Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Blue Jay

Today I just completed a blue jay sculpture for my friend Christine White, accomplished felt artist and founder of New England Felting Supply and Magpie Designs.  It is meant to be a thank you gift to her for believing in me from the beginning and encouraging me more than anyone else to devote myself to this new passion of mine.  And of course for opening a store that makes it possible for me to make my sculptures!  There's no way I would have been able to find wool in all the right shades of blue for a blue jay anywhere else.

Lucky Ducks

On Sunday my mother and her friend Marty came to visit and helped us with our ducklings' big move out onto pasture.  We placed them one by one into their newly built shelter, but then they were too afraid to venture out of it for the rest of the day.   Ever since then however they have been loving the great outdoors: eating fresh grass and splashing around in their little aluminum pan swimming pools.   

Saturday, August 20, 2011

New member of the family

A week ago Emma and I adopted a dog from a local animal shelter.  We wanted a dog that might be able to help us with moving our cows and sheep so we chose a 3 year old Australian cattle dog mix.  We don't know if she will make a good shepherd yet but we definitely lucked out in every other way.  She is incredibly sweet and well behaved so we named her Adzuki (the red beans used to make sweet bean paste). 

We've been keeping busy caring for our chicks and ducklings who are now 2 weeks old.  They are all still in great health and growing amazingly fast.  The ducklings are towering over the chicks now but the chicks have grown beautiful wings which they've been using to jump up on top of the walls of their enclosure.  We actually just yesterday had to put up a simple wire fence around their kiddie pool to extend the height of their wall.

To keep up with our rapidly growing birds Emma and I spent much of the week designing and building their future home.  It's a mobile chicken coop made mostly from scrap wood we found lying around the farm with a PVC pipe and plastic tarp roof.  The coop will serve as their nighttime roost and shelter from the elements.  It'll be surrounded with a perimeter electrified (for their protection against predators) fence once we put the chicks and ducklings out on pasture a couple of weeks from now.  We will move their enclosure, coop and all every few days depending on how quickly they eat the grass.

I have still found time to do my needlefelting as well, and in the past couple of weeks I have made this Ostrich on commission as well as a couple of dog portraits for my mother's cousin, Katherine.  Katherine's dog Rusty (the chow in the last photo) sadly just passed away yesterday.  I sincerely hope that my portrait of him will serve as a worthy memorial.


Friday, August 5, 2011

special delivery

Today was truly a momentous day for the Lucky Duck Farm (yes that's our name), as it marked the arrival of its very first batch of ducklings and chicks!  This morning Emma got a call from the post office to let her know that there was a box full of birds waiting for her.  When we got there we could hear the chirping before we even opened the door.

When we got them home everything went smoothly.  They loved their new home; a vinyl kiddy pool which we reinforced with PVC pipe.  This will serve as their home for about 3 weeks, after which we will move them onto pasture.  We bought their food from an organic farm just an hour away.  We bought enough chick starter to last for the first couple weeks and then after that we will be buying whole corn, wheat, oats and soybeans from them and grinding it into feed ourselves.  Our landlord's father, Herman Harms lives right down the road from us and has been extremely generous from day one.  He has an old John Deere tractor and a feed mill that runs off the tractor's power take-off, both of which he insists are ours to use (along with his barns, his pastures, his truck and every bit of farm equipment he owns).  Yesterday we had a great time grinding up our first, experimental batch of feed with Mr. Harms.  So we did discover that one of the ducklings had sadly died in transit, but we now have 25 ducklings and 51 chicks, all of whom are extremely healthy and energetic.