Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Spilling the Cocoa

Is it possible to bake something without spilling cocoa? I don't know what it is about that stuff, but it gets everywhere! I don't usually spill flour, or baking soda, or cinnamon... But cocoa, geez, look at it funny and it's all over the counter top. Maybe it's just the size of the container or something....

Too bad you don't have a scratch and sniff monitor. I spent several hours this evening baking cookies. Tomorrow is the Baked Goods show at the CA State Fair, and I have two entries: "Snickerdoodle Supremes" and "Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies." Both of these are recipes I made up myself. Keep your fingers crossed for me! I did well last year, got a 1st and 2nd place. I figure entering the Baked Goods show makes up for not entering artwork and not usually doing all that well with the chickens there! :-)

Monday, August 29, 2005

Soggy Chickens

Today was chicken-washing day. The State Fair open poultry show is this weekend, so I had to get the birds cleaned up (might need some spot cleaning by Friday!). I'm only taking 3 birds, so this doesn't even compare to the winter shows where I sometimes have to wash 20-30 birds. And of course that time of year I can't just toss them out into the yard to dry! Do they like being washed? Not really, chickens aren't exactly water-fowl. They do get used to it though, and after a while they don't seem to mind. Every now and then I even see one that seems to enjoy the warm water (eyes closed, "ahhhh"). Especially when washing hydrophobic youngsters, I think I often end up soggier than they do! It's going to be a really pathetically small show this weekend. I suppose that means a better chance of winning, though I'd be pretty surprised. It's hard to have a bird in good condition this time of year, since this is when they molt (lose their feathers and then regrow them). The three hens I am taking are in pretty ragged condition, though they don't look all that bad from the outside of the cage! The "real" shows don't start til October. I'm looking forward to them!

In the mean time though, Draft Horse Classic is looming ever closer on the horizon and once again I am wondering how on earth I am going to pull off all the work that's involved in getting my booth ready. My current headache is trying to find a way to process credit cards. I've never done it before (because it's a bit of a hassle) but I think I'm missing sales by not being able to take credit cards. Ugh. The business aspects of this stuff really don't sit well with me. I'd much rather spend all my time drawing and handling the art-making itself. Unfortunately, I'm all I've got, so that leaves it up to me to make business decisions. Anyone who knows me will know that decisiveness isn't one of my strong points. :-)

Dinner time!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

New Hampshire

Another chicken plaque!

"New Hampshire #1" 6.75 x 9.5" mixed media (acrylic, ink, metallic gold ink on wood, imprinted chicken wire background which is hard to see except in person) For sale.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Upcoming Art Show!

I just got the printed invitations today from the show, but they didn't send many, so I will probably only be able to send printed invitations to anyone who doesn't have email. But, here they are so you can make a note of the show! (by the way you can click on the images to see the full-size version so you can read it...)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Makes me think of dairy cows

Well, the Ancona chicks have hatched and been taken to their new home. I hope they turn out nicely. I am finally done hatching!!! The incubators are off! Ah, silence. :-) Of course that means I have to clean the incubator room...ugh.

Another One

"Minorca #1" Mixed Media (acrylic & India ink on wood, carved lines). ~6.75 x 9.5 inches. For sale.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Round Pen!

It's up! W (Sampson's owner) and I put up the round pen this morning. It took about 2 hours. It's huge! The sand will still need some raking to even it out a bit more but it's pretty hot outside now so I'll do that later. I am excited, really looking forward to doing some serious training work with Shylah now (and Gwen could certainly use a refresher!)

W working on the round pen.

Me holding a panel while W works on the clamps.


Friday, August 19, 2005

New Image

I have an art show coming up in less than a month (Draft Horse Classic) which means it's time to start stressing out about it already. I really need to make some new stuff so it's not all the same as last year, but I don't have a whole lot of time for that (nothing big...) so I am working on making some paintings/mixed media images. I still say "I am not a painter" but I guess it won't hurt me to pick up a paint brush every now and then. Heck, maybe I'll even start saying "yeah, I'm a painter too." Somehow being called a "drawer" doesn't have a very romantic ring to it...

Anyway, I was going to do a bunch of horse paintings, since it is a horse show, but I've got this reputation as "the chicken lady" anyway so I might as well just go with it. Chickens are fun. You'd think I would be sick and tired of chicken art but I'm really not. These are a good break from the rigidity of making PERFECT chickens. These are lighthearted, not realistic, not perfect, not even necessarily "standard." Definitely going to be some artistic license going on... Here I am talking like I've made a bunch. Pshaw. I did one today. I have a bunch more wood plaques and plan to do a series of chickens and horses over the next few weeks.

This is "Modern Game Bantam #1" That is a female Birchen Modern Game Bantam. There may or may not end up being more Modern Games but just to be on the safe side I'll go ahead and number it. This is done with acrylic paint, metallic silver pen (looks much cooler in real life) and sharpie pen on a wood plaque. It's 5x7 inches, and will be for sale at the DHC unless it's sold before then, which I certainly wouldn't argue with. Contact me for more info. And on a side note, Mom says the background is ugly, but personally I think it looks pretty good! I don't use bright colors too often...gotta mix it up from time to time... ;-)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Funny Horse Pics

Got the sand delivered today for the round pen!

Sampson (left) and Shylah (right) making sure it's acceptable. They were both pawing at it and sticking their muzzles into it and flinging it around, which was hilarious. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me at first.

Bleh! Shylah got a mouthful of sand!

Sampson wandered off to roll in the dust. Of three horses here, he's the one that's not mine. I board him for a friend. He's a 15 month old draft X.

Gwen wasn't amused by any of this. I mean, you can't eat a big pile of sand so... what's the point?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


I am hatching Ancona chicks as a favor to someone (this is not a breed I raise, I was given the eggs to hatch out). Chicks take 21 to hatch. Sometimes maybe 20, but 21 is "normal." I set eggs on August 1st. I heard some peeping today, but thought I was just hearing the cuckoo chicks that are out in the storage room. I don't have any chicks in the incubator room so I don't tend to look in there much. But I thought well I'd better check. Good golly there was a chick on the floor of incubator! Ummm...17 days. Okayyyy.. Anconas are apparently a little weird, so this gets added to the collection of weird Ancona stories. My first thought was that the egg must have been sat upon by a hen for a couple days before I got it, but that was not the case. They were collected fresh, and stored cool. When I candled them, at 6 days and then about a week later, I saw no differences in development. So basically this is really weird. It looks as healthy as can be! Sheesh.

All in (two) days' work

I wouldn't want anyone to think it's all sitting around drawing chickens here. No no no. Ok well I do an awful lot of that, but I thought I'd share with you one of the other really fun things I get to do from time to time. (Woop! Woop! Sarcasm alert!) I get to stack hay! Lucky me! There was a lot more hay work this year because there are now three horses here (two mine, one belongs to a friend). It was looking like it would be delivered into the barn (onto that blue tarp), but it turns out the barn door was too short for the hay wagon to get through. Arg! So they unloaded it right at one end of the barn. Technically was all inside, but it was a last-minute thing and I didn't ever get a tarp down underneath. Besides, it pretty much blocked the whole doorway... So...52 bales in two days, and it's now totally relocated. I'm not fond of stacking hay, but I sure feel like I've accomplished something by the time I finish. What would this be without pictures? :-)

Here's the whole stack as it was unloaded from the wagon. 8x8' and 6 bales high. I don't know how much a hay bale weighs but it's a lot. I think they are usually about 60-100 lbs (depends on type of hay, density, etc) and these are on the heavy end of the spectrum. I'm not good at estimating weight, I just know they are dang heavy!

After a couple hours it was down to this much. I moved 24 bales into the extra stall, which has a 4x12' hay storage area and a 4' aisle. Here's how that looks (as seen from the horse stall). Those are stacked 6 high on the left end! *whew*

So then I finished the remaining 28 bales this morning. They got moved about 20 feet over into the middle of the barn between the two stall doors. I'm glad I don't have to do THAT again for another year!

Shylah would gladly help if she could! :-) (she gets a little *overly* helpful sometimes...)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

another Sunday night

Whoa there, what happened to the weekend? Been busy I guess. I think I finished the Spangled Cornish drawings today. I say "I think" because the committee could tell me otherwise, but in my mind they are done. If you felt a strong breeze this evening that could have been my sigh of relief. That has been a VERY tough color to draw, it's soooo intricate. I am looking forward to something solid-colored for the next pair of drawings. :-) Anyway hopefully these will be accepted, I think they are pretty cool. I am almost a third done with the project now (that's actually rather depressing...)

The ducks are flying now, and will soon be gone. I guess I should explain that, for anyone who doesn't know the duck story. Almost every year for the past..hmm...at least 15 years, probably more (?) we have raised wild Mallards. The eggs come from hay fields that are being cut. Once the nest has been mowed over, the hen won't come back to incubate the eggs. So we know a couple of hay guys, and they bring the eggs to me. Used to be that I would raise them in a brooder like I do with the chicks, but ducks are really rather disgusting creatures that delight in taking water out of the waterer. Not that they drink it all, they just sort of fling it around until everything is soggy and smells awful. And of course being wild ducks they are insane. So several years ago I realized if I gave the newly hatched ducklings to a broody (sitting on a nest) chicken, they ducklings will bond with the mother chicken (and vice versa, to an extent) and that works out just beautifully. Then they can be raised outdoors in the garden and I don't have to deal with them turning everything they touch into mud (they still do, but if it's not in a small enclosed space it's not nearly as offensive). So anyway, they grow up and then when they are about 2 months old they are able to fly. It starts with just short flights out into the yard, and then they go a little farther out into the pasture (cracks me up that they FLY away, and WALK back home...). Then they start circling the property, going farther away for longer periods of time. And then one day they don't come back. And so ends my time with the ducks. I love it. Everyone thinks that must be so sad to see them leave, but it's really a beautiful thing. I love to see them fly away. And that's not to say I don't enjoy having them here. They are cute and amusing, but they are wild birds and it's a really cool thing to see them return to the wild. So this years ducks will be gone within a few days. In fact I'm not sure they are here now, but they may be back in the morning. Or they might not be. :-)

In other news, I am finally going to have a round pen soon! Boy has this been a saga. I had to save up for ages to afford one, they aren't cheap! But I have found that I really need one, considering I have a two-year-old filly who I plan to start riding within the next year...and therefore I have LOTS of training to do. So I have had the panels themselves since April. They are just sitting by the barn. A friend came over with his tractor today and scraped the area of the pasture where the pen will be set up (just to make it flatter and get rid of the weeds). The sand will be delivered (and spread, yay!) on Thursday, and then I'm not sure yet when we'll get the panels up. Possibly over the weekend, though it just depends when various people are available to help. I can't wait to finally have use of a round pen!!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Cuckoo update

The last batch of Cuckoo chicks (Dominique X Black Rosecomb) hatched over the weekend. It was a small group of eggs, but a very good hatch rate. I ended up with 6 cuckoo, 2 black, and 3 brassy back (still not sure how those happen, but oh well).

I hadn't even noticed that the BBRed colored ones in Batch 3 have a light spot on the back of their heads, and now they are feathering out with faint barring, so maybe they will be crele colored??? Time will tell! I don't anticipate anything being show quality in this generation. They are all fairly large.

In Batch 2 (not photographed recently) the Cuckoo baby is male, and all the rest look like females (3 black, 1 brassy back).

In Batch 1, it's definitely 1 male and 2 females. One female may be half Rosecomb, but I think the yellow-legged one (in the corner) is definitely pure Dominique.

driving all over the place

Sunday was an exciting day. It started out around 4:30am with me wondering why the little white object next to my bed with the numbers on it was hollering at me. That was my alarm clock of course, but I'm so out of it in the morning that I often don't recognize it as a clock. It's a thing with numbers, and it yells and screams (actually it just beeps, but my scrambled brain doesn't hear it that way so early in the morning). So after a few minutes I finally figured out what was going on and commenced the getting up process. By 5:45 I'd caught all 52 birds and loaded them into the minivan, and off I went. I arrived at the auction yard at 6:37, and was 7 cars back in a line to drop off birds. By the time I left, there were at least 10 more cars behind me. That's a LOT of birds! I hope the prices aren't too awful.

So I got back home at 8, fed all the critters, and then my friend J picked me up at 9. (As a privacy thing, I'm not going to write people's names in here). I wasn't sure where all we'd be going. We started out in the town of Jackson for breakfast, and then went to Sutter Creek to look at gallery where someone J knows had some work showing. I ended up asking about getting my own stuff into the gallery, and may try that after Draft Horse Classic (late Sept). If I submit work before then I'd just have to get more things framed, and that's so expensive I really try to avoid it.

We left Sutter Creek and took some back roads out to the highway (J knows the area quite well. I, lacking a sense of direction, was utterly lost for most of this trip). After one stop to look at riding trails along the way, we ended up at Silver Lake and learned that they do indeed have horse camping and trails there. Perhaps when Shylah is a little older that will be something fun to do! It was really pretty there, such a change to get out of this stiflingly hot valley. Pine trees, rocks, mountains, lakes! And the smell, wow! I know, it's just pine trees, but I haven't been in the mountains for ages and it just totally brought back memories of camping as a little kid (not that those are all good memories...but anyway). Here is a pic from Silver Lake:

Now I had thought that was the extent of our trip, since it was all I had known we were going to do. But...J is very spontaneous (unlike me) so we kept going. We stopped at Kirkwood, which is a ski resort, though obviously there isn't any snow at this time of year so it was pretty much empty other than some people around who I guess were maybe hiking or something. And then we kept going--drove past Caples Lake, and then stopped at Woods Lake to see where a particular hiking trail was located. Woods Lake was beautiful. It was much smaller than Silver Lake. Here are pics from Woods Lake:

And then we kept going. We stopped at some cute little resort area to poke around, and then J said that if we were going home we'd go back thataway, but as long as we were there, Nevada was just over the mountains, and she said that's "real cowboy country" and therefore I needed to see it. I will have to remember that for future reference. ;-)

As we dropped down out the pine trees, everything changed. It turned into sage brush and open space. The transition was so sudden!

Driving into Nevada.

We drove around that part of Nevada a little (mind you I had NO idea I was going to end up in Nevada...) and I must say I am bit disappointed in the lack of cowboys that were visible at that particular time. I did see lots of cows and horses, and pickup trucks, so I guess all the cowboys must have been in their trucks. Oh well. I actually liked it there though...

Nevada...would have looked even better with a bunch of cowboys and horses out in that field...

So long Nevada!

We left Nevada and headed back up the mountains, and when we got to the other side, there was Lake Tahoe! Wow! (did I mention I'm geographically challenged...and totally lost most of this trip?) I didn't get any lake pics because we didn't stop there, just headed back toward home, stopped for dinner, and got back here around 9. I was sooooooo tired, but it was really a fun trip! A nice break from sitting around here drawing chickens every day... ;-)

Saturday, August 06, 2005

disjointed thoughts

Well whaddya know, it's still hot! Lucky me I get to be up at 4:30am tomorrow to take 52 chickens to auction. Yup, I decided to go, and NO I am NOT a morning person. On the bright side, after I leave there will be 33 fewer roosters here, which will greatly reduce the annoyance factor. I really don't mind the sound of roosters crowing. In fact I kind of like it. But having an excessive amount of pubescent boy roosters around here trying out their squeaky voices does grate on the nerves a bit. To be honest though, I can sleep right through it... but I seem to be the only one around here with that particular talent. :-)

There was a horrendously large spider right by the back steps this evening. Oh crap! You know how I said I didn't like bugs? Well I know it's not taxonomically correct but "bugs" to me is any creepy crawly thing, which includes spiders that could easily overcome small to medium sized mammals. I don't know kind of spiders they are but we get a lot of them in the summer, and they also have a knack for sneaking into the house. We also get those adorable little tree frogs around here in the summer, and they sneak into the house too, so there are few things worse than when I see a brownish critter on the floor from some distance away, and go to pick it up, thinking it's a frog, and it turns out to be some hairy spider. Anyway, ugh. I needed proof of the size of this beast though, so I took a pic. I really don't want to actually post it here though because it's so gross, so I'll just put a link, and then if you're really brave you can go look at the big hairy spider. Could be related to Aragog perhaps? (non Harry Potter fans won't get that). Oh and yes, I really did put that ruler there next to it...scared the heck out of me, I was afraid I might lose my whole arm in the process...

And then on a totally unrelated note (I warned you this would be disjointed), I seem to know a lot of people who are getting engaged lately. This is exciting. Love is in the air! Or maybe it's just something in the water...who knows. (either way I guess, as long as it blows this way!) Congratulations ladies, I'm happy for you. :-) And anyone else in the world who is reading this who just got engaged--congrats to you too!

Well, I have to get up in less than 6 hours so I'd better end this.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Cuckoo Batch 3

Well, the third batch of the Cuckoo experiment was a HUGE disappointment. The temperature and humidity in the hatcher had gotten all out of whack since last time I used it (about a month ago) and I stupidly hadn't re-checked it before transferring the eggs. So unfortunately, most of the eggs did not hatch. That is what I hate about artificial incubation--I am not very good at it and all those poor embryos died. :-( *sigh*

On the bright side, at least there are several cuckoo colored ones to work with. I had also set some eggs from a Dominique male X BBRed Rosecomb females in this batch. They could potentially be useful for working in the Crele variety at some point, but for now it was more like a "hey let's see what will happen!" crossing. A few of those chicks look like BBReds right now, a few are like dark BBReds (anybody know what color Crele chicks are??), and two of them are cuckoo! I find that quite unexpected, but then again I really know very little about cuckoo/barred genetics. I'm quite curious to see which turn out to be males and which will be females. There is one more batch due next weekend, keep your fingers crossed!

I am overrun with birds right now. I had to skip the last auction because it was too hot, and I may need to skip it this weekend too. We'll see...it has been warming up a little slower the last few days, so I might still chance it. I really don't enjoy going to auction, but unfortunately there isn't much else to do with the non-show-quality birds.

The last time the high temp here was under 100 degrees was in early/mid July. Have I mentioned I hate summer weather??!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

open to suggestions

As I find myself more urgently needing income, I am putting more thought into the idea of getting more "stuff" made that I can sell--shirts, mugs, tote bags, etc. Gifty stuff, in other words. I know which images are my best-sellers on note cards and prints, but I don't know that it will translate into other items. So I am open to suggestions. Browse the website, and tell me which image (or images) you would most like to see available as something other than a print or note card. I'm thinking I'd like to start with just a couple images, and gradually maybe add more. I don't have the funds to do much up-front. Don't worry, I'm not looking for commitments to buy anything!!! Just suggestions. And for that matter, what types of items does anyone think would be good to sell? You can post it in the "comments" field on this blog--you don't have to be a member to do that. When you click on comments, either go to "other" or "anonymous." Thanks for the help!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


I saw a strange thing today--a BIG dead fish along the shoulder of the road. I'm guessing it must have fallen out of somebody's vehicle somehow ("durn it there goes the fish!"). There's no water along the road.... I know, talk about a really random posting today, but it was just so out of place. I did quite a double-take!

It's still disgustingly hot. When the weather guy forecasts that we might have a slight cooling trend, and the forecast shows it going down to 100, that's bad.