Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Piglets - not what I had hoped for

I was so looking forward to having piglets. It's one of the reasons I got pigs again. I missed having the babies. Of the 6 Junebug birthed, only 4 survive. Two mornings ago when I went out to milk, Mayday showed me the dead baby in the back of the barn. I'm guessing Junebug laid on him. She's not the most graceful or careful mother. I saw her plow one over this morning as she walked. In fairness, it could have been one of the cows that crushed him too. I really don't know.

Last night I went to the barn to check on them to be sure no more were crushed. There I saw Junebug nursing 4 piglets. I kept trying to get her to stand up so I could see under her. I finally had to bribe her with food to make her move. There was no dead piglet. I looked everywhere but couldn't find the missing boy. Neither Rex nor Mayday told me where he was either, so I'm assuming a hawk or something carried him off. They only weigh between a pound or 2. They're super tiny. When they were first born I was saying how I wished they'd stay tiny. Now I'm wishing they'd grow fast so I didn't have to worry about them so much.  Rex and Mayday also seem on edge since they were born. They bark and tear around constantly like they're always on guard.

The goats, cows and dogs are all fascinated with the piglets. Even more so than with goat kids. Maybe it's because they're so tiny and they make cute little grunting noises.

So this post doesn't end on a depressing note, here's a funny picture of Rory trying to nurse off Junebug. Junebug didn't mind Rory's rough tongue, but I worried about her stepping on the babies. Most of the day the cows are far from the babies. It's only at feeding time all the animals crowd into the barn.

 Our 19 chicks have moved into their new coop. I could only keep them in their Rubbermaid tub in the basement for a week before they outgrew it. The cute single chick in the 2 photos is Izzy. She's my favorite and the only one I've named so far. She flies/runs to me to be held and makes sweet little noises. The rest of them are mostly afraid of me. I should mention, I haven't named the piglets yet. I'm afraid I'll get too attached and they'll disappear. I'll wait another week.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Life With Pets - Growing a painting

This painting has been on and off (mostly off) my easel since February 11th. My inspiration first came from a video a friend posted on Facebook. She and her dog have been training in agility and they're amazing to watch. Of course, it's also inspired by my life raising all kinds of demanding critters. Those of you with pets get this, I'm sure.

Making up a painting can be fun and frustrating. It's fun because there's no photo or person, dog, etc, to compare it to. When a painting isn't realistic there's not as much pressure to make things accurate. It's frustrating because I have no idea about proportion, shadows, perspective, etc.  When I paint silly paintings like this it doesn't matter so much if my Australian Shepard is bigger than the woman, or a cat couldn't hold a box of popcorn, or a dog dressed like the master of ceremonies has arms more like a human, or a standard poodle would never sit still this long, or.........

Beginning the painting was hard for me. I had an idea, but didn't know how to express it, so I started gathering pictures. I needed to know what a human body would look like in this position so I asked Adam to pose for me. As you can see, he wasn't wearing a bikini like the woman in the painting, and he's a bit bigger. See what I put my family through?
Here are a few other photos I used for reference.

At first I thought there would be a crowd of other animals sitting in the stands behind them, but that seemed intimidating and didn't go well.
It probably came off my easel for a long time at this point. It stared at me from the floor and I'd pick it up again, not able to let it go.  A few days ago I decided I needed to either finish it, or paint over it so I didn't have to look at it anymore. I'm calling it done and ready to move on to something less silly - or not. I feel like maybe I should be painting fun things while the world is dealing with a health crisis.

What are you doing sitting here reading this? Don't you hear your dog scratching to the to be let out? 

Monday, February 24, 2020

End of February happenings

I know, most of you thought I'd given up on my blog (if anyone is reading this anyway).

This afternoon I spent an hour or so hanging around with everyone. I think 3 out of the 5 goats are pregnant, thanks to borrowing a little fainting goat buck from a friend of mine. I never saw him mount any of the girls, so I have no idea what their due dates are. I just have to watch and wait. I'm looking forward to having babies on the farm again. It appears my 2 oldest girls, Luti and Pessa, are not bred, which I'm glad about. At 10 to 12 years old, it's time for them to retire and enjoy their senior years. Two of the girls who are bred are first timers. The other is a seasoned mom and milker.
Notice there's still green grass for them to graze on. They really haven't needed too much hay this winter because of the mild temperatures.
There's way more green grass on the pigs' side of the pasture. They're staying nice and round and happy and need no hay. Are they super cute or what? I'm hoping my bigger girl in the background, Junebug, is bred, but I really can't tell.

Rex and Mayday are always busy keeping anything threatening away, even cars that drive down the road. They take time to play though. I do love these dogs.
I moved Willo, Rory and Raisa over to the pigs' side today because there's so much green grass on that side, and Raisa and Rory were waiting by the gate, asking to go over.

I'm thinking I might like to breed Rory soon. She's now old enough and we'll let Raisa retire. I'll artificially inseminate her though. I can touch Rory anywhere so it should be easy to train her to be a milker.

So that's about all that's going on with the critters. Baby pictures to come.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Painting on mylar

I went to a studio tour in Lynchburg this weekend. My favorite of all the artists there painted on mylar. I'd heard of this before, but have never seen it in person. His paintings were incredible. It really wasn't the mylar that made his work so beautiful. It was his talent. Anyway, I wanted to try painting on mylar too and since there was an art store below these studios, I bought 2 large sheets.
I had no idea what I was going to do with them and came home and Googled painting on mylar, and
how to mount a mylar painting. 

I decided to mount the mylar on hardboard before I painted on it. Someone suggested using Loctite.
I'd never used it but found a can of Loctite Spray Adhesive at Lowes and decided to give it a try. It comes out in a stringy spray, like very thin Silly String. I carefully placed the mylar on top and used a
brayer to smooth and flatten it on the board. I should mention, I sanded the board first and didn't put any primer on it. The mylar was kind of frosted, not totally clear.

This is what it looked like after I mounted it to the board. I really liked this look.

I wondered if I'd like painting on something so slick. It was nothing like I expected. I put the paint on fairly thinly and it dried pretty quickly for oil paint. Here's the result of my first attempt. I let much of the background show through.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

How did I forget about this?

I used to spend hours out in the field with the goats, cows, dogs and pigs. I don't know how I let that go by the wayside.  Tonight I went out at sunset to spend some time with them and I was reminded how beautiful our farm is and the contented feeling I get when Raisa wraps her head over my shoulders as I scratch her chest, or the dogs press up against me as I crouch on the ground. Nighttime is really the best time to be with them. They aren't begging for food - just attention.  They truly love being together and with me. There are many acres they could be running on, but they choose to be gathered together in this small space.
Rory loves the pigs and they don't seem to mind her licking them.
It's easy to hole myself up in my studio and paint all day and forget how beautiful our place is. I need to go out more often and appreciate what I have and not take it for granted.
As I was walking back to the house a fog was settling over the pasture. I couldn't get a good photo to really capture the feeling. This is the best my iPhone could do.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Kunekune pigs and thinking about babies again

It's been almost a year since I've blogged. I felt like the farm happenings haven't been interesting enough to share with anyone since we've scaled down. I was finding it hard to trailer animals to the butcher, so we sold off some animals and stopped breeding. Well, that couldn't last forever, could it?
I miss the babies. In a weak moment I called a friend and asked if I could borrow his blue eyed fainting goat buck to breed my girls to.  Rufus is a shy little guy. The girls like him and he likes them, but I don't know if they've had any action yet.   If nothing else, he's very photogenic and makes a good model for painting.
Goat babies aren't the only babies in our future. As of last night we've added 4 Kunekune pigs to our menagerie. Kunekunes are small, very docile, grazing pigs. After boarding some potbellied pigs for friends of ours it made me miss having pigs. When I did a Craigslist search for piglets, I came across the Kunekunes, which I've wanted for several years. They're comical little pigs, with short, upturned noses and squat, round bodies, maturing at about 200lbs. They're quick to roll over for tummy rubs - the perfect pig in my book. It was pouring rain this morning so I didn't get a lot of great pictures. Maybe I'll blog again and post more.

Again, perfect subjects for paintings. I haven't come up with names for them yet. I need to get to know them better.

More to come....maybe.

Friday, November 23, 2018

The Alien Christmas Lady

This year's dress form Christmas tree took a different direction than the last few years.  Usually I use greens to dress her up, but this year I decided to just make her a dress with a Christmas/winter theme, using table cloths, scrap fabric, batting, ribbon and lights.  I'll probably go back to greens next year but it will be nice not having to clean up pine needles when I take her all apart.  She's rather messy looking, but when the room is dark and the colored lights are lit she looks more like a Christmas tree than previous years with the big white bulbs.  Here are the past 2 years.

 This was her autumn costume the first year I got her.
I need to dress her up more often because it's fun.  I don't know if James likes having her in the piano room or not.  When I get up in the morning I say, "good morning Christmas lady".  It takes some getting used to, having her be right there when we walk out of our bedroom in the morning.  I think her hood makes her look like an alien.  I didn't do that on purpose.  I can't decide if she's done or not. I guess I have another month to make changes if I get inspired.

Sunday, August 19, 2018


Raisa had another bull calf on Wednesday, August 15th, 2 days before her due date.  Usually she has her baby right on her due date.  I was hoping the early delivery date meant this time might be different and she'd have a girl.  I was out of town at a painting workshop so James was there to see him all wet and brand new Wednesday morning.  I'm calling him Rory, thanks to the suggestion of my sister-in-law, Mary.  He's a cutie but Raisa hasn't let me spend much time with him since I got home.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Garden Gate Gown

The old gate I built out of wood many years ago rotted so it was time for a new one, this time out
of steel, copper and aluminum.  It's way heavier than the wooden one.  I think I overbuilt it.  It still needs some additions, like a gate latch and maybe something to go on either side of the bodice. I just haven't figured out what I'd like to go there so we hung it and I'll wait for inspiration.  I will color the copper blue over the next few days, like you see at the base of the bodice.
The top is copper tubing and roofing copper.
The bottom is made from rebar, bed springs and aluminum screening.  We'll see how the screening holds up over the years.    I used it because it made the bottom of the gown look more fabric-y.
Why the gown?  I don't really know.  I must have been in a dress phase at the time and James approved (he's the gardener and looks at and uses the gate way more than I).

The hanger is rebar and the outside frame is one inch angle iron, which is why it's so heavy, and perhaps wasn't the best idea, weight-wise.  Also, when bending the top arch I had to notch one side, heat it and then re-weld the notches.

Hopefully when the steel rusts and the copper is blue it will pop out more and look prettier. 

Saturday, March 3, 2018


I had a nice surprise waiting for me this morning.  Pessa gave birth to a sturdy, beautiful little girl.  I hadn't expected babies this year because Pessa and Luti are getting pretty old and neither showed any signs of pregnancy, even though we keep a buck, Dagwood, with them.  Two days ago I thought Pessa's backside looked a tiny bit swollen and then yesterday I thought her udder might be getting a bit bigger.  I was sure it was wishful thinking, because lately I've been envious of all the cute baby goat pictures I've been seeing on Facebook.  This was a very nice present, a single girl. I decided to call her Breezy, since we've been getting some serious winds the past 2 days.

 I'm kind of surprised by her light color because her mom and dad are brown and black with some white and her grandfather was almost all black and grandmother was brown like Pessa.  I've always loved light colored goats.  I'm sure she'll darken as she gets older.  This is her handsome dad, Dagwood.
She's very laid back and friendly so far.  Right away she wanted to be held.  She's not shy.  She took a nap in my arms for 15 minutes and then I had to put her down because she's so heavy for a newborn.  

It's still breezy here today but nothing like yesterday's winds that blew up some of the roofing on our garage and uprooted a big pine tree.  We're lucky we didn't get the snow like some of my family got in PA.  It was 50 degrees here but felt more like 30.

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Bowman Women; A Work In Progress

I thought I was going to wait till this was done to post a picture of it, but I'm beginning to think I'll
never get it quite right.  This is the first time I've attempted to paint 4 faces that I know really well all on one canvas.  One moment 3 of us look pretty close, then a day later I've screwed someone up and like a different face.  It's still stiffer than I'd like it.  I'm afraid I'm going to mess with it to loosen it up and ruin the things I like about it.
It began as a black and white, but it slowly progressed to a sepia toned painting, then it begged for color.
 Debbie lost her right eye more than once.  Sorry Deb.

My apologies to my sisters and Mom for any strokes that offend you.