Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sunday Stills - Texture


The texture on these boxes is extra interesting in that they are made from salvaged wood from old water towers in Chicago. Saint Tim's brother makes them. The texture is purely visual. The construction is smooth as silk.

Several overlapping textures...or the perfect murder weapon ;-).

Still not as good as Ed's moons, but getting better. If you click to biggify, you can actually see a couple minor craters. I think the striation on the end makes the moon look like a big watermelon in the sky.

These were the sweetest apples this fall and I'm sad I missed picking these last few.

For more textural Sunday Stills...

Friday, January 29, 2010


The naming of cats is a difficult matter... T.S. Eliot

I believe Brushy only had one name though. Brushy.

Brushy showed up as a skinny stray shortly after we moved to Equinox Farm and it took awhile to tame him down. He would sneak up on the porch at night to eat and was hungry enough that he'd let me sit out there as he did, but would growl (as he continued to eat) if I tried to touch him. One night however I decided to try to touch the top of his head instead of his back and as I did, he immediately bumped up into my hand and was completely tame from that very second on.

He went to the vet, passed all his tests and got his shots and 'tutored' and immediately settled in. Three mornings later he brought Claire Bear home. Claire Bear was a tiny kitten and I don't know if she was a relative or not, but regardless, Claire Bear was obviously Brushy's cat. They were inseparable and she got to stay as well.

Claire Bear was somehow named right away. Brushy went for weeks as "kitty". We tried all sorts of names, but nothing stuck. One day I asked him directly, "Hey kitty, what is your name?"


Clear as day in my head. I told Saint Tim and while he didn't think it so strange that the cat shared his name with me, he agreed it was not a suitable "family use" name. We continued to try other monikers. A few weeks later I again said "Kitty, we really need a name for you."


Brushy it was.

Brushy would walk anywhere with me. He especially loved to go out to the Frog Pond. That was a trip worthy of all the cats and we enjoyed relaxing out there together on summer evenings listening to the farm put itself to bed. Brushy would sit next to me, Eli would sit off by himself and Claire Bear would entertain us all with her mad hunting skills.

Brushy was also the protector of the family. Shortly after Boo came to live with us, he learned this the hard way. Boo was a cat chaser early on and got in a lot of trouble for it. One day I caught him chasing Eli onto the porch. I ran after him, yelling and hitting him with a dish towel. At my side was Brushy, running on his hind legs hissing and slapping Boo as he made a hasty retreat.

More than anything, Brushy wanted to be a house cat. With the darling Wiwi in the house, this was not just not possible. For the last few weeks though, as Brushy's been ill, we moved him inside, out of the cold. Wiwi did get "paddled" a few times for bad behavior, but Brushy ignored her and enjoyed sitting on the couch in front of the fire. Two nights ago he sat out in the wool house with me and we read a sheep book. He was not much interested though and I knew the end was near.

Brushy was an exceptional cat.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Sheep With Texture

I guess this texture would be "drowned rat". The weather here has been just awful and I felt sorry for the three musketeers braving the cold rain over the weekend. I believe they've told Hank about living in the house as babies, because that's a "couldn't we all please join you in front of the fire in the wool house" look if I've ever seen one.

The texture I'm actually referring to is Crazy Esther's. She's had a wonderfully soft, almost fine, fleece, but at her advanced age, it's no longer in good shape. She and her fleece are fragile and terribly sunbleached and if you handed me this bag, I'd know instantly it was Esther. We love her anyway, like the Velveteen Rabbit.

Even though I could probably pick through and salvage some "decent" locks, I decided that I wanted to spin a yarn that looked like Esther. My first experiment was to just run some through the picker and spin it straight from there.

Definitely the right texture, but her coloring is no longer quite that distinctly white and gray.

Here was some I ran through the drum carder - next to the original yarn for contrast.

I played with the white balance on my camera and this is actually a truer representative of the colors. The picked yarn is on the left; carded yarn on the right. The dark seemed a bit too dark for Esther, so I ran some of the picked yarn through the carder and came up with a lighter gray.

Here are all three knitted swatches. The dark is definitely too dark. The mottled is a bit too mottled. The medium gray is about right, but doesn't have as much texture as I'd hoped for.

Any thoughts?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sunday Stills - Sports

Well, I thought on this all week, and in the middle of January about the only sports I could come up with involved drinking games. The weather broke though...a bit...and it warmed up enough today for a little fishing on the Elkhorn Creek.

Jaybird, Saint Tim and the ultimate fishing pontoon.

Originally I was to meet them at 3:45. They'd been skunked so far, but two minutes after they talked to me, the fish began to bite. "Give us until 4:30." This shot is as the sun was starting to set on the creek closer to, um, 5:00.

The reason I'm setting up the time of day is to give a clue to how "dark" it was on this already cloudy day. Not ideal for pictures...especially as I decided I wanted to take all my shots in manual mode today. And my main goal was to try to capture the lure splashing into the water.

I took a ton of pictures - many too dark, too bright, too blurry, not blurry enough... It was a challenge trying to figure out how to balance the shutter speed and exposure.

I didn't get exactly what I wanted, but I was proud to have gotten what I did. And I was able to use the manual settings on my camera to capture shots I couldn't have gotten otherwise. Great practice!

For more Sunday Stills...

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Curious Incident Of The Chickens At Dusk

You've got to love a chicken story that starts with "This is a true story...".

This is a true story. One late afternoon before Christmas I was working in the wool house. The Adventure Chickens, having been given free rein of the farm since the "incident" involving Hank "playing" with them, were happily scratching around, well, everywhere. As the sun set, they all filed into the barn. One chicken, however, stayed out in the driveway.

She wandered around, occasionally scratching the ground and I could hear her talking to herself. I frequently wonder what on earth those birds are doing or thinking. That night especially. I kept looking out the window and saw her walking back and forth. Braack. Braaack. Bock bock.

"What on earth are you doing? It's time for bed. It's dark out. Go to the coop."

Braaah. Bok bok bok.

"Oh, good grief. Come on. I need to do the night chores anyway."

As I walked into the barn and turned the lights on, I found all the chickens standing around in the aisleway looking worried. The door to their coop had blown shut and they couldn't go to bed. And either they drew straws to see who would come tell me or else that chicken was smart enough to do so on her own.

Hey lady? Lady! Lady in the building. Hey, um, the door's shut and we can't get in. Lady? Hey, you there in the house! Come fix the door.

A true story.

It happened again last night.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bright Lights, Big City

My latest felted sheep is headed to Nashville for the 2010 American Sheep Industry annual meeting.

I love the bokeh of the winter lights in the wool house.

The last time I tried to make a non "fiber" sheep, someone complained that she was too fat.

I tried, but I guess I can only make what I know.

Ewes not fat, ewes just fluffy ;-).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Remember the spinning wheel my friend in Alaska sent me, along with the fabulous qiviut fiber? I was to paint all sorts of fiber animals on the wheel in exchange for the fiber. Sigh. I finally finished it. (Note, apparently you shouldn't send me a special order request and include the words "Take your time - no hurry." Yeesh.)

I like how the wheel turned out and had fun researching the animals. Now I'm going to go have some fun spinning the qiviut!

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Dog's Best Friend

Since it was so nice out this afternoon and the sun was actually shining, I decided to just tie all the horses to the fence rather than bring them into the cold, damp barn for the farrier. This was Hank's first experience with the world of horse shoeing.

He's pretty treat savvy, so when Wes held out the first chunk of hoof, he only hesitated a bit. Coming up to a stranger. A stranger next to the horse that likes to chase him. It weighed heavy, but that hoof trimming smelled really a dog.

Oh yeah - round two, fresh from the hoof, baby!

p.s. the reason Hank was hanging out back "with the horses" the other day had nothing to do with the sheep being crabby. It turned out that he'd found a deer carcass back there. I'd thought it odd that he'd abandon his boys...

Looks like he might trade them for horse hooves now, too ;-).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Stills - Moods And Emotions

This will take a bit of explaining. This challenge is for you to get a shot that enables a response in the person who views your pic, not one that is your personal emotion. For example if I see a pic of a tranquil stream or a sunrise I feel mellow. If I see a pic of doggie smiles or a horse doing his rolling in dirt thing, it makes me smile. You get the idea.

I used this challenge as an extra challenge - one that forced me to play with some of the less automatic functions of my camera, rather than just push a button. I picked aperture priority so I could see how different values changed each shot...

The tree sculpture in the foreground normally sits on our dining room table. The tips of each branch are beautiful copper and as the sun sets in the afternoon, the tree glows. Saint Tim picked it out and it is one of my favorite things. Here I've moved it outside and we can see some sheep in the background.

Here I've blurred out the sheep and even one of the Adventure Chickens. Hmmm - wish there was a dial to turn that would occasionally blur them out in real life ;-).

So, at this point you may be thinking I've completely missed the point of Ed's challenge and that the only emotion I'm creating here is boredom.

If so, you missed the plastic lizard action figure...

And Ed laughing :-D

For more emotional Sunday Stills...

To find out why Ed is laughing...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

And They're Off! more ways than one.

Note the sentinel - always Heidi - in the foreground.

"Uh oh, she sees something!

"Everybody run!"


"Huddle up!"

Did you notice Henrietta moving to the front of the herd?

She can run pretty fast for a fat girl.

And why were they running? Because Saint Tim caught Hank sleeping up on the hill with the horses and called to him. He came running (because he's a good dog) down through the horse paddocks NOWHERE NEAR THE SHEEP...but they ran to the barn anyway (because "he was trying to kill them").

Gee, I wonder why Hank doesn't want to hang out with them.

Seriously, if he didn't have his friends Keebler and Graham Lamb, he'd probably be in therapy by now. I'm not sure if those older sheep are ever going to accept him.

They're a bit "off".

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Milk Mouth

Well, it's been a long week. 2010 is starting to look like groundhog "year". Brushy is sick and I'm losing hope.

I'm glad I have funny sheep to make me laugh. Only Keebler and Graham had the gumption to go out and dig into the snow looking for grass. Doesn't Keebs look like he has a milk mouth?

Monday, January 11, 2010

It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

I can't help but think that at some point Graham Lamb will be saying just that.

I was trying to get a picture of Hank off to my left and looked down to see this developing at my feet. Apparently contemplating taking on Ford was not a one time only thought by our young hero.

Son, you need to go play Wild Kingdom with someone more your own size.

Seriously. I'm going to walk away and leave you with your head intact and a little shred of dignity.

(Whirl, whirl, crunch, shriek, grind, whirl, whirl, crunch - Graham's brain "working"). Man, I really think I can take him.

No, just trust me on this one, kid. Just trust me.

Snow is definitely Hank's color. That's Elizabeth in the foreground.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sunday Stills - Your Best Shot of 2009

Okay! Okay! Even though he wasn't featured in a SS request, Keebler. Not necessarily my "best" Keebs shot, but definitely a favorite. Graham Lamb fans - don't worry - I have an excellent picture of him to post tomorrow.

A simple challenge - just pick your 2 favorite pics from the last year's challenges and tell why they are your favorites.

Possibly just a sentimental pick, but I like the composition and focus of this shot.

Again, I like the composition of this picture and the focus...of the dog's eyes.

These were hard choices. I was happy with a lot of my pictures. Some of the fences were possible choices, as were some river shots. I also liked the lazy kate picture, the black and white candle and the clouds... Follow this link to review them all.

Many of these favorites would never have been taken without the Sunday Stills challenges. Thanks Ed!

For more favorite Sunday Stills from 2009...

Birds Of A Feather

I can see one of our bird feeders from my bedroom window and love to wake up and watch everyone start their day (much earlier than I do). I was especially happy to see some takers on the latest pine cones.

I'm not sure who this cheeky bird is, but she's the Iris of the avian world. The police. She (or he, I suppose) was not at all happy with the grackles trying to move in and if it had been a bit lighter, I'd have taken a video. One tough cookie!

We are still under that midwestern deep freeze, like so much of the country. Remember to keep your feeders full and put a water heater in your bird bath.


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