Tuesday, June 29, 2010

First Touch

William and Zoe touched a bird for the first time today. And I'm proud to say it was one of our chickens. The kids, along with baby brother Levi and mom Angela, stopped by the farm today for eggs, and wanted to see a chicken up close. They are proud Chicken Sponsors, so it was high time they got to visit with a hen face to face. We also took a peek at the guinea keets, to round out their avian experience.

Blinded by the sun, and sporting his new farm bling, William poses with his eggs, which his family enjoys morning, noon, and night, they say.

Related note: If you know of kids who need some summer fun and farm exposure, we're still accepting campers for FARM CAMP 2010 from July 12-16, for ages 7-10. We are also working on a week of camp from August 2-6 for kids 11-13 years old. Check our website for all the information, including a registration form. E-mail me (jacobsreward@juno.com) if you have questions.

And FYI - we're off for a couple of days to visit my MIL for her 90th birthday. We'll have limited time at the computer, so watch for updates on our return.

Monday, June 28, 2010

We're Getting Some

Finally, the rain is plowing right over us, instead of circling around us.

This same farmer who use to whine about mud, is doing a dance of joy in the front yard, soaked to the skin...

Won't have to water the garden today, or hose off the alpacas this afternoon. The temperature has dropped 15 degrees.

But I'm not sure what to do with these zombie sheep. They're gobsmacked by the thunder and lightning.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lluscious Llama!

We got a visit from new friends Diane, Aric (pronounced "Eric") and Max yesterday, bringing us three big bags of lovely llama fiber. I showed them around the place, and introduced them to the sheep, alpacas, and chickens. The boys were particularly taken with Smokey-Cat. Come back again, friends, and we'll show you what we do with all that soft, colorful fiber...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer Chores

Summer animal care is all about water and shade. We add electrolytes to the buckets to encourage the critters to drink lots and lots of water. This powder is chock full of yummy cherry-flavored calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and salts.

Alpacas, genetically suited for the frigid Andes mountains, need to keep cool with fans and sprinkler romps. These guys nearly mow me over for their turn at the hose.

An odd sight this early in the summer: earth cracks. You can pour water down into these things for hours, and never fill them up.

The chickens have numerous ways to deal with the blistering summer heat, like custom water buckets:

and naps in the cool dirt:

Thankfully, this heat wave hasn't slowed egg production significantly... yet.

And the guinea keets are growing well. They're getting new feathers every day. These little guys have been so easy to care for so far. Confirmation of several lessons I've learned in the past: 1) don't put too many chicks into a small space - keeping up with their growth is a never-ending battle, and 2) only brood in the summer when they can be kept outside, and without a heat lamp. Epic win.

There's always the everyday chores like mucking the barn. This is even more important during the hot weather, since the alpacas hide out here most of the day. Nobody likes to lounge in poo.

Hot weather encourages flies. To keep their numbers down, we keep the barn clean and populate the barnyard with fly predators - tiny wasps that eat fly larvae. These little guys look like ants with wings, and don't bite or sting. This is the second year I've used them, and I'm really happy with the results. I have a "subscription" and they send me a new batch every month during hot weather. Biological warfare - yep.

The Gulf Coast Native sheep and the Jacob sheep earn their keep at this time of year, suited as they are for hot weather. Wool grows on their backs and sides, but their bellies, legs, and even their throats are wool-free, helping them stay much cooler than their woollier friends.

Judah, unfortunately, is covered with "wool" from head to toe. I've brushed a lot of his undercoat out, and he sleeps in the shade most of the day. No sign of real distress so far - he's not gone off his food, or neglected his guarding.

This boy constantly amazes me. He's the biggest snuggle bug on the entire property. What a treasure he is to me.

As I write this, a little bit of blessed rain is falling. The forecasters say we shouldn't even get to 90 degrees today. Tomorrow the blistering heat is supposed to return, but for now, we're all enjoying this brief relief.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Redistribution of Wealth

This week I had the pleasure of moving some valuable resources from someone who didn't need them anymore, to people who will love them a lot and will enjoy them immensely. That's a treat.

A former student of mine had made the bittersweet decision to move out of fiber crafting in order to spend more of her time, money, and creative juices in her soap- and jewelry-making business. Many of us know the gut-wrenching-yet-freeing process of focusing and narrowing our attention that way.

She sold me her sweet little Kiwi wheel, and All Her Stash. I was fairly overwhelmed by the volume, but I knew I could hook up that wheel and all that gorgeous fiber with talented artists who would put it to work straight away. And my friend was happy to set the treasures free back into the fiber community.

And I'm talking Treasures. This is some good stuff. Shown is just an eensie-tiny sample of what I brought home that day.

Today, I got to share it with the Texas Twisters - a group of ladies who know how to make their spinning wheels sing. Almost every scrap of the goodies was snapped up with glee. I have no doubt that very soon, we'll see some kick-butt yarn and knitted items come into being, thanks to the generous giving of one cool ex-fiber chick. Nicki, if you're reading this, thank you.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

H. O. T.*

Shadows must be this long before it's safe to stand outside and water the garden.

*Hellish Oven Temperatures

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cool Refreshment

Let's all enjoy a frosty beverage and flash back to February 11, 2010 for a minute. Let's forget for a while the triple digit temperatures besetting us now... Remember how lovely this snowfall was?

Ahhhhh. Now don't you feel just a little bit better? Hey, point that fan back over here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Girly Fun in the Red Barn Today

We sure missed you today. June will go down as an outstanding Third Saturday at the LRB. As usual, we noshed on Ted's blue ribbon quiche.

We also had chicken salad, donuts and kolaches, and (in keeping with our Garden theme) basil jelly with cream cheese on crackers, and cantaloupe. Oh yeah. Nobody goes home hungry from a spin-in.

Our pal Pam got to be with us again -- and she's getting ready to start spinning. Welcome to the obsession, Pam. Hold on to your heart...

Pam was working on a beautiful prayer shawl for a dear friend. A lot of love is going into this piece.

Lovely Rita was excited to show us pictures of the front-runner in her wedding dress quest. Luscious. So exciting!

Jennifer is knitting a neat scarf - the pattern, Tree Bark, is here on Ravelry. Smokey helped.

Gail, artist deluxe, brought several of her creations to show. Here's her awesome little chicken man doll.

And totally snuggable frog girl...

Who went home with Birthday Girl, GrandmaTutu! Score, Mary!

Gail also showed off one of the cutest dog/chicken houses I've ever seen. This is for sale, too, guys.... let me know if you're interested - I'll hook you up.

Brenda liked Gail's horse doll in vintage duds; she took her home! She'll either be a gift, or.... not. Like all Gail's dolls, this one has layers of beautifully sewn clothes and fascinating details.

Brenda then went back to spinning this gorgeous tiger striped, sparkly fiber. Yum.

Before everyone left, I got some help moving the guineas out of their temporary quarters in the utility room, to the large brooder out on the back porch. They'll have ever so much more room there to play. Bye-bye storage tub!

Claire helped me socialize the keets a little before turning them loose in the big black stock tank they'll call home for several weeks.

Since we've had so many uninvited snake visitors lately, I attached another layer of mesh on the lid of the brooder, with much smaller holes. I'm not interested in feeding the snakes with my baby guineas.

July's spin-in will be on the 17th. We don't have a scheduled activity yet - any ideas?

There are still a few spots open for Farm Camp - let me know if you have a camper who'd like to come July 12-16.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Stroll in the Garden

My watering chores expanded into a quick inventory of what new things were appearing in the garden tonight.

The guardians of the garden have set up camp-- this very young orb spider, for one. These guys do a great job of catching insects bent on doing harm to our vegetables. As you were, soldier.

Eggplant embryos.

Infant squash.

Inklings of cantaloupe.

Adolescent cucumbers.

The tomatoes are growing into lovely plants, but there's no fruit so far.

The garden snail says, "Slow down. Chill out. What's your hurry?"

On the menu for the hummingbirds: Scullcap

Flame Acanthus

and Turk's Cap.

And tomorrow in the Little Red Barn, "Cooking From Your Garden." Our scheduled speaker, Donna, had to rush off to Connecticut a week earlier than planned, so we'll be gleaning awesome recipes and ideas from several other gifted gardener/chef/fiber friends. If you have any good ideas about how to enjoy the bounty of the summer garden, favorite recipes or tricks and tips, bring them along! And bring a dish to share, if you are able, and any fiber projects you're working on. We'll make a lovely day of it! 10 AM until Whenever.