Tuesday, February 28, 2006

this and that

There really isn't anything exciting going on, but I feel guilty if I don't write stuff on a somewhat regular basis. We had a bunch of wind and rain again and everything's a mess. I am kicking myself for not cleaning chicken coops last week, because now I have to run around in the mud to get it done. This will be the latest I've started setting eggs for several years. Oh well, it's not like I ever have much to show in the fall anyway!

I really want to get back into doing a lot of work with the horses. They've pretty much had the winter off (me too!) but I'm getting excited about the prospect or riding Shylah. Getting nervous too... I think she'll be fine. The question is, will I be fine?!

Oh and I have a clothing rant today too. I bought a skirt on ebay, a costume sort of thing... (long story), and it claimed to be a one-size-fits-all and listed measurements that would definitely include me. Well, ha ha, not even close! More like one-size-fits-anorexic. Unstretched, in its natural comfortable state, it has a 22 inch waistband. Fully stretched, to the point where it would make you horribly uncomfortable, not to mention look really dorky, it has a 32 inch waistband. Good golly no, that ain't gonna work! I really should have known better than to believe that anyway...

And such is life.

I need to talk more about art, don't I? I don't know what to say!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Diva's Day

Normally I like to ramble on and on and make you wonder what I'm going to say by the end of this blog, but for a nice change of pace I'll just cut right to the chase:

I got BEST IN SHOW at the Greater California Society of Poultry Fanciers show in Fresno this weekend!!!! Woo hooo!!!!!!!!! It was "Diva" who won it this time, and if you've been reading the blog for a while, you know I have thought very highly of this bird for quite some time.

I can imagine from reading this blog that you might think this happens all the time. It doesn't! I swear! Things have been going amazingly well this season, but don't think it's always been that way. I've been showing at open shows for 15 years, average 5-7 shows per year, and there have been MANY more non-wins than wins!

It amazes me to win big like that. It's absolutely a thrill, and you wouldn't believe how suspenseful it is. There's nothing you can do but wait and see. You make sure your birds are clean and presentable, but they are judged in their cages, and the exhibitor is not present at the time (well, standing an aisle or two away watching intently perhaps, but it's frowned upon to hover too closely..) You can will your birds to stand nicely, spread their tails, etc, but either I'm not good at ESP or my chickens aren't, because one way or another they don't tend to pick up on it. I watched from the middle of the showroom while the judge was working on the RCCL class. I could tell from where he was standing that he was giving two of my birds a lot of attention when it came down to making the final decisions, and once he wrote the awards on the coop tags I dashed down the aisle to take a look. I was so glad to see that Diva had taken Best RCCL, and one of my males won Reserve RCCL! That's huge, to take both top class awards. There were a lot of nice birds representing other breeds in the class. I don't tend to win much with males. I do on occasion, but over the years it's been very rare, so it's exciting for me that this one male is doing so well also.

Since the RCCL class was judged late in the day, there was little time to do much of anything before Champion Row was judged (all the class Champions and Reserves get moved to coops in the center of the show room). Normally the final judging is Sunday morning, but since this was a one-day show, it happened a little after 5pm Saturday. So the birds were tired, I could see Diva standing there napping! Males will often still be "showy" by the end of the day, but most of the females up there looked like they wanted to take a nap. The one-day schedule is tough on the birds.

So during the final judging there's nothing you can do but watch and wait.. It's incredibly suspenseful and nervewracking! You know the judges are talking about your bird, but don't know what they're saying. They huddle together and the clerk writes things down, and you have no idea what. They walk away and you want to scream "what did you decide?!!" When you have a bird up there that you know is in contention to do well, it's hard to stay calm! And then the next thing I saw was one of the judges writing on my bird's coop tag, so I walked up as close as I could and read it and in tiny letters it said "Best in Show." Woo hooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's huge, there were over 1000 birds!

Oh what a feeling!

What a weekend! :-)

I tried to take some pics today but after a couple hours in the box Diva was in no mood to stand still and pose, so... I'll shoot some pics later. And yes I know I've left out all the details about the people this time, but I think I'm more inclined to talk about the people when I don't have a bird to brag about!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

random pic of the day

Eddie, as seen from below. It's amazing how the face of a bird changes over time, they really do "age." When he was shown in 1997, those ear lobes were round and totally white!

Monday, February 20, 2006


It was a busy day. I picked up slides from my photographer this morning, so now more of the Standard drawings are ready to be shipped out (I have to get them photographed first). There was a flock of wild turkeys walking around the neighborhood there, and it seemed so odd to see them "in town!" I'm used to turkeys all over the place here, but it was really entertaining to watch them fly onto the roofs of the houses. I'm sure plenty of people hate them.

I got a lot of work done on SOP drawings over the weekend, though not (yet) today. I will be up late though to work on them... I started cleaning coops today, and am attempting to get rid of a rat problem that I'm having in one coop. I very rarely have any problem with rodents but then from time the time the rats set up camp and are very hard to get rid of! They won't touch the poison bait, and haven't wandered onto the trap yet (though some time this afternoon something did manage to spring the trap and then eat all the cat food I put on it...hmmm). I am not a big fan of rats.

I had a great impromptu training session with the horses today. I was working on the chicken pens when I noticed the three horses suddenly became very alert, looking at something in the far pasture. There was a half-deflated mylar Valentine balloon drifting along out there. Uh oh, that's just the sort of thing Shylah would eat! So I walked out there and grabbed it, with Shylah right behind me. She arched her neck and snorted when she first got near it, but it took all of about a minute before I was able to rub it all over her, crinkle it and make lots of noise, drag it all over her by the string, etc. I think she thought it was fun. Sampson wanted to eat it, he couldn't seem to keep his lips off it, but after his initial spookiness he had no problem with it either.

And then there's Gwen, the big tough mare who used to be named Harley... the biggest weenie in the universe. Gwen would not be a good parade horse. She was totally freaked out by it, running around farting every time I got near her. By the end of today's session I could approach her while holding the balloon, pet her with one hand while holding it, and touch the balloon to her shoulder. That was significant progress. Needless to say this balloon is going to stick around for a few days until she decides it's not going to eat her.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


I need to rant. I will not mention any specifics though, so that I don't get myself into too much trouble!

There is a show (western trade show, things like art, tack, clothing, etc) in late April that I visited last year and thought was cool. So cool, in fact, that I wanted to be a part of it. I sent off for information, and received a concise form letter telling me to "submit my information" and they would consider me for next year's trade show. Well, that's pretty unspecific. Most shows will give you a deadline, for example, and be pretty specific information about what to include.

But no matter. I talked my saddlemaker friend Brian into applying to split a booth with me, figuring my work would be "backdrop" for his tack. It would be awesome. So knowing that *most* art shows (granted, this is not an art show, but whatever) require one to submit entries up to three months ahead of time, I played it safe and made sure to get our information in FIVE MONTHS ahead of time. I wrote a nice letter explaining what we both do and how we had in mind to share a booth, I spent a couple hours compiling an 8x10 collage of each of our work, spent money getting those printed out as nice glossy photos, included a self addressed envelope, etc.

So the months passed and I did not hear a word from them. Not a "thank you for your interest," not a "we'll let you know," not a darn thing. I figured I would hear something in January, or February at the latest.

So today I just happened to poke around their website, and saw the 2006 trade show vendor list. Am I on it? Well no, of course not. And in itself, that's fine, I sort of didn't expect to get in (let's face it, I'm some weirdo drawing chickens and occasionally horses, do I really fit into the hardcore buckaroo scene? Um, no. But that they didn't accept Brian on his own, that floors me, I'm shocked). So anyway, I'm not that bothered by not getting in, I'm bothered that they lacked the common decency to even say a word. At the very least, the VERY LEAST, there should have been a "thank you for your submission, accepted vendors will be notified" letter. Having them drop a note saying that we didn't get in would have been nice, the ole "we regret to inform you" letters are standard practice in the art world, I've received more than one or two... And I wouldn't have minded if they would send back the photos! Heck, for all I know the darn thing got lost in the mail! Or stolen! Or abducted by aliens!

So yeah, what a bunch of elitist pigs! How dare they!

It's their loss. They're missing out on the best damn chicken artist around these parts (oh yeah, and I can draw horses too to fit in there!) and truly they have overlooked the most incredibly talented saddlemaker. What a crock.

Peaceful Sunday morning

It's another gorgeous day. I'm thinking of making a trip out to the wildlife preserve today to take some photographs. Then again, I'm better off doing that on a weekday, since it can get pretty crowded on a weekend!

The old rooster Ferdie died Thursday night. It didn't seem right to leave Eddie out there alone, so he's living in the kitchen (yes, in a cage!!). It's just been so cold at night. It's only a temporary thing, when the weather warms up he's going back out. Ha ha, he just crowed!

Time to draw some chickens.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


It seems like I've been super busy, and yet I haven't been getting done what I'm supposed to be doing. It seems like ages ago that I wrote a blog entry, but it was just two days. I'm not sure what's up with that. I have a cold, again... It's not too horrible (yet) but I'm just exhausted.

I neglected to mention that the Buff Cornish drawings, which were a struggle to say the least, were enthusiastically approved, and that is a wonderful feeling. I ordered frames for them and the bantam Spangled Cornish yesterday, and will be delivering them to their sponsors at the next show. I'm excited about that, it's extremely gratifying for me when the drawings are finally in the hands of the sponsors (plus I'm hoping the get shown off a bit there, I like the ego boost!). I framed the Rhode Island Whites last night and they look awesome. I'd post pics if I could, but...I can't. You'll just have to take my word for it! I'm working on drawing Bantam White Hamburgs now (hmm, I don't think I've ever seen one of those before!). The hardest part is getting started...just knowing how incredibly much work is ahead of me to even finish one pair, but once I get them started it goes easier and I get into it. I remember I always used to draw from the top left corner to the bottom right corner so I wouldn't smudge it (that was years ago) but I haven't drawn like that for years. Now it's more like foreground to background I guess (well no, because I tend to draw the farther-away parts of the bird first...hmm I'd better not think too much about that or I'll get all hung up on it!), and especially with these drawings the way I draw the bird is very influenced by the background, and vice versa (for example, putting in a VERY dark background means I'll need to deepen the shadows on the bird.) I guess it just comes down to making the bird look like it's really standing there! It never varies that I draw the beak first, and then the eye, and then the face, and then...yeah, on and on, on part at a time.

I counted birds today, I have 78, including the three BBRed cockerels I need to get rid of. They are good birds, I need to figure out what to do with them. The cuckoo and crele crossbreeds will move onward after breeding season, since their offspring will be superior in quality and I will not need to backtrack (probably). I think I'm stuck with "Twinkie" the Silver Duckwing OE though, I'm totally thrilled with him, he's adorable. He's gotten VERY friendly. If I was still a 4-H kid, he's the kind of bird I would drag around to all the exhibit days. I have a rough idea how to set up the breeding pens, but I'll need to sort through ALL the birds and make sure I don't pair up full siblings, and also try to repeat some of the crosses that I did last year that turned out well! I don't normally get around to this til the last weekend of the month, so I'm pretty much on schedule. Major coop cleaning will be required...

I have two roosters who are both 10 years old (Ferdie and Eddie). That's the longest I've ever had a bird live, particularly a rooster (haven't had a rooster make it past 7 before). I think it is nearly the end of the line for Ferdie though, he's been looking increasingly old lately. I now have the two old boys penned up away from the egglayer flock (those big pullets are MEAN!) where they used to live (I sold the old hen and put three pullets in there, ugh, nothing like changing coop dynamics...) So, we'll see. He's comfy, he gets around, and I think the relative peace and quiet will help. It's strange to think of how long I've had those two. They were named by a friend of mine in Art 1 class, my junior year of high school! Ferdie is the first Brassy Back I ever showed, and Eddie is the first BBRed I ever showed (4 generations into the project). Maybe he'll pull through, he's surprised me before!

That's about it for today. Hey, I just noticed the little time stamp isn't showing up while I'm writing this. That's weird.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine Humbug

Depending on your situation, I wish you one of two things:

Happy Valentine's Day!!!


BAH HUMBUG!!! Yeah, that's more of a Christmas expression, but I think it still applies.

Anyway, in other news, all the poultry tiles are now posted on eggbid.com, and hopefully they will sell like hotcakes.

I managed to take some pictures of the winning bird today, plus I had a good one of the rooster that I took over the weekend. So here's "Luna" the Black Rosecomb pullet who won Best in Show, and the un-named Black Rosecomb cockerel who won Reserve RCCL.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


I left here Friday morning and drove up to Eureka for the weekend. That's about 300 miles away, and yes I am nuts for driving 300 miles to show chickens. Compared to the last show though (Stockton, where I showed 30 birds and brought the art) this was totally kick-back and relaxing. I really enjoy going up north for this show, it's like a vacation. Normally this time of year it would be pretty darn chilly, and I seem to remember freezing my buns off up there before. But I could not have asked for better weather this year, it was a gorgeous trip. I wouldn't say that I like to drive, but I like certain drives, and this is one of them. I like to drive alone, I don't like to drive other people around. So spending 6 hours in the car with myself is quite fine with me, I do a lot of thinking, I can sing along to the radio so much it makes my jaw hurt, I apologize out loud to my car ever time I make it go up hill (that's quite a bit, by the way), and apologize even more when I make it pass someone while going up hill. My car is not fond of hills. I made a point to take some pictures of the scenery this time, since I see so many beautiful things along the way. Unfortunately some of the most spectacular views are while crossing over the rivers, and there is absolutely no way to pull over. And 101 is crawling with highway patrol...

That's what it looks like to drive through a redwood forest (an experience that everyone should have in life. Redwoods are amazing). I didn't manage to get a photograph of the area on this scenic route with the biggest trees, because I was a dork and thought "there will be more" and then I didn't want to turn around and go back, but you get the idea. There was nobody else on the road so I just stopped the car...

Off 101, looking west, somewhere around Willits...just south of there I think.

Off 101 (I'm parked overlooking it actually), facing east. I don't remember where I took this, maybe 45 minutes or so south of Eureka. I'm not too good with the concept of time and distance...

So yeah....the poultry show... I don't know what the total bird count was there, but it's not a huge show. There were a lot of really good birds though, and I just love to visit with the people (poultry people are the best in the world!). It was a very relaxing weekend. No art sales, no clerking, no working, just schmoozing, sitting around, looking at birds, and drooling over the Friesians that are boarded at the fairgrounds... Oh, and no parties to report on either (or at least not that I was aware of!). I know, how dull. ;-)

I was helping with the Avian Bowl competition while the RCCL class was getting judged, so when I finally got a chance to go see how the birds had done I was *quite* pleased to see that I'd won Best RCCL with a Black pullet AND Reserve RCCL with a Black cockerel. Woo hoo!! Normally championship judging is done on Sunday morning, but at this show they present the awards at the Saturday night banquet, so they pick everything Saturday. Both judges said to me "you will be happy." Hmm. I'm not one to read too much into this. I'm happy to get a bird up on Champion Row with a class award, so I would be really happy to take Best Bantam, and that's what I thought they might be hinting at.

So, before too long it was evening and banquet time and award time, and people were called up there for class awards.. And then I was called up for Best Bantam, "on a beautiful black Rosecomb" as G.A. said every time he announced it at the award ceremony. Woo hoo!! The wheels in my head were starting to turn a bit, and I was getting a couple of the ole butterflies in my stomach after Reserve of Show was presented to the owners of the beautiful Egyptian Goose, and I started to wonder if perhaps I had another award coming my way....

And sure enough...

"Best in Show, with a Beautiful Black Rosecomb..."

HOLY CRAP I WON!!!!!!!!!!! :-)

It's such a rush. Oh my gosh. Totally awesome. Totally totally awesome. Thrilling. Exciting. Rewarding. Gratifying, hand-shaking, hugging-everyone awesomeness.

But don't worry, it hasn't gone to my head yet. ;-) At least, I don't think so! I will try to get some pics of the bird(s) up here this week. My pics I took of the female while at the show didn't turn out all that great (out of focus) so I will shoot some at home tomorrow if I get a chance.

Two more shows to go, and time to set up breeding pens!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Horses and other things

Now that's the way to spend a sunny afternoon!:

I decided to try to get some action shots of the girls yesterday. Obviously I didn't bother to do any grooming... Trying to work the lunge whip AND the camera at the same time proved difficult. Every time I would pay attention to trying to take pictures the horses would stop and graze. They know when I'm not focused on them! So these aren't great, but oh well. (Pictures are not to scale, Gwen's bigger than Shylah in real life!)



I spent ALL day today working on the Buff Cornish, and I think I'm actually done, woo hoo! I need to not look at them for a while (overnight) and then see what I think in the morning. If they still look ok, then I'm done, but it's not unusual to need to make some adjustments.

I had the extreme urge to bake something tonight, so I made brownies. I didn't want to make the usual kind so I found some other ones in one of Mom's cook books, but I didn't have the right ingredients, so I made a bunch of changes (what? Follow a recipe? Ha haha... I very rarely do that...) They turned out pretty darn good! A nice change from the usual brownies, they have a very unique texture (spongy yet fudgy, you'd have to try them to understand that). So if you want to make them, here ya go, this is what I did:


1 cup butter or margarine
1-3/4 cups brown sugar
5 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cocoa
3 tablespoons canola (veg) oil
2 tablespoons chocolate cream liqueur
1 tablespoon Hershey's syrup
1 cup flour
pinch of salt

Cream margarine and sugar until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla, beat thoroughly. Add cocoa, oil, liqueur, and chocolate syrup, beat til smooth. Add flour and salt, and mix until combined.

Pour into greased 9x13" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 27 minutes, or until top no longer looks "wet," toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, and edges are just starting to pull away from the pan. Serve warm! Yummy! :-)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

To everyone with animals:

Have you heard of NAIS yet? This will affect EVERYONE with even ONE animal. I'm not just talking chickens here. This is bad... You need to read this stuff:

info on The Poultry Connection
info from Poultry Press

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Felt like spring today!

It was warm and sunny today, I even opened some windows! It's been a busy weekend, as usual.. I attended Avian Sciences Day at UCD yesterday, and was enthralled with the presentation by Dr. Whiting of Whiting Farms. Wow!

This morning I got to leave here at 5:30am to go to auction. Gosh I just love to get up early...not. I took 24 birds to auction, and I have never seen so many vehicles lined up waiting to unload birds, it was nuts. I hope as many buyers as sellers showed up! I got back around 8:30, fed the horses, and fell asleep for a few more hours. I got a whole lot of work done on the Buff Cornish drawings this weekend. Buff is a new color for me to draw, and as with all the others there is this big challenge of figuring out exactly which pencils to use, in what order, to create the ideal buff color. In real life there is a range of buff, some lighter, some darker, so as long as I get it in that spectrum somewhere... The birds themselves are more or less done but they are looking quite bland, so I'm definitely going to need to put in a DARK background to get them to pop out a bit, and then I'll have to work on the shadows on the birds themselves (to match the background).

I worked with Shylah today in the roundpen, which I hadn't done for a while (hard to feel inspired to work horses when it's muddy and cold). W took Sampson away for a few hours to work him with her other horses, so I figured as long as Shylah was going to run around like a dork, she could at least run on cue, which is what she did. Hadn't forgotten a thing. :-) I think her action has gotten a little flashier. Could be she was just feeling pretty zippy today (no doubt about that!) but her movement looked particularly fancy. Or maybe it was just the contrast to having watched Sampson plod around in there earlier, haha! I really need to get some action pics of her. She's still in fuzzy-yak mode.

So anyway, with all the extra birds gone now, it's getting to be time to think about setting up breeding pens and hatching chicks. I feel totally not ready for that. I'm not sure what I'll hatch or how many, or how it will compare to last year. I've been toying with the idea of selling eggs. I've considered this in the past, but always decide against it, not because someone might get a really good bird, but because someone might get absolutely nothing even half decent, especially with the BBReds. I hatched probably about 80 (?) of them last year (what, keep records? ha ha) and ended up with...hmmm....less than 20 that I would consider good enough to be show or breeding stock, and just a handful of those that I would really call GOOD. So it's kind of dicey, people might spend a lot of money and get a bunch of culls, and that wouldn't do much for my reputation. On the other hand, there are times the birds are laying that I don't collect eggs, which is a waste, and maybe if I just was very up-front about ALL the problems they could end up with, maybe it would be okay. I don't know, it has pros and cons....

But first I'll have to clean all the coops. Woo hoo.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Hey, that's not a moose!

Nevermind that Mom still has the Christmas moose collection out... in February....

I was in here on the computer last night and I heard something *sigh.* Hee hee!

14 years of Rosecombs

I was going to post this yesterday but I forgot. I've been raising Rosecombs for 14 years now! Got the first trio (Charlie, Rose, and Maddie) on February 2, 1992. I had the Old English for several years before that. That's a long time to stick with one breed!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Artwork showing

As of late this morning, I have four art pieces hanging at Original Pete's in Elk Grove (by the UA theater). I am sharing the space with two other artists, Stacy Maeda and Kanika Marshall. I took pics this morning after hanging but at that time just my work and Stacy's work was up. We often show at the same shows (like Draft Horse Classic) so we are pretty similar in style... at first glance people may think that's the work of one artist. Mine are the horse in the top left ("Dreadlocks and Dust"), the two long skinny images to the right/below that ("Silver Phoenix" and "Cockadoodledooooo!!!") and the two-in-one draft horses with the wood frame and black mat ("Harnessed").

This shows my work a little better, but the pic below this shows the whole wall. There will be more work there by the end of the day, but I wasn't sure I'd make it back in to take more pictures.