Friday, July 31, 2009
Little alpacas acting like hormone-driven teenagers are pretty funny to watch. This afternoon I was working in the front yard when I heard the unmistakable squealing-squawking noise of alpacas fighting. I peeked over the fence and sure enough, the little boys were in a roiling tangle of necks and legs, biting and writhing and carrying on. I ran into the house for the camera, sure that when I got back they'd be grazing in the grass and look up as if to say, "who, us?" But it was worth a try.
Sure enough, I got the camera out there just in time to catch the last fits of tantrum and then I learned something. Alpacas can look guilty. I think Mushroom knew he was So Busted. Everything stopped. Wow, even alpacas respond when Mom comes into the room. Of course, my presence also reminds them that it's dinner time, and we all know what's the most important thing that could be going on - eating.
It might be significant that the two boys who were doing the most tussling are the two oldest - Mushroom and Dewey - both Mary's boys. Dewey was one year old in May, and Mushroom turned one today! My two guys won't be a year old until September, and then their hormones are likely to start kicking in as well.
Something to look forward to.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I'm very excited to show you our first Farm design, using Jacob's Reward Farm yarn - the "Rachel's Mantle" neckwarmer! It can be worn three different ways! This gorgeous pattern was designed by our own Joanne Pohlman, an accomplished designer and a JRFF shareholder! This design will be available soon, and she tells me it's not as hard to knit as it looks. (Always a plus!) Joanne asked her friend Deb to test-knit the pattern, and Deb has a nice picture of her finished project on her Ravelry page.
This beautiful piece deserves a better photo, but I was in a hurry to show it to you and let you know the pattern is coming. It will be for sale for a very modest price, and will also be available in kits once our extra fiber comes back from the mill. "Extra" means that the fiber came from other local alpaca farms and was not a part of the shareholders' harvest. Our processor, Lynn at Spinderellas, makes the most beautiful yarn this side of handspinning, and the kits for this small, exquisite project would make incredible gifts. I'll let you know as soon as they are available.
Warm up your needles, gals...
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I know, serious therapy time. Try not to judge me.
Fortunately for me, one of the best therapies is spinning. Today several members of my Wednesday spinning group met at a member's house since the church where we usually meet was tied up with Vacation Bible School. Three of us carpooled over to Keller to meet with others for our regular spin/knit/kibbutz/show-n-tell time. I took my alpaca baby hat for in-the-car knitting, and then some stash roving and my Louet wheel for the balance of the day. I made some progress. In my stash were several oddments of green rovings. In order to get enough yardage out of the lot, I tore the rovings into small pieces and spun the different shades of green and brown in random order. So far, I really like the resulting single. Now, plying. The decision before me is whether to Navajo ply the bobbin, or find a neutral or coordinating single laying around to ply with. I do have a taupe single, wound in a center pull ball on a paper core, of unknown fiber, that might do the job. Looks like a swatch is in order.
What are you spinning that you like right now? Why don't you spin as much as you'd like? Do you battle an inner killjoy of some kind? Maybe it's just me... ;-)
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Today wasn't as hot as it has been, but any warm day is a good day for a frolic in the sprinkler. First the suri boys vie for the hose, and remember, these are the same alpacas who used to run terrified to the far end of the pen. Then we turn the water on the big huacaya boys, who take a few minutes away from their food pans for some liquid refreshment. (Jonah and Gideon resist the siren call, and continue eating undisturbed.) Finally, we see the Buff Orpingtons call it a day and head for the safety of the "tractor." Soundtrack provided by 2.3 million really loud cicadas.
There are still a couple of months of summer left, but I have the feeling that the fight has gone out of it. And that has me thinking ahead to fall. Once we get into September, the opportunities for fiber festivals and craft fairs and farm events explode, so I want you to be ready. Check your calendar and see if you can join us for any of these upcoming outings:
August 15 – Spinning in the Red Barn*
September 5 – Farmersville Art Festival
September 19 – Spinning in the Red Barn*
September 20 - Bishop Arts District Peace Festival
September 26-27 – Alpaca Farm Crawl*
October 17 -- "Spinning Yarns" Storytelling Day at the Farm*
October 24-25 – Huffhines Art Trails, Richardson
November 7-8 - Snowflake Bazaar - Plano
November 13-15 – Kid N Ewe, Boerne
November 20-21 – Cat Bordhi at the Woolie Ewe in Plano
Events with an asterisk will be held here at the farm, and the others are events where the farm may be a participant. Not all of those off-site events are set in stone for us yet.
So, while it's too hot to think about the holidays this minute, get your rest, because the Fall is Coming!
Monday, July 27, 2009
This morning I saw on weather.com how our neighbors down in Austin are hurting from one of the worst droughts in 50 years. Boats in Lake Travis are sitting on dry land. Severe water restrictions are in place. People are ratting each other out on the 24 hour anonymous whistle-blower hotline for overwatering. Ranchers are selling off their herds because there is no pasture to feed them. It's bad.
We, on the other hand, aren't too far behind for rainfall this year, I believe. My grass is growing, the cracks in the clay soil have filled in, and several species of fungi dot the pastures. I will not complain. Nope. We could get rain on and off all this week, with reasonable temperatures up to the mid 80s. Grateful, I am. Grateful.
I do have a little bit of culture shock when I go into town and walk around on sidewalks, with the rainwater running obediently off into the storm drains. It's all so tidy in town.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Do you get a little melancholy on Sunday nights? I do some. I think it's a throwback to my school days, and Sunday night signaled the end of the weekend. We'd watch Ed Sullivan and know that when the show was over, it would be lights out, and then waking up on Monday morning, and off to school. Those early memories are hard to shake. In reality, out here on the farm, every morning starts the same, with feeding and barn cleaning chores--Sunday to Saturday, rain or shine, hot or cold. The only difference the animals may notice is that I tend to sleep a bit later on Saturday morning, and they cut me some slack.
I pray your week goes well, that you are successful in your endeavors, and that you get some time to rest, relax, exercise your creativity, and find joy in the little things. Let us know how it goes for you!
Saturday, July 25, 2009
DD is back from camp, full of fun stories of zany camp activities and sporting only a minor injury - pulled her shoulder a bit, and we hope that will be mended quickly. It did not dampen her overall experience and she's already missing her new friends and her counselor, and talking about next year. Her leader and cabin mates are talking about getting together this week to build on their camp fun and continue their friendship. That's the way camp ought to be. I'm so grateful. And I'm happy to have her home. The quiet was great, but I really did miss her.
Every day here there are projects to be tackled. Right now, DH is working on a new chicken "tractor," the movable, floorless pens we keep chickens in, out in the pasture. Our current pens are full, so to increase our chigger patrol and egg production we need to get more birds, and more birds will need a place to live. This tractor is DH's own design, and I can't wait to see it completed. I'll keep you updated.
Our friend Mary is progressing right along in her move to the country, so before I know it, she'll be here to fetch her two suri alpaca boys, and take them up to Farmersville. She'd better hurry, because I'm getting mighty attached to the little toots. They've calmed down a lot and will all eat out of my hand. All are enamored with the hose now on hot days; they've figured out how much more comfortable they are with wet legs and tummies, standing in a little breeze.
I'm trying to steal a little knitting time here and there between To-Do List obligations. I'll get little Jemma's hat done soon, I think. Then it's back to tackling more UFOs (unfinished objects). Are you working on anything neat? Send me a photo!
Friday, July 24, 2009
There's just something soothing about knitting around and around with sweet yarn on awesome needles (Adi Turbo bamboo, now). Jill kept apologizing for the long wait for the truck and I just smiled and kept knitting. Reminded me of what Stephanie Pearl-McPhee says: knitters aren't patient people, knitting helps us be patient. If I had just had to sit there for 3 hours, regardless of Jill's conversational skills, I would have gone bonkers! Keeping my hands busy gives me peace...
And I've been really wondering: What are you working on? I'd like to feature some Finished Objects, or some Works In Progress, among our friends and shareholders. If you'd like to show off your latest project, e-mail me a .jpg image, with a description of the project, who it's for, what you're making it out of, all that kind of stuff, and I'll share it here on the blog. Send it to ctelisak at juno dot com.
Remember, Christmas is closer than we think. If your needles are clicking, get your camera out and get some knit cred for all your labors of love.
We want to SEE!!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Me, I've started a sweet baby hat for our next church baby, Jemma, who ought to be born in the next couple of weeks. She won't need a warm hat for a while, so I'm trying to get the size to come out right for her to wear it this winter. KnitPicks had a nice alpaca yarn on sale in a coral/beige/tan colorway that appealed to me. I'll take photos of the finished hat soon. Have I mentioned how much I love my Harmony circular needles? Mmmm-mmmm good.
But most of my energy today went into cleaning DDs room while she's away at camp. I warned her I was going to do it, and she will get a bill for my services. When I really got into it today, it was clear that she would never have been able to get all the way down to the bones - it was really that bad. I will not let it get to this point again. I don't want to be a Joan Crawford harridan about teen-room-tidiness, but I think some basic organizational skills and hygiene standards need to be set. Anybody been through this? What have you found to be a good motivator?
That's how I'm attacking this time of our summer season - what are you doing to use this break in the heat?
I am always behind when it comes to technology, but many times it works in my favor. I end up spending less on the "latest" gadget because it isn't the "latest" anymore. So when I got that cool beetle-green iPod for my birthday, the only person around who took the slightest notice, was me. I'm still grunting up the learning curve, and making small advances.
So far, I have accidentally gotten some good podcasts onto the iPod, and managed to listen to them. Tonight, I deleted those and added a new set, including a video podcast that I used to watch faithfully on my computer. Now, I can tote Cat and Eric from LetsKnit2gether around in my pocket and watch them on this itty-bitty screen on the iPod. How cool is that?
And how Last Decade. But pish-posh, it's new to me and I think it's grand.
I could even listen to my own podcast on this weensy little machine! Amazing. Find it on iTunes or go straight to the site: www.jacobsrewardfiberfarm.libsyn.com. (Sneaky plug.) Go get your iPod and squeeze it down that little wire and you can have it, too!
Now, lets rub a couple of sticks together and see if we can start a fire.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
This morning, I put my only child on a bus bound for church camp for 5 days. She's an exceptionally good kid, and I'm so happy she's going to have a really good time. But I experienced the same pangs that I did when I let her off at the school for the first day of first grade. I had to let go. It's not a bad thing, but a necessary thing, and there are the uncomfortable stretching feelings that go with it - like when you touch your toes without bending your knees. With the palms of your hands. Mmmm, mmm, mmm. Feel that in your hamstring, don't you? Yessirreee, kind of a "hurts/feels good" kind of thing.
We'll both grow up some in these next few days. And the prize at the bottom of the box? She hearts me.
So far, so good.
Now, how should I spend all this extra time this week?
Sunday, July 19, 2009
But at chore time, I got to enjoy the coolness that the latest hit-and-run storm left behind. How lovely. Cleared my head and gave me some real peace. I'm gearing up for an interesting week with the place to myself - DH at work and DD off at camp until Saturday afternoon. The trick will be balancing work and play, knitting and animal care, organizing and... uh, reading. I don't sit still very well so I hope this book turns out to be interesting.
(Rainy day photos by E. Telisak)
Chris, Peggy, and Kate were able to come by to spin yesterday in the Red Barn, and it was the usual blast. Peggy brought her darling Wee Peggy spinning wheel and continued working on her Jacob roving, doing a wonderful job! Chris had some pretty fiber of unknown heritage that had been dyed with cochineal and yellow madder that looked like flickering flames - beautiful! Kate worked on some really cool recycled jeans fiber that still had plenty of the soft indigo dye to give it a beautiful color. She spun tiny little singles on her tiny supported tahkli spindle - very cool, and fascinating to watch.
Peggy's antique Wee Peggy wheel needed a little adjustment, so Kate and I tried to sleuth out any mechanical troubles. In the end we all held our mouths right and the Peggys were back on track and spinning and plying up a storm.
I went back to work on my cotton rug, knowing that I will have more cotton to deal with later in the week - Laurie got us in on a killer sale at Webs for some coned cotton, so I'm already working on project plans for that. It has been suggested that I knit a house with it. Maybe they think I ordered a lot. Hmmmm.
Thanks to Chris, we have a large beginning on our Yarn Storming stash. Let me know if you'd like to contribute and I'll hold off mailing the goodies to our coordinator. We've also learned of a need for lots of old acrylic yarn (any color at all is fine) for a lady suffering with Alzheimers, whose only peace comes from crocheting granny squares and doilies. She's going through the stuff at a dizzying pace and it's hard on her family to keep her supplied. Also, if you can think of anything her family can do with all those squares, let me know and I'll pass it along. If you have any yarn to donate, old or new, please drop me a line.
For your calender, our next spin-in will be August 15 at the Red Barn. Love to see you!
Friday, July 17, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The alpacas still seem to be holding up alright. I'm so thankful that we'll be getting a break in the next few days. I did want you to see why it takes so long to clean the fiber on these naughty boys. Moonstruck, in particular, loves to roll on the ground. Sometimes, he's rolling in the dirt to help fend off parasites or to cool himself with the dirt. Other times, he's trying to claim his food pan and defend it from his brothers, by rolling on it. Because of the stuff stewn around the pen right now, he comes up from a good roll looking like a hay bale on four legs. Over time, this is going to mean lots of picking once the fiber comes off at shearing. He is a very naughty boy.
I am hoping to have a new podcast out before the weekend's over. I've been busy working to get Ms. Emma ready for camp next week, and you know what that means. Buying new clothes and writing her name in all of them. It's a super dorky thing to have to do, but what choice does a mom have? I comfort her by telling her that she's going to have the time of her life.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
For instance, when it is over 100 degrees outside, it makes more sense to blow off manual labor in favor of a cool drink and maybe a siesta. Summer works well for indoor projects, eating food that is currently ripening in the field, and putting stuff aside for the winter. On the other hand, brisk fall days are perfect for working with the livestock and making fence repairs. You do NOT want to be chopping firewood in July.
With all that in mind, I'm trying to use this hot "indoor" season to dig into the mystery piles of chaos that have grown up in the house, and to work to bring about order and peace. I'm all about the trashman this week. What around here is no longer serving me, and is in fact, aggravating me by taking up space and appealing to my nostalgic bent? Those things are going in the trash or to Goodwill. Nothing is off limits: photos, keepsakes, files, office supplies - all are coming under my scrutiny. I've already excavated about 20 square feet of office floor that I haven't seen in years. Feels good. When you're hot, you want to cast off stuff that is weighing you down.
Except yarn. The yarn stays. In fact, digging through all my sidelined projects has given me the urge to get going on some knitting and crochet. Fresh off the success of my All Shawl, I'm ready to cast on another quick, fun, functional project.
Pal Laurie and I have cooked up a good (non-yarn) project that we can do indoors, and use up lots of that coarse fiber that just can't go to the processor for our fiber shares: dog beds. We both are pretty competent with sewing machines, and we have some idle fabric that is speaking to us. Stuffed full of olofactorily-robust wool stuffing, we think we'll have dog beds that your Rex will go gaga over. I'll have photos soon of our prototypes, so you can give us some feedback.
But right now, I'm thinking, crocheted cotton rug. Just for fun. As I go to hunt up my size N crochet hook, I leave you with some sheep portraits I took this morning. The sheep were feeling slighted by all the attention the alpacas had been getting. Call this "equal time."
PS - Don't forget Saturday's Spinning Day! At 10 AM we'll pile into the COOL Red Barn and spin, spin, spin. We'll be giving drop spindle lessons, trying out various makes of wheels, and generally taking a much-needed break from our work-a-day worlds. Except me - this IS my work. Is this a great country, or what?
OK - here are your sheepy pals enjoying their breakfast today...
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
She's growing. And growing up. (sniff)
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
OK, actually, this is what shepherds do to create interest and intrigue in the daily routine. Our sheep are the friendliest things on four legs, so the only danger is getting between them and their feed bowls. Then they might knock you down in a flurry of toenails and wooly fluff. Hardly an OSHA violation.
This video is inspired by Harry of Martha's Vineyard Fiber Farm. Keep up the good work, Harry.