art: guitton - housework

So Happy!

An OS update, which I thought I had installed weeks ago, put an end to my horrid keyboard lag problem, and I can now type freely. Color me happy.

I have other happy news:  My "baby" bee colony (started for and given to me by a kind and generous beekeeping neighbor) is growing splendidly, contrary to the fear that took hold of me when J told me he thought, due to the lack of visible activity,  the hive was dying.  I bought J a bee suit today--as well as two for the kids (I wish I had a pic of Farmer Boy in his, but it is on J's phone)--and we went to check the state of the hive. Thank the Lord, the bees are doing so well that I went ahead and added a super on top of the main hive body to give the bees room to stock honey so that the queen can continue laying...  I pray the workers can gather enough nectar to complete their honey stores for the winter. Since I am just starting out, I don't want to be faced with the moral dilemma of letting my bees starve or feed them sugar. :-/

We now have a duck sitting on a clutch of four Khaki Campbell eggs and eight Indian Runner eggs.  It seemed a pity to let the duck sit on only four eggs, so we went ahead and bought the IR eggs in hopes of getting a flock for slug patrol.


Now for a bit of grimmer news, we only have one duckling left from the incubator clutch (and she* still doesn't look like a Khaki Campbell); however, the two goslings hatched well and are growing. We named the three after Narnia characters, so we have Lucy (duck), and Polly and Diggory (geese).


Today, we had to kill yet another sick hen. It is so heartbreaking to have to do that.  That was why I was really in a funk until we checked the bees and saw they were OK. It is hard raising life and harvesting death.
Sometimes, when a series of bad things happen, you really forget to look up and take stock of all the progress you have made.  I have been reminding myself of late how much more my garden is approaching my ideal now than it was when we bought the place. If I can find them, I will post some Then and Now photos.


This year, barring an unforeseen disaster, we should have a very nice eggplant and pepper harvest, and my tomatoes are looking good. I might even get lots of carrots.  We have already pulled up some hefty early potatoes, and I had my first-ever successful garlic harvest.  We're eating cucumbers and have had zucchini since the last week of May.**  Last year it was too hot, and this year is on the cooler side, so other harvests are slow in coming.  I am not sure pumpkins and such will have time to ripen because my plants are barely setting fruit. :-/   The winter was so mild that the garden has a pretty hefty pest load ,and all my first sowings of beans were completely wiped out. My okra was so shocked and stunted--those that have survived the insects--probably aren't going to do anything at all either.  Such is the the growing year.... Better not to put all your eggs--or seeds--in one basket.


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*If Sprout's and my fledgling skills are anything to go by, after vent sexing the goslings, we have a goose and a gander.



**We've eaten plenty of other stuff, too, like peas, beets, salads, rocket and mustard, cabbage, etc. from the cooler days on...
Sprout: !!!

The Saga of Molar 47

Back in January, I started suffering from horrible tooth pain. Six months and several flare-ups later--after 5 visits to the dentist, one to an osteopath*, one to a doctor, one x-ray, one cone beam scan, and two courses of antibotics--we discovered I had a vertical fracture in my molar, right between the tooth's roots.  Last week, the dentist did a root canal, and next Thursday, I should have the permanent filling put in.
After asking the dentist how in the world I had fractured my tooth in such a way, I remembered that at the end of last year, Ti'Loup, while sitting on my lap, flung himself backwards into my chest, and his head made painful contact with my jaw. That was, I believe, the first chapter in The Saga of Molar 47.
May July 2nd bring about "The End."
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*After the first course of antibiotics, during which time the pain was so great that it literally tetanized my jaw and I couldn't open my mouth more than a centimeter, I had to visit an osteopath to help unlock my jaw.
critter: Mr. Brown

Drat it

The broody duck broke open and kicked out her last duck egg. It was a beautiful duckiling, so I have no idea why she killed it. I took the remaining 2 goose eggs away from her and put them in the hated incubator. That is better than losing them to the duck's craziness.

In other duck news, our second female is laying agin, so she will go broody in about 2 weeks. We'll try to source some true Khaki Campbell eggs before then. Of  the new mystery hatchlings, two are doing great but the third is rather weak and we don't know if it will make it. *sigh*

Now for some happier news: Our potager pond is coming along nicely.  If not for the all the spates of rain and the need to scrounge up stones that go well, we could be done by now.
Cutting the liner down to size and then pegging down with soil:

Hiding the liner with stones:

How many more loads is this going to take? :P

It is going to look lovely with some plants around it. Already I love catching a glimpse of it as I walk around the garden or step out of the house.  It makes me want to fix up (water-proof and landscape it) the bigger pond. Gotta get some pigs and get that gleying action underway.
art - pondering

So many things

Forgive the hodgepodge nature of this entry, but there has been so much going on this week

- It seems wrong to include this first category in an entry with more trivial stuff, but it has shaped my week and affected me more than the rest, so:
This week, we have been notified of three deaths : the doula who helped bring Farmer Boy and Ti'Loup into the world lost her husband. He died in the night in Cairo, we know not of what. A friend's son, who had been paralyzed and in a coma last year after falling from a roof, made a miraculous recovery only to die a few days ago of a brain aneurysm. Another friend's 20-year-old daughter was in a fatal car wreck on Thursday.  So much grief. So many questions about how well are we loving those around us when we have no idea when our lives on this earth will come to an end. So much anger at myself every time I lose my temper with my own lively, hyper-alive kids.

- Our broody duck is down from 4 duck eggs and 3 goose eggs to one duck egg and 2 goose eggs. I thought the drake was stealing them from her because I saw him in the nest with her. We were prepared to harvest him because we can't have an animal that eats the eggs or young and it woluld be too hard to house him alone and only let him with the others for breeding purposes. So, we separated them and then discovered it was the mother duck eating the eggs. :( She is still on the three, and I don't know whether to take them from her and put them in the incubator (which I detest)or just leave them and see what happens. Sprout is devasted because it is her duck, and of course, what is good for the gander...or drake, in this case, is good for the duck.

The reason I haven't just moved them to the incubator---besides hating the thing--is that it is still occupied by one egg, which leads me to my next topic:

--Mr. Crude (as I call the man from whom J bought the duck eggs because of his penchant for sexual innuendo, which i often overhear) is either dishonest or not at all careful of his duck breeding. J asked him for Khaki Campbell eggs, and instead of saying he didn't know what that was or saying that he has a mixed flock, he sold J a dozen eggs, only 4 of which were viable.  ( Granted, he was not selling them as hatching eggs, but J was very clear that that is what he meant to do with them.)  Two ducklings hatched on the 11th, one hatched today, and the other should hatch tomorrow from the look of things, and so far, of the three, none of them look anything like KC ducks.  Two could be Rouen or Rouen crosses, and one could either be a Cayuga or a Swedish cross...or something else entirely. Look s like if I want Khaki Campbells, we are going to have to drive an hour and a half one way and pay 2euros per egg for them.

- Just when I told frigg that our hens were doing great on the hatching front, our latest clutch only produced 4 chicks out of 9 eggs. Two chicks were crushed under the mom, two mysteriously disappeared (no sign of them or their shells), and one egg never developped. Then  the mom pretty much rejected them for the first day. The kids babysat the chicks in the warm greenhouse until we could convice the hen to mother them. All is well now.

- We finally got some rain, brought in on those lovely dark clouds looming over our daisy-studded field,

which we were able to stock until our pond liner finally arrived (the hole has been dug for more than a month). Yesterday J bought some geo-textile (whatever that is in English, see photo below), and we started to construct the pond in my potager today:



Everything looks a mess now, but that is all the better for comparison purposes of when we get it looking spiffy. The larger pond we dug on the other side of the greenhouse 2 years ago is not lined and therefore does not hold water year round, so I wanted a smaller one closer to the veggie plot to provide more reliable habitat to all our amphibian friends. This one should hold around 1000L of water.

-I have no idea what is up with the garden this year, no idea of how it will produce. Rainfall is so-so, temps were really high and now really low. Some plants look fine, others--like my cucumbers and noodle beans--look like they are not going to make it. :(

--The weather has been poor, so I haven't been to check on the bees that my neighbor gave me (we made a split and are waiting to see if they raised a new queen for the hive), but when the sun finally came out, I went to observe what was happening. I didn't hear any intense drone buzzing (indicating that there is no queen and workers have taken over the laying), and although there was not a lot of activity, I did see bees going in and out and lots with their pollen baskets filled. I do feel a bit guilty about having my first colony be the result of splitting up another colony because I do want to go the natural beekeeping route. I wanted to start my apiary with a caught (hopefully wild) swarm, but when my neighbor offered to give me bees, I didn't feel I could say no. Ah  well, there will be time for swarm catching in other years. I also don't want to exclusively  use Dadant hives, but I got one because it was free...and because I think it is not a bad idea to have the same hive as other beekepers for many reasons, but I won't go into that now.
art: the reader - fragonard

When do you give up? Or do you?

...on a book that fails to capture your interest, that is. I  am reading something now that is really Meh. I only read when I am brushing my hair or teeth or flossing, which means I don't spend a lot of time at it, but usually, I dawdle a bit over my tasks if the reading matter interests me. In  this case, I just stop wherever I am on the page, even in the middle of a sentence.

I am contemplating moving on to something else, but another part of me thinks I should just keep going with it because it isn't like it is awful, I am just not that into the subject matter and am perhaps a bit criticial of it (the story is set in France, and Carcassonne, my husband's birthplace, figures quite heavily in it, which should make it interesting) but the mystical elements and the religious wars part of....yeah, just don"t feel like something I want to invest in now.

I have been reading ( the umpteenth time for me) The Chronicles of Narnia to Sprout (her first time, and she loves thme as much as I hoped she would), and I think the direct style (some would say "telling") and elegant simplicity of C.S. Lewis' prose really makes what this other author is doing feel overblown and melodramtic. I know styles have changed and the subject matter is not at all the same, but class is classy and doesn't age.

C.S. Lewis is one of those writers who makes me want to write and yet intimidates the socks off me.
critter: Mr. Brown

Birth and The Blessing

Two years ago today, we were holding baby ducklings:


Today, one of our hens, Lacey, is hatching out her second clutch of eggs this year:


I have heard peeping, so I know the one from that shell is alive, but I have learned my lesson about trying to find out how many there are before the momma leads them out.

We have another hen, Lacey's sister, Ruby, who has gone missing. I am hoping she is in the hedge somewhere, sitting on her own clutch. If she is, and she succeeds, it will be the first time we have chicks all from the same rooster and hen in a clutch.

I have spent much time yesterday and today listening to various countries' rendition of "The Blessing." I first saw the UK version on YouTube about a week ago, and then yesterday a French friend shared the French version, so I got curious about which other one's exisited.

Here are some :

UK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUtll3mNj5U The first one I heard

France: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1eCnolXi8s for those who want to hear French. I love to watch the lady signing; I wish there would have been more of that.

Zimbabwe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OA1tVs7VNcY LOVE IT

Malaysia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9vJw3tZ7E0 Such an amazingly gorgeous diversity of people.

The Irish version, which is the most original I watched as it doesn't follow the format of the others and begins with "Be Thou My Vision,"* a beautiful hymn:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TascsWZPj8U

You can see if your country made one, too. :). Let me know any favorites you find.  What a beautiful collection of beings we are. I love to see all the joyful faces, hear all the languages.
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* I adore Nathan Pacheco's version of that hymn and listen to it over and over: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihJAJA4ibEs
wayfaring wordhack

Meet Mr. Brown and other news from the homestead

Today* we welcomed a new bird to the property (and three potential others, more about that below) :  A Khaki Campbell drake. The titular Mr. Brown.


Perhaps I am jumping the gun in getting a male because we have no females yet, only 4(ish) viable eggs in an incubator** that might or might not give us females. Because we continue to have health problems with our chickens, we are finally making the move to raise different laying birds, and due to the confinement (lockdown...or whatever you call it where you are), our efforts were thwarted earlier this spring.

Four eggs is not a lot, and they might not all hatch, so we went to the market to get more eggs. Only they were sold out, but another breeder had a 3-month-old male, so we decided to go ahead and get him to avoid any inbreeding in the future as we build our flock.

In lieu of duck eggs, we bought 3 goose eggs to put under a broody duck, in hopes that they might grow into good guard animals  to help us with our raptor problem (at least 7 raptor-related deaths). Geese apparently have superb early-warning skills, and their size can be dissausive.

There may be more news fit to print, but with this pesky keyboard, this is all you are getting. :P
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*OK, not "today," rather the 25 May. We are having severe keyboard problems that make writing a royal pain. Yes, I have been trying to write this entry for a week. This is why I am not doing the June journalling challenge that I learned about through dray.

**borrowed incubator, which has convinced me of my thought that hatching under a mother bird is sooooooo much better than relying on technology.

critter: Mr. Brown

Meet Mr. Brown and other news from the homestead

Today* we welcomed a new bird to the property (and three potential others, more about that below) :  A Khaki Campbell drake. The titular Mr. Brown.


Perhaps I am jumping the gun in getting a male because we have no females yet, only 4(ish) viable eggs in an incubator** that might or might not give us females. Because we continue to have health problems with our chickens, we are finally making the move to raise different laying birds, and due of the confinement (lockdown...or whatever you call it where you are), our efforts were thwarted earlier this spring.

Four eggs is not a lot, and they might not all hatch, so we went to the market to get more eggs. Only they were sold out, but another breeder had a male, so we decided to go ahead and get him to avoid any inbreeding in the future as we build our flock.

In lieu of duck eggs, we bought 3 goose eggs to put under a broody duck, in hopes that they might grown into good guard animals  to help us with our raptor problem (at least 7 raptor-related deaths). Geese apparently have superb early-warning skills, and their size can be dissausive.

There may be more news fit to print, but with this pesky keyboard, this is all you are getting. :P
_______
*OK, not "today," rather the 25 May. We are having severe keyboard problems that make writing a royal pain. Yes, I have been trying to write this entry for a week. This is why I am not doing the June journalling challenge that I learned about through dray.

**borrowed incubator, which has convinced me of my thought that hatching under a mother bird is sooooooo much better than relying on technology.


wayfaring wordhack

Inking and traveling

We went to the south of France for my mother-in-law's birthday, so I have not worked in my normal Inktober style for many days now. The material is too messy and copious to work with elsewhere, so I just took along some fineliners and a sketchbook. I amused myself doing some drawings with both hands at the same time (one subject that is more or less symmetrical and trying to capture both sides of it at the same time using both my right and left hands. Interestingly, I noticed that I looked much more at the left side, being left-handed; so next time, I will try to look at the right side more often.) and drawing my MIL's water pitcher. The day we got back, I drew some trees, inspired by the art in the book The Tough Princess, and some from my imagination.



I did a thumbnail for my next Yupo piece last night, but I don't know when I will get to it. I have once again spent my morning trying to fix my scanner, when what I need to be doing is preparing for Sprout's birthday next week.


art - pondering

Inktober 2019 - Days 3-9

 This post brought to you by The Fun Side of Technology!

After having spent almost two hours trying to get my scanner re-connected to my computer, I give up and present you crappy photos instead. The way the ink sits on top of the yupo paper makes it really tricky to photo; the ink causes lots of shine and glare in places.  That means I have to tilt the camera, and often details get distorted or lost.

Anyhow, I have been quite busy, and some days, I was only able to work on thumbnails, and Saturday not at all due to having guests over.  So here are three other pieces I have done so far.

This one was an experiment after I saw that I was not going to be able to "write" on the yupo with water and apply ink the way I thought I could after seeing someone else do it on YouTube. Instead, I applied the water in a heart shape and then sprayed on black ink and alcohol, then walked away and let it dry on its own with no manipulation.  Because it looked rather bare in the center there all by itself, I fiddled with stencil-type applications and smearing the ink.


"The Heart"
I really would have prefered to scan this one because you can't see the details in the wings and tail.  In any case, it did not turn out as well as I had hoped, and if I were to do it again, I would change the posture to really convey a sense of suffering and distress and make the beak easier to see. I did another smear technique ont he background and then added some crosshatching to try to make it less blah.


"The Transformation"

My latest effort is my favorite, but it did not come without a failure first. I first had a scene with this character walking down a dark colonnade, which ended in mud and poorly executed scale and perspective. I poured alcohol on the paper and wiped it "clean," resulting in the light gray values you see below.

The hair was so fun. On the right, around the ear, I had to fill in some more after the sketching was done and was too afraid to apply the ink and alcohol in the loose, free way I had employed at the beginning, resulting it the too-dark patch. I did touch it up before trying to scan it, but I forgot to take another pic of it.  I am overall happy with this one.
"The Mistress"

Somethings I have learned:

1) Wear gloves when working with Yupo because the grease from your fingers leaves prints that show up after the piece is inked. Not cool.

2) Kneaded erasers and soft pencils are great for preliminary sketches. I had rotten luck with harder erasers (don't know brands).

3) It is good to pencil sketch, but because the fineliner's ink can be rubbed off, it is tricky to ink over something and then try to remove the pencil lines!