Monday, February 28, 2011

Puppy Outing

Time for some puppy fun in the sun!  Auntie Gail came by to help me give the puppies some romping time outside of their little pen.  My next task, clearly, will be to construct a larger outdoor pen for them to play in during the day, so that they can get more exercise, and more exposure to the sheep and the big dogs.  They are oh-so-ready to be romping.

We put them in harnesses so that we don't choke them in their exuberance.  Phineas is really looking to teach the pups a lesson.  Sorry, woolly bully.  No dice.

Ruth puts up with the kids, but isn't really delighted about them.  After a few sniffs, she went back to her spot for her afternoon nap.  Judah is still a little growly with them.  More time...

The pups found all kinds of toys in the sheep pen.  Drift wood to chew on...

...and fight over...

... and hoard for yourself.

While Gail had them occupied outside, I freshened up their pen, and then it was time for all good puppies to go back into captivity for a rest.  We'll play again later, I promise.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

From Sublime to Delightful

Never a dull moment at the Little Red Barn.  Yesterday we were delighted to have our friend Linda out again, and this time, she brought her dad, Harvey, who grew up on a dairy farm.  What a privilege to host a farmer who can tell stories about milking 30 cows by hand every day.

I think we may have a new spinner in Linda, when we can work out a class time.  And Harvey, please come back anytime, and tell us more stories about the olden days...

Several of our regular LRB ladies came to enjoy the pretty day, and the chance to sit and work on projects together.  Love to have Rita and Dina with us when we can.

Ellie is making great progress on her cardigan, designing on the fly, and getting great advice and feedback from the knitters in the room.

I got to meet Desiree, pal of Brenda's, who was on an amigurumi spree.  Amigurumi is a popular style of Japanese crochet suited to making small toys and figures, mostly perky and whimsical.  Desiree took the technique to quirky heights, making cuddly little zombie creatures.

Little zombie girl.

Werewolf on Brenda's shoulder.

Zombie sheep.

Bed Dead bug.

Swamp Thing.

And Vampire Octopus.  Dark and creepy, but with an inexplicable "awwwww" factor.

Our friend Angela, who works at the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary, had just come from a professional meeting, and happened to be toting Jack, the Pueblo Milk Snake in her car.  Jack came in to the Little Red Barn to make an appearance.  "Red touches black, venom they lack.  Red touches yellow, will kill a fellow."  As you can see, Jack is a nice snake.

Welcome and a big thanks to Clyde and Michael who visited the farm yesterday from Oak Cliff.  They own Kessler Cookie Company, and took home a couple dozen farm fresh eggs to use in their amazing recipes!  (I need to check out their best seller - oatmeal-walnut-cranberry cookies.  Oh yes.)

Our friend and the original owner of Moonstruck and Gizmo, Marie Little, dropped by with her grandkids so quickly, that we hardly got to say hello.  Come back again, Marie, when you can sit and visit some more!

It's been an intense, whirlwind weekend so far, and I wouldn't have changed a thing about it.  Must push away from the computer now, though... time to feed the puppies!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Puppy Boot Camp

Who is training whom?  That will be the question for the next few months.  But the training began in earnest this morning for both the puppies and me.

Vanni keeps the sheep at bay while Tella steals his breakfast.

Everything Susie said about the pups is true - Vanni is a serious guard, and Tella is a bundle of raw energy.

We started our lessons this morning - I took each pup in turn out into the pasture on the leash to sniff around, see if the big dogs wanted to interact, and just generally give each pup a little experience surviving without the sibling.  The pup back in the pen took up a bit of caterwauling, but the lessons were short.  My plan is for this separation to get a bit longer and longer each time.

 Even Tella gets the "Sweet, Quiet Game."

Susie also suggested keeping the main lesson to one particular behavior for a while, so as not to confuse the young dogs.  They're so big, it's hard to remember that they're just ten weeks old, and don't have much of an attention span yet.

Tonight, I took them more water (they regularly tump the pan I have now, so I will be looking for a better solution) and we played the "sweet, quiet game."  The rules of this game:  I will stroke you gently and reassuringly when you are not jumping up, and when you are not trying to chew on me.  In just a few minutes, they figured out the object of the game and were sitting and licking my hands as I told them how wonderful they are.

 Chew bones help pass the time.

Patience.  Strategies for long term success.  And more patience.  For once I have a virtual canine clean slate - no retraining a dog with lots of old baggage.  Just praying I don't lay any dumb baggage on these awesome little guys.   

Got any training tips?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Puppy Love Road Trip - Homeward Bound

We're exhausted, but home at last with the puppies safe and sound.

After a fairly uneventful night at the hotel in Nashville, we loaded up for the long drive back to Parker.

That puppy Dramamine really does the trick.  The pups sacked out and hardly made a peep the entire way.  I got in a little car knitting.  The chemo cap progresses.

About midway, we decided to give the kids a little fresh air and a leg stretch.  Mary helped me find a spot for them to pee.

Tella still looked a little dopey, but they both got the job done.  A little slurp of water for the road, a wipe of the paws to leave all the foreign germs behind, and we were off again.

We pulled in to Parker about 8:45 PM and the family met the babies for the first time.  Of course, everyone's totally and terminally in love.  Ruth and Judah got to meet the babies, too.  Ruthie is all motherly, but Judah let the babies know he was the boss.  More doggy introductions tomorrow.

They settled nicely into their puppy play pen, and had a little bit of dinner to help them feel more at home.

Phineas the Intimidator stopped by to stomp at the pups and let them know he is the Big Cheese around here.  The other sheep stayed back and let Phin do all the talking.

We left the babies to settle in to their new digs.  They were busy playing with each other when we left.  I just looked out my back window, through the door of the shed, and I could see that they had settled down for the night.


So many thanks to Susie Gibbs, my road warrior pals Mary and Karen, and all the friends of the farm who pitched in to make this happen.  The ongoing journey of the puppies here at the farm will unfold on these pages in the coming days.

Puppy Love Road Trip - Day One

What a day! I'm up way too late and still excited about this incredible adventure:

Started out this morning in the very luxe Puppy-mobile with Karen and Mary, headed to Nashville, Tennessee to meet Susie, Jenny, and Amy, and the NEW PUPPIES. It's a good 11-12 hour drive, and we started it in a little rain.  We quickly outran the building storm; we were on a mission.

These girls are the best traveling buddies - we laughed and told stories, and knitted and snacked our way across the plains, chased but untouched by the terrific thunderstorm, until we finally made it to Nashville.

Susie greeted us at her hotel room door with, not a little ten-week old puppy, NO, this is a half-grown polar bear.  Clearly, we've been sold a bill of goods.

Check out these monsters:

Susie reports that little Tella weighs about 23 pounds and Vanni a whopping 30+ pounds.  His feet are as big as dessert plates.

They are the most precious huge white bundles of infectious joy.  If we paid by the pound, we got the deal of the century.

 This is Tella.  The little one.  This photo has not been retouched.  She really is as tall as Susie.

Got to meet Jenny and Amy in person.  Wow - what a blast.  These girls get combat pay for this trip.  Thanks, my friends, for all your help!  Time with Susie is always an inspiration, and we yakked on and on, catching up with all the latest news from both farms.

Karen holds the puppies' attention for a second or two... before they tear around the room again, looking for a place to wrestle or crash.

OK, now she looks like a baby.

Tomorrow - the trip home.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2011 Share Fiber Exhibition and Competition

Shareholders, start your spinning wheels...  It's time to stop hoarding that lovely roving and create some Awesome!

I'm happy to announce the 2011 Share Fiber Exhibition and Competition!  We're looking for finished items made from 100% Jacob's Reward Farm share fiber: knitted, crocheted, woven, felted, or a combination of all of those.

You've got until August 31, 2011 to complete your piece(s) and submit them to us here at the farm either in person, or by high-quality photos, for judging.  Winners will be chosen in each discipline, and prizes awarded.   The artist with the piece judged Best in Show will win a 2012 JRF Full Fiber Share.  Because you just can't have too much bodacious fiber.

If you don't want your piece judged, you can just submit it for exhibition at our "Share the Harvest" Fall Gift Market on October 15.  Everyone who submits a piece for exhibition will be entered in a drawing for a 2012 JRF Half Share. 

We want to display all the pieces and announce all the winners at the Fall Gift Market, to show everyone just what our talented shareholders can do, and to show how alpaca and wool blend fibers can be transformed from that fuzzy stuff on the hoof.  And to get your share fiber out of the closet and on your wheels and needles!

The entry form is available by clicking on the tab above in the dark green bar.  Enter as many pieces as you'd like - the sky's the limit.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bang! The Eggs are Back

 We're expecting the same abundance we enjoyed last year...

We've crossed a line only chickens can detect, and we're now getting over a dozen eggs a day.  I think that the older gals in the front coop finally got enough daylight to kick start their systems, which brings our daily totals up to a really promising level.

This means that it's time to release Egg Lover's Punch Cards and Chicken Sponsorships for 2011.  The normal per-dozen price for eggs is $4.  A punch card gets you ten dozen for $35, saving you $5, if you know you'll want that many over the course of the calendar year.

Chicken sponsorships make fun gifts -- they include a ready-to-frame certificate and a ten-dozen punch card.  The chicken sponsor may name his or her chicken and come visit by appointment.  A sponsorship is $50 the first year and $30 in subsequent years.  Once you've sponsored a chicken, all your subsequent punch cards are $30.  Do Good: sponsor a chicken and donate your punch card to one of our local charities!

I've lost track of the number of times our egg lovers have told me how much better our fresh eggs taste compared to store-bought eggs - even the fancy "free range" or "organic" eggs.  Kids seem to really get a charge out of coming to the farm to visit the hens, and see where their breakfast originates.

The hens look forward to your visit - just call ahead to make sure we're here to receive you.  Let me know if you need a punch card or a sponsorship, and I'll have your goodies printed up for you when you pick up your first dozen: