Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Gold Stamp of Approval

Maaaaaaaah!  It's me, Lucky Nickel!
We got a gold stamp of approval from Millie the goat!  We love Millie and her herd of friends.  Four of our former friends are there - Opal, Lotus, Coffee and Osmo.  Millie sometimes says that she will feed Opal to the chupacabra, but we know she's only joking.  Who wouldn't love Opal?!  Right, Millie?  The Gold Stamp comes originally from Tayet's goat, named Gold.  How perfect!
Here are the rules:

  • If you are awarded The Gold Stamp of Approval, you must tell everyone 3 silly things about your goats.
  • Link to your favorite goat or farm blogs and add a nice tidbit about why you like them!
  • Please make a link back to the person you received the award from.
  • Inform the award receiver that they have an award, by comment on their latest post or email.
  • Have fun!
So, we are now going to tell you 3 silly things about us, the goats.  

1.  My lady comes up with very silly names for us goats.  Mine is the only good name.  I am named Lucky Nickel because the vet who delivered me was Dr. Nicholson, and I was lucky he was there, or else I would have died, so she put Lucky and "Nickel" from Nicholson together to make my name, which is just right and a good name.  Inigo, Westley and Fezzik are named after 3 characters from the movie called the Princess Bride.  This is silly because none of them are princesses or brides and they haven't been in a movie, so I don't think she was thinking straight.  Also, when she is talking to Inigo, sometimes she says "Hello, my name is Inigo Goatoya, you sheared my father, prepare to die" and then she laughs.  Clearly, she is completely silly, but she says people who saw the movie will "get it."  Caramel kept her name from her previous farm.  I still think it's silly because a caramel is a food and we don't eat goat here.  My lady is silly and that means her goats get mostly silly names.

2.  When I was little, my lady would let me ride on her back.  That was silly.  I should have been riding in a golden carriage, encrusted with jewels, wearing a tiara.  Why did my lady think that I should be riding on her.  She is so silly.

3.  Sometimes, my lady makes us wear clothes.  This is completely silly.  
Here is a picture of me from back in Iowa, when I was wearing her exercise shorts.  She said it was to keep the diaper on.  I know better.  She just likes to play dress-up.  
See?  Quite silly.

Now we are going to list our favourite goat blogs.  Here they are, in no particular order:
  • Of course, we love Millie's blog because she writes so often and always has great pictures, and she lives with our former herd mates in Iowa.  We also like Millie's lady's blog - she writes very nicely and my lady likes to read about her thoughts and adventures.  And hey, while we're on the subject, you should check out Millie's fabulous new farm store where you can buy lovely soaps and popcorn from her farm and tree ornaments and all sorts of fun things!
  • We love Isobelle's blog because she is very astute, and has good observations.  She also has a lovely herd with Number the horse, of whom my lady is very fond, and some sweet mini horses and 2 little sheep, and my lady says Isobelle's lady is super.
  • We enjoy Tayet's blog about her goats in Wisconsin, and she was clever enough to come up with the Gold award, so we think you should visit her too.
  • Darla's blog, by her lady Mimi, is such fun to read.  We are looking forward to seeing Darla being the Yule Goat in her special Capra coat.  
  • We think Marigold's blog is always worth reading.  She has lots of reasons to be cheerful, and words of wisdom to impart, and lots of important information about peanuts.
  • Baby Belle, also called Millie, has a very funny blog.  My lady usually cracks up when she reads it and always gets a chuckle from Millie's stories.  It's one of our favourites.
  • We like Goat Berries, because it's exotic since it is about some goats in Italy.  We have not been to Italy, but our lady has, and she says they have very good food there, so we think we should go.
  • Finally, we like our friend Kaori's blog, in Japan.  She doesn't speak English and my lady doesn't speak Japanese, but they interact using Google translate and my lady gets the general idea of her blog.  Kaori has two goats - Nana and Ran Maru.  Even if you can't understand it, there are lots of good pictures and it is fun to see goats in Japan!

I think that is all for now....there are so many good goat blogs out there, but these are our favourites!  If any of them have not already received the award, we are awarding it now!  We think you are all golden!!

Now, I must go and perfect my Snow Queen look.  I am practicing so I can be in a movie.  I already have the imperious look perfected, but I need to improve my stomping.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Eggs! Eggs! Eggs!

I have been negligent in blogging!  I have been sooooo busy!  I had much preparation to do for a craft fair event and have been busy with a whole host of other things, and it just seemed like I would never have a moment's peace.  Today, I have a brief moment to report exciting news!

We have eggs!

Let me just repeat that, for the sheer joy of it!  WE HAVE EGGS!

This is very exciting for me.  My very first farm animals, back in Iowa, were 3 lovely chickens.  From there I branched out into sheep, goats, llamas, angora rabbits, and ducks, not to mention geese and donkeys.  It was chickens, though, who got me started on so many changes in my life, and they hold a special place in my heart.  There is something quite charming about a little feathered creature who lays eggs, like little gifts in the nest box, just waiting to be found.  Orbs of perfect goodness - an excellent protein source and a base for so many recipes, both savoury and sweet.

When I left Iowa, my hens were dispersed.  Some went to friends in Iowa.  Some went to live with Isobelle the Beautiful Goat, in New York.  None came with me.  They are quite an ordeal to bring over the US/Canada border, requiring quarantine - even Lucky Nickel didn't need quarantine!  So it was with much sadness that I started my new life here without my hens, without any eggs.  I managed to get some chicks in June and somehow lucked out with my picks from a straight run batch, choosing 7 hens, but of course they were too young to lay yet.  I then got a breeding pair of cuckoo marans from Hidden Meadow Farm on September 2, but she immediately decided to moult, so I had no eggs from her either!

This week, finally, we had our first egg!  And our second!  And today, our third and fourth, in one day!!  It is just about perfect timing because my Dad made me 6 beautiful wooden eggs, turned on his lathe, for the purpose of enticing the hens into the nest boxes.

Hens like to lay in places where other hens have laid eggs, so fake eggs are often used to encourage first-time layers to lay in the right spot.

One of today's two eggs was successfully laid in the nest box beside two wooden eggs!  Hooray!

I think that one of the Rhode Island Reds is laying, and I do believe that these are her first 3 eggs.

You can see that the sizes are different, but I think the smallest one was her first, and now she is "ramping up" to size.  If that is the case, she has laid 3 eggs in 4 days.  Hooray!

The other egg is definitely different.  It's rather an unusual shape - quite pointed on one end.

It has lovely darker speckles on it.

I suspect the copper maran, but I may be wrong.  I suspect her because I actually caught her in the nest box later in the day.  Perhaps she was checking on her earlier offering?

Either that, or it's another hen's egg and I am just not sure whose!  It didn't come from either of the two Polish hens, because they lay white eggs.  The other breed possibilities are the second Rhode Island Red (doubtful with those speckles), the light brahma, or the silver-laced Wyandottes.  Time will tell!

For the moment, I'm just terribly excited to have my own eggs again, so I don't have to buy from the store.  Three cheers for the hens!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Painting: Advice that didn't work for me

A while ago I posted about my plans to decorate my studio.  No, I haven't done it yet.  Sadly, it's close to the bottom of the list of priorities right now.  When I did that post though, I received a lot of sound advice and helpful tips from those who had been there before me.  I appreciated all the advice.  For example, using primer to cover up old dark colours or other faults is a universally good plan.  Also, using good quality brushes and/or rollers is another top tip.  But I digress...let's start with where the painting was going to occur.

Remember this room from my blog post about turning a desk into a chicken nesting box?
Well, that room is our "home office" and it was one of the most disgusting rooms I have ever had the displeasure of cleaning out.  The clutter was incredible - the dust on the bookshelves was literally measurable...and the chaos of books turned out to be mostly obsolete catalogues for tractor parts, wine making supplies, and phone books, back into the 1970s.  Definite hoarder material!
And the stench....oh my word, the stench.  You see, the former owner allowed his dog in the room, and his dog apparently chose the carpet as a potty area, and I don't think it was really ever cleaned.  When I finally got all the stuff off the floor and shelves, I ripped out the ugly brown carpet.  It was (a couple of months after the dog in question had moved out) still very damp, and the underside was so severely stained with yellow, it was like a bad art project.  Utterly disgusting.  After the carpet was removed, and the stinking, moldy, horrible underlay, the room began to smell much better, but there it sat....waiting for the next phase...which was removing the filthy, stained floor tiles underneath the disgusting carpet and underlay.
They were so filthy that the dirt was literally ground into them.  They were nailed through a layer of masonite and into the subfloor.  I used a crowbar and removed them all.  It took days of really hard work, but then the room finally started to look like something one could use.

After that, I washed all the walls, which were a mess of dust, dirt, and spider webs that might have been old enough to be in a museum somewhere.  I also washed the nasty reddish stained baseboards and odd ceiling decor in the same colour, and then began to consider what to do in terms of decorating.  One reason this room is a higher priority is that we will be putting bookshelves in there.  Between us we have loads and loads of books - boxes upon boxes of them.  All these boxes have been sitting around for months now, because there is nowhere to put books.  Fixing up the office will allow the books to have their place so that the boxes can be put away, thus giving me more room to do other projects.  Yay!

Soooooo, we decided that the reddish baseboard and ceiling decor would have to stay for now, because changing all that would be another big project, and other things were higher priority.  Instead, we would paint it a lovely deep hunter green.  Since it was a trim colour, I went with a bold dark green that made me think of forests and lush foliage.  As you can see, some of the walls have this odd wood horizontal paneling thing going on, only to about chair-rail height.

For the rest of the room, I thought a bright an energetic green would be the ticket.  We put up little colour cards and hemmed and hawed for days.  Here's where that questionable advice comes in to the picture.

One thing that I heard from a great many people on the blog, on Facebook, and from in-person conversations, was the advice about choosing the colour you want, and then going a shade (or two!) lighter.  I'm telling you....if you're anything like me....nod, smile nicely, and slowly back away from that piece of advice.  That's MY advice, which will prevent you from having to re-paint with the colour you originally wanted, or something even bolder!

That's all well and good - but how would you know if you are "anything like me" and whether you ought to back away from that advice?  Here's a few things about me that you may or may not know.  Perhaps they'll help you figure out if that piece of advice is designed for you or not:

1.  I am an introvert.  No, that does not mean that I'm anti-social.  What it does mean in the psychological sense is that I am energized, or "recharged" by being alone, whereas spending time around other people tends to drain my energy.  Any number of personality tests and career-aptitude tests I've done over time have shown me to be a classic introvert.  It doesn't mean I don't have friends or don't like people - it's just that I need my alone-time to recharge my internal energy battery.  Extroverts, on the other hand, actually gain energy from being around other people, and find that being alone can be draining or exhausting for them.

2.  Colour in my clothing has a significant influence on my mood.  When I was young, my mother would encourage me to lay out my clothes for the next day before I went to bed.  I used to find this quite difficult, but didn't quite know why when I was young.  As I got older, I realized that the mood I was in the night before wasn't usually the same as my morning mood, and that the clothes I was wearing, notably their colours, either fit my mood, or not.  If they didn't fit my mood, I simply wasn't comfortable in them, and I often didn't put on what I'd laid out the night before because it didn't feel right.  I have items of clothing that I love, but there are some days I can't wear them because they don't "feel right."  That's just me.

3.  Room and space colour has a huge influence on my mood.  I think this ties in to being an introvert as I outlined in my first point.  When I want to feel energized, it is much more difficult to do so in a white or pastel coloured room than in a brightly coloured room.  Pale walls remind me of places I'd rather not be when I want to be energized, such as classrooms or hospitals or bland institutional-style buildings.  When I was in my teens, my parents allowed me to paint one wall of my room a gorgeous bright green, and I had a diagonal white stripe the full length of the wall, about a foot wide.  I loved that look!  It was a bit crazy but it made me feel good.  I didn't really think about why at the time, but now I know it was the colour and the quirkiness of the stripe.

So, to recap, for me...bright colour induces energy, positive feelings and general happiness.  Pale colours and white induce quiet reflection, a more somber mood, and do not energize me.  This, in a nutshell, is why I do not recommend the "one/two shades lighter" advice in paint colours.  I should have known this, because I've made the mistake before, but darn it all, I listened to the advice again (oops) and now I'm repainting.

For the office in question, I chose a shade of green that was lighter than what I really wanted, by at least one shade.  It is a nice green, but it's not even close to what I needed for that room.  Frankly, I found it to be insipid and boring - too pale and too weak.  I could tell very quickly that it was the wrong choice, and Richard agreed.  Too pale.  Ugh.  (excuse the mess -- there's nowhere to put anything around here, so I just have to move stuff around as I paint.  It's annoying, but it's the way it is for now.)

Back to the drawing board, and new little paint colour chips were stuck up on the wall and the hemming and hawing was once again in progress.
Finally, we decided on a lovely, deep and rich caramel colour.  I didn't go two, or even one, shade lighter.  And here it is...

Not a pale colour, but not a dark and dismal colour either.  It's warm and comforting.  It's like a sweet, toffee-flavoured hug.  I love it.  It makes the room feel warm and welcoming.  I've only done one wall and bits of another wall so far, but already, I'm happier when I go into that room.   Around here, that's a first!

We also had planned on leaving the wood trim around the doors and windows as is, but on closer inspection, the wood trim had a lot of nasty wood-filler repair jobs and other damage and/or icky bits.

We decided to paint it in the dark green trim colour.  We also chose a shade called "Toffee Crunch" for the ceiling.  I just did a little bit of it to see how it would look, and I like it very much.  A couple of coats will be needed all around, but it's really going to be lovely.

So, my advice to you is, choose the colours you like, and go for it!  If colour has a strong effect on you, and you are using it to change the feel of a room, don't be shy.  Go bold!  Go bright!  Go colourful!  You'll be much happier that you did, and you won't have to paint twice.

I'll do another post when the painting is complete so you can see how it all looks.  For now, I'm just reveling in the feeling of having made a choice that feels right.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Shameless Self Promotion

Since I've been living here in Nova Scotia, I've been spending a lot more time exploring my creative side.  I've been doing lots of work on the farm and trying to fix up the house, but I can't do that all the time.  Since I'm not working in a corporate setting any more, I set my own hours and goals.  It's good in some ways, and pretty tough in other ways.  I sure do miss the comfort of a regular pay cheque!  (Yes, in Canada it's a cheque, in the USA it's a check.  Go figure!)

Anyway, it's time for a wee bit of self promotion on this blog, so here we go....a showcase of a few of my creative efforts from the past couple of months.

All the following can be seen and purchased right HERE in my Etsy "Scotia Spinner" shop!  Handmade beats mass-produced any day, if you ask me!  Take a look at some of the other wonderful sellers on Etsy too!

First, of course, handspun yarns, and a rainbow of hand-dyed rovings - mostly Coopworth and Corriedale fibre.

Not a spinner or a knitter?  How about some felt ornaments for your Yule or Christmas tree?  Or a soft felted pouch for a special gift to be tucked inside?

And if you're not into fibre arts, there's always the beadwork!  Lately I've been on another bracelet kick, but there are earrings too!

I do take custom orders for beadwork, felted chicken ornaments, handspun yarns, or other fibre art creations, so let me know if you want something special!  Happy shopping!