Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lark Books 500 Felt Objects

I am on cloud nine!  In today's mail was a notice that my wet felted piece, "Portrait of Lena" was accepted for inclusion in the upcoming Lark Books publication "500 Felt Objects".

I just can't believe it!  That piece was magical for me right from the start.  It won several ribbons before it was sold to a renowned photographer who lives in Paris, France - sob, sob.

It was really hard to photograph, so I had it professionally done by Petronella Ytsma.  The photo above is an edited version of her photo.

Maybe I should do a portrait of my ram Harwell, but call it "Portrait of Ole".  ;-)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lambing is just weeks away

Natural colored BFL ewes pregnant Rhyn on left, and her daughters Rhisa and Rhaya
I'm nervous about lambing in March.  Last October when Harwell jumped the fence I didn't care for the idea all that much and now it's time to pay the piper.  The weather this past week was absolutely wonderful, I hope we get more like that in March.

I don't want to jinx myself by saying this, but Rhyn is looking like she might have multiples this year.  That would be a first for us and her.  We've only had single BFL lambs, but the good news is that they have all thrived.  Rhyn is due on March 10th and is already doing that grunting kind of breathing that pregnant ewes do when they get close to lambing.  Notice that cute little Pepper in the back on the left.  I love her little pink nose!  And that's Freya lounging on the right in the back.  The Shetlands won't lamb until April.  Except for Hattie who is due on March 12 with BFL sired lambs.  She was the one cycling when Harwell jumped the fence to get in with the Shetland ewes and wound up hanging by one foot.  Oh that was scary!

It's obvious that we won't have shearing done before the BFL lambing this year.  So I just hope the ewes are in good condition under all that wool. I've been supplementing our low quality hay with corn and alfalfa pellets, but I'm hoping to get some good quality alfalfa or orchard grass hay soon.

I've already got the barn cam set up.  I did that when I put all the sheep together (rams and ewes).  I had to make sure our little Shetland ram Hansel didn't get killed by Harwell who is at least three times his size.  Reuniting the whole flock went fairly smooth because the rams were interested in the new ewes so they didn't concentrate on trying to kill one another.  I left them that way about two weeks and then separated the boys because they sure don't need to compete with the pregnant ewes for the corn and alfalfa pellets.

I took this photo of the boys out the window yesterday afternoon. Shetland ram Hansel is in the coat on the left and Pokey the Dorset cross, Socks the Shetland Mule and Harwell the BFL ram are on the right. Notice how low that hog panel is. Harwell could jump it easily and head back over to the ewe pen, but thankfully they have all stayed inside.

So the days of checking the barn cam and checking bags, comparing notes to last year's bag sizes and lambing dates are back. It's really kind of exciting!  And the chicks are doing fine outside with the mother hen.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Art Show Over, now what? Taxes!

The Vasaloppet art show was especially nice this year.   So many different types of work!
My felt pieces and photo


The Junior High students were taken with Keith Raivo's metal sculptures and Kathy Hovland's voluminous painted vinyl piece in upper right.
 

A few of the kids also took a few minutes to cut pre-felts into mosaic pieces for me. We had buckets of the 1st grade students' puppets from a recent artist in residency gracing the tables at the show.

The felting demo on Sunday was the last public component of the grant I received from the East Central Arts Council for the felt rolling machine.*  I decided to make a felted bag following the method I saw on Heather's  Wool love Functional Fiber Art blog  back in December, but I chose not to do the peanut shaping for my bag. 

I used some dyed Romney fiber with a Black Shetland lining and the mosiac pieces cut from the pre-felts made at Sticks and Stones last fall.  It turned out okay, but I'm contemplating various options for internal pouches and an alternative closure (rather than the flap).



My son Matt took videos of me doing the demo.  Here's a little segment:
video


* This activity is funded, in part, by a grant from the East Central Regional Arts Council with funds provided byt the Minnesota Ars and Cultural Heritage Fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Vasaloppet Art Show/Chick Video

Well it's down the wire now.  My Vasaloppet Art show entries need to be in by 10 a.m. tomorrow.  Time to finish up the framing and get ready for my felting demo on Sunday.

I'm thinking these are the pieces I'll put in the show this year.  They are a dramatic departure from my usual representational work, so we'll see what happens.


They are all part of my "Pasture" series.  Last summer we had so much rain and so many storms, there were lots of trees down and twigs all over the pastures.  At that time I was pondering what living in rural America means to me.  That was the theme for a fall 2010 show that the local art and photography groups were planning.  I was thinking of how rural people's lives are so connected, intertwined and so rooted in a place. The roots on the twigs I was gathering began to look so elegant and interesting in my eyes.  I collected them as well as several small trees that the sheep had stripped the bark off.  Once dead, the small trees were simply pushed over, bringing a bit of roots with them.  I'm excited about incorporating them into some felt work too. Not sure how that will work yet.

I also hope to put a frosty pasture photo, similar to the blog's banner, in the show.  It would give a sense of where the twigs came from.  So today is D-Day, gotta get this all pulled into shape and ready to hang tomorrow morning. I'm not sure about the black frame, the piece definitely looks better in a black frame, but it will stand out when hung with the rest of the pieces.

On the weather front, it's bitter cold outside, about -20F on our thermometer, but I just heard the weatherman say that Mora is at -26F.  Temps the last 4 nights have been in the double digits below zero, so I brought the mama hen and chicks back into the basement. I'll put them back outside tomorrow when the BIG warm up comes. For those of you wanting a bit of spring, I shot this video of the hen and chicks last week.  It might help.

video

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Hatch Completed- new photo added

This picture tells the story.

The other two chicks have now hatched and the little Buff Chantecler family has been moved to larger quarters.
That young hen didn't get off the nest once in the 48 hours she was inside the house. So nothing to clean up in our spare room. But the minute I put her and the three chicks in this bigger crate, well, all I can say is "Whew!!!"

The next few days are supposed to be nice here in Minnesota, so tomorrow afternoon they will return to the barn and I will hang a light over the chick waterer to keep it from freezing.  The hen will keep the chicks plenty warm.  I can't say enough about what a good broody hen she has turned out to be. 
Hopefully I can get a photo of all three chicks before they go back outside.  They are like peas in a pod!

Update on 2/4/11:  Well here they are this morning. The one in front does look a little lighter than the other two.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Okay, I admit defeat!

Well I can't believe that I let my doubts get the better of me this morning. The temp was just below zero but the wind was so cold and coming from the east, right in the door of the chicken's barn.

Yes, I broke down and brought the broody hen into the basement. It's supposed to be cold today, tonight and tomorrow and then warm up quite a bit at the end of the week. One chick has hatched but the two others haven't even pipped yet. By candling the eggs I can see one of the unhatched chicks has broken into the air space and the other is still alive, so hopefully both will hatch soon in the next two days. Having them in the basement will allow me to keep a better eye on things. Yesterday the geese got into the broody hen's area while I was gone. Thankfully they must not have disturbed her too much.

But the pungent odor of a broody hen's daily poop is something that will make your eyes water. You certainly don't want that in your house!

I can't wait to see that chick though, so far I've only felt it's little legs under her. I just hope it's not half Salmon Faverolle. The rooster likes the old Salmon Faverolle hen and it was obvious that only one of the hens was laying fertile eggs. I've got six Buff Chantecler hens and I was hoping for Buff Chantecler chicks. Oh well, the feet will tell the story of who the mother is. Salmon Faverolles have 5 toes.

Update:  I heard some peeping from the basement just now.  So I ran down and I got to see the little one and snap the photo above.  It looks like a purebred Chantecler - haven't checked the feet yet.