a joke, but a plucky group of retirees in suburban Boston has hatched a plan to keep poultry warm during the New England winter.

The unusual project began after members of a knitting club at Fuller Village, a retirement home in Milton, Mass., heard about the hardships that some chickens suffer this time of year.

Certain breeds shed their feathers and grow new plumage in the winter months. Others imported from tropical climates just aren't suited for the wintry conditions.

Organizer Nancy Kearns said the project benefits birds kept on a neighboring estate known as the Mary M.B. Wakefield Charitable Trust.

"I don't think in my wildest dreams I ever thought anybody made sweaters for chickens," said Barbara Widmayer, 76, who started knitting when she was 15 years old.

Among the sweaters Widmayer crafted by hand was one for Prince Peep, a rooster native to Malaysia.

"There's so much going on these days that's kind of contentious in the world," she said. "It was actually very calming to me to work on this."

Another knitter, 76-year-old Libby Kaplan, said the experience has helped her to overcome her fear of birds.

"One person I heard say there were more important things to do in this world. 'Make things for people that need it.' I think animals need to be warm, too, and I'm so glad we did it," Kaplan said.


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The chickens seem to like their sweaters: Estate spokeswoman Erica Max says egg production has jumped noticeably since the birds began wearing them.

It's got some members of the club wondering what exotic project to take on next.

Kearns said someone gave her an article about a need for blankets at an elephant refuge in India. Making something pachyderm-sized, she joked, might be a little too ambitious.

"Probably not something we're going to do," she said. "But you never know."

Galloping moose surprises snowboarder on Colorado run

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. — A moose on the loose caught several skiers and snowboarders by surprise as it galloped headlong down a run at Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado.

Cheri Luther was snowboarding Friday when she saw the moose approaching, and she shot video of the large animal coming within feet of her.

Luther, who kept snowboarding, is heard saying, "Oh, my God, I don't know where to go" before screaming as the moose runs by her.

Resort officials say no one was hurt, and the encounter is a good reminder that skiers and snowboarders share the mountain with wildlife.

In late December, a rare lynx strolled nonchalantly across the Purgatory resort in southwestern Colorado, walking through a crowd of skiers and snowboarders who stopped to take videos.

Associated Press