etsy mini

Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Just a very quick note to say MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone reading this blog. Lets hope that we all have a peaceful and productive new year.

Monday, 19 December 2011

The mystery of the disappearing chicken

A few weeks ago we bought some ex battery hens. For those of you who don't know, battery hens spend their whole lives in cages and can't do any of the things that chickens like to do. They are basically egg laying machines. At quite a young age ( I'm not sure exactly what age but inbetween two and three years I think) they are slaughtered as their peak production years are deemed to be over. I assume they are then used as dog and cat food. A chicken can live to be ten or more.
In our area, every now and then an ex battery hen sale is held. The hens are sold very cheaply and avoid slaughter. As our light sussex hens were only producing eggs very sporadically we decided to buy a few ex battery hens. At first we kept them in an ark so they could go in and out as they pleased but not stray. At first they were too frightened to go outside but eventually did. Chickens are naturally inquisitive creatures and will peck at anything. They began to peck at the grass and discovered how tasty it was. Our other chickens spent quite a lot of time 'talking' to them through the netting and after about ten days the big occasion of letting them roam free came.
Malcolm, our cockerel took charge of them straight away and showed them around. After a couple of days I was lucky enough to see him teach them how to  bathe. Chickens love to dust bathe. They make an indentation in a dry piece of ground and roll around in it, even stretching out their wings to do underneath. They then spend a long time preening. This helps to get rid of parasites and is obviously very pleasurable. The next day Malcolm bought them to the back door knowing that I would give them some bread or seeds as a treat. They have become very confident over the last few weeks and mob me for treats as soon as I walk out of the door. In fact, if I leave the door open for a short while they are in! I spend quite a lot of time chasing them out of the kitchen.
Usually, when it starts to get dark they all go to their house and wait to be fed before settling down for the night. It is very important to lock them in at dusk as there are lots of foxes in our area who are quick to grab any stray chickens for their dinner.
One day last week I went to feed them and put them to bed as usual and one was missing. I checked in their house but she was not there. After feeding the other animals I went round checking the polytunnels in case she had managed to squeeze in and not get out. I checked the feed store and the outbuilding where we store logs. The chickens often like to hang out there in bad weather.  I checked under hedges and every where else I could think of but there was no sign of her. Not even a few feathers to show that the fox had come early and carried her off.
The next day I still could not find her. The others were all wandering around as usual but she was not there. I assumed that she had been eaten by something and felt quite sad.That night I fed the chickens and ducks then went in to the field to feed the sheep and pigs. Just as I was shutting the gate, along sauntered the missing chicken. I opened the gate and she came out of the field and casually walked over to her house, looking at me to let her in.
I still have no idea where she went or how she survived a night outside but am pleased that she is back and safe.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

craft fair and socks

Last weekend I had a stall at Bont Christmas fair. I finally managed to get enough work together for it! Saturday was very slow. We discovered that a coach full of people from the local area had gone to Cardiff on a shopping trip so that could explain why.
 The lady on the stall next to me was knitting socks to pass the time. Now, this is always something that I have wanted to do but I am not an accomplished knitter and can't get my head around circular needles or working on four needles. However, she was using two needles. We got chatting and she agreed to teach me the next day. That night I hastily knitted the rib for the ankle as instructed and took it with me for instruction on the difficult bit the next day. Despite her instructions I found it very confusing and when I ended up with twelve stitches on my needle instead of eight I gave up.
The craft fair on Sunday was much busier and I sold lots of work and met some very nice people. That evening the thought that I had given up on the socks kept niggling so I searched the web for easy sock patterns and found one which looked manageable.It was on an American site called Bevs country cottage if anyone wants to have a go.The only trouble was that American needle sizes and wool thickness do not seem to be the same as British so I guessed. The outcome was a sock which fitted lengthways but was about three times too wide! Still it is a start and I will try again with smaller needles.
Here is a photo of one of the pictures which I sold.    

Thursday, 1 December 2011

New felts for Christmas

The last few months have been very hectic. In October I had pictures in an exhibition in Cardigan guild hall with Celf Canolbarth Cymru. Shortly after that Ali and myself opened our exhibition at Oriel Elenedd which is in the Welsh Gold Centre in Tregaron. I didn't expect anything to sell as no one is feeling very rich this year but the pictures are almost flying off the wall. This meant that I had to make replacements instead of  making pieces for Bont Christmas market. I will not complain though. I am happy that people like my work.
Flying High
rainbow forest

Bathed in moonlight
There is exciting news for artists in Ceredigion. We are organising an art trail for next year. Quite a lot of tourists visit the area for our beautiful scenery and to see the wildlife in and around Cardigan Bay. Now they will have something interesting to do when it rains! I will keep you posted as things progress. Here are a few of my latest felts.