More than 75 years ago in the small town of Belle, Jake and Ruby Wilson drove the dusty roads that led to their ranch.
Now affectionately named Ruby Ranch, the farm holds a special place in the hearts of current owners and operators, the Langstons.
In its early years the ranch was used to raise cattle, chickens and also for large crops and gardens. Ruby Wilson was a schoolteacher in the days of crowded one-room schoolhouses and both she and Jake worked full time in addition to caring for the farm.
Their love for the farm would transcend the years and be passed on to following generations.
After their passing, the Wilson’s granddaughter Katy Langston played a key role in transforming the farm into what it is today which is a place of hard work, refuge, peacefulness and pastimes that ensure a labor of love.
During Katy’s sophomore year of high school, the Langstons left their home in St. James to make a new life for themselves on the ranch.
In 2000 Marilynn and Wayne Langston built their new home on the farm and following college, Katy began renovations on her grandparents’ original farmhouse. The home is more than 100 years old and Katy currently resides there with her husband, Drew.
Along with the help of her father, Katy purchased her first sheep from a college professor and built a caged area which would soon house six female ewes and one ram.
Ruby Ranch is now home to 33 ewes, 44 lambs and two rams.
The family specializes in raising Katahdins which are a breed of hair sheep that do not require shearing or docking of their tails. This breed is also known for its high adaptability, distinct mothering and general easy care and is the main focus of business on the farm.
These animals are also known for their quality meat and parasite resistance. The family sells their breeding stock for meat to raving local buyers.
Katy takes pride in this as she describes a focus on “all-natural, chemical-free, grass-fed, lean meat.” She also adds, “Customers who purchase from us give rave reviews and normally double their orders the following year.”
Each spring during lambing season, the farm welcomes small groups of children to bottle feed the lambs and to hold and play with tiny, newborn chicks. The delight on their faces is so innocent and Katy truly enjoys providing them this opportunity.
She recalls with a smile one particular spring when she purchased a dozen chickens for the children to play with. You can see that the simple, country atmosphere she is so used to has made her and her family genuinely happy.
Although the Katahdins are part of the Langstons’ livelihood, the ranch is described as a “hobby” farm by Katy.
Page 2 of 3 - Also at home on Ruby Ranch are miniature horses, a donkey named Louie, peacocks, chickens and pigs. Even though Katy shares an endearing relationship with the ponies she often works the sheep and other animals with her father.
When asked what she loves most about driving home to the farm after a long day, Katy responds “It’s just so peaceful and quiet here. Our most favorite place on the farm is sitting on the front porch.”
However, life with her family on Ruby Ranch is only one aspect of Katy’s life.
There is a contrasting and equally as fulfilling piece to Katy’s life and this is her work with her mother Marilynn Langston at Langston Interiors, Inc., Red Door Gifts and Red Door 2 as her assistant.
Langston who is now a much sought after designer, began work as an interior designer more than 25 years ago.
While working at her shop in Rolla she began to offer gift items inside of her interior decorating shop which was established in 1989. Once she has tested the waters and sees the desire for a gift shop in Rolla, she is well on her way to further success.
With an eye for the unique, whimsical, unexpected and the luxurious, Langston opened her store Red Door Gifts in 2007 which is the beautiful corner shop at Seventh and Pine streets.
Less than two years pass before additional space is needed for merchandise and Red Door 2 opens inside the original Langston Interiors building.
This shop boasts higher end jewelry such as handmade, fair trade pieces from Guatemala and Israel. Red Door 2 is also the location of the popular Red Door bridal registry.
On the split side of this building is Langston Interiors with its rows of rich, luxurious fabrics, furniture and home décor.
The experience and pure talent of Marilynn Langston’s work is no small feat. Her knowledge of color, texture, placement and atmosphere has become a well-honed skill that is remarkable.
Specializing in both residential and commercial interior design, Langston is a highly recommended designer who has the ability to create a custom space from the ground up with elegance and flair.
From designing blue prints for furniture to custom window treatment design and installation, Katy speaks of her mother’s work with pride and admiration.
Langston also offers her keen eye in consultations which she charges for by the hour in addition to decorating homes for the Christmas holidays.
Red Door Gifts is filled with gifts ranging from jewelry and scarves, to home décor and their baby registry.
One of the signature items carried by Langston’s shop is the Vera Bradley line which is increasingly in demand for its high quality, bright patterns and designs.
Page 3 of 3 - Vera Bradley launch parties are held to celebrate each new season’s items and include door prizes, free gifts with purchases and refreshments.
Red Door Gifts will be hosting the daughter of Vera Bradley, Joan Bradley Reedy on Friday, Aug. 9, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Rolla shop was chosen for Reedy’s visit specifically from a list of independent sellers of the Vera Bradley brand.
Red Door also hosts sidewalk sales and celebrated Mother’s Day with an alley sale behind its Red Door 2 location. The next sidewalk sale takes place on Aug. 2-3.
With new seasons bringing new and interesting décor and other items, Red Door holds an open house each holiday and each spring.
The Red Door shops place a consistent emphasis on new décor and gifts and the stores are ever changing to reflect this.
The newly and well received line out of North Carolina, Spartina 449, is now available with bold and bright patterned handbags.
New shipments arrive daily allowing Langston to showcase items that are always fresh and on trend.
A variety of unique items are found at the larger markets which Katy and her mother frequent.
Katy is a dedicated and genuine product of her close-knit, hard-working and ambitious family.
She sits on her front porch enjoying the fruits of her labor just as Grandmother Ruby did, watching the animals thriving and playing in the fields, the sunset burning in the sky on those warm summer evenings and the ranch spanning around her.
Langston Interiors, Inc. is located at 713 N. Pine St. in Rolla and can be reached by phone at 573-341-3804 or by visiting the website at www.langstoninteriorsinc.com.
Red Door Gifts is located at 700 N. Pine St. in Rolla and can be reached by phone at 573-364-0016 or by visiting the website at www.reddoorgiftsrolla.com.
Red Door 2 is located at 713 N. Pine St. in Rolla and can be reached by phone at 573-341-3084 and at www.reddoorgiftsrolla.com.