Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Change in the Weather

Winter blew in to North Central Texas last night. Yesterday I was working in the yard in short sleeves, and by bedtime, the cold and rain had crawled across the prairie to our front door. This morning I ran out to check on the critters, and they were fine. They even spent a little time romping in the pasture. But temperatures continued to drop, and by afternoon, the alpacas had decided to camp out in their wind-free shed. The sheep, however, don't mind it at all, and wandered around the pasture, coming up to the gate to bellow at me for their supper. We've had freezing rain and something akin to snow most of the day.

Now we're into the time of year where my boots are cold and muddy, my glasses fog up after a trip outside, and where you don't want to be without your scarf and gloves! Startin' to feel like the Christmas season!

Friday, November 10, 2006

We are the People of His Pasture and the Sheep of His Hand

One of my favorite lines from the Psalms...

Well, thanks to more fence help from our friend Glen, my little flock is now free to enjoy the newly green grass of our large pasture! Hurray!! And they are loving it! It is such a joy to look out there and see them contentedly grazing in the mild fall weather. I am wrestling with over-protectiveness as they seem so exposed, compared to the confines of the small pens. But this is where I learn to trust God, because in reality, I can only do so much to keep them safe. In this, He reminds me to trust Him not only for my flock's safety and wellbeing, but also for the safety and wellbeing of my family, friends, and community. Lord, let us graze in Your pasture, peaceful and content, trusting in Your care.

LK 12:32 "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. "

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

New Schooling Horse

Just a quick post to show Emma's new mount for her lessons: here's Cricket. This mare has some attitude idiocyncracies that make her more of a challenge for Emma, but that's how you get to be a good rider, right? Emma is scheduled to ride her in an in-house show on December 3rd. More info then...

Friday, October 27, 2006

First Horse Show

I'd be a really bad mom if I didn't post this photo of Emma on the day of her first horse show on October 1st. She actually won 2 ribbons but I took this before we got the second ribbon. She really rode well, and I thought she should have taken a ribbon in every class, but then, I'm her mom. Her instructor was really proud of her in her very first competition. One sad note, her pony, Mighty Mouse, was sold last week. The good news is that Emma loves the new horse she's riding--a brown and white paint mare named Cricket. We hope her riding progresses as fast on this new mount as it did on The Mouse. I hope to get a picture of Cricket and Emma in action at her next lesson.

OK. It's Officially a Farm...

I've been calling this property "the farm" since we bought it over two years ago. But as of this week, I can officially embrace the moniker and not feel like a wishful-thinker. Check out this collection of livestock! Because of his long work hours, Ted actually laid eyes on the alpacas in daylight for the first time today. He said, "those are weird looking critters." And they are. Members of the camelid family with two soft toes on each foot. They roll in the dirt, poop in a communal dung pile (for easy clean up, nach!), spit if provoked, and grow lovely fiber for spinning! The smaller fawn-colored one is ours--his registered name is Moonstruck, and the larger dark brown one is Gizmo. Gizmo is owned by my friend Barbara and she pays me to board him for her. I wrote about the prospect of getting them, in an earlier post, but now it's official. We will start working with them to regain their halter training soon. It seems to have slipped their minds, and they are averse to attempts at haltering. But we will win them over.

Also notice the long-suffering sheep in the back pen. The sheep bolted to the far side of their pen when the alpacas showed up, but now they seem to have adjusted to the sight of these tall, long necked "sheep" with no horns.

Three days this week my friend Glen (of house-building fame) came over to help me work on our big pasture fences. Once those fences are up and secure, we can let all "the boys" out for some green grass that has started to sprout after some much needed rain. Fencing is HARD work, but satisfying, and will be so wonderful once it's done. There should be a big party once that job is finished!

Friday, September 29, 2006

And then there were TWO

Israel now has a buddy in the pen. Yesterday we welcomed "Tommy" to our flock! Tommy is about 8 or 9 years old, very tame, and a busy traveler. He's been to Christmas pageants, elementary school shearing demos, and animal blessings, because of his easy-going nature. Tom was a bottle baby and learned that people bring good things like hay and food into the sheep pen!

Tommy is a good bit smaller than Israel, and has much lighter colored fleece. I should call them "Salt 'N' Peppa" but I won't. Actually, Tommy reminds me more of Yoda--small, wizened, and quirky. (You thought Israel was funny looking!)

The first order of business when I turned Tommy out in the pen was that Israel had to show him who was the KING. They ran around and around the pen for a while, and in a short time, settled into a good working relationship (Israel: "you go where I say you can go!" Tommy: "yeah, whatever... where's the grub?") Now I'm happier that Israel at least has company out there during the day.

It's starting to look like a farm.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I Love the Smell of Orvis in the Morning

For those who don't enjoy wool like I do, a little explanation. "Orvis" is a soap used to wash sheep, or sheep's clothing. I use it to wash my raw wool and it has a nice smell, and reminds me of wonderful times with my hands in a good fleece.

Last week, my friend Cyndi and I tackled some of the alpaca fleece she had been stockpiling. We washed some really beautiful stuff. It's so fun to hang out at Cyndi's, with her alpacas humming, and chickens scratching, and the horses wandering around like overgrown hounddogs. We enjoyed a gorgeous day in the 70's with a nice breeze--perfect for washing fiber. The photo shows some of the fleece drying in the sun, in a rainbow of alpaca colors.

Growing Fiber Flock?

Israel The Sheep's been here just over a month and already I'm tempted to add to the flock. My friend Cyndi down the street at Paca D'lites Alpaca Ranch tells me one of her boarders is looking to sell a couple of her fiber guys and am I interested??? Answer: the price is very reasonable and Ted and I are considering it from all angles. The guys are very cute and sweet, and of course, have wonderful fiber. Gizmo is dark chocolate brown, and Moonstruck is a yummy fawn color. I'm doing the requisite reading of everything "alpaca," from websites to textbooks. And I'm spinning up some fiber to give it a test run. It's looking good, but there are a few bugs to work out.... more info as it becomes available.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

I am a Shepherd

OH MY GOSH. The day I have waited for finally arrived, and I was far from ready for it. You see, God knows I wouldn't ever feel "ready" for sheep to come live here, so He pushed the situation so that I had to get ready quick and not try to plan it out in minute detail.

My friend Joan at St. Jude's Farm called me and said that my sheep "Israel" had turned up lame and needed a quiet place to rest and recouperate--could I keep him at our place? EEEEEKKK! I had a makeshift pen set up, but the shed that was part of that pen was full of holes, and was enclosed by a wobbly and sagging fence! Ted and I went to work (yes, it was 102 degrees out) patching and wiring and hobnailing the place together to make it fit for our sheep to come here for his R&R. This past Monday morning, Fred and Joan trailered Mr. Israel over here and he has taken up residence at Jacob's Reward Farm. His presence pushes us out of being just "pet owners" into gen-u-ine "livestock owners." I was almost as nervous as the day we brought Emma home from the NICU--terrified by the responsibility.... would Israel still be inside the fence the next day? Would he get eaten by a coyote? Would he be frantic without other sheep for company? Did his leg need medical treatment--treatment that would cost more than he was worth? Only time would tell.

Well, after a week at Jacob's Reward, I'm pleased to report that he is still inside the fence, no coyotes have eaten him (I have prayed a protective WALL around this place from predators of every stripe!), and his leg seems to be healing nicely. He is a bit lonely, but hopefully he'll be OK until I can somehow remedy that situation.

In the meantime, just call me Little Bo Peep.... :-)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Patrick's Ordination

August 19 was a big day-- our friend Patrick Ware (bottom, right) was ordained a Deacon at the cathedral in Dallas. He and his wife Jordan, and son Max will be living in Virginia, as Patrick has a great job waiting for him at Falls Church. We sure miss having them in Texas more often, but are glad God is using them well for His purposes. Que Dios te bendiga, Patrick, and the whole Ware family!
(The guy in the funny hat is Bishop James Stanton.)

Aunt Karelin's Birthday

On August 12, a day after the actual birthday, we went down to Grand Prairie to attend my Aunt Karelin's big "Red Hat Society" Birthday Bash. Her neighbors and friends from Wycliffe were there, and we all had a smashing time! We helped create her posh Red Hat, and even Ted modeled it for the group. He was the only guy there, and was a terrific sport. We all brought cards, pictures, and "Wisdom of Maturity" quotes to create scrapbook pages for a wonderful birthday book. What a great idea--have everyone ELSE make your scrapbook!

"The Back Room" -- Whence all chaos retreats

Here's the office/misc space. The computer and file cabinet live here, plus everything else that, to this point, has not found a home. When this room was remodeled, Ted raised the roof and ceiling a couple of feet from the original height. We used this space to add a shelf around two sides of the room - invaluable space for storage. That's what you do in an old farmhouse that was designed before they invented CLOSETS! The windows are wonderful, and I can watch the creek and the trees full of birds from my seat at the computer. As I say, this room is a work in progress. More organizing and purging are in order. Constant evaluation and discarding of stuff has become a way of life since we went from ~2000 sf to about 1000 sf. It's great to live with less, and even now, we still have way too much. Less and less is such a good thing.

The Master Bedroom... excuse the mess

Well, I tidied up a little for these pictures, but not much, so focus on the transformation of this room from the way it started out. We added the two closets, window seat and overhead compartment because there was NO storage room here. Someday I hope to make an upholstered cushion for the window seat for more comfortable lounging. It opens up in two sections for (you guessed it) more storage.

The Bathroom was finished first... Priorities!

The rattiest room in the house (which tied with almost every other room in the house) when we bought it was the bathroom. Its makeover was pretty dramatic. We took out the tub and put in a shower stall, with a stack of handy drawers up the wall beside it. The old tub is now buried in the backyard, to one day become a water feature. ;-) The vanity was donated by a friend who was also doing some remodeling. Thanks Terri!

Continued Tour of the House

And here's the living room. Don't let the pictures fool you... most of the rooms in this house are about 14' x 14'. It's cozy and we like it, but we won't be hosting any big cocktail parties here...

LIttle House, Part IV

OK, the building process is long, arduous, and boring, so let's take a short cut to the final product, shall we? Here are some pictures of the house as it turned out.

Beginning with the kitchen....

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Little House, Part III

I'm flying through a lot of history in a very short time--I have hundreds of pictures I could post, but won't. I'll try to take you through a year's worth of construction (and deconstruction) quickly. One of these shots shows a sample of the OLD wiring, and several examples of 50 years worth of wallpaper we exposed. We also found an interesting assortment of dishes, farm implements and other assorted antiquities under the floor. Nothing valuable, just interesting.

Once most of the ripping out was done, we started re-building... roof, interior framing, etc.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Little House, Part II

OK. So the first thing that had to be done was to gut the entire building. This took some time. We got a name from the previous owner of the place--a Mr. Glen Stewart--who might help us fix the pier and beam foundation. Glen, by the work of Providence, stayed on and helped us rebuild the whole house. He brought several helpers, most notably, Mr. Dan Breach, who was also instrumental in seeing that every job was accomplished. A friend of Ted's, Larry from Oklahoma, helped us with some framing and the roofing. Ted did all the electrical wiring, and Glen and Dan did the rest. They did let us help bash out sheetrock. They battled hot weather and cold, snakes under the floor, chiggers and metallic paint, plans that had to be "verified in the field," and all I had to do was pay them cash and keep the coffee coming. What a deal.

As you can see, it had to get pretty ugly before it got better.

Little House on Maxwell Creek, Part I

The main reason I started this blog was so that I could tell the story of our little 1000 sf house and how we got it liveable. We bought the property on July 21, 2004 and we moved in on July 1, 2005. It seemed to take forever. But like labor and childbirth, the pain begins to fade the minute the prize is won. We're very happy in our little house, and even though we've come a long way, there is still a TON of work to be done.

Here is how the property looked when we got it.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Emma's Big Day

What Emma really wanted for her birthday was to get her ears pierced.

So she gathered a couple of friends and off we went to the mall! She had her pal Marilyn from school, and our friend Lindsay who is almost 14 and is now her babysitter when needed! It was a wonderful morning out with "the girls!" Lindsay's mom, Jill, is my sweet friend (and Employee of the Year!) and we got a nice "playdate" out of it as well.

Now Emma's a real "big girl" with her new earrings. Dad has made one rule--no hoops or dangles til she's 16!!! She can live with that ;-).

Living Vicariously

Here's a shot of Emma on her favorite school pony, Mighty Mouse. He's not big, but he's a pistol, and can get over pretty good sized obstacles. My video of Emma riding him isn't uploading properly, so that will be fixed in the future, I hope.

She's doing very well in her lessons, and it's a joy to watch. Yeah, I rode as a kid, too, and it's the greatest thing ever.