Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Here we are, the last day of 2008. A time to sit and reflect back on the year, which honestly was a year of challenges. Some we met head on a came out the stronger and wiser for. Some laid us down in defeat, but never for long. I never much thought of myself as much of an optimist, but I so strongly believe in what we have here and I see such a bright future, that how can I not be? Setbacks? We all have them from time to time, but the good so far outweighs the bad, that it’s easy to brush the negative off and keep on going.
I looked back through my old post and had to laugh at the reoccurring theme “I feel like I’ve been going non-stop”. Well, I haven’t had a single chance to say I’m board this year!
At this moment everyone is well, people and animals alike. Jacko has had ups and downs over the past month, but we keep working with him and he is responding by growing bigger every day. Only four more months (or so) of bottle feeding, then he gets to feed himself!
As a result of Daisy’s reoccurring back issues, she was put on a diet and is down to a svelte 12.3 pounds. We’re excited, she’s just hungry. Poor thing is wasting away to nothing. I hate to be the one to break it to her that she has another pound or so to lose to be back to “normal” for a miniature dachshund.
I started breeding some of the girls earlier this month, and discovered that some of my supposedly pregnant girls weren’t. Oh well, we’ll just try it again. The boys don’t mind.
So tonight, I’ll try my best to stay up to midnight (remember, I get my butt out of bed at 3:30 in the morning, 7:00 is late for me) to ring in the new year, but chances are, I’ll claim East Coast rights, and when the ball drops in Time Square, the New Year begins. That means I get to go to bed a 10:00…if I make it that long.
So here’s hoping the New Year finds everyone happy and healthy and may only good things come your way!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Year end rush

Whew! It feels like we’ve been going non-stop since October. Hmm, probably because we have.
Things started to get really crazy right after Jacko was born. Unfortunately, he got very ill and we nearly lost him. Our vet diagnosed septicemia, a very dangerous blood infection. The poor little guy must have felt like a pin cushion as we threw an army of medication at him.
He was diagnosed on a Wednesday and I had to leave Friday for Alpacafest west. I truly feared that he would not be here when I got home and wanted to cancel the trip and stay with him. My mother-in-law, Dot, really came through, she took over Jacko’s care and up-dated me every day on his progress while I was gone. He responded so well, that I actually got to relax and enjoy myself in L.A.
A shawl that I entered in their fiber arts contest won first place, and Aries came home with a third place ribbon in his class

Not only did Jacko survive the weekend, he looked 1000 times improved on Monday.
Then Tuesday came. I found Jacko in the morning limp and unresponsive. We ran him back to the vets where he was transfused. He had developed acute diarrhea and it was taking its toll on him. Again Dot came through. While I went off to work, she was over every hour and a half making sure Jacko got fed and received additional fluids, meds, anything we could think of. Then I took over for early morning and late night feedings. It was touch and go for a good week, then he slowly began to make progress.
Now he’s a bouncing happy cria, a bit small for his age, but making up ground quickly. We still have to bottle feed him, and I think it may be a permanent situation (well for the next four and a half months or so, anyway), but we have no doubts that he will grow into a big stapping male.

Dot took over feeding every time I left town, which seemed to happen often these past two months. One trip was up to Singletree Alpacas for their annual Christmas Boutique. It’s always great to see all my friends up there
and I look forward to this trip every year as a “girls” weekend. We work our butts off, but its well worth the effort.

Then we had our second annual open house down at our place. It was huge success, with easily twice as many people coming out as last year. Some driving way cool rods (Lloyd, you show-off!)
Hopefully it will only keep growing. Many thanks to all me “peeps” that came out to help make it the success it was.
Now maybe I can take a deep breath, relax and get back to my loom!

Friday, November 7, 2008

JMS Alpacas Open House

Hey gang!
Want something fun to do next weekend? JMS Alpacas is having an open house Nov 15th. To get the details, drop them a line.
17001 W. Hopi Dr.
Casa Grande, AZ 85222-9362
(520) 836-0637
(321) 223-6895

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Introducing Jacko

Another busy week is behind us. Most of this week we were distracted, taking care of our ill dog, who is doing much better now. Imagine my surprise when I got home Friday to find Momo with a cria. The little guy couldn’t have been there long, he was still damp. I find that the births I don’t witness tend to be the easiest on me. Of course, I’m pretty much a big weenie.
Since the cria was born on October 31, we’ve been trying to come up with good Halloween names. For the time being, we’re calling him Jacko, short for Jack O’ Lantern. Though sometimes we just call him Pumpkin.
I went to my second Desert Weavers guild meeting, and made out like a bandit. I won two of the raffle lots that they do each month. I’m already plotting on what I can do with it. I see a whole lot of scarves in my future!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tucson Wool Festival

We were at the Tucson Wool Festival this past weekend. I had a great time. I met so many wonderful people and managed to get a little Christmas shopping done. Pat came with me and helped get set up and man the booth. I don’t think I would have managed without her. And now I possess her secret knowledge of how to put up and easy up tent with only two people.
We stayed pretty busy most of the day and at one point and such a crowd at our booth that one woman asked if she could walk around with her yarn and come back and pay later after the crowd had dispersed a little. It’s nice to feel wanted
The yarn seemed to be the big seller at this event which seems natural enough. I’m almost completely out of my hand painted alpaca and silk blend. Unfortunately, it’s commercially spun and the company I was getting it from had since stopped carrying it, so I’ll have to find a new source. Once I do, I’ll have to plan on spending the winter months with the crock pots going, getting my stash built back up.
Next big event for me will be Alpacafest West next month. I’ll be there with three of the boys. Mean while, Pat will be hosting her open house the same weekend and she has asked for a “care package” of products to offer for sale. I’m not quite to the point of cloning myself, but I’m getting there.
Next year’s Wool Festival will be held October 17, same place (Kathy Wither’s farm,, so mark your calendars!

Monday, October 13, 2008

a new camera

Momo and gang
Heilo and Adama

Well, the old camera insist on not being found, so Brian bought me a new one. I have been happily messing around with it all weekend, trying out various settings. What I like best about this camera is that it has a "you're an idiot, let us take care of everything" setting that is just perfect for my level of camera knowledge (ie: none).

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pinetop Fall Festival and other stuff!

Where is the time going! I need 48 hour days just to keep up!
The Pinetop-Lakeside Fall festival is behind us. It was so much fun, and soooo much work. The event got off to a shaky start when a micro burst hit the soccer field Friday night. We faired ok, but about a dozen exhibitors had their tents picked up and tossed around by the wind. We stuck around to help pick up the carnage and by Saturday morning, replacement tents had been found and the affected vendors where back in business.
The socks where a HUGE success. We’ll certainly be sending fleece out again to have more made after the New Year. We also sold a ton of scarves, yarn, roving, and purses. It seemed at least a little of everything went. I’m going to have to get the web store updated, since some of those items have now found new homes. I’m busy at the loom making more!
The only bummer of the weekend was that I seem to have miss placed my camera. It was sitting there while we were packing up, and I suspect it got tossed into a box, but I haven’t figured out which one yet. Oh well, you’ll just have to imagine how AWSOME our booth looked.
Last weekend I went to my very first Arizona Desert Spinners and Weavers Guild meeting. I have to say, I found very insightful and inspirational. I came home with an idea on how to make some felt ear rings. My mother-in-law has been helping me with some of the experimental felting. I think I’ll have to bring some fleece along on our trip next weekend and get the kids involved. Then I’ll just sit back and watch all the work being done. How very Tom Sawyer.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New Mexico State Fair

Ok, just a brief pause to come up for air, things are, ah, crazy right now.

We almost didn't make it to New Mexico. Our Ram decided to die the night before we left (bad fuel pump!) and the Dakota is running on slicks these days, so for safty sake, it wasn't an option. We ended up borrowing a truck and a trailer and off we went.
The show was fabulous. Even Brian had a good time. Heilo brought home a pretty green ribbon, which we where thrilled with. Even at the small shows, white/light is an amazingly competative class, so any ribbon is a possative statement on your breeding program. Unfortunatley, every single picture I took was totally blury. hmmm, can't be the operator, must be the camera...

I'll have another opertunity for photos in November when Heilo, Aries and O. go to Alpacafest West in L.A. Rather I'd BETTER get some photos, or Heilo's new half owner (my mom) will have my hide.
A.F.W. is also having a People's Choice Fiber Arts Contest which should be fun. I just have to decide what to pull from my stash of finished projects to enter.

Before all that though will be the Pinetop-Lakeside Artisian Festival this weekend. So I'll be rushing home after work (don't even get me started on what a rotten work week this has been! suffise to say that I won the showdown between me and my computer, but not by much)load up the truck and be ready to hit the road a 3 a.m.

whooo, I'm going to have to schedule a vacation to recover from all this action!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What? The AC is out AGAIN??????

Summer is almost over, thank goodness. It’s been a rough one.
Not for the animals, they took it all in stride, but the electronics have taken a beating. We’re working on the sixth motor on our AC unit. To be fair, we’re talking about two separate parts, the motor on the condenser out side, and the motor in the blower inside, but we did blow up four blower motors in the span of one week.
We witnessed one of the most spectacular lighting storms I have ever seen, which was to precursor to the demise of the first blower motor. Lightning hit the pole in front of the house. It’s a fairly creepy feeling to be standing in the dark asking “do you smell smoke?”
Motor number two was the replacement we bought the following day. We didn’t notice it was a 1/3 hp motor, when the one we took out was a ¾ hp. It lasted about 15 seconds before flames were shooting out of that one. (ok, I exaggerate a little, it was actually a fairly small flame…)
Motor number three blew after we called the AC repair guy back (we were now enlisting professional help) because the blower fan wouldn’t shut off… ever (but the house was nice and cool). Apparently there was a short in the capacitor and when he hooked the ground up (which he neglected to do the first time), well you guessed it, flames.
So, now with a new capacitor and some new relays, motor number four seems to be holding its own. Of course, we lost power again last night. APS hates us and wants us to suffer.
The generators are getting a work out this year.
On other repair news, we kept busting a water line to one of the swamp coolers, but we have since replace the entire thing and I hope that will be settled for awhile.

Ok, so it hasn’t been all bad, our terri socks arrived from the mill and I have to say I am extremely pleased with the results. Our cable socks are on their way, and I expect the crew socks by the end of the month.
I’ve been busy at the loom. I’ll be attending a craft show in two weeks and have been trying to get as much done as possible before the big weekend.
I’ve also been busy halter training Adama and Heilo before the New Mexico State Fair. I think this will be a good place to get the boys started in shows. Here’s hoping they don’t knock me on my butt.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

dog days of summer

Ok, I’m finally tired of summer. The weather is just teasing us now, giving us a day of 97 degree temps, followed by a day of 108. Though last night we had a little monsoon action from tropical storm somebody or another, which produced a 20 degree drop in the evening. The alpacas actually pried themselves away from the swamp coolers and fans to go graze on the tiny smattering of grass that we have left. They even felt good enough to get a short pronk going.

On the craft front, I finished my guanaco and silk scarf and started warping the loom for another scarf. This one is a departure from most of my others in that I’m using a lot of color instead to texture. It’s all baby alpaca, hand dyed in blues and purples. And I have already learned a very, very important lesson: double check the amounts of yarn needed before you put it in the dye. That’s right folks! I calculated what I would need for the warp and forgot to add in the weft. Can you tell I use math for a living? Oh well, I’ll just dye up some more and have yet another, slightly different color, yarn to add to the mix. It’ll all work out, you’ll see.

I also finished up some novelty yarn I had been working on. It’s kind of funky and REALLY bright. Not sure what I’ll do with it yet, oh well, I have time to figure it out.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sonoran desert toads

Ok, for years now I’ve been telling the gang back east about the toads we have out here during monsoon. I always say they’re the size of dinner plates, and I always get the same response: “sure they are, Claud, been sipping that wine again have you?”
Well now I have proof! One of the big ones has taken up to bathing in poor old Lonesome’s water bowl every night. Last night I brought him up into the light and got a picture. I even got the ruler in there so you can all see that I am not, in fact, exaggerating. The things are HUGE!
They are also fairly toxic.
I’m told they contain two types of toxin in their skin. One is fairly nasty and can kill a full size dog; the other is some sort of hallucinogen. Apparently it’s quite the trip to lick the toad, but don’t eat it.
I’ve no worries about any of the humans or alpacas messing with the toads, but our pit bull-healer-billy goat mix is addicted. Every morning it’s the same thing: “Molly, leave the toad alone. Molly, I said leave it. MOLLY! Get away from the stupid toad!”
Of course by now, the idiot dog is seeing sounds and hearing colors and apparently enjoying it because her tail never stops wagging. Then she jumps on the dachshund, which is on a more straight and narrow path in life. If you can’t eat it, what’s the point, is Daisy’s motto. Anyway, Molly gets bit for efforts on getting Daisy to play. It works for them.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I love a contest!

I just got Georgia Mountains new newsletter, and I'm thrilled to see that their partners, Amia Yarn Company is having a contest! I love a contest. All you need to do is go to their blog ( and it will instruct you on how to enter the drawing up to THREE times.
Whoohooo, prizes.

Ok, must go finish entering. Good luck everybody!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Another weekend behind us. It was a most productive weekend, fleece wise. Pat and Linda came out on Sunday and we spent the morning out in the shop working away. It’s always more fun to work with company, though Pat was rather quick to point out that it was the most humid day of the year. But we’ll let her grumble, because she brought us lunch! Yeah Pat!

I ‘m still playing with dyes and techniques. I solar dyed some yarn for a scarf project I’ve got in the back of my head. Then I put some white batts in the exhaust and set those out to cook in the sun. I also got some onion skin dye started and picked a bucket full of prickly pears to get a dye started in pink. The prickly pear dye is fermenting in my laundry room. It will be interesting to see how that turns out.

I have a new scarf on the loom. All I need to do is press the last one and it’s done. Plus I’ve finished spinning the silk that will be the warp for the guanaco and silk scarf I plan to start when this current one is finished.

The weekend ended with a pretty good size monsoon storm rolling through. Of course I forgot I had a fleece out on the drying rack until the very last minute, which had me and Brian running out in the rain and dust to get it into the shop before it blew all the way to Mesa. Oh well, I may have to rewash that one.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Happy July! Summer is well and truly here, as we've been at over 110 degrees for the last half of June. Temperatures are starting to come done now as the humidity is increasing. Which can only mean one thing: Monsoon is HERE! Last years was one of the driest on record, so lets hope for a little rain this year.

We took off for the long weekend and headed up to Northern Arizona, to a place called Clint Wells. For those of you that think Arizona is just one giant desert, I have proof that there are wet, green areas. You just have to go looking for them. We spent an afternoon playing down in Clear Creek catching crayfish. The crayfish have taken over much of the riparian habitats in Arizona and are actually killing off native species of fish, so we have the Az Dept of Game an Fish's blessing to remove them from the streams. Which we did. And then we ate them. Tasty.

Meanwhile, back at the farm, the alpacas are hanging out by the fans and swamp coolers. They get belly hosings a couple of times a day to help with keeping them cool. Though some times I wonder if we aren't actually making it worse as each time they get wet, they run right out into the sun and start sun bathing. Everybody except Vela, one of our little borders has discovered the fun of playing in the hose. As far as Vela is concerned it's nothing but a giant green snake spitting venom at her. Make a mud puddle, however, and she runs right over and starts to do a happy dance in it. I have really got to catch in video since it's hysterical to watch. She literally gets in the middle and just starts stomping all four feet making the mud splash all around her. Kids.

The only other excitement around here was finding Aries in with all the girls this morning. I'm guessing her rolled under the fence since all the gates were still latched. I don't think he got into any trouble, but at 17 months old, it's not impossible. Um, hey Linda, remember all those open girls you left over here....?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Happy Tuesday

We're back. It's been a rough couple of weeks with the tragic loss of two of our girls. It threw us down for awhile, but we're a resilient bunch around here. I took a little of my own advise and have been spending a great deal of time with the alpacas. These are some of the most therapeutic animals on the face of this plant, in my own humble opinion. You simply can't stay down when you're around them, especially when one of the crias has discovered your toes and believes they must be some sort of exotic treat. Alpacas may have no top teeth, but it still smarts when one nips you.

I've also thrown myself into sorting fleeces. I've only got 30 days left to finish skirting show fleeces. I've got seven more to go between mine and Linda's. Then I've got to get them boxed up and off to the ACFNA fleece show in Colorado.

And we have a new product that we've been designing packaging for. Introducing.... Alpaca Poo Tea! We've been accepted on a nation wide ag site,, and have submitted our request to sell this wonderful all natural fertilizer. We should know in a couple of days if we're in. Plus we'll get it on our own website with the next up date which should be ready to go up next month.

Well, that's all for now.

Monday, May 12, 2008

introducing J.J.

So, we have another mouth to feed. And judging from his girth, that may be no easy task. This stray, now dubbed J.J., showed up last week. All our attempts at finding his owner have been amazingly unsuccessful, which was a bit surprising as he obviously had been well cared for. After two nights of sleeping on our front porch, Brian took pity on him and into the house he came.
There where some minor jealousy issues from Molly, but once she figured out J.J. had no interest in sitting on my lap, she accepted his presence. Daisy never cared one way or the other what the new dog was doing. She is supremely confident in her position as queen over all. For the first couple of days, J.J. just ignored the alpacas, but Molly has now shown him that oh-so-fun game of charging the fence to make the alpacas run. Great, now I have to attempt to train another one that this isn’t a game we like to play. I’ve only been marginally successful in getting Molly to stop. I had better luck with just desensitizing the alpacas to her attempts. Now they only run from Molly when they feel like it, but J.J. is obviously a much more vicious and frightening creature. Besides, he barks while he’s running, they’re not use to that.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Free time ahead!

Whew! I feel like I’ve been going non-stop for the last eight weeks. Well it’s finally all behind us. The last alpaca has been sheared, I have learned the secrets of spinning novelty yarn and the Pima County 4H fair is a pleasant memory.
We even have the rugs back from Texas, now. They came out beautifully, but then, I expected nothing less from Ingrid’s.
These 3’ x 5’ rugs are 100% natural, made from the fleeces of our own alpacas and woven right here in the Southwest. They have a delightful southwest theme and would fit right in, in any ranch house or cabin. We’ll be getting those up on our website soon.
The spinning class was quite the success, with many “ah-ha” moments. I’m anxious to try my hand at some more novelty yarn and have been busy clearing the back log of spinning I’ve promised other people.
I’ve also been playing around with some different dye techniques and hopefully will be incorporating those fibers into some spinning and weaving projects.But mostly, I’m going to take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy a little down time for a day or two.

Monday, April 14, 2008

shear magic!

Shearing time is upon us again! Friday we where joined by three other farms as a local shearer went to work on our alpacas (thanks Paul!). Of course I meant to get pictures, but, uh, well I forgot, so no visual aids for this blog. I’ll post some post-shearing photos of the gang in while.
We just had Paul shear out three yearling boys, as we may want to show their fleeces this year and he gets the fleece off so much prettier than we do. Saturday and Sunday, Brian and I went to work on the rest of the herd. We decided this year to just take our time and do a couple of animals each day and spread the shearing out over several weekends. We managed to get all the boys finished and about half the girls, and still had time to go out for lunch on Sunday. Next weekend we’ll finish up the girls and maybe get the crias done. Then it’s skirting and sorting and deciding what fleece will end up as what finished product! I love this time of year.

In between all this, I’ve been busy with my goal of clearing out the backlog of fleeces from previous years. My plan is to not have any stray old fleeces lying around with no purpose. To that end, I’ve been getting a batch ready to send out to be made into socks. Hopefully we’ll get those back in time for this years holiday season. I also will be sorting through all those bags of seconds that have been piling up, in the hopes of getting some rugs made. The test run is just about ready and we should be seeing the first rugs back in the next couple of weeks. I can’t wait.
We’re also exploring a possible felting project. And of course, we’ll be spinning up as many of the ultra fine royal baby fleeces as we can!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Another exciting day at the farm, Reba and Zoe returned home from breeding. I had every intent on isolating them from the rest of the hers for a few weeks, but, well, it was a long trip and I had a major headache, and well, I forgot. So much for bio-security.

Adama was fascinated by Reba and spent the whole evening chasing her, much to Reba’s dismay. Though by this morning it was more a mutual run rather than a chase, as Reba, Zoe and the three crias where off on a full out pronk at 4:00 this morning.

Just so you know, no one, including alpacas, should have that much energy that early in the morning!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dye Day

some of the days results

Well Happy Dye Day! Our first ever hand painted dye class was held this weekend. I worked myself to the bone getting ready, on the heels of getting over a bit of a cold, and ended up flat on my butt for Sunday. But it was all worth it as we turned out a ton of beautiful, colorful yarn and roving.

Nancy was amazing and so very patient with all of us. And Molly the dog supervised all of the days activities. I’d say it was a successful class, and conducted with a minimum of dye on us (except for Jennifer, who’s hands may never stop being blue). I know I learned a lot.

After everyone left, I still had an iota of energy, so My mother-in-law Dot and I finished dyeing the left over yarn and roving. Hmmmm, now I need to decide what to do with all this yarn…

That winds up March. Now we need to gather our strength for April which will be a very busy month for us. We start on the 11th with Paul Sands, coming down to do some shearing for us. We’ll only have our three yearling boys to do, but there are three other farms bringing alpacas to be shorn. Then on the 18th I’m heading down to Tucson to take a class on spinning novelty yarn. Hopefully the new drive band for my spinning wheel shows up before then, or it may end up being a very challenging class. Finally on the 25th I’ll be judging the Pima County Fair 4-H alpaca show. I’ve even prepared a mystery obstacle for the kids and alpacas. I love a challenge!

In between all this, I have to get the rest of the alpacas shorn. Then comes the fun part of figuring out what to do with all our fleeces this year!
I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

poo vac

still learning how to add text

Ok folks, you asked for it and here it is… the amazing poo vac.

All you need for parts are a 55-gallon trash barrel, a yard leaf blower/vac and some flexible tubing (oh and calk of some sort to seal the connections, but I forgot to ask if there was a particular kind.)

Cut a hole in one side to mount the yard vac. The one we bought has a quick disconnect, which makes it easy to start on the ground (for those with short arms like me) and then connect to the can.
We used an old pair of panty hose to cover the air intake on the inside of the can.
Next cut a hole on the opposite side of the can for the hose connection.
Viola, you’re done.

Some notes after using this for about a week. At full throttle, the lid of the can sucks in and can break the seal. We think reinforcing the lid will prevent this. We’re going to try cutting a piece of styrofoam to fit up in the to prevent the lid from bending and keeping the whole thing lightweight. Some other thoughts were to ad wooden reinforcement bars to the lid or some sort of angle iron.
Widen the wheels. This works great on flat ground, but can get a bit tippy when you go baha with it.
And finally, it works great in beans, but you need to break up any clumpy stuff or it will clog the hose. We used a 2.5” hose; Brian thinks if we go to a larger hose, this will be prevented (and may also solve the issue of the lid seal.)
Hope this helps everyone.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

2008 Southwest Reg. Alpaca Show

Well that appears to have worked, photo and all. It appears that I have finally made it to the 21st century. Now I just need to get my web designer, Genia, to get it linked to the web site…

We’re back from the 2008 Southwest Regional Alpaca Show in Phoenix. I had a great time! And came home exhausted, as usual. I love meeting new people and getting to catch up with old friends.
Aries did quite well for himself. We took a fourth in our class. Aries was the youngest in the class and we got dinged a little for that. The judge said she would like to see him grow into himself. This fall we’ll be back on the show track and we’ll see what happens!

I set up my little P.G. electric carder and did some demos at our booth. I had the spinning wheel there too, but didn’t get to use it much.

Now that the show is behind us, we’ll be focusing on a dyeing workshop that we’re hosting at our place at the end of the month. There’s never a dull moment around here!


Well, this is a test, this is only a test, where this an emergency....

You know the rest.

I've never blogged and I'm not good with anything techno, so I have no idea what I'm doing and just want to see what happens.