Saturday, July 31, 2010

Morning at the Vet's Office

Darn it. Ms. Ruth's urinary issues have flared up again. Our great vet's office squeezed us in between lots of other hurting pets today, and I really appreciate it.

Angela did the initial assessment.

Dr. Abraham decided we needed to look at the bladder with ultrasound to see if stones were rolling around in there making trouble. Ruth laid quietly on her back without any sedation, as long as the techs kept up the ear scritching.

Dr. Abraham has taken care of Ruth since before she came to our farm - back when she was known as "Tessa." He looked very concerned.

He found, not stones, but a thickening of the bladder wall, which could be a tumor or just an irritation left over from the previous problems.

We're going to try a much stronger antibiotic for ten days and then check again to see if this mass has gone away.

Would love your thoughts and prayers for our sweet Ruth. You can see she's a favorite of these awesome vet techs. Shawn tidied up her toenails for free, just because. So sweet.

Ruth loves them back.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Learn How to Take Art Photos

© photo by Ellie Ivanova

Come to the farm on September 25, 10 am to noon, for an inspiring photography workshop with our friend, Ellie Ivanova, of Parasol Photography. Here's how she describes it:

In a high-tech digital age, when even the simplest camera phone can
take sharp pictures, art photographers have turned to old photo
techniques like film and forgotten low-tech tools like plastic toy
cameras to create high-art with unusual appeal. The result is quirky
images with a soul.

© photo by Ellie Ivanova

Ellie Ivanova will lead a workshop showing how to use Holga, a very
friendly and simple, yet creative toy camera with a plastic lens and
unique low-fi features such as light leaks, vignetted corners and soft
focus. If you are interested in photography and eager to try out
something forgotten and unusual, give Holga a try.

© photo by Ellie Ivanova

We'll start with a demonstration of the camera and discussion of its
creative potential. We'll then go for a photo hunt, then finish with a
brief wrap-up. Ellie will process the negatives and will make the
photographs available for everyone to enjoy and learn from.

Participants are NOT required to purchase a Holga camera ($27 from in advance. Cameras and film will be provided for the
photo shoot. Information on where to buy and process film, as well as
further inspiration, will be included.


If that sounds as much like a blast to you as it does to me, send me an e-mail ( to register. Cost is only $25--a steal. We'll begin at 10 AM and wrap up at noon, just in time for lunch and some spinning in the Little Red Barn. Beat that.

PS - Ellie is one of our featured artisans at the "Share the Harvest" Holiday Gift Market here on October 16. If you haven't seen some of her images from her native Bulgaria and around the world, you are missing a treat.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Little Red Barn Annex

Several times on our Third Saturday Fiber Day we've shoehorned fourteen or more sweet spinners and knitters into the Little Red Barn for a great day of girlfriend time together. Everyone has been a good sport about it, but the thought is usually verbalized, "you really need to add on to the Little Red Barn! Bump out a wall! Add a second story!"

Alas my friend, that just ain't gonna happen. But we do need more space, and I don't want anyone staying home for fear that there won't be enough room. So here's my plan:

Two Saturdays. Double the fun. Double the floorspace.

The doors of the LRB will be open for play time on both the Third and Fourth Saturdays of the month. I want to stay away from other local spin-in days, and I want all of our regular Barnies and newcomers to feel like they can come any time and find a comfortable place to hang out. Come one week, or come both weeks.... your choice. You know you're always welcome.

So, in August, we'll meet on the 21st and the 28th. In September, it's the 18th and 25th (the 25th is also Ellie Ivanova's photography workshop here.) In October it's the 16th and 23rd, with the 16th also the big Fall Gift Market here. You see how it goes... We'll try it for a couple of months and see if we like it. Maybe we'll find that we prefer to be like, well, you know...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fruit of Our Labor

This is why I surround myself with awesome people - otherwise, I'm tempted to give up on some wonderful projects. Case in point, today our friend Gail marched right into that overgrown garden (I'm so embarrassed about its weedy condition) and extracted enough food to feed a couple of large families.

We picked eggplant, squash, cantaloupe, a few Roma-type tomatoes, a cuke or two, and some lemon balm to make tea. The weather had cooled off 15 or 20 degrees and we were in the mood for tea.

We crushed some leaves into a cup with a tea bag ready to go - I happened to have English Breakfast handy- and let it steep for just under five minutes.

We strained out the leaves, added some local honey, and enjoyed the best tea I've had in ages.

Then, what I didn't document, was my successful attempt at breading and frying eggplant slices. That is a trip. I've never worked with eggplant before and that whole "sucking out the bitterness with a coating of salt" thing is pretty freaky. And cool.

Gail suggested dipping the eggplant slices in beaten egg and milk, and then dredging (twice) in seasoned breadcrumbs. Can you believe I had breadcrumbs in the cabinet? Me neither. But it worked. After browning the slices on both sides in olive oil, I topped with mozzarella and a quick tomato sauce.

Ted and Emma gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up. Win.

The reason that momentous kitchen victory didn't get documented is that the camera has gone missing. Yes, I've retraced my steps and torn up the house, but so far, it's still hidden. Thank goodness for the Droid. All of today's photos were taken with the Droid.

I did capture this sweet moment during evening feeding. The temperature and humidity were WAY down, and we all relaxed into contented puddles as we moved through our routines tonight. Ahhhh. The sun is so low that there were no shadows. Our friend Laurie insists that fall is just around the corner.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Share the Harvest" Holiday Gift Market

It's time to unveil the October farm extravaganza:

Share the Harvest
Holiday Gift Market
October 16, 2010
10 AM - 4 PM

Showcasing the Art and Craft Talents of
Friends of
Jacob's Reward Farm

Shop / Relax / Spin / Knit / Eat / Play

Your holiday shopping is in the bag! Take home unique hand-made treasures: hand spun yarn, knitted garments and accessories, paper crafts, handmade stationery, soaps, herbs, fine art photography, funky primitives, jewelry and more. A feast for all the senses!

  • Free admission and parking
  • Refreshments
  • Kids' make-and-take crafts
  • Face painting
  • Photos with our friendly farm animals
Share with others: Bring along some canned goods and grab a raffle ticket for a hand-made quilt to benefit Allen Community Outreach. Knit, crochet or weave 9" squares to be assembled into afghans for charity!

Featured Artisans:
  • Aubergine, Photography/knitted items
  • Barbara Thornton, Fiber Arts, Art Batts
  • Birdism.Etsy, Knitted, beaded bracelets, felt crafts
  • Cordova Studios, Hand dyed roving and batts
  • Gay Getz, Knotted cord and crystal rosaries
  • Good Woman Studios, Primitive Dolls and oddments
  • GrandmaTutu, Soaps, Hand knitted doll clothes, more
  • Jennifer Jurek Photography and Design, Prints, portraits
  • The Joy of Soy, Hand made soy candles
  • LauriezHands, Hand knitted dolls and accessories
  • MargaretandPurl.Etsy, Hand made baby hats and accessories
  • Metro Pet Services, gift baskets for pet lovers
  • Monica's Jewelry, Hand made jewelry
  • Parasol Photography, Art prints, classes, portraits
  • Phantom's Paw, Leatherwork and woven goods
  • Rita's Originals, Hand carded fiber batts, stitch markers
  • she felts, Handmade bags, etc., from recycled sweaters
  • Spinning Spinderella, Art yarns and batts
  • Southern Fried Lace, Machine embroidery, knitted and crocheted items
  • Stonywoods Farm, Hand knit garments and accessories
  • Tasty Eats At Home, Web blog gluten-free recipe resource
  • Terrific Fibers, Original knitting patterns, finished pieces
  • Twice Upon a Time Storytellers, stories for kids of all ages
  • Where Water Comes Down, Hand made soaps and scents
  • Jacob's Reward Farm, Hand knit and crocheted accessories, Original framed art, adorable farm animals...

Sound like fun? You thought last year was a blast - just wait. We'll have plenty of parking in the north pasture, seating areas, and places to knit, spin, eat, shop, visit, and you can get a definite jump on your holiday cheer... Plan to spend the day with the people who love your company and who fill your days with joy.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Raindrops on Roses and Guests in the Pasture

I got to meet another fellow blogger and neighbor, Judith, today! We couldn't believe how close we live to each other. So, of course I tried everything to entice her to bring her knitting and come to the Little Red Barn on the next Third Saturday. We're right down the street!

One step into the LRB and she was bitten by the tri-loom bug. My orange shawl has gone from Work-in-Progress to Permanent Art Installation, and it always catches people's eyes and provides a quick teaching opportunity for would-be weavers. I'm going to set Judith up with my small tri-loom when she comes to visit next, and she'll have a gorgeous neckerchief finished to take home in a flash.

Isn't her little Miata darling?

Judith wanted to take home some snaps of the alpacas, in addition to her new JRF tote bag, and Solomon was happy to pose for her. This is how alpacas say, "cheese!" It's all I can do not to photoshop a big toothy grin on his face...

But the clouds were gathering and thunder rumbled in the distance, so we wrapped up our visit just in time. Blessed rain! Just a few drops, but the temperature fell considerably, and should stay down for the next couple of days.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

We Meet at Last!

I finally got to meet Facebook and Ravelry pal Dina, and her husband Burt in person today, when they came by the farm for the nickle tour, and to pick up their spiffy new Farm Totes. Wow - what perfect LRB Buddy Potential! Dina's learning to spin on her own and is doing a wonderful job - I told her she'd find nothing but encouragement and support at the next spin-in. Right ladies? And you should see the cashmere scarf she's knitting! Va-va-voom! They don't live far away and have no excuse now for not returning soon for more fibery love. Great to meet you, guys!

Earlier today, I trekked up to Greenville to my friend Amy's bodacious ranch, where she keeps 170 of the loveliest alpacas you can imagine. Yes, that's her ranch in all the shearing photos. It was my supreme honor to help get Ms. Amy spinning on her new Rio Grande wheel today. Unfortunately, I left my brain and my camera at home so there is no photo evidence of the monumental moments (this pleased Amy to no end). Suffice it to say, I left her making some lovely yarn on her drop spindle and quite fired up to get going on the Rio Grande. It was my first time on a quill wheel, and I was relieved not to make quite a fool of myself.

Amy and I are really kindred spirits, and we got so excited talking about some very fun projects we hope to stir up together in the alpaca realm - I came home feeling like I'd done espresso shots all morning - WHOOO - BOY HOWDY!

And after some knock-down-drag-out negotiating, we decided that I'll soon welcome to the farm two of her gorgeous alpaca boys - a white and a gray huacaya - to add to our fiber herd. I brought home their most recent sheared fleeces, and it's all I can do not to eat them with a spoon right now. Oh, Em, Gee. I'll let you know closer to the time the boys come to live here. They are so sweet, and as I say, the fiber is fabulous enough to eat off a plate. If you're a 2010 shareholder, your spinning fingers must be itching like mad - what's coming will blow your fiber mind. You've been warned.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Your Farm Stuff is in the Bag

I saw these cute bags and I couldn't resist. They make perfect knitting project bags, and you'll always remember where you got yours. A nice size: 14.5" x 17" x 3" or so.

Shareholders will get one, free, with their share (or you can pick yours up at the farm the next time you're here) and others may pick one up for $5 - the money will go against dear Ruth's vet bills.

Click the PayPal button over there in the right margin, and I'll ship it out to you right away.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Guinea Graduation

Today our two surviving guinea keets made the transition from the brooder on the back porch to the chicken coop in the barn. It's lighter, and they have some exposure to their fellow poultry. Though they've grown quite a bit since their first days here, they're still quite a bit smaller than the chickens and must be protected from the hens in a segregated enclosure. The hens will bully them, literally to death, if allowed.

But after several more weeks, these guys will be able to fend for themselves, and defend themselves from menacing pecks. Hopefully, the chickens will uneventfully fold the guineas into their community - or at least ignore them.

I'll consider it a success if the little dears don't just fly away when the day comes to release them as free-rangers. Guineas are strange birds, much less domestic than chickens, and quite self-possessed.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Happy Hookin'

So sorry - can't talk. I'm making stuff.
Lucy at Attic24 has conquered me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Gaggle of Gigglers

Today was all about DD's birthday (far left). Fourteen years old today. She invited six friends over for pizza and then off to see Toy Story 3 in 3D. Both DH and I had to drive a car to get this whole gaggle delivered to the theater. It was pretty fun to let the girls loose to sit in another section of the theatre away from us grownups--one of the mini rites of passage as we watch her become her own woman. Everybody warns me that the drama is about to break into our lives, but so far, I don't see it. Our kid is very level headed.

I got a little Girl Time myself today - pals Jill and Debbie came over to knit in the cool LRB. I worked on a radical spinning project - a very bright Merino and Tencel roving, plied with some poly/cotton thread. This colorway was a big stretch for me, but I really like it.

It came out to a DK weight, 285 yards. I'll be perusing the Ravelry library to find a small scarf or shawlette pattern to use with this yarn.

Of course, I ran out of my plying thread before I ran out of merino singles, so I Navajo plied the remaining yarn and got about 28 yards of 3-ply. The colors stayed bright, but I'm not sure what kind of project this can be.

Tomorrow I get together with the Texas Twisters; our weekly spinning and knitting confab. We share our fiber journeys, and also our outside joys and pains. Get us going, and this older group of ladies can giggle the younger set under the table.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Free At Last

When I came home from church one Sunday several weeks ago to find all the sheep in the back yard, I realized that our fencing job in the far north pasture had been insufficient to the task. We had tightly fenced three sides and assumed that the fourth side, while a little old and ragged, would hold them in. It didn't. I'm grateful that I didn't have any tragedies on the road.

But the solution had to wait. The sheep would just have to tough it out in the near north paddock until we could do something permanent. I had to travel some, and the weather was uncooperative other times, so it was just this weekend that we were able to address the problem. Our friends Bennett and Michael came out and cleared brush, rolled out fencing, set one new pipe post, fixed a very wonky gate, and early this afternoon, the job was done. We even managed to finish the job with materials we had on hand - fencing, concrete, pipe, wire. Nice.

I turned the sheep out this evening to their boundless delight. Not only do I love to see our nine woolies standing ankle deep (or more) in green grass blissfully gathering their own sustenance, but I think about all the expensive hay I won't have to throw over the fence for the foreseeable future.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The "Barnies" Really Know How to Party

It's my birthday month, and it's hotter than a $2 pistol, so naturally, I thought of Ice Cream to liven up our Third Saturday Spin In at the Little Red Barn. I also knew we were expecting some new folks, so I wanted to make them feel welcome. I potted up some herb seeds so everyone could take home a little bit of the farm.

But I had no idea how much like a birthday party our day would turn out to really be! We met some wonderful new friends: Claire from Dublin, Lela from Richardson, Lily and Mark from Frisco, and Lisa from way out past Lubbock! Rockstars Dawn, Tasha and Liz joined us, and Tasha brought along her husband and inlaws - awesome new friends... Recent spinning students Laura and Gay were able to come and show off their new wheels -- you GO girls! Leslie had a gorgeous new wheel to trot out as well - va va voom! And it's always a party when regulars Brenda, Peggy, Liz, Edie, Rita, Terri, Mary, Jennifer, little Claire, Jill and Debbie swing by for the day. Folks popped in and out sometimes, so if I missed you, please forgive me... These ladies were all working on some really stunning projects - shiny fibers, colorful knitting... just breathtaking. Show and tell, even informally done, keeps us all inspired.

Several farm tours took us to the barn to commune with the alpacas, sheep and chickens.

Ted's quiche has become an indispensable and quickly-devoured tradition on spin-in day.

Jennifer and Claire made sure we got some good nutrition with the fresh fruit they brought from Luling, TX. Nice.

Peggy baked some really good gluten-free cookies for those in the group who have trouble with that. And, I somehow have no photo evidence of the large quantities of ICE CREAM that were consumed today! Unbelievable! (OK, ladies - your secrets are safe forever.)

Lisa came such a long way to visit and learn about how we run our operation here. She's also interested in Jacob and Gulf Coast Native sheep, so we had lots to visit about. She shared some gorgeous alpaca fleece samples with me and got me lusting after some of her colored Suri fleeces...

Lisa's husband is a cotton farmer out west, and she brought some hand-picked cotton for us to sample and spin. This stuff is like buttah - I'm just going to HAVE to work on my long draw and give cotton another try.

The sweet part of the day I didn't expect was getting presents myself. Peggy brought me a very nice mannequin torso - so helpful in displaying our finished items, Brenda brought me a hysterical birthday card that baaaaas when you open it, and Dawn brought me a Scentsy warmer and wax bars to give the barn a delightful aroma (very handy with a live-in kitty)! With the sweet birds, it's exactly the warmer I would have picked out for myself.

My friend Liz, who is so much help to me in so many ways, helped me warp my rigid heddle loom and now I'm ready to weave a scarf. I'm overwhelmed, sisters... seriously overwhelmed. Thank you...

We don't have a specific plan for next month, other than gathering for more great times together, but I'll be working on it, you can be sure.

And for those of you keeping score at home, the fence project is progressing beautifully! More details on Monday. Have a wonderful rest of your weekend!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ice Cream Versus the Texas Heat

This Saturday, friends at the Little Red Barn will be choosing between Classic Chocolate, Mint Chocolate Chip, Vanilla Bean, Rainbow Sherbet, Reese's Peanutbutter, Cherry Cordial, and more. With the temperatures doing their level best to melt us all into sticky spots on the sidewalks, we have to call out the heavy artillery. No choice, really - can't be helped.

And while we're enjoying the cool LRB, knitting, spinning, and taking some fortifying refreshment, poor Mr. Bennett will be outside in the heat, making the north pasture safe for ovine kind.

My friend, Michael, will also be here with his chain saw to cut away some pesky Greenbriar vines and brush that would impede the fence repair project. The two of them should be able to knock out this task in short order.

Once this is completed, the sheep will finally be able to enjoy the lovely grass in the North-north pasture, and we'll be able to cut back on the store-bought hay. Crazy, really, to be buying food for these guys, when there's so much right under their noses.

There are other exciting improvements coming to the farm in the coming days, and details to follow. Can't wait to spill the beans.

But for now, the LRB awaits! So, which flavor for you?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Parker, Texas is Where It's At

Our D Magazine mention! It got right past me when it came out a couple of weeks ago. Remember when our friend Ryan came to visit? The little blurb he wrote about the farm hit the internet and I just found it this evening. Here's the deal: Parker has been named among the top 10 suburbs in Dallas for several years running, but this year, our little burg, population 3600, ranked Number One.

Because of that, Ryan was charged with finding ways to have fun in Parker without spending much money, and then writing about it. He found us! It's a fun read. Ryan also featured our friends down the street, Khatter Vineyards, though I think we got more ink. He didn't seem too impressed with Southfork Ranch, the most famous Parker landmark, but then, he's way too young to have appreciated the kitsch, camp and gaudy lifestyle of the Dallas! series.

Good job, Ryan - thanks! Come back to see us, and I'll teach you to spin, over a glass of Carolyn Khatter's cabernet.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sweet Relief

We've had so much unfortunate commerce with the vet lately, I almost didn't want to go this morning. But thankfully, today, we caught a break.

Worms. Tiny, microscopic parasites of the ruminant gut. These minute critters strike fear and wrath in the hearts of all shepherds. They can multiply and burden an animal's system to the point of wasting away to death. A couple of drugs can kill them, but the bugs are getting very resistant to treatment. Shepherds must manage their pastures and monitor their animals meticulously to keep the worms from getting the upper hand.

Some shepherds treat for worms routinely, on a schedule. Other shepherds only use the drugs when they see symptoms of a heavy worm load. I use the popular diagnostic method of regularly examining poop for the worms and treating if a heavy enough load is present. The vet performs this important test for me, since I haven't had a chance to develop my mad microscope and parasite recognition skilz yet.

It was high time to take a fecal sample to the vet. The hot weather is stressing the animals enough - they don't need the further aggravation of internal parasites. So this morning during my rounds, I scooped up some sheep and alpaca poo and headed for my veterinarian.

As usual, I was greeted by Deb, who was training a new vet tech. She introduced me: "This is Mrs. Telisak, the Poop Lady." Sad, but true. I handed Deb the two steamy zip-lock bags of greenish black beans, labeled "alpaca" and "sheep" and went on my way.

A positive fecal test would mean a day of catching and dosing all the sheep and/or alpacas. Alpacas get shots, and sheep get a drench--an oral medication. A negative test would mean we've dodged the bullet again, and we can relax for a while.

When I didn't hear from Deb for several hours, I called. She apologized for the delay and told me the fecals were negative.

Oh, heavenly bliss. The sense of relief seemed disproportionate to the actual result. But that's the way it is with our animals. Each time there's nothing wrong - it's a miracle and cause for jubilation. Every morning that I go out and all the animals have successfully weathered the night, I'm beside myself with joy. I've assumed the risk and responsibility for all of these sweet lives, and sometimes it gets a bit heavy.

But no one would keep at this lifestyle if there was no payoff. The joy outweighs all the hard stuff. Tonight, my heart is full of joy.