Thursday, December 10, 2009

Herding Class with Freckles

Here is a pic of me and Freckles in our herding class. We are learning to herd sheep. This seems so easy, but its so hard, they tell me it takes at least 5 years to learn. Sigh! Anyhow, here is how you start, with you dog on a long lead, and you walk around the outside of the sheep in the small pen, so the dog gets the idea we want to her to go around and gather up the sheep. Some dogs do this instinctively, but Aussies are driving dogs, that is their instinct is to drive the sheep or whatever, not necessarily gather them up first. So we are walking around the sheep, and practicing our terms, go bye, (as in time goes bye)that is to my left, or clockwise, and away to me, or to my right.

And this is what we do next, when she seems interested, we let the lead go, and let her herd up the sheep. I am standing next to my teacher, Shelley Wurst, in the red cap, at her farm in West Stafford, CT, and we are holding rakes, which are used as an extension of our arm, to steer the dog. You can see she is going to my right, and I am holding the rake to the left, to block her from going that way, and steer her to my right, or away to me.

And here she is "wearing" the sheep, or driving them to me, as I back up. Walking backwards, holding the rake the correct way, keeping in back of the sheep and watching your dog is HARD! Those sheep may not bite, but they are very very solid.

Here you can just see the butt of the escaping sheep, but Freckles is on the job!

Ah, sheep are all together again.

Here we are trying to do "get away", when you want the dog to stop, or back off. The sheep are in a group in the corner, so we want her to stop driving and back off and wait for a further command. So we block her left and right, and ask her to get away. Hard to do for an eager pup!
So that's all there is to it, easy huh? Freckles is shaping up well, just great. Me, not so much, as the kids say. Anyhow, its fun, and that counts for a lot these days.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Williamsburg visit Monday afternoon

Here are the pics from our afternoon at Colonial Williamsburg. Sadly, it gets dark early these days, so not too many pics turned out. Above, the market gardener is taking a break from planting fava beans.

You know, I think the gardens are my favorite part of Williamsburg.
Here are some of the Christmas decorations that were up already, but what I liked best was the "chicken ladder" up on the roof.

Here is the back of the Governor's Palace with its exquisite topiary.

Here is a view of the maze from the mount at the rear of the gardens.

Here is the view from the gardens out to the canal which runs along side.

Here is the working kitchen in the Governor's Palace. Look at the clock jack, and you should have seen the table full of food produced on their hearth.

Here is a part of the hallway with some of the hundreds of sabers and muskets the Governor had on display. The rebels certainly put them to good use after he ran out.

Here is the gilded pressed leather which is on the walls in one of the formal rooms.

Here is a small room downstairs where a gentleman can freshen up his wig's powder during the ball.

Here is one of the formal downstairs rooms at the palace, with a great delft garniture and fresh flowers, but as you can see its just too darn dark to see anymore.
We finished off the day listening to a wonderful fiddler playing for St. Andrew's day, some shopping (of course!) at the Williamsburg shops, a live Celtic group at the Barnes and Noble, and the best food around, at Paul's Deli, great Greek food, good beer, and friendly service. What a day!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Williamsburg trip Monday, De Witt Wallace Museum

So, after we finished our antique show, we went back to Colonial Williamsburg on Monday, and started out at the DeWitt Wallace Museum, which is quite a place. They have a tremendous exhibition space, with some of the best antiques I for one have ever seen. This delft posset pot, above, is the piece I think I'd save if the place were burning down and I happened to be standing nearby. It is over a foot tall, and just amazing. Look at the coat of arms, and the date and initials. It is thought to have been made to celebrate the owner's joining the carpenter's guild in England in 1676. Must have been quite a party that night!
Here is the japanned highboy from Boston and a tap table in walnut from VA I think I remember. I guess Boston was the center of japanning in the new world.

Here is a tall clock by the famous Tompion of London, and look at the dressing table, and the sconce. The quality of the antiques is amazing, everything is the best possible example of its kind.

On to the next exhibit, all about 18th C quilting. This is the earliest pieced quilt I've ever seen, all silks and velvets.

Another early beauty, a piece of a quilt border, again all silks.

Look at the crewel embroidery and quilting on this early stomacher, a piece a lady would wear on the front of a formal dress. I wish I could show you the white on white crewel embroidered quilt with just amazing tiny stitches, but a pocket phone can only do so much!

And now on to another exhibit, about redware, and earthen ware and other ceramics available in the Colonial days. Here is some of the most beautiful redware I have ever seen.

Look at the signed chargers, and the enormous harvest jug down below. Wow! is all I can say.

You all know by now how much I like delft. Here are three barber bowls, the one in the front is English, the one behind is Dutch, and the last is French.

Here is a bell dated 1676.

Here is a little bit of lighting for all you collectors out there. Look at the wonderful lanterns, and can you see the tin sconce up above with punched and fluted decoration?
I liked this inlaid spice cabinet from Loudon Cty., VA, late 18th C

Look at the great apothecary cabinet on legs, and the tea table from CT of course!

I'll finish the morning tour with a corner of the Tasha Tudor dollhouse kitchen. Look at the tiny dishdrainer!
Please know that this is just a tiny fraction of the hundreds of objects on display at any one time. But time flies, and its on to the Chowning Tavern for lunch, I'm starved!

Williamsburg trip Thursday

Boy, did we have fun this weekend. We went down to Williamsburg, VA, and did the Holiday Antiques show, but what was really fun was our trip to Colonial Williamsburg. I guess I has forgotten how wonderful it is. Yes, if I were doing it today, I'd choose to do some things differently, but hey, its the largest living history museum in the world, and that's got to be pretty impressive! Anyhow, I'm going to show you some pics of some of my favorite bits. There is just so darn much, its hard to know where to start.
Well, here is where we started, with a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner at the historic Williamsburg Inn. All the trimmings, and then some. Note to self, don't wait til dark to take pictures!

Here is one of my favorite rooms, all real antiques, and look at that set of chairs, and the crystal chandelier, and the wonderful rug on the table. Here's a hint, if you go to Williamsburg, and you should, late in the year, go early in the day, as they don't have artificial light, and well, its too dark to see much in the afternoon.

Here is Mary the wigmaker, who actually makes wigs, just a fun visit. Did you know the wigmaker would shave your head so your wig would sit properly? Ladies, you too!

Here are thelates styles in ladies wigs for the 1740s. Also, see the nice barber bowls, and wig curlers.

I liked this humble building, as the overhang looks like a good idea for keeping my firewood dry. Maybe we could add one onto the little barn this year? Hint, hint!

OK, now this is not so grand, but what a great look! If we could just add some good hinges, and a cool lock, my basement doors would look a whole lot better.
I can't rave enough about all the beautiful gardens at Williamsburg. Here is the market gardener at work, they are planting fava beans for harvest in April.

My friend Karen pointed out how cleverly they used black willow for fencing here.
This finishes up Thursday afternoon. The evening I can't show you, but we went to an absolutely sublime organ concert in the 18th C Bruton church, with just the best performance of JS Bach absolutely ringing the rafters. What a great end to a great day!