Wednesday, April 27, 2011

hatching plans for the rest of season

Sorry, I gotta go all chicken genetics nerd again... ignore this post if you're not into the birds.

Here's batch 5. 2 Brassy Back, 5 Blue Brassy Back, 1 BBRed, 3 Black Red, 2 Black, 1 (Blue)Black, 2 Blue, 1 Splash.

Five weeks in, and I have 2 Blacks, and what... 4 BBReds? That's super pathetic. Brassies and Blues coming out my ears though!

I have three more weekends in which to set eggs. I mean, I *could* hatch into June, I could go one more week, I could have someone else hatch a big batch the week I'll be gone, that's an option (and perhaps a good one) but I really don't want to be hatching too late. I'm going to be overrun with chicks in colors I wasn't planning on, and I have a lot of people who want to buy eggs. But it's become pretty clear that the BBReds need an outcross. As I said a week or so ago, the Blue male is now in with the BBRed hens. We'll see what that produces. I am also going to outcross them to the Brassy Backs. I don't know what that will produce, but they're fertile and hatching like mad, so it's worth a shot. Hmmmmmmmmm. This season is totally not going as anticipated.

Monday, April 25, 2011

April 25 work in progress

That background is going to be DARK. I'll probably have to go over it 3-4 more times to get enough dots on there to make it as black as possible. That's a lotta dots... just sayin'...

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Short notice, and it's too late to list this on ebay.

EGGS FOR SALE: I have 8 (plus whatever they lay today) eggs from the Brassy Back & Blue Brassy Back Rosecomb pen for sale. Ready to ship on Monday. They have been 100% fertile for the past 4 weeks and are hatching like mad. $36 including shipping, PayPal ONLY (no e-check), needed by TONIGHT if you want them!

First one who wants them gets them! Shipping in US only. Contact me!!!!!!!!!!!! Pre-arranged buyer's check did not arrive in time!

[EDIT] Too late, they're in the incubator now. However, I can ship Brassies/Blue Brassies (eggs!) every Monday between now and whenever they stop laying, so if you want them, let me know. Gonna start listing on ebay next week.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

if it ain't one thing it's another


So this pendant I just finished, which I haven't shown you yet... it's been Murphy's Law and every delay under the sun with this thing... It turned out fine, it's gorgeous, but I swear... yeesh. So it's done, and I was ready to input the client's credit card info for the final payment, and he's been so patient waiting forever for this thing, and I plug in the terminal, and...

There's an error message flashing on the terminal screen. Oh no! I called tech support, and they said it's a hardware failure, but "because it's still under warranty it'll ONLY be $150 to replace it." Only $150. Well super. That's just great. Really great. Are you picking up on the sarcasm here? *sigh* I need a new one, so what choice do I have. *sigh*

Thank you universe for crapping all over that today.

Oh yeah, and of course I had to tell the client that guess what, there's YET ANOTHER DELAY and now I won't be able to ship it out til next week.


I think I need to go kick something.

Monday, April 18, 2011

changing of the chickens

Did I ever tell you what the breeding pens are this year? I should explain that, it might help clarify all this chicken stuff.
Brassy: Brassy Back male X Brassy Back and Blue Brassy Back females. Should produce ~50% each color.
BBRed1: Black Red male X BBRed females. Should produce 50% each color. FYI Black Red = 1/2 Black, 1/2 BBRed.
BBRed2: BBRed male X Black Red and BBRed females. Should produce over 50% BBRed, under 50% Black Red.
Black: Black male X Black females. 100% Black
Blue: Blue male X Black and Splash females. Expected mostly Blue and Black, a few splash.

This is how batch 4 turned out:

From the Brassy/Blue Brassy breeding pen, there are 2 Brassy Backs and 4 Blue Brassy Backs. From the Blue breeding pen, there are 2 Blues, 3 Blacks, 1 Splash, and 1 Goodness Knows What. Blue Brassy Splash? Blue Red Splash? I have no idea.

So, obviously, my Blues are not breeding true. I wondered if they would, that was part of the reason for setting up a breeding pen. The Blue cockerel, and the one Splash hen are both descended from the Brassy/Blue Brassy line. Years ago, I hatched a nice Blue male out of a Black X Blue Brassy cross. Two years later I think, the male I was using in the Brassy pen was infertile. In desperation, I used the Blue. He produced several Blue and Splash babies from that pen. Those were the birds that hatched in 2009. I bred the splash females to a Black, and got the Blue cockerels I was showing this season (hatched in 2010). So, they are definitely not proper true-breeding Blue (Blue/Black/Splash) since they are throwing Brassy Back and Goodness Knows What. Okay, good to know. Not that I care, but that's important to know. If they're good I'll still show them, and sell them with disclaimers. ;-)

But the real problem here is the lack of BBReds and Blacks. I went into this early hatching season saying I need to focus on BBRed, and a few Black. That's not going well. I'm hatching the Blues out of curiosity, and also for someone else's project, but I don't need many of them... and now have a lot. I was only hatching Brassy/Blue Brassy to verify fertility to sell eggs, and yeah they are 100%, so they're good to go

The old Black and BBRed roosters are having terrible fertility problems. I've swapped in a Black cockerel and that definitely improved things in the eggs I set a week ago. The Black Red male that heads up the "BBRed 1" pen is very fertile, but hatchability is very low. I'm wondering if I'm just running into too many inbreeding problems with that line. I cross the BBReds back to Black fairly often, but maybe they're just all too related. What to do?!?! Ack! It's not like I can go out and buy more BBReds. I've got a bunch of eggs in the incubator from the Black Red X BBRed pen (should produce 50% BBRed, assuming they hatch) but that's not going to result in much. I've got a studmuffin 100% fertile Blue cockerel who is obviously carrying some duckwing genes (I do NOT understand Brassy genetics though, no idea what I'm getting into here), so I did the unthinkable. I'm breeding the Blue to the BBReds. I'm not trying to get into another color, no no no, I am going to see if I get BBRed out of this, and if I do, that's an nearly-unrelated outcross that might be a major boost to the BBRed line. I have to do something, I'm desperate, I need some good birds out of that line this year or it's going to start spiraling downward pretty rapidly.

And this is why I tell people to make their own bloodlines. With Black Rosecombs, if you want to outcross, there are a zillion unrelated but all really good bloodlines. Not the case with BBRed! Too bad. I hope this works!

OMG I'm totally rambling, it's time for bed!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Rocking Horse Project!

Yay! I finally get to reveal the secret project I spent about a bazillion hours working on in the last few weeks!

Let's see, our story begins long ago in a galaxy far away.

When I was little kid, my brothers and I had a rocking horse. Yeah, that's me in that picture above, wasn't I cute? Actually, that's kind of a terrible photo of me, but it's the only one that shows the horse/goat. My uncle Brian made it for us. It may have been lacking in certain aesthetic qualities (mane, ears) and may have more closely resembled a LaMancha goat (you know, those ones that look like they don't have ears?) than a horse, but I loved that rocking horse. And now, present day, this galaxy, I have a just-turned-two-year-old niece (Chloe) who always asks to see the horses when she comes over to visit. So it was a given that I should be the one to give her a rocking horse, right? I really wanted to make one, I even looked at some plans on line, but came to my senses pretty quickly and realized that I should not attempt such a thing. I lack the tools, knowledge, skills, and I also tend to inflict serious harm on my appendages when I wield a hammer.

Hopes somewhat dashed, I thought well fine, I'll just have to buy her one. Holy cow, have you looked at prices on good old fashioned solid wood rocking horses? I don't want some cheap plastic thing, or a plush horse, or some ugly plywood creation. Sigh, what was I going to do...

And then I remembered Craigslist, and I figured that some day, maybe by Chloe's third birthday, I would find a nice old wooden rocking horse on Craigslist that I could refinish a little, so I could at least feel like I contributed something to it. Yes, yes, this plan would work. But I figured it would take a while to find one.

So I sat down at the computer and looked, and there it was. Exactly the style that I like, about 20 years old, very reasonably priced, and not too far from home. Was this fate? It must be! What I wanted to find was there when I needed to find it. :-) A few emails and phone calls later, we had plans. Mom and I drove up to Rocklin on a Sunday morning and met with the seller, a super nice guy who even sent me home with some elk teeth, awesome! (He'd looked at my website and seen my elk tooth scrimshaw). I was of course instantly smitten with the adorable little rocking horse, though already plans were forming to make some changes... Now, I have to say, it was perfectly fine as is... well, other than the ears. Those ears had to go. But it was nice and strong and well taken care of and really would have been a lovely gift with no alterations (except the ears!).... I didn't have to go all artsy on it, that was my choice. :-)

Here is how it looked the day I brought it (HER, I shall now refer to it as her, she may not have a name but she's a girl) home. Pretty cute! The old vinyl ears were floppy though, so I knew right away I'd make new leather ones, I already had the right color scrap leather.

And then I thought well, there's that bald spot on the mane, I'm not sure I can find matching yarn to sew new stuff in (hee hee, a weave!) so then I decided maybe I'll just go ahead and replace the mane and tail. A rocking horse must have an adequate mane and tail... (no rocking goats, right!) But really, if I was going to do that, why not go all out and paint her, and fix a few little dings...

So, I removed the ears, mane, and tail:

And then filled the screw holes on the rocker, and a few dings here and there, and sanded:

Shopping for paint and yarn was kinda fun. Had to be JUST RIGHT. As a horse person, I'm kinda particular, and I wanted to make her a "real" color, but since the paint had to cover a dark stain I wanted a dark color. But I wanted her to be flashy, a real show pony!

Four coats of paint later, the base colors are on:

Time for some trim! Little details like a cinch, saddle stitching, socks, hooves, and a super cute face!

Six coats of gloss varnish later, I felt the finish was sufficiently shiny and well-protected.

And then it was time to add the finishing touches. I neglected to photograph how I made the mane and tail, but the mane was one of the more challenging parts. It's hand-stitched to a thin strip of heavy canvas, and that is screwed down into the wood. Now, I'll admit I went a little overkill with the hair (compensating for my childhood rocking goat I think). It's a whole skein for the mane and a whole skein for the tail. I could have easily used half a skein for each location and it would have been fine, but... it's all good. Cute fuzzy ponies are awesome. :-) The last thing to do was attach the ears (a pretty stiff dark brown leather, they should hold up well). And then she was all finished! I have no idea how many hours are in here. It doesn't matter. I LOVE how this turned out, and it's perfect how it all came together. :-)

The colors in the following pics look brighter than the in-progress pics because the ones below were shot with the flash, and the previous ones were not.

Seriously isn't that the cutest face? :-)

So today was the birthday bash, and I think it's safe to say that one little cowgirl and her new sorrel pony are going to be enjoying a lot of adventures together over the years. She immediately wanted to climb up and ride! :-) :-) :-)

Friday, April 15, 2011

catching up (lots of pics!)

Time marches on, punctuated the weekly hatching of more adorable cute fuzzy chicks! Every Friday I move eggs from the incubator to the hatcher. Every Sunday I clean brooders, and move chicks, and take the new hatchlings out of the hatcher.

Ah, sometimes I think I just need to not blog for a while. Hello, world. I think I'm back.

The bison scrimshaw pendant is done. I have not photographed it yet, I will do that this weekend. Back to the dragon knives now!

Three batches of chicks have hatched now, and the fourth is currently working on hatching. I have Blues coming out my ears (questionable as to if they will be good, of course, they have Brassy Back in the lineage and are throwing some funny things). I desperately need to hatch more BBReds, but at least things are finally improving with fertility. I guess the sun just had to come out!

Olin's allergy situation seems to be improving. He is on twice-daily benadryl. Not a lot of fun for me or him, but I'll do what it takes. I guess I'll know for sure it's working when his fur grows back...

The big secret project has been done for several days, I will unveil it tomorrow! So excited!

Random pics:

A lizard I rescued from Olin. I really wish he wouldn't catch these things. It was quite healthy, he didn't damage it.

A pheasant in the yard today, I think this pair may have a nest in the corner of the pasture. This pic was taken through a window.

It's turkey time! Lots of gobbling lately, the wild turkeys are all over the place. They are out in the pastures pretty much all the time lately, and a flock walks through the driveway and yard pretty regularly. I don't know anything about flock dynamics, but was surprised to see two old toms, four young toms, and three hens. I keep seeing lots of toms together, doing lots of displaying, and yet I don't see any fighting. Huh.

Cake I made last weekend:

Monday, April 11, 2011

checking in....

I'm alive. Hopefully I'll be back to regularly scheduled blogging soon. I'm under a mountain of tax paperwork, other deadlines, a billion places to go and things to do, etc etc etc.

Monday, April 04, 2011

April 4 works in progress

I'm working on my taxes. Blarg. Hate those.

I have at least 5 more coats of varnish to put on the big secret project, plus the finishing touches, but oh my it is soooooo cute. I can't wait to show you! :-)

I've been working on the dragon knife but there really isn't much to see because nothing is inked, so you either have to see it through the scope or from the side with the light on it like this:

I also just started work on a bison pendant today, and I'm considering that a "rush" job so it'll take priority over the dragon knife. I don't want to get into detail but I had expected to have this done a couple of weeks ago. Murphy's Law intervened, not my fault at all. But it's all okay now and I want my client to have it in hand as soon as possible.

And that is the excitement that is my life on a Monday night. If I say I have to go to the feed store and pick up chicks tomorrow you know that means I'm going to buy baby chickens to replace the layer flock, right? Maybe I'll pick up some guys there too.

Probably not. ;-)

Sunday, April 03, 2011

it's a jungle out there!

No really, it is! When it rains around here, the water tends to drain into one particular area. That area is the yard. The yard has not been mowed since November, because the ground is too squishy for the lawnmower.

That's not trick photography, it really looks like that. A lovely meadow. Actually, I confess I kind of like it that way. Perhaps it could be baled, it would surely feed the horses for a while. ;-)

Friday, April 01, 2011

April! Ack!

I kept trying to come up with a good April Fools Day thing to post on Facebook all day today. I was going to tell everyone I ran off and got married or something, but I figure I'd either give a few people a heart attack or nobody would believe that for half a second anyway. ;-)

Hoo wee, where does the time go? April? Crap! I need to do my taxes! So much for getting them done before April this year. Sigh. Let's see, what's going on:

Chickens: Batch 1 produced 4 chicks, all from the Blue breeding pen. There are 2 Blues, 1 Splash, and 1 Brassy Back, which I'm not sure I can explain but I'll try to if it happens again. Batch 2 is hatching right now. In candling the most recently set batch of eggs (batch 4), fertility is excellent in 3 pens and horrible in 2. Perhaps this sunny weather will help.

Weather: Oh my. Last week it was like January, cold and rainy and trees falling down. It's suddenly summer. Mid 80s, shorts, flip flops, sleeping with the windows open... It's a tad overkill for early April, I'd like some spring before we get into that! Give me mid 80s in July and I'll be thrilled.

Olin: still having allergy issues, still chewing hair. He's off prednisone, and has been on a low dose of benadryl for the last few days. I think I'll need to increase that. I've seen him chewing the bottoms of his feet more lately. Wondering again if it's an allergy to something he's touching or breathing... Poor punkin.

Scrimshaw: after much discussion and deliberation, the images for the dragon knife have both been approved. Color versus b/w was thoroughly discussed, and in the end the decision has been left in my hands. That's a tough call, but I know what to do. What will I do? Guess you'll have to watch and see. :-)

Other things: I'm working many many hours on a "labor of love" project. It started as a small fix, and blossomed into a full blown artsy fartsy thing, because goodness knows I can't go halfway on something if the potential exists to make it awesome. I'll post this on April 16th or shortly thereafer. ;-)

Other other things: uh, random photos?

Blackberry pie tonight! Yum!

Macro photos of soap bubbles, that may have been the most fun I ever had washing dishes...