Thursday, May 26, 2016

Latest Clay Works

Just a few commissions I've completed this past week...

Great Horned Owl

Barn Owl

I still have to sculpt the third owl in this order, but it feels good to have at least two of them done.

My largest order yet is for 12 custom pet rabbit portraits. It was 11 originally, but she just acquired a 12th rabbit so I'll be making one for that one too.

Boog the Dutch rabbit is complete....

My Etsy shop has been pretty quiet for the last 3 months, but I did finally make another sale the other day:

The whale shark is on its way to New York.

I need to get more things sculpted for my shop, if I can ever find the time!

My hope is that with continued practice I can work faster without sacrificing quality. 

For now it's slow (very, VERY slow) and steady.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

House Update 5.12.16

This week's big work day was an expedition down under to replace the big air duct under the house.

Luckily there is a fair amount of space under there, so it was a lot like spending the afternoon in a cave.

Especially when we ran into this guy:

What? Not so impressive? How about now...

This fella is a Dolomedes, or Dark Fishing Spider. They don't catch fish, and aren't necessarily found close to water, but are common in deciduous forests throughout the eastern US. Finding one is always a bit of a shock, since they verge on tarantula in size. Although a bite from one would no doubt be painful, they aren't dangerous.

It was a hot day, so we didn't mind working under the house so much.

Neither did Tala.

Unfortunately, the duct was 2 inches wider than we needed, so it took a lot of zip ties and wire to clamp it on good.

The real test will come this weekend when we turn the air back on. Fingers crossed!!

We had the rest of the ductwork cleaned out that morning, removing the last of the dust, grime and critter mess leftover from the previous owners.

I've had gardening fever, and the overwhelming urge to start planting things at our new place.

But I had to satisfy myself with purchasing a few more herbs for the ranger residence, tending the existing plants and moving a few down to my mother's flower beds so I can divide and use them later when we are finally ready to plant.

Lemongrass to replace the one that died a few years back. 

I was thrilled to find Anise Hyssop for the first time at a local farm stand.

The mystery rose that I've been tending for the last decade. It's been here at least since the early 80's, having survived getting whacked down and neglected for many years. It's been loving that rabbit poop, and looks healthier than ever.
Dessert plate sized blooms with a deep, intoxicating fragrance have really made me fall in love with it, despite the fact that I've never been a big rose guru. So I'm making all attempts to take it with me.

A few cuttings that I'm currently tending. I'm going to pot some as well. The more the merrier!
I have plans to develop this area into a big herb/kitchen garden leading out from the back steps.

One of the American Yellowwood saplings we planted got stripped by a deer, so we propped a rabbit cage over it to prevent further damage. Works in a pinch.

But like so many other things, that will just have to wait.

On the short return drive home, all sweaty and filthy, we stopped at Happy Hollow to enjoy the sun setting over the river.

What a place. :)

Shared on: Clever Chicks Blog Hop

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Rabbitry Update (and other homestead happenings)

Big Boy chowing down on some greens.
This spring's rabbit breeding season was brief.

Lack of buyers, freezer space and most especially, time, culminated in only 2 breedings this time around, resulting in 4 does that I am evaluating as possible breeding stock.

I've been quite pleased with Big Boy's offspring, but was disappointed with the lack of buyer interest this time around.

I've been trying and trying to get a litter out of my older Creme buck, but he is proving impotent, despite careful attention to diet and TLC. I keep giving him more chances, but am running out of patience (as is my very sexually frustrated Creme X doe).

I love Colbert, but I would really prefer a wider gene pool for my Cremes.

So I'm on the lookout for a nice Creme buck, preferably one that doesn't involve a 300+ mile drive.

For now I'm hanging onto these girls for further back-crossing.

They are 3/4 Creme, but really demonstrating a strong Creme phenotype with nice silvering. The doe in the front is my favorite so far.

So everybody gets a nice long break from breeding (unless I can get a litter out of Turn and Sumac), which will make things easier on me while we continue to make the transition to our new place.

It will also reduce the feed bill considerably. We FINALLY processed the grow outs from the latest litters (I was afraid they would begin to die of old age). I was able to shuffle everybody around, giving the new does cages to themselves, and moving them out of their mother's cages.

I've greatly reduced pellets, and everybody is getting mostly forage and hay at this point.

The big mommas could stand to lose a few pounds after "sharing" the pellet bowl with their daughters.
I'll resume breeding probably in late September, hopefully introducing some Creme new bloodlines.

Even though we haven't been getting many babies, we have been reaping the benefits of all that rabbit poop!

We took a truckload over to the parents' farm for the big veggie garden on Mother's Day.

My roses look better than ever, the raspberries are growing like weeds and I have the most beautiful compost ever.

We still get eggs daily from our laying hens, something that Ian loves to help with.

I'd love to increase our laying flock and begin breeding a couple of heritage breeds, but that will have to wait.

We have been increasing the Silver Appleyard flock, however.

I didn't have definite plans to hatch eggs this season, but my parents were gifted a Silkie and Cochin X hen who decided to go broody, so we gave them some duck eggs to sit on.

They each hatched one, and are raising their duck babies attentively.

I sincerely hope they are both hens, as the flock is already drake-heavy.

My sister having a little nuzzle -  by her boyfriend Ben Renalli
Around the same time the new babies emerged, my favorite of the Appleyard hens went missing. I searched all over the farm hoping to find her sitting on a nest, but turned up nothing. I'm afraid something may have gotten her, but I'm still holding out hope that she will emerge from the woods with a train of ducklings.

I'm thinking about setting up the incubator and hatching an entire clutch to help build the flock up.

We're in the process of prepping the house for floor installation, and I've been digging up plants and taking cuttings to relocate to the valley.

Another Mother's Day has come and gone, and I've been enjoying watching this boy grow and change.

We are looking forward to continued adventures on our new homestead......... whenever that day will come.

Shared on: Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Recent Clay Works

I mentioned in my last blog post how I've been filling a large order of 11 custom rabbit figurines for one customer.

That project has been occupying most of my sculpting time, but I have completed a few others in recent weeks, some of which have sold on Etsy.

This finished wolf. I decided to go with a silver and black coloration. He sold to a woman in CO.

Had a lot of fun with this guy. He's still available.

The bobcat was a my first international sale - France!

With the weather warming and most of our activities directed outdoors, I have had less time to devote to sculpting than I would like.

Another custom order that is taking me forever to fill. I still have to finish painting these guys and sculpt the third owl.

While sculpting with a 2-year-old around is difficult enough, painting is darn near impossible.

The latest rabbit in my custom order is Bradley, an adorable Lionhead mix. He has a habit of obsessively cleaning his feet, so we thought we'd try for that position. It's been my most challenging sculpt yet, but I think I'll be able to make it work.

I gave him a foil armature for more stability. 

Comparing him to a finished rabbit for scale. It can be a little challenging getting relative size right, considering I have never seen the rabbits in person, or even a picture of them side by side. She gave me a chart listing their sizes, and I send her photos like this so she can let me know if I'm on the right track. She has been such an amazing customer to work with.

Latest progress. Getting there!

I'm hoping to get him finished in the next couple of days, and I really want to get some of them painted. This customer has been so incredibly patient and understanding, but I would love to show her a completed piece!

We are planning to get some more work done at the house today, so I'll have another update soon.

Be sure to check out my Etsy if you haven't already! :)