Meet the Chickeners: Carly

> Guest post by Allison Branch, Kansas City-based freelance writer. Professional page: www.writerbranch.com / Personal site: www.towardthelamppost.com

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“There’s always a chicken in my house,” Carly Pumphrey says with a smile.

Her warm brown eyes light up as she talks about “chickening,” the catch-all term used by Sally Linville and her artisans to describe the process of handcrafting Chicken Footstools at thecitygirlfarm. Since 2012, Carly has been a part-time “chickener,” one of the first friends of Sally’s to participate in creating the chickens. Having known Sally from their Kansas State University days, when the two were part of the same Interior Architecture and Product Design program, Carly says it was a no-brainer to agree to help Sally create more chickens. “I couldn’t help but say yes,” she says.

For Carly, there is real pleasure in doing the work of chickening. “It’s, quite simply, this creative outlet that I want to make for, even though I don’t have time for it,” referring to her very full life that is overflowing with her part-time job at an architecture firm as well as her husband and their three children. “It’s an opportunity to contribute to these beautiful things within my skill that are outside of work and home. I don’t feel I invest in things that don’t have a deeper purpose and meaning behind it. These chickens do have that [purpose and meaning], which is another reason I want to make time for it.”

There are many steps to building the chicken footstools, but Carly particularly enjoys arranging the felt pieces onto the chickens to create their whimsical wool plumage: “Felt has a way of showing you where it wants to go. It’s like a puzzle that could go lots of ways. There’s always this discovery process in the details. No one chicken is the same.”

Carly describes chickening for thecitygirlfarm as pure “joy. It’s probably what anyone would say in seeing a chicken for the first time...I see this big picture of joy coupled with this art and design world we both come from. I am continually asking myself, how am I inspired? I feel as though [when chickening] I can be an artist, even though my business card doesn’t say ‘artist.’”

Although the important demands of work and family are her priorities, Carly says she will always make time for chickening: “I’m in it as long as I can be in it.”

> Allison Branch

Lava's Betty + Claudette's Flight

The launch of our website in 2012 happened with a glimmer of hope: If we made Chicken Footsools available online, maybe somebody somewhere might want to adopt one... someday... maybe? Much to our surprise, one of our first orders came quickly from a delightful man named Gary in California. His family lovingly accepted 'Betty' into their home. A few years later Gary shared that the family cat 'Lava' had taken a particular liking to Betty, perching and kneading on her daily. Betty was quite ready for a body lift.


We completed the operation as quickly as possible out of expressed concern that Lava 'might go into depression' while she was away. In the spirit of preventative maintenance, we included an additional embroidered cover for Lava to quiet any questions of ownership. Gary reported it took Lava all of 10 seconds to find her...



The story of Lava and Betty is one of those treasured tales we hold close to our hearts. So, imagine our delight when we recently heard from Gary, this time adopting 'Claudette' to keep Lava and other pets company in their new home. We enthusiastically sent her West into a guaranteed life of adventure! Claudette got to take a helicopter ride to reach her final destination- a true island chicken.

Claudette's new home:


Our chickens often live in beautiful places, but most importantly with wonderful people and their child-like hearts. Wishing all our best to this special family and their flock, both furry and feathered.

> Sally Jane

Adventures Await

My beloved husband and I are thrilled to be setting off for a journey together to Maine and into Canada through the month of June! Over three years ago we honeymooned at a cabin outside the small town of Freedom, Maine. Because our relationship had been long distance, arrival at the cabin felt like an arrival to our first home together. It holds a precious place in our hearts.

We will be returning to the cabin with open days to explore, talk, be quiet, read, pray, sing, dance, eat, hike, kayak, make... come what may! I look forward to day trips with opportunity to meet other fiber folk and learn more about what is happening in the fiber world in that region. After Maine, we will be road-tripping up into New Brunswick and Quebec for days of hiking and camping amongst woods, streams, ferns, fjords and beluga whales.

Above all, I know it will be good to step away from chickening (these hands will be happy for the break!) and just be for a while.

I have had tremendous amounts of fun working in the studio these last few months, sculpting beautiful chickens with a wonderful team of artisans. What a comfort to know I am leaving things in good hands! You all will enjoy hearing from Amanda, our newest member of thecgf gang, as she continues to share what is happening around the studio. I promise to keep my eyes and hands open to find beautiful things to share with you along our way.

> Sally Jane

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is just around the corner! If you are looking for something special for your favorite mom here are a few fresh ideas from thecitygirlfarm:

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> Chicken bowls and trays | $48 - $65

Chicken bowls and trays are handmade in Austin, TX by our dear friends Jess & John of jpear Design. Each porcelain bowl is thrown on the pottery wheel, fired and then an image of a chicken footstool is lovingly applied. 


> Chicken T-Shirts | $26

A color and fit for every mom, our designs are printed on American Apparel PolyCotton constructed with 50% Polyester / 50% CombedCotton. 



> thecitygirlfarm Canvas Tote | $22

Now mom can carry all her gear in our new chicken tote bag. They are 100% cotton and come in two sizes, 6oz (14½" x 15½") and 12oz (15" x 19½" x 5"). Both have 22" handles and the 12oz option as a reinforced bottom.


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Please visit our website to place your order and enjoy celebrating mom on this sweet day. Hooray for mothers!

> thecgf gang

Meet Noel

We are pleased to introduce you Chicken Little Footstool fans to Noel, pictured on the right, who is looking for a good home. Her white loopy feathers are made from hand-spun merino wool and she stands proudly on bronze feet. Her red-comb-head is just a bit wild! Noel can be visited at George Lifestyle in the KC Crestwood Shops.

Please contact us if you are interested in bringing Noel into your heart (and home).


 > Sally Jane

Driving Ms. Dixie

Every Wednesday morning since last fall, I have had the honor of spending time with a very special lady named Dixie. She is 85 and absolutely full of life! I am her official driver- visiting doctors, picking up groceries and book club books, swinging by the post office, the bank, the pharmacy and our favorite, getting haircuts. Dixie taught school for 40 years, so she is filled to the brim with stories, ready to share if I ask the right questions.

A few weeks ago Dixie and I were both feeling the weight of changes on our respective horizons. As we were chatting at her kitchen table, winter light shone in through the bay windows. Two potted bulbs were there, each with two slender stalks shooting up from the dirt. One of the plants was topped with elegant buds that revealed only hints of color. The other set of buds had just opened, their tremendous splendor once hidden inside now on full display!

As I beheld their intricate design- colors, form, fragrance, shapes- the words, 'Look for the Blossoms,' entered my heart. I shared them with Dixie as an encouragement to us both to remember that even in the midst of hard things, unforeseeable beauty lies ahead.

The invitation to 'Look for the Blossoms' has been present as we fashion our 2016 Spring Flock of Chicken Footstools. May they foster the hope of spring in all of our hearts, especially those of us here in the seasonal Midwest. (Sunshine, welcome! We are ready to feel you.)

To round out the tale, I was eager to return to Dixie's kitchen and discover the mystery of the second set of blossoms. I was not at all disappointed.

> Sally Jane


The State of Chickening Address

Greetings! The turning of the New Year has brought along an extra-fresh sense of hope for 2016 and all that it may hold. Thank you for your love and support along our journey thus far. We cherish relationships- each special meeting, encouraging comment and story shared is truly wind beneath our wings.

Here are updates on our latest and greatest:

We are thrilled to welcome our newest artisan to thecgf gang, Amanda Houston. She is a designer as well as our marketing director, helping to bring stories of Chicken Footstools- from their making through their adoptions- out to shine brightly in the world.

Also, we are transitioning into our first official studio space in Kansas City. Deep-hearted dreams of having a place to welcome and cultivate community are coming true! Operations continue to be shared between the Kansas farm, where chicken bodies are built, and the city, where fiber and upholstery magic happen. Although we are just beginning the move today, my imagination has already filled the space with possibilities- chickening sessions, workshops, creative experiments, collaborations, tea parties, inspiration boards, window displays, bubbles, curious objects, pop-up shops… sigh. I recognize the space as a gift; a place to work and play and be, surrounded by materials and people I love.

This year we will be looking for opportunities to make new friends in the world of fiber, both wooly and not. The seeds that were sewn in my happy childhood with chickens, eventually bringing forth the idea of a Chicken Footstool, seem to be experiencing a re-awakening. I know deeper connections with the farmers and the animals from which our fiber comes will only lead to more inspiration and learning. Last year, new sources of organic merino wool and mohair in Northern California found their way into our hearts, hands and feather designs for our new Spring Flock collection. Some naturally neutral and some enhanced with natural dyes, all are rich in color and texture that seem made to be touched.

Speaking of our new Spring Flock collection, we will be busy stitching away in the studio until the release sometime in March! We can hardly wait to receive your reactions and see which loving families will bring our lucky Chicken Footstools into their homes.

Cheers to 2016, the year of jubilee and possibility! Oh, and cheers to chickens!

> Sally Jane

Thelma, Louise and a Birthday Boy

This is the story of a boy and his love for chickens.

Last summer we were contacted by a mother wanting to surprise her son on his 19th birthday at the Plaza Art Fair. She told us of his life-long love for chickens and of his pets, Louise and the late Thelma. Her request was that we make a Chicken Little Footstool inspired by Thelma's likeness. We looked at images of Thelma, seeking to express her fun spots and vertical fan of a tail through felting and sculpting. The surprise was a tremendous success! He was touched to tears at the gift (naturally, so were we). He shared his awareness of how people underestimate the value of chickens, relating to them in his own experience of sometimes being misunderstood. The crowds around our booth were also delighted with the presence of pet Louise who perched contentedly on his arm the whole while. So lucky are Louise and our Thelma to be cared for by such a unique and tender heart!

Click here to see more images of Thelma.

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