Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Nesting

It's that time of year again when the nesters need supplies.
Arabella has just moulted out her guard hairs and as you can see she has welts in her flanks. It took just over a week to moult and she now has a sleek new coat in with her lovely fawn coloured outer 'guard' hairs.

Usually she is very quiet during moult time, which is twice a year for her, but a nice heart of spring greens got her out for a nibble.

To help the local nesters I collect the fur from Arabella and Wesley and roll it into little finger length bundles. I then place them around the trees where I feed the wild flock.

Wesley is the main contributor to the donations as he lives in an eternally warm den to keep his upper respiratory infection of a blocked nose and occasional sneezing and dry retching from getting worse, so he sheds daily onto the fleeces.
The fleeces hold the hairs perfectly and stop them from flying about. They also help by pulling the excess hairs off Wesley and Arabella at this time.

There are many breeds of small birds that I feed daily, year round and whilst I have never seen any of their nests I am sure I will find white and grey fur happily padding the insides. I think they need all the help they can get when looking for suitable material.

The good thing about providing fur is that it will dispel water fast and will be great at keeping the hatchlings warm when the parents are off insect collecting.

I love the 'old' style of bird paintings and luckily found these in a charity sale for pennies. On the left is a Blue Tit and on the right a Great Tit. I believe that in America/Canada the Tits are known as Chickadees - they look nearly the same kind of small bird to me.

Outside the Greats and the Blues will have nests built already. Spring has been very late this year but now the blossoms are in full bloom and the insects are everywhere.

These two paintings (prints) are probably even older than the top two. They are so old that the the colours have faded. I just love the washed out look with only a hint of colour. I painted the frames black to make the lack of colour more pronounced and pick up on their heads.
On the left are Bullfinches and on the right are Great Tits.

Following on from those are two more exceptional ones! On the left is a photograph of a cormorant from a very lovely lady that I am lucky to know - Pat Knowles a very talented photographer and on the right is an old print of a Nuthatch on a Silver Birch.

Pat is a member of the Etsy for Animals team that I am on and I can attest to her strong love of animals including her own fur family. Pat has an etsy shop for her jewellery Patk860 Jewelry Designs and an etsy shop for vintage pieces 2nd Generation Vintage and Pat has a blog called Images Thru and Open Window and she posts many beautiful pictures of her work there.

Like this rich and dreamy image of a cormorant, which I am delighted to own! and is for sale in Pat's Photography shop on etsy Photogenic Gallery.
I really love the contrast of the light and dark with the strong silhouette of the cormorant. It's so peaceful and always brings a smile to my face. I've framed it with black and metallic greys to make the cormorant really stand out amid the bright reflections.

Pat also has images that she has manipulated like the snowy one above. These are my favourite colours - browns and blues and I love the composition and subject matter of this one.

And Pat also has very beautiful flower photographs. I'm not really a knowledgeable flower person so I have no idea what their names are but this white one has petals that you can literally feel - it's like a dream!

and this one of a blossom of some sort is captivating! Just look at how it presents itself to you with the rest of it's flower friends watching from afar!
You really can just reach out and touch it!

I've noticed that Pat is drawn to the aqua greeny colours and I happened to have a nearly new, rather-on-the-small-size-sweater in just that hue so I made a couple of friends for her - Baby Swan Pretty - with a piece of old vintage lace on her back,

Little Pretty is one of the smallest babies on the lake and is so very energetic. She has taken to her swimming lessons with flying colours!

She is the fastest to cross the lake on her own, can dive down to the very bottom of the edge of the shallows and has no problems popping up onto the side of the pond when she needs to get out.

Pretty has shown great athletic promise and already she is being groomed for first place at the leading fliers V flight configuration team! Pretty is so very excited and every day she has started to flap her tiny little wing tufts in anticipation.

She has also received the Golden Medal for Bravery on the Lake of Saving a Non-Swimmer when she rescued her new friend Baby Hare Fauna from the shallows not that long ago. She is now teaching young Fauna to swim every day and it’s rather a funny sight but she tries not to smile too widely. Fauna is giving her lessons on how to run on land. Now that’s really, really hard work! She prefers to wait patiently on a side table until it is time to go to the pond for her training lessons.

showing the fluffy downy ruffles on her bum in the same pattern as her best friend Baby Hare Fauna -

Fauna is a very impressive sprinter for one so young. She practices down near the lake every day. She sprints amazingly fast over very short distances and is now increasing the length gradually.

She also loves to spend her days at the edge of the lake with her new best friend Baby Swan Pretty.

She met Pretty not that long ago when she found herself in the lake during a sprint and was struggling to get out. Pretty had raced over when she heard the little hare’s cries and bumped her up and out onto the soft grass. Whew! that was rather scary!

Little Fauna is now taking swimming lessons with Pretty every day. Sometimes the water can be rather chilly but she has to run around the rocks three times to warm up first. It takes no time at all and really works!

Fauna is returning this favour by teaching Pretty to run faster on land. Pretty has had a few tumbles and Fauna has tried to stifle her giggles but usually they both end up rolling around on the ground in laughter! Fauna loves to sit on a shelf where she can see her friend Pretty and wait for the right time to go for her swimming lessons.

These two youngsters are now happily in their forever home and young Pretty has left her down filled nest for sure.

I wonder whether there was any rabbit fur in there?

Monday, 12 April 2010

the Powder Room

A clean and presentable powder room is a delight to spend time in ....

Arabella loves to take her time with her ablutions and is always meticulous with every hair.

Whilst pondering the facts of life (as one does in those moments of silence and introspection) she loves to nibble on empty toilet roll cardboard holders.

I always make sure to give her the ones with very little glue marks on them. She eventually eats all of the tube over the course of a week so I don't want her to ingest unnecessary chemicals. There are already far too many unnecessary chemicals in our environments without making our precious friends put up with any more.

Some times the powder room boundary is extended. But that's okay - it's only a piece of carpet.

Arabella prefers the fleece on top of the newspapers (ontop of the polar bear print oil cloth that I have as a 'spill protector' sheet at the base) to her meadow hay filled kitty litter.

The fleeces are from Ikea and incredibly cheap. I buy them for a £1 or £2 and cut them into 4 pieces. They are super at soaking and retaining fluids and wash and dry in a jiffy.

Her plastic cat kitty litter (kitter) has 2 newspapers in the bottom with clean shredded paper on top. The shredded paper is scrap and bills (not soaked in ink or dirty) that I shred with a home shredder.
The shredded paper does a great job and soaks up all the rabbit pee wonderfully.

On top of that is a big fluffy cushion of sweet smelling never ending hay to chew, munch, drag around the floor and toss about as she pleases.

When Arabella is busying herself in her kitter she likes to pull up the shredded paper from the bottom and nibble away. It seems to hold more allure than the hay on top.

Often I will be traipsing around the house with a shred of electricity bill stuck to my sock ....

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Wesley asks you to Make It Chocolate

Wesley has a small request this Easter.

He asks that you buy only chocolate or plush rabbits for your Easter basket gifts please.
I told him that I would let everyone know his message ...

Arabella wants to say also that even though baby rabbits look oh-so terribly cute, in 6 months time they will the same size as her and not so cute any more.

Please don't buy animals as gifts, especially at Easter. In our ever so wasteful and wanting society gifts are seen as easy to obtain and disposable after the novelty has worn off.

Rabbits are best suited as indoor only companions. They crave company and attention (on their terms) and prosper in stable environments.

If you are looking for a sweet companion to warm your heart and cannot adopt a rabbit from your local rescue shelter then consider adding one of my soft sculptures to your shelf.

I make baby hares, baby felines, baby rabbits and baby squirrels. They are available from my etsy shop.

Esty artists who love and support animals will have an announcement in their shop title and you can purchase from them knowing that an animal, somewhere, will be benefitting. You can also search 'team efa' on etsy to see art made by these sellers.

I started my etsy shop a few years ago because I was looking to sell my work to a worldwide audience in conjunction with my animal advocacy work.

I have been able to donate money to two rabbit rescues very dear to my heart - The Buckeye House Rabbit Society in Ohio, USA, of which my latest Arabella Bag just raised $382! and to the Rabbit and Guinea Pig Welfare in Rugby, England. I also donate to the BUAV British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection and to WSPA the World Society for the Protection of Animals thru the sale of my art and art donations to raise funds.

Many years ago we welcomed our first rescue rabbit Zai into our lives.
He had come from a pet shop, was bought as a gift for a kid and mistreated. He had a very compromised immune system with a myriad of health problems. Health problems so bad that we could only treat him with mother natures remedies and no chemical concoctions from orthodox vets.
The pet shop obviously bought kittens that were too young to be separated from their mother (because they sell easier being smaller and cuter) and they missed out on the important nutritional benefits of the mother's milk.
And the pet shop sold these tiny babies to make a measly profit of, say, £10. Perhaps they bought the kittens wholesale for 50p each? A small price for a life.
~
So if you are able to persuade anyone from buying a kitten (baby rabbit) from a pet shop - please do.
Rabbit rescues are always looking for suitable adopters for their buns, and they always have lots. (why? because rabbits are not easy pets).
After all, these rabbits have already had a horrific start to life and they now need someone that they can depend on for the rest of their 14 years of life to provide them with love, food, happiness and security.
... it's not alot to ask ....
. . . . . .
Would you rather have some chocolate instead?