15 March 2013

The weather see-saw continues unabated

Oh what a difference a day can make. See for yourself the images below of Wednesday during a near white-out and the first spring flowers in bloom on Thursday. Such mixed signals.

Methinketh that spring is just around the corner, not because of the calendar date but the signs of nature. The cold season grasses and wild plants are emerging.

On Tuesday, a nice sunny, still and warm day, the chickens were observed chasing diverse and assorted flying insecta. As the chickens rocket forth from their coop in the mornings, they immediately begin the search for further insecta on the ground. Friends and readers, years of watching the marvelous insect world tells Mr. Fuzzy that they are rarely incorrect in their assumptions about the seasons. Surely true spring is not far away.

These warm days bring the domesticated fowl the pleasures of basking in the sun, dust baths, and tender, tasty new growth on wee plants. Gallus Domesticus have an astounding range of vocalizations and it is a delight to hear their coos of contentment on such days as today (forecast to reach 55F). Although their feathers insulate their bodies reasonably, their legs, feet, combs and wattles have no such protection and they most clearly suffer on cold wind-driven days. When the girls are happy, the expressions of pleasure are found both in their chatter and egg productions. Egg production has made a fine increase with the generally warmer days and longer hours of sunlight. Mr. Fuzzy eagerly awaits the day when the fowl find food enough in nature and the mounds of chicken feed bags become a thing of memories.

Soon these warm days will bring absolute need of daily labours on Stratheden but in the short period betwixt early pre-spring and real spring, there are hours wherein Mr. Fuzzy has numerous options on the application of his time. Warm days are far more pleasant for mechanical works on the gasoline vehicles and thus Mr. Fuzzy managed to mount the newly rebuilt carburetor on the old Dodge and is thrilled to have it rolling down the rural lanes of Floyd county once more.

May spring soon warm the air around you and the earth beneath your feet and soon bring the bounty of harvest to your families.

10 March 2013

Cow horns

Devoted Readers,

Mr. Fuzzy recently attended the annual national meeting of The Honourable Company of Horners, a guild of workers in horn, almost exclusively bovine.This assembly is guaranteed to be a grand time with superb contemporary pieces, striking historical items, lectures, demonstrations and enjoyable visits with friends. The two days always ends far too soon.

They are as congenial a crew as you can imagine; there is always overriding harmony. Your correspondent has never encountered a group where no one shirked duty, all carry more than their own weight, and there was such a sense of ease when topics are discussed. Moreover, the Guild has been blessed with talented officers for most of its history, who have lead well. Seen below is the current Guild Master (leading the annual General Meeting) who has foresight and directs a meeting with aplomb. In front of him lays the silver mounted Guild blowing horn.

The Guild has raised the standards for horn work by at least two magnitudes during its existence. There are several masters whose arts exceed any 18th worker. There are several competitions at the meeting for best horn. Illustrated below are some entries in the category for traditional scrimshawed horns. Amazing art and technique that need be viewed in the hand to adequately appreciate the fineness of execution.

Learning opportunities are everywhere and not limited to lectures and demonstrations. Whenever two horn workers are within haling distance, conversation will flow and oft turns to technique and history. Below Journeyman Carl Domke on the right shares insights with Rick Sheets. The table display consists of Mr. Domke's labours.

Master horners are charged with sharing their knowledge with all others, regardless of level. Here you see Master Kesilica demonstrating use of silver on powder horns. John's artworks are mind exquisite.

Even over beer and food, guild brothers still fins horn work to be the main topic of discussion. Many are very serious about both their art and their cuisine. Here some of the dozen members at a table in an English styled pub share more stories.

Wild Willy seen above on the far left, has a very graphic inclination and his items often refer back tot he Germanic heritage of Pennsylvania, such as the 'bottles' below.

And of course, collectors of original pieces bring them for members to study. Shown below is an original eastern Tennessee shooting bag and its original companion horn. It must be said it is very rare to see horns still associated with their bags; most were separated once no longer in regular use.