Tuesday, November 29, 2011

more better

Thanks for the suggestions on yesterday's post about the coop door. Obviously I don't know much about raccoons, and I haven't managed to trap the varmint yet either. But I made the door on the little house in the pullet pen ("little house in the pullet pen"... could be a novel or something, right?) a bit more Fort-Knox-ish today.

That plastic mesh is a whole lot stronger than you might think (I can barely cut it with a wire-cutter!) but I put a piece of wire fence over the top, and then added another strip of wood to keep little prying fingers from the bottom of it.

Oh, and yes the latches are quite tight! :-)

Monday, November 28, 2011

ugly but functional!

There has been a terrible predator problem this fall, and a lot of coops were not originally built to be very predator-proof, because, well, there weren't predators to contend with. Boy that has changed all of a sudden. One of mom's big chickens was nabbed from the coop two nights ago and dragged out into the pasture (trail of feathers). I found her dead in the morning, missing her head and one wing. Oh geez that is heart-wrenching. :-(

The ground conditions were different than when Pablo disappeared. It was muddy, and the footprints I found by the fence between the corral and creek (by the gap where the water drains out to the creek) really shocked me.

Raccoon tracks, after almost 14 years of never having a raccoon on the place:

And... fox tracks?!?! Yikes! These are too small for Angus and too big for the cats and there haven't been any dogs visiting here.

For comparison, this is footprint from Angus (dog). Much larger, with big deep claw marks:

So I had to build some hasty modifications onto the coops that are out by the barn. I'll be the first to admit my construction skills really suck. Sometimes I think I have it all planned out but I always end up redoing something. I make things the wrong size, I put the hinges in the wrong place, it ends up all wonky... sigh. On the upside, this crappy stuff will manage to get the job done, and I used all scrap stuff from around the barn, so it didn't cost a dime.

On the egg chicken coop, one of the modifications was to put a little door on it so I can close the birds in at night. That way anything that comes in through the outdoor run can't get to them. They don't appreciate being jailed at night, but I don't think they appreciate being murdered either.

From the outside, open and closed:

From the inside, open and closed (fancy hinges, eh? It was the only matching pair I could find in the "hinges" container!):

The aviary that has all my show pullets is even more vulnerable. Closer to the creek, and totally not raccoon-proof. So I built them a door too to keep them in the little house at night. They don't appreciate being jailed either. And I don't love having to go out after dark every day to tuck in the birds, but... I gotta do it.



By the way this is my 1500th blog post.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you all have a wonderful day today, surrounded by people who bring you joy, and I hope you get to eat some delicious food! And as always, here's hoping for a minimum of family drama. ;-)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"The Greatest Generation" Colt 1911 Grips

Woo hoo, the grips are done! I am really, really, really thrilled by how these turned out. This is a tremendous project to be involved in (and a tremendously large project!). I'm all smiles. :-)

Here they are!

You want closeups? You got it!

What, not close enough? Okay.

Seriously, more detail? Okay... fine, but that's all you get.

Next up, the knife! With airplanes! Thankfully the time pressure is off, nobody involved was going to be ready for a Dec 1 deadline. *WHEW*

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gwen update

Good news! The old gal appears to have made a full recovery from a really bad case of colic. She passed the obstruction and is back to her old self. Thank goodness! I am sooo relieved, and so happy she's okay. :-)

Old animals can be such heartbreakers. You really never know what's around the corner. She's 25 and has a few other health issues, but obviously she wasn't ready to cross that bridge just yet! Whew!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gwen update

Oy vey, this has been a stressful day.

At my last blog posting, it was shortly after Gwen's vet appointment, and her prognosis was not so hot. For several hours she just stood in the corral with her head down, looking pretty pathetic and getting rained on (hey, you can give a horse a 12x16 stall, it doesn't mean she'll use it!).

When I went out around 3:30 to check her, she was much worse than she had been for the few hours before that. When standing, she was constantly kicking her belly. When laying down, she would turn and look at her belly or bite at herself. Obviously in pretty serious distress, still no gut sounds... Picture an old horse on her side on the muddy ground, and her owner kneeling next to her sobbing and you'll pretty much know what that was like. I just kept thinking about the day when my first horse Thunder was put to sleep, and how I thought at that time that if I'd known the day beforehand that it would be the last day, I would have spent more time with her. It felt like it might be the day beforehand... and I stayed there for a long time.

By 5 she really hadn't changed.

Around 7 she seemed a little better. Still extremely lethargic and reluctant to move, but not kicking or biting at herself. But there was the faintest rumbling of gut gurgles, and she was starting to pass gas. You wouldn't think a person could get so excited about horse farts, but when your horse is potentially life-threateningly impacted, gas is glorious.

Around 9:30 she was actually alert and nickered when I walked into the barn. She wanted food, but was only allowed a tiny handful of grain. Still had not passed any impacted anything, but the guts are rumbling and that's a good sign!

So, keep your fingers crossed! She's not out of the woods but she's closer to the exit.

I am just so glad that I happened to see her this morning. If she had gone out into the pasture I wouldn't have seen her laying down when I went out to catch the birds, and would have left for Reno at 9am. Mom would not have found her til late this evening, and that could have been a really bad situation...

Life with animals, it's always something! I'll keep y'all posted!

plans gone awry

Crap. I was supposed to be on my way to Reno today for a poultry show. Actually, if things had gone as planned I would already be there. Jan and I were going to leave this morning so as to get across the Sierras before it started to snow.

But when I went out to box up the birds this morning I found that my old mare Gwen had not eaten her breakfast and was flat on the ground in the corner of the corral. Crap. I got her up and walked her... 15 minutes... a half hour... an hour... and she didn't improve. She was kicking her belly every time we stopped, and just wanted to lie down. If we were going to leave we needed to hit the road, but I couldn't leave so Jan went without me and I called a vet.

It's a bad case of colic, probably an impaction. Her vitals were pretty poor, so it's really kind of "wait and see" right now. The vet was not terribly optimistic about her prognosis, but she's up and was nosing around a bit, that's good.

I am of course staying home, I need to be with her and keep and eye on how she's doing. Jan just texted and said she made it to Reno, and I'm glad to hear that. I hope everyone has fun at the poultry show, I wish I could be there! Thank goodness this didn't happen after I left though.

I will keep you posted, blog-readers. Please send good thoughts to the old horsey.

Oh, on a super sad note, but one that at least gives closure (though opens up even more mystery), while walking Gwen around the pasture I found what was left of Pablo by the far fence line... a wing. I'm even more mystified, but maybe he did escape the coop in the early morning hours and was taken by a hawk. I'll never know. :-(

*sigh* :-(

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

wordless Wednesday (with a few words)

I just have to explain... I've seen this "Wordless Wednesday" thing on other blogs, so I jumped on the bandwagon. It's supposed to be where you post a photo that needs no explanation. So for me, it'll be where I throw random photos I've taken during the last week, photos that didn't have their own blog posting.

November 15 work in progress

Oooooohhhh my goodness this takes a long time. It is my own fault that I fell behind, so I'm working very hard to catch up. 12 hour days at the microscope until this is done. I have even less of a life than usual right now. ;-) But these grips are only the first part, there is still a very large knife... There is serious incentive to be done by the end of the month and I'm trying!! I really don't know if I can pull that off though. Realistically, probably not, but I'll still try. You can't rush scrimshaw, and there's no way I would cut corners or sacrifice quality. Most important thing here is to make the absolute BEST work I can do, whatever it takes. I have a great client and he deserves the best scrimshaw I can possibly create. :-)

The pistol grips are getting darn close to being done. I'm working on the background maps now, shading the ocean. The Europe side is not finished. Then I still need to do the lettering (the names of the generals) and probably tweak a few shadows here and there. I really wanted to finish the oceans tonight but I am going to go nuts if I don't stop for the day. :-)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

technological ponderings

I'm thinking and overthinking. I think I stopped evolving technologically about ten years ago, so I'm not entirely up to snuff on all the new gadgets out there.

You should know, for example, that I don't have an iPhone. Originally I made that decision because at the time it was an AT&T thing, and was already with Verizon because they have better coverage here. Now... well, they're expensive, and I'm an artist in a crappy economy, do I really need to elaborate on that? Anyway, I'm pretty happy with my little LG phone with the cute little keyboard and the cute little buttons. I like buttons! I don't feel the lack of iPhone has negatively impacted my life. Though if I could get one cheap and didn't have to upgrade my already-expensive phone plan, I'd totally do it. But that's not the point. Or maybe it is.... eh, I'm kind of all over the map right now.

I'm thinking about an iPad. Or thinking about an iPhone. Probably not both, at least not right now.

A few months ago I had problems with my credit card terminal and had to buy a new one (grrrr), and someone left me a comment here suggesting a little device that can be used on an iPad or iPhone to process credit cards. Well I'd never heard of that, but it really got me thinking... Currently, I am spending $290 per year just to have a merchant account (that's $20 per month and a business executive Costco membership, which is $50 higher than the normal one, my account is through Costco). Plus the transaction fees on top of that. Well, I'd love to be able to cancel that account and only have to pay transaction fees, that would be swell! If I had either an iPhone or iPad, I could do that.

Here's another example of why that interests me so much. In September, I was at an art show. I sold a couple of originals one day, and was paid with a credit card. There is no phone hookup at the show (this is usually the case at shows, though some offer it for an exorbitant amount of money), so I could not use the card terminal itself, and had to use the manual imprint machine instead. What normally then happens is at the end of the day I get back to wherever I'm staying, plug in the terminal, and input all the numbers. Well, turned out the people I was staying with did not have a land line phone. And this was a big enough transaction that I didn't want to wait a few more days to process it... just in case. Luckily one of my friends was nice enough to drive me into town where I could use the office phone line, but it really made me think "I need a better system for this." I hate having to wait. I mean, what if someone scams me, what if I get to the end of the show and input the numbers and it turns out they have no money? It's something where instant gratification would be really nice.

So I'm leaning toward an iPad. Besides the abilities I just mentioned, it would be neat to have available at shows as sort of a portfolio, or to show people my website, or things along those lines. I don't think I'd feel terribly comfortable putting my phone into someone else's hands.

Anyway, do you have an iPad? Do you like it? Are there things you don't like? Do you think 16 GB is sufficient? Would 32 GB be better? Know any place that's going to have fabulous sales after Thanksgiving?

Blah blah blah. This stuff makes my brain hurt.

If anyone wants to send me large sums of money or winning lottery tickets that would also be swell.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

more baking shenanigans

Oh my, I haven't posted these for months! If you're part of my facebook network you've probably seen these over the last few months. If not... enjoy! Enjoy drooling, that is. ;-)

Yes, obviously if Prince Charming ever shows up he's going to need to be carb-friendly. ;-)

Angelfood Cake with blackberry sauce:

Mini Cherry Almond Cupcakes:

Coconut Macaroons:

Chocolate Coconut Macaroons:

Blackberry Cobbler:

Peanut Butter Cookies:

Mini Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes:

Mini German Chocolate Cupcakes:

Mini Lime Coconut Cupcakes:

Mini Lemon Cupcakes:

Mini Lemon Meringue Pies:

Cobbler (Peach, Plum, Nectarine)

Plum Pie:

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:

Cinnamon Rolls:

Coconut Angelfood Cake with Strawberry Sauce:

Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls:

Apple Blackberry Pie:

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread:

Pumpkin Pie:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Cranberry Coffee Cake:

November 12 work in progress

If you are not familiar with the size of a Colt 1911 grip, here's my hand for scale. And yes, those are my pajamas. ;-) And no, these are not finished.

Friday, November 11, 2011

for Pablo, who I will miss

Sometimes a chicken is more than just a chicken, sometimes they leave an impression on a lot of people.

So if Eddie put the BBRed Rosecombs (and me) on the map back in 1997, Pablo made the competition sit up and take notice nine generations later when he won Reserve Champion of Show in January of 2006. That was the first, and so far the only, BIG win with a BBRed. Pablo was an incredibly good bird with exceptional type, except for that silly fold in his wattles (which I still see in the bloodline, "Pablo wattles.") You really couldn't walk past him at a show and not look at him.

But he was also tame and friendly. Years after he "retired" from show biz, he got to star in an infomercial sponsored by the USDA. I don't know why I don't have photos of this, but I don't. It was about Avian Influenza, and he perched on the fence out front while the news lady gave her report. See, I had to teach him to do that, to just stay put. And he excelled at sitting and letting himself be admired.

A couple years ago a friend of mine who is a teacher had a farm day at her school, and she borrowed Pablo and took him to school, where he sat and sat and everyone got to admire him.

In May of this year, a friend of a friend was putting on a painting workshop, all about chickens. In need of a model, I volunteered Pablo for the job, and he enthralled everyone there.

Pablo vanished from his coop overnight on November 10th. I have no idea what happened, he is the victim of a unknown predator. I've set a raccoon trap, though I'm not sure what if anything I actually expect to catch. I'll let you know what happens. It's been a rough couple months for the birds with various predators around, worse this year than ever before. It just breaks my heart that something happened to Pablo, he was my favorite bird on the whole place, and such an important figure in my chicken-history. Rest in peace sweet boy. :-(