Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Back Aboard The Coach!

The last time I posted anything about my Epic Stagecoach project was...  Almost 6 years ago.  I have not touched it since then.

Well, that's not entirely true.

Last year, it made its live show debut.  How??  In the awesome Big Dreams class at The Jennifer Show, where it was the biggest dream - by footprint anyhow.  It, and all it's paraphernalia, took up an entire table. 

After that, it was all packed away again.  

Recently, I've made an effort in my "new" studio room (been in there for over a year, but it still feels new and not moved into) to set up a work station just for the Stagecoach.

Last night, I randomly sat down in the spot, cleared a few things out of the way, and got back to work.

In my last post about the project, I shared how one of the wheels had been shattered.  My plan has always been to use that as an "opportunity" to redo the wheels, having learned MUCH more about actual wheelwrighting since making them.  However, last night I made the decision to repair the broken wheel and move forward... with a footnote.  I will be making sure the wheels are removeable.  That way I can backtrack and do the upgrades at a later date if I want to (and I do).

Before deciding to fix the wheel, I ended up peeling off the "tire", intending to break the rim apart and start the from scratch rebuild.  After deciding to repair the wheel "as is", I decided that this removal was fine to do, it gave me an idea how hard or easy it would be to tear down the wheel later.  It wasn't too hard, but did require some patience.

I called it a night last night, after repairing the (long) broken wheel.  Four wheels with spokes again, for the first time in yeeeears.

Tonight's task ended up a simple one, but crucial.  It was also something that had had me stuck - bigly.  

For such a high end kit, the wheel hubs are quite poorly made.  To the point that the center holes aren't even big enough (or round enough) for the axle shafts to go through!  For years - okay, not constantly, but several times - I'd debated how best to fix this.  Tonight I just did it.  

The fix ended up being hand drilling; starting with a bit that would go through - 4.5mm for 3 of them, a tight fit for the 4th - then 4.8mm, then the 5mm that they needed.  I had been hesitant to use power tools on these and was glad that hand drilling worked.  Thanks to Jeff for suggesting the start small and work up gradually technique.  

I really wanted to work on the project tonight, to keep up the momentum unexpectedly started last night.  I decided to stop for tonight once I saw this:

A confession - I'm not *quite* ready to be at this point.  A few other things need to be put on the chassis before the axles are attached.  However, I could not wait any longer to see the "rolling chassis".

I'm taking it slow, I'd like to work on this a bit every day (if possible).  Maybe I'll finally finish it, THIS decade?

Of course there's also the harnesses and horses and...  

(crazy laughter fades into the distance)

Saturday, November 21, 2020

No Show

This is "old news" to some of my readers, but it's the first time I've felt up to blogging about it and I thought a follow-up to my previous triumphant, light-hearted post was warranted, before moving on.

About a month ago, I attempted a sweep of the performance division of a (fun) show with a Smoky.  The show was being held on Facebook. 

Sometime after entering, I made the decision to deactive my Facebook.  I've talked here before about my struggles with depression.  Add on anxiety and an official diagnosis of ADHD, plus well... just, 2020, and I was in bad shape.  I needed a break from the "doom scrolling" and I was also feeling battered after breaking my silence about current events over the summer; then dealing with the fallout that came with using my voice for the first time, after reading so many others' opinions over the years.  I think that about covers the "why". 

So, I shut down my Facebook.  It's still there, just on hold, hidden I think.  Unknowingly, when I did this, all of the Smoky pictures, and my other entries, vanished from the show - just before judging took place.  After all of that, I wasn't in the show.  I took the news..  really hard.  Embarrassingly hard.  It wasn't "just" a photo show or a fun hobby thing for me, it was so, so much more. 

I wanted, needed, to be a part of something light-hearted and fun.  Sure, it was fun taking the pictures - but then to be "shut out" of the show, accidently, by my own decision in trying to do a good thing for my mental health, was... hard.  It was also, as I felt, probably my only legitimate chance to show Smoky in an entire performance division and not have it be a gag or a pile of throwaway entries.  It was a chance to show performance and not have the stress of trying to do everything perfectly or deal with a lack of proper equipment, set ups, props, and so on. 

I really had gotten "in the zone".  I was speed building tack (namely western and english bridles for him) and coming up with crazy, fun ideas - as fast as I could finish the previous one.  I innovated, a great deal.  I'd get an idea: "Ohhh, that would be awesome!...  But how can I do it?"  and then I'd do it.  the clothesline, the out of focus romping (fleeing) dog in the foreground, those were just a couple of ideas I had no idea if I could do, until I did them.

Then, it felt like it was for nothing.  Not nothing, I have the pictures, I'd had fun, I'd learned things.  Those are what the rational brain says.  Irrationally (?), I was crushed.  I also beat myself up mercilessly for being so upset.  This whole situation is SO the definition of a "first world problem", of "privilege", yes, I knew that.  Still I felt broken, and felt broken for feeling broken, and so the spiral went.

Next up on the big photo show radar was The Field of Dolls Photo Show.  I had joined the FB group,  downloaded the show packet and class list, and had my eye on plans for it.  Then, when things went "bad", I didn't want to make any plans.  I was just done.  It's been quietly in the back of my mind all month but I still wasn't feeling up to even trying.  

A few days ago, on a Skype call with my friend Anne, she mentioned that entries were due in a couple of days.  I, half jokingly, said maybe I'd try to throw something together.  In that same chat, she and I both marveled over Troubadour, the newest addition to my herd and, in her words, "a total dream horse".  

Yesterday was the day, as Anne reported to me (being that I'm still off FB and out of the loop), entries would be accepted until the password was changed this morning.  I had other things loosely planned for the day, but I decided to "to see what I could come up with" intending to..  um, maybe "half ass" a few pictures and see how I felt.  At first I was not feeling it, but I kept going. 

This led to a near full day of playing with supplies, tack, props, dolls, and speed building two more bridles - english and western - this time for the stunningly beautiful Troubadour.  A "real" performance horse, not my all time sentimental favorite who is "not" a performance horse.  It doesn't feel like an over exaggeration to say that yesterday was a battle.  I cried, more than once, and raged against an inner voice saying things like "why bother, you're wasting your time, this isn't going to go well either" and other lies that we sometimes tell ourselves.  I said okay, whatever - yeah, sometimes I almost believed it - but I kept going.  

I tried to improvise with what I had and come up with stories.  It feels like a bit of a bad idea to share them all here now, so maybe in a future post.  For now, here's one picture that I took when testing out tack and setups.  Then I stopped, looked at this, and smiled.

Oh, and the Smoky pics?  Well...  I came up with justifications to put one of them in each scene class in the "fun" division.  

I don't want want to jinx anything, but... I think I'll be okay.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Bad Performance? All Of It

 At The Jennifer Show last year, there was a class called Bad Performance.  Unfortunately, I didn't actually see it, I think I was busy getting my ginormous Stagecoach entry ready for the Big Dreams class.  I've seen some pictures from it and have heard a lot of people talking about how great it was - most recently, the Mares In Black podcast. 

Speaking of the podcast: they are having a Spooktacular photo show, which is now being judged.  They had an interesting class list of prompts for class names.  They encouraged people to think outside the box.  For their performance classes, they offered two options: Consistency - the same horse doing all (or most) of the classes, and Specialist - a different horse in each class.  

The formation of my ideas could be an entirely separate post, but I'll summarize it for now by saying:  I entered every performance class with a Breyer Smoky.  You might be saying: "How?!" or "Why?!".  Well, the "why" could be its own post as well and maybe it will be.  Actually I think this whole affair may result in several posts, possibly even the resurrection of this blog?

The "how" will be shown here, at least in the final photos I entered.  In my head, I was telling a story of a rambunctious horse who changed hands partway through, but continued to get into trouble and have adventures.  Then had his biggest adventure when he took to the sky!  Though the pictures are out of order in the show albums and I didn't take them in order, I'll put them in story order here.

This Smoky's name is Indy.  He came with the name and that's ANOTHER story.  

First up, for the class "Strappy"

Don't forget to check you connector strap, kids!  Don't want that back cinch going TOO far back...

"Home on the Range"

Indy: I'm freeeee!
Larry: Get back here, you son of a....

"Stock Market"

It was a quiet day in the parking lot of the local super market, when...

Hey, where's that cowboy guy who was looking for his horse?

"What Could POSSIBLY Go Wrong?"

Look, a kid's horse for sale.  He looks great!  He and Little Billy could grow up together!

"Drama Llama"

What is that long-eared horse eating devil creature?!

"Just Dance"

Practicing at home for Hunter class, but Indy doesn't want to be a Hunter.  He wants to DANCE! 

"Sliding Scale"

After eating some mushrooms in the pasture, the weirdest thing happened.

"Action Park"

After bolting, Indy finds a dog park.  Fun!!

"All Dressed Up"

Indy is wearing a fancy new English saddle and bridle, but that's not enough for this forward thinking fashion mogul.  That clothesline over there should do the trick.

"Fly High"

Indy has really done it now.  He ran off, got himself lost, and stuck.  He was found and is now being airlifted to safety.

In summary, I see the idea of a Bad Performance class and raise it to an entire division.  Hahaha.

This was SO much fun and many much needed laughs were had.  Starting out, I wasn't sure if it was possible.  Then, when I came up with ideas for a class ("carry him with a drone!" "wrap him in a clothesline full of clothes!"), I wasn't sure I could pull it off.  Each time I did, and looked at the pictures, I couldn't stop smiling and laughing at the whole thing.

I must give thanks to my friend, Jennifer Buxton, for the encouragement along the way.  She entered to show too and we were sharing our creations as we came up with them.  She's always a huge inspiration for me, especially when it comes to taking model horse pictures.

Thanks to my other friend, Susan Bensema Young, for the gift of Indy and the delightful phone call a few photos in.  I had sent her a few pictures of this to share his adventures.  That was before he flew!  

Thanks also to my husband, Jeff - the drone pilot.  :-)

I have no idea how I'll do in the judging but, I already feel like a winner.  This was awesome and I want to do more!!  

Stay tuned for more on this.  Thinking I could do posts on:

Other ideas and pictures I had come up with in the beginning.
Why Smoky?
Behind the scenes, setting up these pictures.
The story of Smoky's flight.  

Which should I do first?  

Monday, May 4, 2020

Three Week Chicken Pictures

Three weeks ago, a BUNCH of chicks were hatched at Cackle Hatchery.  A small random assortment of them were put into a box and sent to us, in North Dakota.  They arrived two days later. 

I've been taking pictures of each chick every Monday, to track their growth.

Most of them I've been able to identify the breed (I think), a handful are still unknown at this time.  They were from a "Hatchery Surprise" - a bunch of random chicks - and part of the fun is to identify them as they grow.  I've had some surprises each week!

Here are their three week old pictures! 

White Sultan - this is Travolta, the only chick so far that has a name.  He is a great little model and always strikes a pose when the camera is on him:

Smaller black, unknown breed:

Smaller orange, unknown breed:

Smaller white, unknown breed:

I'm thinking this is a Sumatra.  I refer to her as the shorebird, because she has always been tiny, refined, long-legged, and very pretty.  She is my favorite:

Blue Polish, white crested:

Buff-laced Polish:

Buff-laced Polish:

White Crested Black Polish:

Buff-laced Polish:

Buff-laced Polish:

Buff-laced Polish:

Silver-laced Polish:

Mottled Houdan:

Crazy Cackle Toppie (a crested cross breed that Cackle has introduced):

Blue Cochin:

Gold-laced Cochin:

Silver-laced Cochin:

Silver-laced Cochin:

Salmon Faverolle:

Unknown breed:

Unknown breed:

Unknown breed:

Blue-laced Red Wyandotte:

Silver Spangled Appenzeller Spitzhauben:

Blue Sumatra, I think.  I call this one the grey shorebird.  Another favorite:

Black Australorp:

Silver-laced Wyandotte:

Silver-laced Wyandotte:

Unknown breed (this and the one below it are SO soft):

Unknown breed:

Unknown breed:

Unknown breed:

Unknown breed, largest chick with a BIG comb already:


Unknown breed:

Unknown breed:

Unknown breed:

Unknown breed:

Barred Rock:

Barred Rock:

Barred Rock:


Splash Ameraucana, I think:

Easter Egger, I think:

The Hatchery Surprise can contain anything from the hatchery - they have all types of poultry.  As I've heard, it's common to get turkeys and ducks.  We ended up with two turkeys and one duck.

Broad Breasted Bronze Turkey:

Broad Breasted White Turkey - or possibly a Royal Palm:

Rouen Duck:

I hope you enjoyed a look at "all those chickens!"...

And turkeys. 

And duck.