Monday, March 30, 2009
Now seriously, have you ever received anything so cute in the mail? Yes, in case you didn't know this already, you can place an order online and they'll send you a box of chicks! How great is that? Opening up a box of baby chicks is always exciting and rewarding. I guess to me they represent innocence but also future potential - beauty, enjoyment, and of course, the inevitable eggs. Oh yes I know, eggs should probably come first in that list, but part of the enjoyment of keeping chickens, at least for me, is their beauty. So while there are many, many breeds that would be more productive, I choose the ones that give me pleasure to look at. In this instance, form beats out function. Hey, I'm an artist - are you surprised?
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Here is Rose's little lamb meeting Jack for the first time through the nursery fence. The next day I put her and her mother out with the other sheep and all went well. Jack seems to have taken on the role of loving uncle - a bit protective, yet with some discipline. Very interesting to watch.
Tomorrow, I expect the arrival of a box of peeps. No, not the marshmallow kind, the real, live, fluffy, cute-as-a-button kind. Cannot wait!
I fired up the little kiln yesterday and went out this morning to open it up. It's sort of like opening a birthday or Christmas present. Thankfully everything fired beautifully. In the back you can barely see a seated woman, she's for the top of a very tall (4') piece I've been working on. I'll share it when it's completed. In the middle is a bowl on the right and a pine cone on the left. Both of these were just experiments - I have to refine the method of making them the next time. In the front on the left is another experiment. It's an egg that I burnished when nearly dry. You can just make out the soft shine of it. I really love this finish, but since it is just an experiment, I'll take it a step farther and try something else - putting it in my wood stove to see what happens. I'm hoping to get a smokey finish. I'm also hoping it doesn't break! I don't know if or when I'll ever use these techniques, but they are fun to try.
So here's the next piece to go into the kiln. It's my second attempt - the first one I broke after it dried but before it was fired. So although this one is maybe not quite dry, she's going in the kiln to rest until ready to fire. This way I'll minimize handling her when she's at her most fragile. Want to know what she's doing? Well, flying of course! But it won't be on her own. She'll be holding the legs of a flying bird and the whole thing will be suspended from the ceiling. I hope it works.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Asgard Cavalier, CDX, AX, AXJ, HCT, JHD
March 29, 1993 - March 25, 2004
Everyone loved you and you loved me.
You were my buddy, my partner, my friend - my companion in every sense of the word. Asking nothing more than to be at my side, a willing participant in anything I wanted to try if it meant we could do it together. You were the most dependable, reliable, honest and steady dog I've ever known. Our trust was mutual - you knew I wouldn't ask anything of you that you couldn't do, and I knew if I asked, you would try. But more than anything, what I will miss most is the feeling of knowing, the wordless communication, the simple and quiet pleasure in each other's company. There was still so much left to do and to try together, but we ran out of time. And the last thing I ever wanted to say to you was goodbye.
Earning 10 titles in his nearly eleven years, Isaac earned his Companion Dog Title at 18 months old and his Companion Dog Excellent at 3-1/2 years old. When he was 8 years old we tried herding and he earned his HCT, followed by his JHD six months later at age 9. We also started training for agility when he was 8, earning his Novice Agility and Novice Agility Jumpers at age 9. In 2003 at 10 years old, he earned his Open Agility, Open Agility Jumpers, Agility Excellent and Agility Excellent Jumpers titles. He was awarded the Standard Schnauzer Club of America Agility Dog of the Year for 2003.
Five years later and he is missed still.
He will be missed forever.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
I arrived home from a breakfast meeting and upon going to the barn to check on everyone, this is what I found! The first daughter of Rosebud and William, and the very first lamb ever born at Tulip Tree Hill! I must have come home literally minutes after she was born because she was still wet and figuring out how to use her feet. Very precious.
I knew Rose was due any time, but other than her udder becoming large, you would never have known she was pregnant. And so I guessed - correctly - as it turned out, that she was going to have a single lamb rather than twins. But that's okay because this little girl appears to be quite healthy and robust.
So now, a name has to be thought of. Since it's the second day of spring and since all my sheep's names will be botanically oriented, I'm thinking of something along the lines of spring flowers. I've always wanted to name an animal Daffodil. Anyone have any better ideas?
And by the way, this little girl will be for sale, as will Mayapple's lambs when they arrive later this spring. So if you're in the market for a registered Olde English Babydoll Miniature Southdown lamb, shoot me an email.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
I happened across the most wonderful little animated short. Poignant, wistful, slightly sad, yet hopeful at the end - you should watch it...
"He Was Me", by Peter H. Reynolds
(you'll need Quick Time to view the movie)
Mr Reynolds also has a most thoughtful and book/art loving blog. He is a children's book illustrator and author as well as co-owner of a bookstore called Blue Bunny, and a media company called FableVision. Reading his blog just makes me feel good.
Oh, and here's his web site.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I was asked, and agreed, to donate a sculpture for the American Heart Association "Go Red For Women" luncheon and auction on May 8, 2009. The piece at left, "Soaring Heart" is the one I chose. It is a mixed media sculpture about hope, joy, possibilities, and living life with a heart freely shared. The dove is soaring from a heart which has grown rich and full, and attached to the base of the tree is the key to the heart.
Go Red For Women is the American Heart Association national campaign to raise awareness that heart disease is the number one killer of women (more than the next 14 causes of death combined), and women's greatest health threat; almost 1-in-3 will die of heart disease.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Yesterday the shearer came and gave all the sheep their yearly haircuts. They are half the sheep they used to be without all that wool. Poor Jack looks pretty scrawny next to the rather "robust" babydolls, and William is cuter than ever with his big fat legs and ever-sweet expression. Jack is in front with William the ram right behind him. Mayapple is to the left, trying to get into the picture, and Rosebud is heading out at the top left. You can see all the different colors, very beautiful.
The shearer agreed with me that both ewes look pregnant. Rosebud will probably lamb first, maybe by mid-April and I'm estimating Mayapple's due date to be the end of April.
With the spring-like weather we've had for the past couple of days, the silver maples have burst into bloom - and so ends maple syrup time. But that's okay, because out of the 8 trees I ended up tapping, 5 quarts of dark amber maple syrup were produced! Slightly less than my previous estimation, but certainly plenty for one household. French toast has been on the breakfast menu several times already. My favorite way to make it is to dip thick-sliced sourdough bread into a lightly-beaten egg (no milk, cinnamon, etc.), fry it up and serve drenched in warm buttered maple syrup with a hot cup of strong coffee on the side. Now that's breakfast!
Sunday, March 8, 2009
So I don't think we're really in the winter doldrums anymore, but if by now you are really feeling the need for green growing things and fresh blooms, take yourself off to one of the many home and garden shows that are going on this time of year. Maryland puts on a good one at the Timonium Fairgrounds near Baltimore. I'd say it's about half garden and half home type stuff, but mostly I just go for the garden displays. Some really wonderful landscapers compete for awards and go all out for this show, turning the "cow palace" into an indoor garden complete with water features, flowers, and seriously large trees. There are also vendors selling any number of garden related items, from orchids, african violets, and bedding plants to statuary, gazebos, and everything in between.
This year, Diddywopps and Keeffers was asked by last year's winning designer to provide art for their focal display garden, and I am proud to have provided a piece that was included! The piece is titled "Dreams of Flight" because although this woman is bound to the earth and incapable of flying away, her heart is pierced by longing, her thoughts are filled with dreams, and her very being is enriched by creatures of the air. (once again, please excuse the poor photography!)
The Maryland Home and Garden Show is being held March 6-8 and 13-15 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Maryland. Find out more by going to their web site.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Griselda and Teague, my American Buff Geese, have set up housekeeping in their stall in the barn, and Griselda has begun laying eggs. And what eggs they are! Simply beautiful. I've had these geese going on 4 years now, and I'm still not tired of seeing their eggs every spring (well, almost spring, anyway).
Once egg-laying begins, I usually leave a few marked eggs in the nest to encourage continued laying, but will check daily for fresh eggs for my own use. Then in mid to late March, I'll allow a clutch of about a dozen eggs to collect in the nest, which will usually prompt her to start sitting on them. Once she's sitting, the eggs will take 31 days to hatch. If all goes well, goslings will be here sometime around the first of May.
For those of you unfamiliar with geese, here's some trivia...
Geese generally mate for life and can live 20+ years.
They are very family oriented and form strong bonds.
Seasonal breeders and layers, they will usually mate, nest, and lay eggs from February through late spring or early summer, generally laying between 20-30 eggs per season.
A typical large chicken egg weighs in at 2 ounces. A goose egg is about 7 ounces.
Since goose eggs are much higher in protein than chicken eggs, they are great for baking.
My all time favorite goose egg recipe is egg custard. With the higher fat and protein content, what is usually considered a delicate recipe is a breeze. Here it is...
Baked Goose Egg Custard
2 goose eggs
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups milk, scalded and cooled to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
- preheat oven to 325°
- beat eggs slightly
- whisk in sugar and vanilla
- add milk slowly while whisking
- pour into a lightly greased casserole
- sprinkle with nutmeg
- set in larger pan with 1" hot water
- bake 50 minutes or until firm to the touch and golden