Saturday, March 26, 2011

storm damage

OMG, this rain! This feels like January!

Every year, it's hard to imagine that any more trees could fall down. But they do!

This one has been trying hard to die for a few months, and was staked and tied from two sides but the wind was too much and the ground is too soft. So it's officially dead now, it won't be standing back up. Sad, my mom really loves these trees and keeps trying to grow one there. I think this is the third one that has died. Time to stop planting them there, methinks....

And then there's this one, which thank goodness didn't squish anything like the white fence, or the chain link fence, or the propane tank (which you can't see in this pic but it's about 2 feet from the short chain link fence right across from the top of the tree)...

Friday, March 25, 2011

these chickens are driving me crazy!

Ugh, hatching season is off to a really craptastic start. Like I mentioned a while back, this is earlier than I've tried to hatch birds in a long time. Even a few years back, the first batch would hatch maybe two weeks or so into April, and I know that their prime hatching time is usually in May. So this is early, and I'm hoping I can chalk all the problems up to that. Unfortunately I'm on a pretty tight schedule, what with the whole "I have to go to Atlanta" thing in early June. It's bad enough having to foist the daily care of babies off on someone else while I'm gone, but I certainly can't have any hatching right then.

Fertility has been terrible. Really really terrible. So terrible I'm incredibly glad I'm not trying to sell eggs right now. The Black male is at a whopping 0% fertility so far. There's not a mite on him, he's clean, I just wormed him... he was used in a breeding pen last year... ugh. I guess I can give him one more week and then I'm going to have to swap him out for the "backup" cockerel, a nice looking bird who has no sickle feathers. So I would take a serious risk breeding that cockerel, but it's either that or I keep waiting, or use the Blue male and no longer have a purebred Black line. Crap.

And now one of the BBRed males is down to almost 0% fertility after doing okay the first two weeks. What's changed? Well, it's a whole lot muddier and little bit colder. Maybe they are just aren't in the mood??

Oh, and I don't know what's happened in the last week of incubation but nearly half of batch 2 is dead in the shell. What the heck?!?!?!

I'm expecting four chicks this weekend.

Pathetic. :-(

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March 23 work in progress

There are a whole bunch of projects that are on the cusp of existing, and I seem to be waiting for a lot of things. Waiting for confirmation. Waiting for approval. Waiting to order supplies. Waiting for a pendant to come back from a jeweler. I guess I really am fairly patient. But seriously... I get tired of waiting.

Anyway, I've started work on another knife, because there's no waiting to be done there. I am really enjoying doing work for the William Henry company! Things move along quickly, decisions happen fast, communication is excellent. Two thumbs enthusiastically up!

This is a terrible photo of a beautiful knife, but of course it's late at night as always so the picture sucks. It has mammoth ivory scales and the engraving (by Jim Small) is wonderful. I don't have the blade, nor do I know what it will look like. I had a few possible subjects come to mind, and W.H. gave me a list of possible subjects, and one of theirs was dragons, which made me go "YEAH! Why didn't I think of that!" So, dragons it is! This'll be a European dragon, not a Chinese dragon.

Boy are they fun to draw, but talk about a lot of work! Not exactly a lot of reference photos out there, so I'm piecing together ideas from studies of birds, bats, dogs, dinosaurs, and of course other people's interpretations of dragons. So far I've got a pretty solid sketch for the front side, still need to sketch out the back side, and work out the color scheme (which may well be grayscale, I'm actually in favor of grayscale right now).

Stay tuned!

In other news, we're having a lot of rain. It's been muddy since, oh, November? I'm tired of it. I've had enough of muddy dog feet. Not ready for summer, just tired of mud.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

random photos

I'm not the only one who likes my cowboy pillow:

It's a peanut! In the shape of a little bird! (Or maybe I'm just crazy!):

I drove out to Angels Camp this morning to buy some old ivory, and was highly amused by this so called chicken ladder. Turns out it has nothing to do with chickens, it was a pedestrian path for people to walk up and down the steep road. I'm not sure why it's called a chicken ladder... but of course I had to take a picture.

Speaking of chickens, this is the rooster that lives at the post office here in Wilton. I don't know his story. He's been there for a while now. Someone must have dumped him, I imagine. People feed him, I've seen him peck bugs off the front ends of cars. He sleeps in one of the big trees at night. He's pretty approachable. I tried to pet him today but he stayed out of reach. He's cute.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

pics from the ride

I went on another ride to Starbucks today. Great weather! We've had so much rain that much of the trail was flooded. Good thing about being on a horse is you can get through that no problem! ;-) Anyway, I don't own a lot of green, and my horses own even less, but I managed to find a green t-shirt. Shylah got to wear a saddle-pad that belongs to Jan, which I still happen to have over here from ages ago, and I found a green ribbon for her hair. A bit overkill, perhaps, but I know that at least one gaggle of tweenage girls who walked past us was entertained by her fashion sense.

The horses tied to the fence outside Starbucks (can't ride through the drive-thru anymore):

Um, was she napping when I took this? ;-)

Rosecomb drawing finished

"Prima Donna"
(Black Rosecomb hen)
5 x 7 inches
colored pencil and graphite on tan Stonehenge paper
sold (custom commission)

If you've been wondering, no this is not a portrait of any of my birds. I wish mine would pose like that at shows instead of taking naps! I did know this bird though. She belonged to a friend (and competitor) and always beat my birds. A memorable experience was one show where my Lemon Blue (that Lemon Blue was awesome!) female darn near beat this Black female. I took Reserve of Breed with mine if I recall correctly, and maybe that's just as well. I don't think Bob, bless him, would have taken the beating too well. ;-)

Anyway, this piece was commissioned by this bird's co-owner, Conor. (The bird is no longer alive, she died years ago.) The main goal of the project was actually to produce a kick-ass business card for Conor, with a portrait being a "maybe some day down the road" kind of thing. Well, may as well kill two birds with one stone, right? I convinced him to get the portrait done now, and that way I can make a business card out of it. Definitely the right choice, and he gets a nice framed drawing to boot!

The final piece of this project was to design a business card. I do all my own graphics stuff (cards, website, etc) but don't do much of it for other people. I generally refer those jobs elsewhere, but since this one involved my drawing, I wanted to see it all the way through. In other words, since it uses my art, I wanted full control over how it would be used. Nothing worse than having someone else bugger up my stuff, right? Here it is, and yes this is posted with permission. Conor knows his info is going on my blog. :-)

This drawing is very much in the style of the ones I did for the Standard. Oh hey, the Standard. It's printed. It's out. Lots of friends of mine have seen it. They say good things about it. I have not yet seen it, I have not yet held it in my hands, therefore I do not yet believe in its existence. I do not intend to buy one, I am feeling a bit entitled and thinking that the APA really ought to give me one. Right? [la dee da, and then I went off on a big rant about something I might get in trouble for ranting about, so I deleted it, but I'll just summarize with this parting thought: I should have been asked to proof it. Or I should have asked to be able to proof it. Hindsight, live and learn, etc. *Sigh*]

Monday, March 14, 2011

March 14 work in progress

what does an allergic cat look like?

I keep talking about how Olin is chewing his fur off (if you missed that, click the word "Olin" in the labels at the bottom of this post, and you can read the older posts), and you might be wondering what he looks like... He was rolling around on the patio table this afternoon so I took some pics, as much for my own reference as anything.

He was indoors for 24 hours before he snuck out the dog door. Definitely doesn't seem to be doing the crazy-constant-itchy behavior as much (still a little?) He's still on Prednisone, though I'm going to start lowering the dose and take him off it over the next couple days. My vet says he can take benadryl (in an appropriate Olin-sized dose) as needed. And I'll have to start using flea powder on him I guess, try to make him as unsavory as possible. And he'll get Advantage or Frontline (he's on Advantage at the moment but I've used both) as often as possible.

Arg, this is really not fun, and probably even less fun for him!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

March 12 work in progress

Since I started you out with a little teaser shot of just the head on this bird, I think I'll keep that up! You'll see the whole thing when I'm finished. :-)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Olin allergy update

Well, my poor little kitty kept getting worse. Every day he would chew more of his fur off, and finally was starting to make his skin raw on the back of one hind leg. Last week I found a mite biting him and it left a big red bump (yeah, a bird mite, I took it to the vet to ID it, and this is super weird that it would be on a cat anyway, and before you jump to conclusions I'd like to point out the chickens are pretty darn clean, and Olin really doesn't go anywhere near them anyway...) The vet and I agree that Olin is allergic to things that bite (he is more closely matching the pics in the book now with more fur missing), which could be a number of different creepy crawlies.

On Friday, I gave Olin a bath. That was not a lot of fun, but in the grand scheme of things, could have been worse. He's on Prednisone for a week. I don't exactly love that he's on it, and neither does the vet, but... desperate times and desperate measures, had to stop the itching. He's supposed to stay inside for a few days. This is perhaps the hardest part. Olin likes to be in when he wants to be in, but he's used to being allowed out. He vents his frustration by spraying in the house. OMG this drives me insane. I should forget getting anything done and follow him around with a bottle of Nature's Miracle. Cripes. I love the boy kitties but they both do this and it's repulsive. Does anyone else have a cat that sprays when upset? Indoor life would probably be good for Olin, considering his allergies and propensity for getting beat up, but I don't know if he would ever learn to deal with it and stop abusing the vertical surfaces. Gross.

Anyway, he's definitely less itchy-looking in the last 24 hours. I'm going to try to keep him indoors through Monday morning (oh my) and verify that his itching stops. If it resumes when he goes out, then the allergy-causing thing is outdoors (though with him being on Prednisone I would think he would stay itch-free outdoors right now anyway?? Sometimes the reasons given to me don't necessarily make a whole lot of sense. So, we'll see how this goes. He can't stay on Prednisone, nor can he stay indoors permanently here, because that means keeping the dog door closed, and that defeats the purpose of the dog door.


Oh, Prednisone seems to make him extra sleepy. He konked out on my bed for about 14 hours straight last night and today. He's so cute when he's sleeping and not abusing the furniture.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

March 9 work in progress

Just a little teaser pic for you tonight. Today I did the preliminary sketch for an upcoming drawing. These sketches show all the details, but are only an outline, and don't show color or shadow or roundness, etc. This goes to the client for approval, and once that's received I will transfer the image onto the good (expensive) paper and start the final drawing. This sketch was approved tonight, so I'll be starting the final drawing tomorrow if my day goes as planned.

This is a custom commissioned piece, and will be a 5x7 inch colored pencil drawing. It will also be used as the background image on a business card, which I'll design.

If you haven't noticed, Katherine Plumer Fine Art now has its very own Facebook page. I've had a personal page for quite a while, and you're certainly welcome to send a friend request (drop a line and say you read the blog on the request) but I have set up a business page if you're inclined to "like" it. It's a work in progress, and I still need to add photos. It's going to be run pretty similar to the blog... works in progress, thoughts about stuff I'm working on, etc. Just trying to stay hip, you know... There's a link in the right sidebar. Clicky clicky! :-) Actually, Random Rosecombs has one too but it doesn't have enough fans to have a unique address yet... but it's linked on the fine art FB page.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

allergies or nuts?

I'm not talking about peanuts. I'm talking about my cat, Olin. He either has allergies or he's nuts. *sigh*

For the last couple years he's been chewing his fur off his belly and the insides of his back legs and under this tail. It's somewhat seasonal, less in the fall and winter, and it used to be he'd just chew a little patch. Lately it's the worst it's ever been. His formerly gloriously fluffy tail is skinny, his little pink belly looks so sad.

I've had my vet look at him. He says it doesn't look like flea allergies (Olin is on flea-preventatives anyway), doesn't look like a food allergy, so it's either an inhalent-allergy (like pollens, same as people get) or he's nuts. He was on an anti-anxiety drug for a while last year around this time, maybe a little later in the year, and it didn't make any difference. So I don't think he's nuts. But my poor little guy, he's itchy! Arg. In desperation, searching the internet, I've found some information about cats developing an allergy to plastic. Well, his food bowl is plastic, and his favorite place to sleep is a box full of bubble wrap and plastic bags in the spare room... I'm going to buy him a different food bowl tomorrow, and I've put the box-of-bags away so he can't sleep in it. My poor boy, I really want him to stop chewing his fur off and be a normal fluffy cat again.

Oh, I set the first batch of eggs in the incubator today. A pathetic 19 eggs. Let's hope for significantly increased egg production in the next 6 weeks!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

scrimshaw pendant: Honey Bee #2


Honey Bee #2
multicolor scrimshaw on pre-ban elephant ivory
18x25mm, set in sterling silver
sold (custom commission)

the glass egg mystery

There is a glass egg that I use sometimes in the chicken nest boxes if they need a little help figuring out where to lay their own eggs. A "dummy egg" in the nest will inspire a hen to put her eggs there too. There is one pen of birds which has been continually laying eggs in their feeder. So two days ago I put the glass egg in their nest box. This glass egg came from my great aunt, it was "vintage."

Yesterday they laid two eggs in the nest box. Yay!

Last night night, in the moment of being almost asleep, I suddenly realized that I should have seen THREE eggs in the nest box that afternoon... one glass and two real. I couldn't remember if I had. This bothered me.

I checked first thing this morning, and indeed the nest box was empty. Perhaps I'd left it in the other coop and not brought it over at all... No, that was not the case. Perhaps I set it down somewhere and never put it in the nest box. No. I was sure I put it in the nest box. But it was gone.

In the other corner of the pen, directly across from the opening of the nest box, was a rat hole (as I mentioned, it's like the plague out here right now, this mortifies me). Hmmm.... Methinks the rat stole the glass egg.

So after getting back from breakfast with friends, while my neighbor was over here visiting, I set out to dig for the egg. I dug, and dug, and dug. I dug up feet of tunnels, but never found it. It must have gone down a tunnel I never found. And while digging, my neighbor's 4-year old son kept telling me to put my gloves on, because my hands were getting dirty. A little dirt doesn't bother me, I said. Well I should have listened to him, because suddenly out popped a big rat, and I'm not dumb enough to grab them without gloves on. And I sure wasn't expecting it to be there. So, I missed that one AGAIN. Arg! I think that was the third time I've missed that one.

Luckily Angus and I made an excellent team and were able to reduce the rat population by one in another pen a few minutes later.

I am bothered that the glass egg is gone. Strange, very strange.

Yes, my life is weird. It's okay.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

March 1 work in progress

It's much farther along than this in real life, I'm just dragging this out for the sake of drama. ;-)