Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween 2017

Another Halloween done, and it was a good one.  For the past 3 or 4 years we've been invited to a Halloween party to help give out candy to and watch 600 to 700 kids trick or treating in Lexington. It's a good excuse for us mature (better than saying old) people to get together,  wear costumes, eat, drink and be merry.

The thing I like most about being invited to this party is coming up with costumes, though, I'll admit, I find it a bit challenging and make a bigger deal out of it than I probably should.  I don't want to have the lamest costumes.  It's also great fun hanging out with friends and seeing the kids all dressed up and watching them look at us and all the decorations.  Some kids seem scared and some fascinated.

This year James and I were Van Gogh and his self-portrait.
 By the time I took these last two pictures, James (or, my portrait) had worn off his beard.  It could have been from eating all the tasty snacks and wiping his mouth.

I had envisioned this wonderful portrait painted on his face but Walmart face paints were not very good paints and no matter what I did, I couldn't make it look like real paint on his face.  I was tempted to use acrylic paints but was afraid it would stain, or worse.

Here are some other interesting looking characters.




 I wish you could see the line to come up to this house.  This picture doesn't do it justice.
Neither does this video.  The steady stream of kids trick or treating is pretty amazing.  So are our friends' decorations.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKbu-P_hR-Q&feature=youtu.be

Happy Halloween.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Elk Cliff Farm Poker

I've been dressing the animals for Halloween for the past 4 or 5 years.  It gets more and more challenging coming up with costume ideas, and ones that fit animals, and I can put on them quickly and get a photo. This year I got really lazy.  Since it's 5 days before Halloween I can say this isn't really a Halloween post anyway.  I decided to anthropomorphize the animals in paint, using the Dogs Playing Poker theme.
James and I will still be dressing up for Halloween.  That post will follow.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Different strokes for different folks

I've been on a portrait painting kick lately.  I've mentioned before how I've been trying to figure out what my painting style is but it never seems to get any clearer, because one day I can paint a face a particular way and it feels really good.  Then another day I'll paint another face in a different way and it feels equally as right.  Here are 3 portraits I've painted just a few weeks apart.  Maybe it just happens to be the mood I'm in that day that affects my style.  Or maybe the face says, "paint me this way".
 Casual pose, palette knife.
 More serious, serene, smaller brushes and more realistic.
 Loose and happy.

Beef tongue tacos


This was one of my more successful offal dinners.  We try to use what we can from every animal we butcher but some parts just aren't palatable.  Remember my kidney fail?  Well, turns out, beef tongue is very tender and delicious, and is also very large.
It was very simple to cook too.  I boiled it for 2 hours, peeled it, cut it up and prepared it like you would any other meat for tacos.

James thought it was good.  I thought it was great.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Painting workshop

James and I spent 3 days in Boone, NC this week so I could take a realistic impressionism workshop a friend had told me about.  This was my first workshop ever and I loved it and learned so much; at least I hope I did.  There were 7 of us in the class.  My friend, Dottie, and I were the only ones to paint with oil.  The others, including the teacher, used acrylics.  Dottie paints exclusively with a palette knife, which I haven't done, other than a tiny bit here and there.  The teacher also used a palette knife a good deal so I thought this was as good a time as any to explore its uses.

I paint a lot of people and animals, rarely landscapes.  This was an opportunity to stretch myself and I was a bit anxious about it.  Our teacher and my classmates were very laid-back and fun so it was silly of me to feel that way.  You know I'm not a shy person, so it wasn't because I was worried about fitting in or anything like that.  I get anxious before just about every painting I begin.  I can't explain it.

Egie Antonaccio was our teacher.  Google him to see some beautiful paintings.  He has a thick Italian accent, which was fun to listen to, and entertained us with anecdotes.  He never seemed bothered by us chattering away as he did his morning demonstrations.

Here's my first, and favorite of my paintings from the workshop.  I like the texture a palette knife creates.
Day 2's painting didn't go as well but I'm looking at this as a work in progress and maybe in the next few days I can complete it and pull off something respectable.  I didn't want to work on it the last day because I wanted to get in as much painting of new things as I could.
Day 3 painting is a little wild and colorful but as I look at it today I'm liking it a bit more.  I may change the background.  This was my first pig, Roxie and her little buddy, Wassie.  They do look happy, don't they?
Some pretty spectacular paintings came out of other classmates, especially one man, Terry, who was picking up a brush (or palette knife) for the first time ever.  I was so impressed with him.  Here are 2 of his paintings.  I'm guessing Terry is somewhere around 70 years old.

My friend, who has been painting for just 2 years, did some awesome paintings.


Some more paintings from the class.


I think all of these paintings look better in person than in these photos.

We bought one of Egie's demo paintings to have a memory from this week.  Maybe one day I can paint something like this in just an hour.
While I was in the workshop James ran, wrote and sketched.  Yes, he's getting the art bug too.  It won't be long till he's painting.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Building picture frames (warning, not for the faint hearted)

I love little projects that I can complete in a short amount of time, and building picture frames is just that kind of project.  My friend, Laura, asked if I'd build some frames for 2 of her paintings of her dogs.  I'm going to post one of those pictures so it will appear as the first photo on the blog, so when I post this on Facebook that will be the photo displayed with the blog.  You'll understand why I don't want these other photos posted as you read on.  First, here's one of her framed paintings.
 I kind of like this frame because I used some tongue and groove flooring we have leftover and instead of removing the groove part, I used it to slide the hardboard into.  I'd never done this before so it was fun doing something new.
The other frames I made were also made out of tongue and groove flooring but I cut off the tongues and grooves and the hardboard was mounted from the back.  That made for a much deeper profile though.
Now here's where you should stop reading if you don't want to be grossed out.  I don't use my bandsaw very often and sometimes mice build nests inside.  I should have opened it before I used it.
I turned it on and heard a thump and then had a bit of "matter" fall onto the deck of the saw.  I just knew I'd killed a mouse. I hated to open the door and was tempted to continue on and cut the trim I needed because the saw was running just fine.  I couldn't do that though.  I dreaded opening it.  It wasn't a mouse, though it was still very disturbing.

I'm so sorry, snake.  Next time I'll open the door first.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Oscar videos

Raisa and Oscar are doing great.  He seems so much bigger and livelier than our past calves.  Maybe I just forget from year to year.  Every time I try to get a video of him bouncing he stops just as I hit record.  I did get him running a bit.

Lennon and Mo are fascinated with him and keep trying to lick him through the fence.  You'll see in this next video how full Raisa's rear udder is.  Oscar isn't nursing off the back yet and she hasn't let me relieve her.  We go through this every year.

He's still friendly but doesn't stand still for long when I pet him.  Usually around 4 days old they become a bit skittish and I have to win them over, but so far he doesn't seem afraid of me.  They all come around eventually as long as I spend time with them.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Another Boy

I guess it's just not in the cards for me to get that baby girl calf.  Raisa gave me an adorable, healthy and big baby boy this morning.  I missed the birth again but not by much.  She still hadn't passed the afterbirth but I could see the baby had already been up and nursing before I got there.  He's very sturdy.  He's red like her and Franklin but a lighter red, like jerseys tend to be.  He definitely has the Jersey's eyes.







Monday, September 4, 2017

Not the Labor Day I'd hoped for

This will be Raisa's 4th calf born since we got her.  She's around 10 years old so she's probably had 7 or 8 calves in all.  While calving may not be new to her, it still feels new to me.  With each baby born here I revert to a newby farmer.  I doubt myself.  I wonder if she's really pregnant or if I got the breeding date wrong.  I imagine the mother is farther along than she is in her gestation and am sure a baby is going to pop out any minute.  Nine months and 3 days ago I saw Franklin breed Raisa so I was sure she was going to calve this past Friday.  Yes, I understand 3 days late is nothing.  Her past 2 bull calves were born right on their due date so it just feels wrong to have to wait.  Some days she looks very pregnant and then other days not at all.  I take lots of pictures of her these days, from all angles, and then compare them to the day before to see if I can see changes. I do this with goats too.

 Her udder may look big to you but this is really not all that big for her so I keep wondering why she hasn't filled up more if she's 3 days late.  She'll really get huge the day she calves.
 Yes, I take lots of vulva pictures too.  I can't help myself.  How will I know if it's more swollen a day later if I don't have a photo to compare it to?  I know I have many friends who completely understand this.
And so I wait, and wait.  I'll be sure to post many pictures once baby arrives.  I really, really, really want a red girl, not a black boy.  She hasn't had a girl for me yet.  If she has a girl we'll keep her.

We get a lot of fog here, living in a valley on the river, so it can be pretty wet in the mornings when I go out to feed and milk.  On foggy mornings there are almost always sparkling spiderwebs to photograph.
Every morning the animals hover at the gate waiting for me to fill feed bowls.  The lambs holler but Pessa is the bossiest of them all.  She barks at anyone who comes near her.  She MUST be the first to be fed.  The only one she'll share food with is Dagwood, and she's not always sure she wants to share with him.

James took a kayak out while the river was still lightly blanketed in fog.  He took a few (89) pictures too.
More spiderwebs.
Happy Labor Day.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Perhaps I'm Naive

I've recently decided when I hear something negative or read something that irks me on Facebook I'm going to respond in a positive way.  That's what I've been doing this week after the horrible events that happened in Charlottesville.  As I've read posts by friends and family who, in my opinion, don't seem to believe there is still oppression in this country, I've decided to respond with a painting.  I'm calling it Embrace.  I know it accomplishes nothing but it makes me feel better and it's better than saying something I'll be sorry for.  I'd prefer to think about people embracing rather than spewing hate.

As I was painting today I was listening to John Denver.  I heard a song by him that was unfamiliar to me.  It's just as relevant today as it was when he wrote it back in the 80s.  It's called Let Us Begin (What Are We Making Weapons For).  Maybe you already know it.  Perhaps he was naive too but if everyone felt this way the world would be a better place to live.