Saturday, May 27, 2006


Today 290 day old chicks arrived. One hundred and twenty are staying here, the rest were ordered in for other local people who raise their own chickens. These are broiler chicks that grow rapidly and are ready for processing at anywhere from 6 - 8 weeks, depending on how big the final chicken is wanted. I like a chicken to be a decent size. Unfortunately these days, the fast food industry (read Fast Food Nation for a realy eye opener)dictates the size of commercial chickens which is why you don't see many large roasting chickens in the stores.

The chickens that we raise dress out at between 7 - 9 pounds. An experiment last year to try to raise some of these broilers ourselves led to really large birds. Because they are genetically bred to grow quickly, their cardiovascular systems are strained and they often die suddenly with heart attacks.

We tried keeping the adult birds for breeding. Two roosters and a dozen hens. The roosters seemed to fare well but the hens got stressed easily and didn't move around well, preferring to sit most of the day. They also died frequently til we were left with just 6 hens and the rooster. It was decided that they would go to the processer with the other regular broilers that we were sending. They were about 24 weeks old then. The roosters came back from the processor weighing 16 pounds each! They were like turkeys!!

I am still a wuss when it comes to parting company with the chickens. I go into their pens and say goodbye to them. The knowledge that they have lived a good life in clean, dry surroundings, with natural light, freedom of movement, activity, good food and clean water means that they have lived for a purpose. Initially I couldn't eat my own chickens, but now I've come to terms with the fact that they are what they are and serve a purpose.

I have worked more on the sketch started last night of Blizzard, the gosling, and myself in his favourite spot. He's a little too large to fit in there now even if he wanted to! The memories of it make me smile.

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Friday, May 26, 2006


In February this year, I became surrogate mother to a gosling who was named Blizzard as he/she hatched out in the midst of a severe blizzard. Unfortunately none of Blizzard's eggmates hatched, making him an orphan. What else could I do but adopt the little creature. I did learn the following from being a goose mother:

1. Geese don't make good indoor pets
2. Geese imprint strongly on their caregiver
3. Geese LOVE water baths in front of the fireplace
4. Geese love to snuggle.
5. Geese need paper towel diapers before they snuggle.
6. Geese are as demanding as a two year old.
7. Geese are very lovable as babies - not quite so when they grow up and assert themselves.

.I was looking through some photos of Blizzard and me tonight and decided to do a drawing of his favourite spot - snuggled under my fleece. He's go in there, snuggle down and go to sleep. Heat and dark does wonders for babies. This sketch is the start of a drawing

Blizzard, by the way, is now living with some friends and ducks and is thriving. He/she is a brown Chinese goose.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Fear and love

Fear and Love are two of the most basic and powerful human emotions. As they spread from person to person, they can inspire such extremes of behaviour as killing one another or dying for one another. Considering that the fundamental importance of love is so widely agreed upon, it is remarkable how many of us seem dedicated to promoting its opposite: fear.

"There is no fear in love: true love has no room for fear."

Fear is a natural response to danger that quickens the mind's efforts to anticipate and avoid potential peril or problems. However, stemming from the irrational part of the mind, it knows no logic and sometimes gets unhinged from its target. People whose lives have been filled with fear often continue to be afraid long after the potential danger has been removed, making up their own, irrational, reasons. Chronic fear is a debilitating state of mind that weakens body and soul, associated with heart conditions, nervous disorders, stress, depression and paranoia. This is especially dangerous when it affects the powerful, since it impacts the decision-making capabilities and distances people from the real consequences of their actions. Even worse, the natural result of fear is to act selfishly without regard for the wellbeing of others.

Love has many shades of meaning, but it is well understood as a selfless devotion to someone - a determination to do them right and to encourage and care for them. By focusing our attention away from dead matter such as money or material goods, onto the living beings on whom it rightly resides, love helps us to rediscover our humanity. Taking joy in relationships with others is a positive alternative to escapism, and it helps us overlook their failings, inspiring them to love us in return.

Art contains both love and fear in varying degrees and each artist feels both in creating and exposing her work to the eyes of others. Showing the creation from within lays heart and soul on the line and opens the artist to fear while they hope for love. The sketch here is even more so. A self portrait sketch that may or may not evolve into a drawing. The proportion isn't right, but the pose is interesting.

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About 18 months ago, I bought a horse - Kit. A big bay mare. A few months later another mare arrived to keep Kit company. Lady is a sorrel quarter horse. Horses are a lot of work, enjoyable, but time consuming and I am rarely at home. My husband isn't physically able to look after the horses effectively anymore so they are in the process of being sold.

Lady is on a two week probation with a local riding school. The owner is well versed in horses and Lady responded to her extremely well. This is the 2nd week of her trial, so I hope it works out for all of us.

That of course means Kit is on her own right now. She's adapted quite well to the single life again, but does have moments of crankiness and pacing. I'm sure she misses the equine company. I try to spend time with her and amuse her but I'm not quite the same as the four legged variety - unless I'm carrying goodies of course!

The problem is that I can't let Kit go until I'm sure Lady has a home. Lady is an alpha mare and was taken away from her foal abruptly. When she came to us, she adopted Kit as the substitute 'foal' and is not a happy camper AT ALL if Kit is out of sight. Kit on the other hand, doesn't give toss where Lady is most of the time. So I don't want to be in the situation where Lady comes back on her own. I think she would be a real handful then.

It will be odd not to have them around, but sometimes life does that to you and you have to accept it. As long as I know they have very good homes to go to, I will be content. I am as strict with potential buyers as if I were sending a child there and if I get even a hint of hesitation or the wrong answer about their stabling, feeding or treatment, then the person hasn't a chance in hell of getting the horse. I think I have a good intuitive sense of people and can see how they interact with the animals and the animals with them so I make my judgement from there.

Meanwhile, I'm working on a portrait of my eldest daughter. I'm deciding on composition right now and poses so have done a few sketches to see what works adn what doesn't. Here is a sample. Hopefully this weekend I'll made the final decision and start the portrait in earnest.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Farm life

I wandered onto a farm blog this weekend and found it enchanting. Farmgirl Fare. Its not art related, but food related in origins. It gives a wonderful image of life on a working farm. I've found very few farm blogs but that's not surprising as full time farming demands long hours and leaves little time for sitting and writing.

My own farm is a small version hobby farm that ebbs and flows with animals, produce and ability from season to season. It was originally purchased to expand my growing (pardon the pun) medicinal herb collection. I trained as a Chartered Herbalist in late 1999 and obtained my diploma in January 2001 after a lot of studying. It was a challenge in later life to take on a course, especially while working. Each night was spent immersed in human anatomy, chanting the workings of the hepatic portal system or memorizing Latin names of herbs, their uses, and herbal formulas. The work paid off and I got 91 on the final exam. Not bad for an old person, as my daughter teased me.

I have about 60 varieties of medicinal and culinary herbs growing at the moment and finally have a small dryer that will help the process once harvesting is complete. This is elecampane which I grow from seed. It is a perennial and grows well in Newfoundland's climate. I use the root of this plant as the basis of a cough medicine. Another ingredient is mullein. This plant is biennial and can grow to 6 feet tall or more. The flowers and leaves are useful in coughs and make a great pain reliever in ear ache.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Victoria Day

Its a holiday Monday in Canada celebrating Victoria Day. Whoever's birthday it is, I'll take the time off happily.

I have concentrated much of my efforts on drawing today losing track of time and what is going on around me. I looked up just now and realized it was 2:30 and I had been drawing since 8am.

Here are the fruits of my work. Not Queen Victoria, but I think the girl, Jen, has a similarity in some ways.

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