About Robin

Owner of Meridian Jacobs, farm and fiber shop. I raise Jacob sheep, teach fiber arts classes, weave handwovens for sale, and manage the store.

Table Rock Hike

Dan and I spent a few nights in Napa last week. It was strange to stay overnight somewhere when we live so close, but the time-share stay was a retirement gift from his co-workers and it was a great opportunity for us to go do some of those things that are “in our own backyard” that we don’t take time to do otherwise.

The weather outlook for Tuesday was dry so we decided to find a place to hike. Many of the state and county parks in the area are closed due to the recent horrific fires. But we found a trail that was unaffected by the Tubbs Fire. We had breakfast in Calistoga and then drove up Hwy. 29 towards Mt. St. Helena.

DSC_5384              The Robert Louis Stevenson State Park to the north of the highway is closed but the Table Rock trail is south of the highway.IMG_3323             The trail starts out in groves of oak, madrone, and bay trees. This area was damp from recent rain and the trees looked as though they were covered with green fur.

DSC_5417                                                                A new kind of fir fur tree?DSC_5394       Making things larger than life through the lens.


DSC_5389               As the trail descended the other side of the first ridge the vegetation seemed more typical of California chaparral. These are the seeds of the California Buckeye.DSC_5391              The California buckeye is one of the first deciduous trees to leaf out in the spring, but it also goes dormant and loses it’s leaves in late summer. Although the “nuts” may seem similar to chestnuts, these are toxic.

DSC_5410             The trail leads to the western end of a formation called the Palisades, volcanic rock that towers over the northern end of the Napa Valley.IMG_3318            That is the town of Calistoga down below. DSC_5400               We sat on the rocks known as Table Rock for quite awhile, soaking up the sun and watching birds and the beautiful sky. The fire missed this area, but not Mt. St. Helena in the background and the lower area along the highway.DSC_5407               As we sat on the rocks Dan noticed a Cal Fire plane flying around Mt. St. Helena and then saw it drop something–we wonder of that is seed to help stabilize the burned landscape.



Amaryllis and Her New Shoes

Amaryllis has laminitis and I’ve been struggling with her condition off and on for several years. I should have known better than to get a donkey as a guardian animal for sheep that graze irrigated pasture but I did not realize the risk. Donkeys can thrive in desert conditions and can easily put on weight under any other situation. That, along with a multitude of other related factors, puts them at risk for laminitis.

She had a flare-up in October. I think it was a result of breeding season. I had the sheep separated into several different breeding groups and Amaryllis was getting little bits of alfalfa from under the fence that she shared with one of the groups. Maybe that had nothing to do with it but I thought that it might have been the trigger.

IMG_2892               My regular vet was out of town and I called U.C. Davis. The equine vets came out and evaluated her. This radiograph shows that there is slight rotation of the bone, which should be parallel to the hoof wall, but the coffin bone has not dropped down to the sole, which can happen in severe cases. IMG_2899                 Temporary pain relief was provided by some cushy pads that were measured and then cut to fit.

IMG_2903                 A paste of betadyne and sugar was applied to help the foot dry out…

IMG_2902          …and then the pads were taped in place. IMG_2914            This was just to help cushion her feet until the farrier could get here for the next trim.IMG_2930             She was also prescribed a variety of medications to help with pain and weight loss, some of which I had used before.

This was a month ago. In the meantime I attended the Donkey Welfare Symposium at UC Davis. It was an excellent program but I came home more depressed about the whole situation. At home I was struggling with how little improvement I saw, even with all the medications.

The vet offered another idea–SoftRide boots. Those came today. They are an outer boot with a gel orthotics.

1711-donkey_shoes-1             The instructions said to wrap the foot with plastic wrap when you first try the orthotics so that you can send them back if they don’t fit. 1711-donkey_shoes-2           That is easier said than done. I got the plastic on the foot OK but by the time I had her standing on the orthotics they weren’t in exactly pristine condition anymore. 1711-donkey_shoes-3                  I decided that I’d just have to go for it and put the boots on.

IMG_3435          What an amazing difference they made. This is the first time I’ve seen Amaryllis walk without obvious pain in weeks if not months. I don’t know if this is a permanent fix, but at least she is more comfortable now and will maybe be able to get a little exercise–even if that is just me leading her around the corral every day.


The Fibershed Wool Symposium was last weekend in Pt. Reyes Station. This is one of my favorite events of the year but this year it was more special because I spent the night in nearby Inverness with other Fibershed friends and we had our second Northern CA Fibershed Coop Board meeting on Sunday. Following the meeting four of us went on an impromptu hike on Inverness Ridge.

IMG_3248            This local church was booked for any of the Fibershed group who wanted to spend the night after the long day at the Symposium.IMG_3259

IMG_3236                 It is a great place to stay for anyone traveling in that area.            IMG_3262            This was originally a house that was purchased from the Frick family in 1950 and turned into a church. There is a fascinating multi-level maze of rooms and halls and stairways. This view looks down from the third floor on what was originally the family’s living room.

IMG_3233                  I love this dining area, partly because the table is of the same era (at least from looking at some of it’s features) as the table that my mom bought and we still use, although this one is in much better shape than ours.

IMG_3264                  I stayed in this bedroom with five other women. There are several bedrooms with different numbers of beds. I think the place can accommodate 36 people.IMG_3238           When I got up on Sunday morning I decided to take a walk before our meeting and headed up a road I found behind the church.IMG_3255                  This is my kind of Sunday morning.IMG_3256


IMG_3246             The road I found led me back down to the main road and Tomales Bay.

It was after our meeting ended at about 1 that four of us set of for a hiking trail.

IMG_3294                                                     It is great when you find open space accessible to the public.IMG_3266

IMG_3270      Rebecca pointed out huckleberries which were still on the bushes, although the normal harvest season was over. I wouldn’t have known and would have avoided these unknown berries.

IMG_3265  Stephanie (wearing her handknit Jacob sweater) ate her share as did the rest of us.


IMG_3293            This is a much wetter area than where I usually find myself and there were still signs of the previous night’s rain.IMG_3276        Another testament to the dampness were the large slugs that we saw.IMG_3292             The view overlooking Tomales Bay. What a beautiful day we had!IMG_3278-2               As we were coming back down from the ridge that has a view of the ocean, another hiker   coming up the hill saw our silhouettes and offered to take our photo. This is the view that she saw.



What a great end to an inspiring weekend!


Ginny Herding Sheep

Ginny went to a Sheepherding lesson last week and wanted me to explain these pictures to you.

1711-Ginny-herd-1             Sheepdog Debbie sent her out to gather up the sheep.1711-Ginny-herd-2         Debbie’s sheep are pretty dog-broke because they are used to being moved by dogs.1711-Ginny-herd-3               So for a Border Collie like Ginny (or me) it’s not very hard to get them to move.1711-Ginny-herd-4                There were a couple who didn’t want to play the game though.

DSC_5273            Ginny moved the sheep toward the gate…DSC_5276          …and held them there while Sheepdog Debbie sorted a few out into the other field.DSC_5278            This is a pet sheep who is one of the ones who was standing near Debbie.

DSC_5280         Ginny looks pretty good here.

DSC_5282                  I think that I should go back to Sheepdog Debbie’s place and get to work with her sheep. They don’t have those nasty horns like ours do.

Loom With A View

I wrote two blog posts about setting up this show but then I moved on to other things. Now I’m getting to the show itself. I’m not thrilled with the photos I have taken at the Artery, but I am thrilled about the show and want to share it.

IMG_2919               As I said in one of the previous posts this theme started with the idea of using the old windows that were around here. As you enter the gallery you see the title and the Artist’s Statement. If you want to read that click here.

DSC_5142             This is the wall to the right…DSC_5144          …and these are some of the sheep.

DSC_5148                                                          More sheep.

DSC_5150   Continuing around the gallery there is this collection of photos. I used two of these six-pane windows to display photos and give a feel for the farm. These are not for sale because they are too rotten (people have asked) but some of the photos have been matted or framed and are for sale.

DSC_5157            This is the Solano Colors wall and the yarns are the 2017 locally grown yarns that are on my website. Don’t they take natural color beautifully? There are three examples of the natural dyestuffs–black walnuts, weeping willow leaves, and dried coreopsis flowers.

DSC_5161                                                                 If you look at the previous photo again you’ll see that the shawls and the yarn are hanging on what looks like bamboo. I decided to use the Arundo (an invasive species that grows on our north border and had big hollow stalks like bamboo) for hanging the pieces in the show. It was in keeping with the rest of the props (stuff found on the farm), I have an infinite supply of it, I could cut it to any size, and it is free. The perfect solution! Originally I had planned to use the Arundo for weaving, but I just didn’t get to it. On the morning I was to set up the show I got up early with a lot on my mind. I got out the loom that I had already warped for this and I wove this piece. It inspires me to do more because I think it is very cool.

DSC_5163                                                        Moving on around the room this is the next grouping. Those scarves were woven on a space-dyed warp that I dyed a few years ago and found in a box on the shelf. Do you see something hanging to the left?

DSC_5164                                                                  I wanted to do something interesting with the weeping willow branches after stripping the leaves for the dye pots. I tried weaving with them but I think I like this mobile best.

DSC_5106              The Sunflower wall is around the corner. These are rayon chenille scarves in the colors of the sunflower field that was Across the Road last summer. I didn’t just stick with the yellows and oranges of the flowers but included all the colors of the fields.DSC_5124                                                      Here is a closer view of the flower scarves.

DSC_5112                                                                  In addition to the window pane photo collage, I included this piece that is not for sale. I wove this years ago when we lived and worked on our family dairy.

DSC_5189                                                            This close-up includes my daughter carrying milk buckets, my sheep, and our pony.DSC_5131             Here is another farm photo collection.

IMG_2929            These ponchos and ruanas use the same yarns as the Solano Colors wall, but mostly in natural sheep colors. There are also a couple of handspun Jacob pieces here.

DSC_5138               Close up of a ruana.

DSC_5169             The display in the center of the room is really panels out of my sheep trailer. I used them to hang my blankets and some scarves.

IMG_2922           Here is an overall view of the room…

IMG_2939                      …and this is the table in the doorway when you come in.  The notebook is for visitors’ comments.  I’d love to see your comments as well.


Loom With A View – More Set Up

I just wrote a blog post using Dona’s photos of  “The Creative Process”  at the Artery setting up my show. Here are my photos.

It was sometime in 2016 (maybe the spring?) that I found out I could have the gallery space for a show in November, 2017. That is perfect timing for any show because of the holiday buying season and even more perfect when your focus is wool. I thought for a long time about what I wanted to do. I knew that it should be different from the show in 2014, “Close to Home–Yarn with a Story”. There are sixteen posts about that show, starting with this one.

IMG_9837      Friends (Lisa and Dona?) said “you should use those old windows that are in back”. They were thinking that I could weave using the windows as weaving frames. They like that sort of thing. I like it too, but I haven’t actually done much of it. My weaving is more functional than decorative–like blankets, shawls, and scarves. I admire things to hang on the wall, but my house has hardly any wall space, and in my world things that hang on the wall just get covered with dust and cobwebs. Still, one point of doing a show is to move outside what is your same-old-stuff.

I had to choose a name for the show. Loom With a View came to mind, and the theme was set.

So eventually (this photo was from May, 2017) I dug out the windows. There were probably a couple dozen in various degrees of repair disrepair. These in the photo were the best. I took that photo after I hosed off the windows, trying to not chip off any more of the glazing and paint than was already gone. I remember sending a text of the photo to my friends and asking “Do you mean these windows? The ones with the dry rot and termites?” “Yes!”, they said. I spent the next several months trying to figure out how in the heck I’d use these in a show in an Art Gallery.  (There will be more in future posts about this.)

IMG_2873Wednesday, October 25, 2017. That date was stuck in my head. I had to be Ready. My friends showed up when the gallery opened at 9:30 and we unloaded the truck. All those white cubes were in the gallery from the previous show. The first decision to be made was which cubes to leave for my show. The Artery Display Committee needs to know how many they can use for the other store displays, but the person doing the gallery show gets first choice.

IMG_2875                  I wasn’t really sure but narrowed it down to Not Very Many, keeping some of the larger ones.

IMG_2878Organizing by color.IMG_2884

IMG_2877            Half way through the day I needed to get my signs printed for the entry. My friends were going to go get lunch and I asked them to bring back a slice of pizza. They know me well. It  was touching that they brought back my favorite beverage, but saved for special stress-invoking occasions like being at the fair all day.

IMG_2880                                             Lunch break.

IMG_2887               As Dona and Mary left at 5-ish I think they wondered if I’d spend the night there.

I didn’t but I did come back on the next day and the next.

IMG_2936        Keeping track of all the pieces in the show by my inventory number and the show number (not the same), entering pieces into the Artery computer, applying barcodes to the tags, applying bar codes to the sales list at the desk, applying sticky numbers to the wall for each piece. I could have used a chocolate milk. I finished up at about 1:30 on Friday.

IMG_2916            This is the display in the front window.


Here is my “Artist’s Statement”. I don’t know if you can read it in the photo. I’ll get it on my website at some point.

More photos to come now that the show is installed.


Loom With A View – The Creative Process

I have worked for over a year to prepare for my show at the Artery that is up from now through November 27. Well, maybe I didn’t work for a year. I thought about it for a year. I started working on ideas, but went into full production mode only a couple of months ago and then panic mode at the start of October. Once the weaving was finished the show set-up took 2-1/2 days of work with friends helping too. This series of photos were all taken by a good friend, Dona, who has been there from the beginning giving me ideas at the start and there at the bitter end to help with set up. This is her view of the set-up day’s Creative Process.

Neither of us took a photo of the completely empty space. These were taken as we unloaded the truck and emptied boxes. The theme for the show “Loom with a View” has started with old windows that were behind the garage. There will be more about that in another post. As I worried about obsessed over how to arrange this show I thought of and dismissed a variety of props from around the farm. It wasn’t until the last week that I made some final decisions. The gate with the hangars on it is something another friend didn’t want. The tin panels are those that we use for the State Fair display. There are other panels that came out of my sheep trailer, and there are the old window frames, with and without glass.

Without my friends there helping it would have taken twice as long. Alison, Mary, Kathleen and Dona were there all day on Wednesday, Kathleen came back to help on Thursday and I finished up with a one-person-because-its-all-in-my-head labeling and details on Friday.


Things start to go on walls and panels.

Decisions are made.

DSC_1267       Putting up the Solano Colors wall.


DSC_1284     Working on the Sunflower Wall.


I hope you’ll check back for the next blog posts to see the evolution of the show and I really hope that you will go to the Artery to see it in person. I am very pleased with how it turned out.

Thanks Dona, for all these photos and for the support.