Saturday, May 20, 2017

Learning to slow down

Gosh, it's been 3 weeks since I've blogged.

The big news here is I've sold all but 2 goats, Luti and Pessa.  I decided it was time to semi-retire and enjoy quiet mornings, milking just Luti and Raisa.  Pessa is permanently retired and she and Luti will live out their senior years here and be companions to Rex.  Linus, Lily, Darla and Cato all went to the same home (which made me very happy) where they will be spoiled and produce milk for many years to come.  I miss them but I'm enjoying spoiling Luti and Pessa by giving them more attention and treats.  I think they're getting used to the idea too.  With fewer animals hopefully we can do a little more traveling.
We just returned from a 4 day trip where we met some friends in Asheville, NC.  What a great trip!  Asheville is such a great city with lots of great food, shops and art galleries.  Here we are at the Asheville Arboretum.
Visiting the art galleries really inspired me.  We saw so much great art.  It made me want to keep working at it.  I started this piece a few weeks back.  Once again, I'm trying to come up with a name for it.  James told me "Melting Pot" is too cliche. If anyone else has some ideas let me know.  I've really loved painting these children's faces.  Strangers are so much more fun to paint than people I know.

While I'm figuring out how to slow down, James is taking a little longer discovering how important it is.  After returning from our trip he's gone crazy working in the garden for many hours at a time, shoveling mulch, weeding and planting.  Because of this his back is crooked again.  Today he was sidelined.  This is kind of what he looks like.
This is the second time this has happened to him; both times after he overdid it in the garden.  Maybe his chiropractor will explain to him how important it is to take it easy.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Changing of the guard

I know I've spoken many times on this blog of how good Keri was at her job.  She may have let me think I was the boss, but she probably knew way more about the goings-on in the field than I.  I had no idea how much I'd learn about guardian dogs until we had Keri.  While all our house dogs have been loyal and loving, it's a different kind of relationship than with a guardian dog.  I think Keri would truly have given her life for me and James and the goats.  I won't go on anymore about her as a guardian because I've probably written it all before.

Yesterday was tough.  When I went to the barn I could see she was in pain.  It was hard for her to walk and even lie down.  She couldn't get comfortable and she had no appetite.  She didn't even scold the cows when they were where she doesn't like them, in my way.  James called the vet because I knew I'd cry when I made the dreaded appointment.  They said they could take her at 5:15 so we had
all day to think about it.

Keri loved being in our station wagon, though she hardly ever got to ride in it.  It meant she had me all to herself and she didn't have to share me with the others.    So at 3:00 I picked her up from the field, helped her in the car and drove back to the house.  We sat in the driveway with the doors open for more than an hour and a half and cuddled.  She was uncomfortable but happy.  James came out and she had one of us at each end of her.  I'm pretty sure this was heaven for her.
We headed to the vet with Keri in the back seat.  Even though it was chilly we put the window down for Keri so she could stick her head out when she wanted.
As always, the vets were kind and gentle with Keri and patient with my blubbering.  It was all very peaceful.

I wondered how Rex would be this morning.  When he didn't greet me at the gate I got a bit panicky.  I was afraid he'd climbed over the fence to find Keri.  I called him and he slowly came out of the barn.  He's never done that.  He's always waiting for me.  He went back to his corner and laid back down.  He wasn't interested in his food and he was grumpy with the cows.  I've never seen him boss the cows like that; like Keri, his teacher, did.  It will be interesting to see how he takes over now.  I gave him some extra loving today and told him he was in charge now.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


I'm not up to writing an obituary for Keri tonight because there's too much to say and I'm too sad to say it.  So instead, I'll just post some wonderful memories.

Friday, April 21, 2017

My piano man

I probably shouldn't post a picture of this painting until I call it finished but I wonder if I'll ever know if it's finished.  I've been wanting to paint a picture of James' piano for a while and even had a sketch of it for a very long time before I finally dug into it.  For those of you who don't paint or draw, a grand piano is really hard to paint.  It has so many angles and descending lines, and lighting changes constantly on these angles.  I'm still awaiting comments from my real artist friends for their input so I'll probably make some more changes yet.  For now, James seems to like it and that's all that matters.  Baxter hasn't said if he approves or not.

I've been painting a lot these days and it's hard to tell if I'm getting better or not, sometimes.  I'll just keep painting because it's so much fun.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Garden gate is finished (and a lamb update)

This garden gate was supposed to be a Christmas gift for James but instead I finished it on his birthday.  It's not that it took so long to make it.  It's just that I'd work on it a little and then quit until I got inspired again.  I had stalled for a long while and then a friend who likes junk and rusty stuff as much as I do came over and helped restart me.  Here's the finished gate.  At least I think it's finished.  We can't hang it until we put supports on the post it'll be hanging from.  It's a pretty heavy gate.
The frame of it is all steel.  The sunshine in the top left is a piece of rusty steel with a rusty funnel I cut and splayed and filled with marbles.  The wires on it were a hanging basket that I removed the rim from.  The butterflies on the top right are leftover roofing copper that I cut with an acetylene torch.  The whole lower half is made from copper and of course you can see the bed spring flower on the right.  The center of it is something I found on the garage shelf.  It looks like it covered a filter or something.
If you zoom in on the sunflower you'll see a fly made out of I spark plug.  I didn't make that.  A friend gave that to me as a gift years ago.

I haven't decided whether to clear coat some of it or not.  I won't clear coat the stuff I want to get rustier.  I learned a lot while making this.  I still have another gate to build.  I have no idea what I'm going to do yet.  Hopefully something will inspire me.  It will probably also be made out of rusty things and copper because, well, I like rusty things and copper.  It might be a problem.

Take this silly bird.  Who could resist welding broken hedge trimmers, a bike chain and lawn mower blades together?  I don't even know what that rusty piece is that forms the belly.  I found it in the garage.
You know your friends know you pretty well when they find an old washing machine in their field and text you to see if you want it.  Guess what I said.
I have no idea what I'll do with it.  It's a bit too bulky to make into a gate :)

I know some of you only read my blog to see cute animals so here's your dose of cuteness for the day.
When Bobby and Petey see me or James they think we should feed them.  This is their chorus.

I had a repair project to do today and they were a big help.  They weren't the least bit afraid of the noise from a circular saw, jigsaw or compressor.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Bobby Black Sheep and Petey

We've adopted 2 sweet bottle lambs, Bobby (or Baaahby) Black Sheep and Petey.  We're keeping them in the yard closest to the house until they're off the bottle.  It makes things easier on us.  It's nice to have 2 so they can keep each other company.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


This is my grand dog and Baxter's best friend, Maia.  She's a boxer/rottweiler cross who absolutely loves the water.  She wears a life jacket in the river because she's solid muscle and it's a lot of work to keep her body afloat, though you'd never know it to watch her swim.  I'm pretty proud of this painting because it's the first one I've done with water and reflections.  It was super fun.  Here she is standing in the James River.

Sunday, March 26, 2017


About 2 months ago I attempted to paint James' portrait.  I messed with it for a week or 2 but couldn't get his mouth right, among lots of other things.  I put it away and figured I'd look at it again one day when I got better.  I got it out yesterday after another failed attempt at his portrait.  Well,
I finally finished it.  I think I got the mouth pretty close.  What do you think?
I couldn't decide whether to title this blog Jamester or Poochrait.  I should mention, neither James nor Baxter were offended by this painting.  I asked James' permission to use this in my blog.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Rex's Kids

These pictures and videos say it all.  Rex is a wonderful caregiver.  Keri is the fierce protector but Rex is a real softie when it comes to these babies, especially Mona, his bottle baby.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Emmy and Millie

These may be our final kids of the season and I finally got to watch the births.  Darla is a pro and breezed through the whole thing.  A new young friend, Emily, watched with me, so that's how I came up with Emmy and Millie.  I really love both those names.  The one with the funny ears is Millie.  The other girl's ears can't decide what they want to do either.  Sometimes they stand up straight like a rabbit.

All the other kids are doing well too and are about as sweet as any kids I've ever had.  I just love this little crew.  In a few more days when they're all bouncing I'll get some video to post.  All kids will be for sale this year.  No matter how much I like them, I'm not keeping more.  

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Kidding season is not going as I had hoped

Maybe I'm getting too lax about raising goats.  I used to be so careful in my planning of breeding and kept notes about who was bred when, to whom, when they had what shots, what day they kidded on the year before, etc.  This year all planning went out the window.  I think things changed when I moved the goats from the yard over to the field.  Or maybe when I began adding other livestock to the mix.

I had very few due dates for my goats this year and the ones I did have weren't always correct.  I've missed every birth so far.  Lily had hers yesterday morning shortly before I went down to milk.  For some reason she has not accepted Mona.  She's always been a good mom in the past so I don't know what the deal is.  She has made very clear that she only loves Sully, therefore I'm bottle feeding Mona and 2 more kids who arrived yesterday afternoon right in the middle of the field.

Dahlia is a first time mom and had no idea what happened.  She was standing in the field staring down and these two tiny, screaming, sopping wet creatures looking very confused.  I picked them up and carried them to a shelter, calling Dahlia to follow me.  It was windy and chilly.  Instead, when she finally decided to move, it wasn't to the barn but out to graze with the others.  I had to drag her across the field to her kids and block her in there.  She seems interested in them and cries to them but won't let them nurse.  Maybe she'll come around.  They're happy to take a bottle for now.

Fortunately, Dahlia and Lily were more than happy to come in to be milked this morning, so that was a nice surprise.  Most new moms kick a little (sometimes a lot) the first day, especially a first time mom.  I was lucky with Dahlia.  I haven't named her two boys yet.  Rex is being a better father to all the kids than their moms are.  He adores them.  It doesn't hurt that they taste like milk.  He keeps their behinds clean too :)  All 4 kids born yesterday sleep in a pile together.  It's very cute.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Sully and Mona

Lily gave birth to a little boy and girl this morning.  The little boy, Sully, is brown and Mona looks just like Petal.  It's funny how similar Mona's markings are to hers.  Mom and babies seem to be doing fine.

Their names come from a city in Italy James and I visited many years ago, Sulmona.  It's known for it's candied almonds.  There were stores that sold nothing but candied almonds.  There were beautiful bouquets of almonds arranged in flower form.

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Farm life is settling down.  No one's kidding and no one is dying.  That gives me some down time.  I'm finding mostly what I want to do when I have that down time is paint.  I may not consider myself and artist yet but I feel like I'm making progress, and that keeps me motivated to keep painting.

I'm a Pinterest addict and am always looking at real artists' works, plus I have some awesome friends who paint with me and inspire me more than you can imagine.  It's been fun exploring different styles
and finding what works for me and what I find a real challenge. Animals have been my go-to.  I like painting them most, especially dogs and farm animals.  I need to stretch myself to get better, I know that.

I told James last night, "you know what I'm looking forward to?  I can't wait till I show you something I've painted and you say, that's really good".  That hasn't happened yet.  He's said, "I like the way you did this, or that", but I still feel challenged to impress him.  That's a good thing, I guess.

Here are my latest farm paintings.  Ok, some are dogs that live on farms.  Hopefully you'll see differences in style between one painting and another.  That's why I labeled this blog, Exploring.
First is our beloved Baxter.
This next one of an old barn in the snow came from a book my friend, Kathy, loaned me.
This next one of Rex, our guardian, and Petal could use more attention but I've grown tired of working on it so it may just remain as is.
Keeping with the dog theme, this hound dog belongs to my friend Barb, who lives up river about 9 miles on a very large farm.  Her dog, Corrie, follows canoeists down the river to our place a few times each summer.  She's a real sweetie and also a beauty.  I loved painting this face.  Barb is one of the friends I paint with.
One more farm animal.  Porter, the new steer who has come to live here, who's a gentle giant and almost cartoon-like in my eyes, therefore, I painted him somewhat cartoonish.
Lastly, not farm-like at all.  I decided to paint something that had nothing to do with animals or farm or anything I usually paint.  I didn't sketch this or plan it.  I just used bold colors and bigger brushes and saw where it went.  Not beautiful or perfect, but fun, nonetheless.
Stay tuned for more amateur art.  I can't help myself.  Maybe one day you'll say, wow, I love this and so will James and I will be very proud.