Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Busy, busy busy!

Whew! What a month. It’s been nonstop since before Thanksgiving, but I think we may be able to relax a little now. It started with the Holiday Boutique up at Singletree Alpacas. It’s always good to see familiar faces and we weren’t disappointed. A good crowd braved the wind and the cold to come visit the alpacas and do a little shopping.
Then we had our open house. It was our third and the crowd gets bigger every year. This year we had a contest to name our newest cria. Congratulations to Jack K. for his winning suggestion of Alpacazona’s Cartigan. Now when we knit sweaters from the little guys fleece, we’ll have Cartigan’s cardigans.
After that, we had double duty; we packed up all our product to head to an event in Flagstaff, and we packed up ourselves to take Omega to TX, where he had a couple of hot dates planned. While we were in TX we stopped by Ingrid’s Rugs to drop 150 pounds of fleece and take a tour of the mill. The machinery was fascinating and I wish that we had more time to watch and poke around, but the long drive back to Arizona awaited us.
Now after a good night’s sleep, I have finally looked at the calendar and realized that Christmas is right around the corner and I haven’t done a lick of Christmas shopping. So all my family back east will be getting New Years presents and I’m implementing a new tradition: Merry February cards.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Well, we can check one thing off the to-do list. Godiva had her cria yesterday, a boy, medium brownish, not as red as her. We weren’t planning on him arriving so soon, and as part of our open house next month, we’re having a “name the cria” contest. Sooooo, for the next four weeks we get to call him Little Whats-his-name. How undignified.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Happy late birthday Jacko!

Halloween was Jacks 1st birthday. Boy has he come a long way. Hard to believe that this feisty little boy was so frail and sick when he was born. He’s still small for his age, something that is doubly noticeable because Sunny is so big for his. Both boys are doing great.

Legend came home this weekend. We have a smaller pen set up for him with beefier fencing than the rest of the alpacas get, since he doesn’t play well with others. No matter where the other alpacas are, he can always see at least some of them. So far he seems quite content with arrangement since he doesn’t have to share his food bowl with anyone else. This works out well for me too, since he has become quite a porker, and I can keep very close tabs on the amount of food he is getting. He doesn’t know it, but he just went on a diet.

As for happenings this month, this weekend is the open house at JMS Alpaca Farm in Casa Grande. We’ll be over there with our products. Thanksgiving weekend we’ll be up in Chino Valley for Singletree Alpaca’s holiday boutique.

And last but not least, Godiva is due this month. Sometime around mid November, so I figure only another 2 weeks or so. Think pink! We’re due for a girl!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Momo's recovery

Momo is nearly back to her old self. Just 24 hours after she delivered the still born cria, her neurological symptoms had nearly disappeared. We’ll probably never know what really went wrong, but at least Momo will be with us for some time to come!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What a month! This is going to be one that goes down into the category of “not so good”. Not that it’s all bad; we participated in the Tucson Wool Festival and had a great time. The down side to that event was we broke a record for high temperatures that day and I was sitting in the full sun doing carding demonstrations. At least I had my big floppy hat on to protect my face and neck.

On the down side of the month, Momo, our girl bred to Donny, went down late last week. One of the most difficult things to deal with when you have a sick animal, is that you can’t just ask them what’s wrong, where does it hurt. You have to start slowly eliminating causes to the problem (well, we know what it isn’t…) and as you slowly check thing off your list. You begin to realize just how many things it could still be.

Momo, presented with neurological symptoms, but it only affected her legs. No head tilt, no neck tremors. One of the options tossed out was that the cria she was carrying (she was due in six weeks) was pressing on a nerve, farfetched, but plausible. We immediately started her on vitamin B in case we were dealing with polio. But again, her appetite had been good and that usually affects animals that aren’t eating and their rumen is being compromised.

Four days in she stopped eating with her usual gusto. We could still coax her into eating a little, but not nearly enough, so we started force feeding a product called FibRevive. We mixed it up into a watery gruel and gave it to her in a turkey baster. She took it readily enough. At this point she was walking like a drunk, when she would get u at all. Several days I went to bed thinking I would find her body in the morning. We started considering if it wouldn’t be best to have her humanly put down.
Then Sunday night she perked up and started eating a little more on her own. Hope is restored!

Then Monday came. She seemed more restless in the morning, but she was still eating. I got a call at work a couple of hours later. Momo was in labor. I immediately left for home, called another breeder who lives nearby to go over and check the situation and then called our vet. Normally I wouldn’t have Linda come out just for a birth, but my gut told me we would need her. Sure enough, Pat called me a few minutes later to tell me that “the part that comes last is coming first”.

A detached placenta. Hopes of saving the cria are dashed.

Long story short, the cria had been dead for some time and her head was turned back so that Linda had to go in and get the cria out. It was a light colored little girl. She seemed fairly under developed for the gestation length, so maybe something had been going wrong for a long time and we just had signs of it at the very end.

This morning, Momo got up with the rest of the herd and came up to the barn. She even stood and let Jack nurse for a few minutes. Jack will be a year old in two weeks and really has no business nursing at all, but I just watched and let him stay as long as Momo was willing. Then she went back out to the field, found a comfortable spot and kushed. I brought hay out to her and she was eating readily enough when I left. Maybe we’ve turned the corner with her. We’ve decided we won’t breed her again, she’s had at least six pregnancies and has only two surviving cria, one of which being Jack, who is here only through heroic effort. We won’t put her through that again; she can spend her days being auntie Momo to the other crias. She’s earned it.

A quite moment, Brian and the dogs.

Adama's new trick

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pinetop Art Fest and Education

Well, Pinetop was a success. We got started right out of the gate Friday night and stayed busy enough that I didn’t notice I was freezing my a** off until the last hour of the show. The joke as we packed up for the night was that now would be a bad time to find out the heater doesn’t work in the new van (you just don’t think to test these things when it’s 110 degrees). Good news! The heater does indeed work.

The soaps where a big hit! We sold so many Friday and Saturday that we had to raid Cheryl’s stash for Sunday. Cheryl was game enough to stay up late Saturday decorating the new soaps, I wussed out and went to bed.

This past weekend was set aside for education. We attended an all day seminar on marketing farm products put on by Ellie Winslow, author of “Beyond the Sidewalk”. Ellie’s books focus on rural businesses and the unique situations we face. It was extremely informative, and hopefully I’ll be able to put some of the things I learned into practice.

Now we will turn our focus to the Tucson Wool Festival to be held Oct 17. You can find more info here: I really enjoyed this one last year.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tufa pots and soap

Only days away from our first craft show of the year. We’ll be heading for Pinetop on Friday and I have to say we are both looking forward to a couple of days away from the heat. I wish the alpacas could come with us. I know they must be getting just as sick of the 100 plus temps. On the positive side, the evenings are defiantly cooling down and the animals have been responding to that by leaving the comfort of the fans and coolers early in the evening and browsing the pastures. I even caught them at quick pronk.
I’ve been trying out some new projects; felted soap and tufa pots. Tufa is a type of porous stone that is used for making planters. A fake version can be made using a cement mix. We further modified the recipe to use items available around the property and I made a couple of pots. The results were less than satisfactory. I think I made the mix too wet so the sides kept slumping down. Genius that I am, I used a big glass mason jar wrapped in plastic to keep the center open. Ever try to chisel a glass jar out of a lump of concrete? The jar survived, the pot, not so much. My second attempt I used dirt to fill the center. That one came out a bit better, but it’s still pretty ugly, a pot only a mother could love.
Not one to be easily discouraged, I’m already making plans for how I will change the next batch.
The soap came out much better, though Brian is a bit dubious about it (people are grossed out by a hair on soap, and you cover the whole thing with it???? He can be so supportive.) Even dressing them up and displaying them nicely did little to change his mind.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Pinetop-Lakeside Art show and other odds and ends

Hi again. I’ve been remiss in keeping up with the blog. It’s getting to be that busy time of year again. I’ve been spending most of my time getting all the odds and ends projects finished up for the upcoming show in Pinetop. I hadn’t realized just who many different projects I had worked on over this summer until I started trying to get them packed up. Hopefully I’ll come home with a few less, but no matter what, I’m looking forward to this show. We have several people coming to demonstrate different fiber arts. There should be at least one person spinning every day, plus we’ll have to drum carders that the public can play with and I’ll have a small frame loom if anyone wants to try their hand at weaving.
The show info from the Pinetop-Lakeside Chamber of Commerce website:
Sep 26, 2009-34th Annual Fall Artisan`s Festival 9-4 pm both days $2 admission
Located at the Mountain Meadow Recreation Complex
Contact Information: Ruth McBride @ 928-367-4290

For all the people that have been wondering, Luc has recovered from his heat stress and no longer gets his daily dip in the pool. Go Luc!

Yet another project, here is some bamboo I spun and dyed. For some reason, I ended up with just about as much dye on me as on the yarn. Apparently I was in slob mode.

Monday, August 17, 2009

heat stress, aqua-cows and the downer alpaca

Heat is something that is always on our minds in this area. Unfortunately, this year has been a bad one for the camilids and I know of four animals that have gone down to heat stress. Two of those did not survive. The other two are hanging in there, but recovery has traditionally been a very slow process.
On Friday, I got a call from my vet, who is treating one of the heat victims. She asked if we could build her an “aqua-cow”. To which I replied, of course we can; what the hell is an aqua-cow?
Basically, she needed a tank with the front open so the alpaca could be easily placed in, then water can slowly be added to the tank until the alpaca is being supported by the water. With heat stress, the animals will go down and not rise again for some times weeks. During this period the leg muscles will weaken considerable and this starts a whole host of other problems for the animals. The tank allows for hydro therapy of the leg muscles.
It took us a day, but we had an emergency test tank by Saturday evening. We brought it to Linda without knowing if it would hold water. It didn’t, but the water seeped out slower than it filled, so it works for the time being. Mean while, plans are being drawn up for the next version, when we have more time to build and find parts.
We’ve used it twice. The first time the alpaca seemed a little concerned that we were trying to drown him, but never got panicky. The second time, he was quite accepting and actually managed to maneuver his legs quite a bit. He wouldn’t support himself at all when we placed him in the tank. On the way back to his pen, he actually tried to brace his legs some. Hopefully, continued therapy will reduce healing time, and our little patient can soon rejoin his herd.

Monday, July 20, 2009

dust, dust and more dust

Monsoon finally kicked in with a vengeance. Friday night brought us our first dust storm of the season. This one was a bit unusual in that the winds kept up for hours. Normally a dust storm will have a “face”, the initial wall of dust and wind that passes pretty quick. Then if you happen to be in the actual path of the storm generating the winds, you may get rain. We didn’t get a drop. We did get some pretty hard wind, however, and we lost a power pole. We were without power for about six hours, which when it’s over 100 degrees out, can be fairly uncomfortable.
Saturday we got the second dust storm. This one behaved more typically with the initial burst of wind passing rather quickly. It stuck around longer enough to take down four more power poles (SRP is not happy) and scattered some yarn that I was dying, across the yard. I’m still trying to untangle that mess! This time we got a little bit of rain, but not much.
Sunday night’s dust storm stayed mostly to the east of us and we just got a little bit of dust.
I’m ready for the dust storms to stop now!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lazy days of Summer

The heat is on. I always know when Summer is officially here because the girls move their poo pile to the breezeway between the barns. With their food there and the cooled water from the swamp cooler, they now never have to leave the shade at any point of the day. So for the next eight weeks or so, we all, animal and human alike, hunker down and try to minimize the amount of time we have to spend doing any kind of activity during the heat of the day. The people get up early and try to do all the heavy lifting in the early morning hours. You’d be amazed how much you can get done between the hours of six and nine.

Jacko figured out this weekend that the fences around the trees are really just suggestions, rather than commands. He got himself into one of the tree wells and started snacking on the grass growing at the base of the tree. .

When I found him, he was kushed into the cool dirt (I had just watered a few days before) enjoying the shade and a snack. For good measure, he got a nice long roll in before he got back out and ran back to the barn where everybody else was.

We also learned over the Fourth of July weekend, that alpacas enjoy water melon and the girls got to enjoy a sweet, cool treat

Monday, June 29, 2009

Monsoon has returned. We haven’t had any storms as of yet, but the heat and humidity are upon us. It was a chilled 86 degrees when I let the dogs out this morning at 4:00, and it will only get hotter. Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far, we topped out at 113. I heard the average first day at 110+ is June 20, so we managed to hold out a little longer than usual this year. I just hope we don’t have a run like we did two years ago when we had 110+ degree temps for over 30 days. That’s a long time to be that hot. As the humidity goes up, the temperature will come down slightly, but that is little comfort as the air just feels thick and hard to breath. The good news is, we only have to deal with this for 6-8 weeks or so, and then we can go back to bragging weather.
The alpacas spend most of their time sitting in front of the fans. We go out periodically and hose off bellies to try and help them stay cool, though sometimes I wonder if this really helps at all, as once I’m done spraying, they all run right out into the blazing sun and start sunbathing. Maybe it would be better just to leave them along so they stay in the shade. I have the overflows from the swamp coolers going into water buckets, so most of the alpacas do have access to chilled water though out the day. We started doing this last year and I really think it helps.

I’ve been slow to get back to my loom. I warped a project with some thread I got from the guild, and it has issues. After just a couple of inches of weaving, I already had four breaks. At the rate the threads where breaking, I was spending more time repairing the warp than weaving. I finally decided to heck with repairing, I was just going to weave until the darn thing fell off the loom. Wouldn’t you know, I haven’t had a break since. I may end up with a usable length of cloth after all.
The exciting news at the office is they finally started cleaning up the rubble across the street. Now we’re waiting to see if they take down the condemned building next to the rubble while they at it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

snakes, floods and Father's Day

Some weeks, nothing much happens. This is ok, I don’t really need a whole lot of drama going on, and I kind of enjoy a rut once in a while. This week was not one of those weeks.
Nothing huge happened, just a whole lot of little things so that I never had a moment when I wasn’t engaged somehow. The major happening was the axe fell at the day job. We all knew it was coming and in light of the recent economic news, it really wasn’t as bad as could have been. Benefits are soon to be a thing of the past, and our hours have been sort of cut. The boss asked that we self police and if we know our hours aren’t billable, could we please consider not working. Well, of the thirty hours I worked last week, only 5 were billable, so I gave myself Friday off. Unpaid, of course.
It was such an odd feeling to be both completely content as I worked on the yard and out in the shop on fleece, and kind of worried all at the same time. The worry comes more from the fear of the unknown than from any real inability to pay the bills. But I’m a worrier, that’s what I do.
Anyway, I got a lot accomplished with my extra time. Maybe I’ll actually get some landscaping done this year…
Saturday we did some modifying to our hay storage area to make life a little simpler. The hay is stored in a portable stall. It’s under cover, tarps on the sides keep the rain and sun off, and for the most part it works out well. The drawback is the bales have to be brought in one at a time because the door is narrow. Brian’s dad made a frame for the front of the stall to support the roof and he and Brian removed the front panel. Now the hay can be stacked on pallets, brought over with the fork lift and placed right into the storage area, thereby cutting our work in half (and by our work, I mean Brian’s since I can’t lift a bale, much less stack them on a pallet)

Much to my dismay, we found another rattle snake by the hay. I have to remember to bring the new ‘snake club’ out to the barn and have it ready to go in case we haven’t seen the last of the rattlers. That’s four we’ve had so far this year between us and the neighbors on either side of us.
We also had a resurgence of Lake Klaus as the water hose to the boys ruptured, pouring a couple of hundred gallons of water on the ground. (maybe we got lucky and all the rattle snakes drowned…) The girls where happy as the hole was on their side of the fence and they got to play in the water squirting out. Of course this happened while Brian and I were out enjoying a lunch date so there was plenty of time for the water to flow.
After I got a temporary fix on that, I broke out the camera to try and get some current photos of Jack and Sunny.
So now I know that Jack is a total camera hound, happy to stop and pose, and Sunny has a knack for getting someone else between him and the camera. The only clear shots I got of Sunny, where in the few moments before he would see me and run over to see if the camera was at all tasty. I have a lot of blurry close ups of his nose. I also managed to get a nice shot of Kinesis,
the female we’re leasing. I’m really looking forward to the cria she is carrying and am all ready driving myself crazy with thinking about how much longer I have to wait!
Sunday I got to chat with my dad for a while (why do men never want to answer the phone) and we had a nice relaxing Father’s Day with Brian’s family. A nice way to wind down an eventful week.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Flagstaff wool festival

Whew! What a busy weekend. Brian and I headed up to the cool pines of Flagstaff for the 18th Annual Wool Festival. We had a great time catching up with old friends and making new ones. We made one special friend in particular. Laura, the granddaughter of one of the vendors, spent quite a bit of time with us. She was a huge help in getting a fleece carded that I had brought with me.
On Sunday, she was even giving instructions to other children on how to card! I think we have a future fiber artist in the making. Still it was good to come home after it was over.
Just remind me I said that when we finally go over 110 degrees here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


So, yesterday I go out to the barn with some fresh minerals, la dee da. I step up into the barn and almost step on a rattle snake! And not four feet away are my four yearling boys sitting in front of the fan!
So I grabbed my herding stick, that was right by the door and beat the snake to death (take that you stupid snake!). Ok so, they actually tell you call someone to come relocate the snake if you come across one, but I have realized a couple of things. One, the snake is not going to stay put until someone comes for it. And two, I’m not going to try and corral a live snake. So sadly, the snake had to give up his life.

You think that's the end of the story? NO! As I was walking into the barn, I noticed Stormy (mature male) sun bathing over in his pasture.
Killing the snake then walking it next door to Jim and coming home took about 20 minutes. When I get back to the barn, Storm hasn't moved.
I take out the hose and start cooling ever body down. I do the girls, I do the younger boys, I start the older boys. Storm hasn't moved this entire time, not so much as an ear flick. I call out to Storm. Nothing. I drop the hose and start walking over to him. As I get closer I can see his lower lip is drooped and crusted with dirt. I scan his side for breathing. Nothing. I start to walk faster, getting a bit scared. Now I can see his whole head and his eyes are open and there is still no sign of motion. I think "crap! The snake got him." I get right up to him and he suddenly LEAPS into the air. I think he squealed, I know I did!

There needs to be some sort of law against alpacas sleeping with their eyes open.

Last Sunday we had a Fiber Fun day over at Pat’s. I brought some dyes and did some hand painted yarns.
We had about 25 people come out throughout the day. Some brought spinning wheels, some brought knitting, some just came to hang out. It was a good time. We even (finally!) got our friend Arline to come out. Her husband took the photos; I especially love the one of Sly trying for a kiss. Don’t be shy Arline, he’s just being friendly!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Well, as you know, the building across the street collapsed some months ago. The building that was next to it is now for sale.
I think they need to try a different marketing approach than putting the for sale sign in the window, especially when you notice the sign above and to the left of the for sale sign…

Friday, May 8, 2009

Bobbin Winder 1.0

Heehee, I have a new toy. I decided that I NEEDED a bobbin winder. What I didn’t need was to spend a hundred bucks on the darn thing.
It was my oh-so-handy father-in-law to the rescue. I vaguely sketched what I wanted, told him what it was suppose to do and viola! The prototype is here!
We’ve been playing with it for the last couple of days and have come up with a few modifications that we might try on Bobbin Winder 2.0, but for the most part, it gets the job done. And I still have $100 in my pocket to go buy myself something pretty.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ah, shearing is behind us for another year. It didn’t happen without its share of drama, our clippers decided to quit working after the first animal was done. I did two more with hand shears before deciding that wasn’t going to fly. So now armed with a new set of clippers, the twelve animals I had to do look, well, funny looking. Though I think they are slightly less odd looking than the two we had done professionally, since I tend to leave the fleece a bit longer on the neck than the pros do. I still have to use hand shears on leg and neck fleece since our clippers wont handle fleece that dense (we’re already asking them to do more than they are technically designed to do, hence the repair job on the first set.) and it can be a bit nerve racking trying to fine where fleece ends and alpaca begins, so I just stay a little further off the neck.
The ones that are done by the pros are taken right down on the neck, so they look like they have these little skinny necks and great big bobble heads to me.

Now to decide what to do with all this fleece. Just when we got use to having a little extra space from sending out last year’s clip. It never ends. Oh well, I do it because I love it!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The latest Open House

Wow! We had an Open House at Linda’s (Mesquite Valley Alpacas) this weekend. It started out a bit slow as it was raining pretty hard, but around 11:00 the rain stopped, the sun broke out and it was a beautiful day! People started showing up and kept us hopping right up until four. I think everyone really enjoyed meeting the alpacas and I know they had fun matching up the yarns and rovings to the animals it came from. I brought my camera, but never actually managed to get it out of its case. Oppsie.
Monday, we’ll be back at Linda’s for shearing. We have over 100 alpacas to get done that day. I’ll have Aries, O, and Heilo there. Plus I’m bringing Dante back (Tyche tells me she is tired of his companionship and he can leave now) and I’ll have Linda’s Spirit. Dante will stay behind, but Spirit will come back with my boys.
Fajita and Posie will be leaving as well. Fajita has found a new home and Linda has room now for Posie. I think I’ll miss those two, I got kind of use to having them around, though I’m sure the girls will be just as happy to not have the compitition for hay and fan space this summer.
I started shearing my guys here and got the younger boys done. This week I’ll be working on the girls and maybe Jacko and Sunny.
Jack and Sunny are growing like weeds. Jack has finally discovered the joys of sweet feed and scarfs down his cup full morning and evening. Sunny still has no interest in the feed but where Jack goes, he goes, so he’s got his nose right down there checking out what Jacks eating. Interestingly, Sunny is extremely friendly for a cria. He likes to have his neck scratched and doesn’t seem to mind being touched while he eats. I wonder if it’s because Jack is so tame. Being bottled fed and handled so much while he was sick has made Jack a very friendly alpaca. I wonder if because Jack doesn’t run or get upset when we hold him, Sunny figures why should he? These are pretty intelligent animals, but can they reason like that?
We’ve started halter training Jack. Because of the extensive handling, we started earlier than we normally do. I want it firmly entrenched in Jacko’s head that we are bigger than him and we are in control, not him, before he is actually bigger than me. He tried to chest butt me once, and I put a quick end to that. He is doing pretty good so far and seems to enjoy looking around as we walk around the yard.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Stand By Me video

There are moments in this life that bring powerful emotions to the fore front; moments when we believe anything is possible; moments when we know we are all part of a greater vision. This morning I had one of these moments. Maybe it was a result of not being fully awake, maybe it’s just “that time of the month” and maybe I’m just a little more aware this morning, but when a co-worker started playing a video on his computer, it stuck a cord in me.
The video is produced by a group called Playing for Change. It showed a street performer in CA playing his guitar and singing “Stand By Me”. As the song progressed, the film producers added in more performers. They traveled the globe layering more and more artist into this film, each adding his or her own unique voice. Then end result is amazing. I’ve heard “Stand By Me” before, it’s a pleasant song, I enjoy it, but I’ve never felt it like this before.
Watch the video yourself, if you’re not moved the way I was, well, then see the opening paragraph and call me in a week; I’m obviously not myself right now!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

There once was a building...

There was a bit of excitment at the office yesterday. The abandoned building across the street suddenly collapsed in on its self. Fortunalty, no one was injured, but seven cars are a bit less shiney, and there are a lot of homless pigeons now.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

2009 SWRAS

Where does the time go? The Southwest Regional Alpaca show is now behind us and as always, we had a good, if exhausting time. The Saturday night banquet had issues, but other than that, I thought everything ran smoothly and Aries came home with another ribbon. I think he would have done better, but the judge commented on wanting his fleece to be finer (it was 18 microns and a deviation of less than 5 at his last shearing) and all I can figure is she was feeling the infamous Arizona dust in there, since I can’t get much finer or more consistent fleece. Oh well, he’ll just be our little secret!
Heilo got a second look by the judge, but in the very competitive white class, we didn’t quite make the cut.
Everybody behaved well for Mom while she had them in the ring, even Vela, who has become infamous for being a stubborn, pig-headed brat. In fact Vela shined for Mom, and took a second in her class. It was pretty funny to see all our jaws drop.
Our newest cria finally got a name. Hence forth he shall be known as Alpacazona’s Sun Runner, aka Sunny. Jack has finally gotten use to this bouncy little interloper and has begun playing back when Sunny jumps him. Poor Sunny, however, hadn’t realized the rules had changed the first time Jack jumped on him and went running back to his momma for safety. Boys will be boys.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

relaxing Sunday mornings

I’ve decided that alpaca births are so much easier on me when I don’t see them. So keeping that in mind, Brian and I went on a long weekend get-away to Sedona last weekend. Tyche was due at any time. I left her in the capable hands of my mom and Brian’s mom and our friend Pat, and with the prediction of ‘she’ll have it on Sunday when we’re out of cell phone range’, off we went.
Sure enough, Sunday afternoon, the cell phone rang. It was Dot; “Tyche is having her baby! And she won’t get up and it’s taking too long! Talk to Pat!”
Pat described the situation to me:
Pat: “Tyche has been in labor for an hour. The baby’s head is already dry!”
Me: “ok, that’s no problem (thinking, an hour doesn’t sound all that long to me to have a baby, but what do I know about the subject). Does the baby look like its distressed?”
Pat: “No, but Tyche won’t get up”
Me: “So?”
Pat: “Doesn’t she need to be standing to have the baby? We can’t make her stand”
Me: “Well if it would make you feel better, go ahead and put a halter on her and get her up.”
Pregnant pause.
Pat: “A halter! That would make it easier.”
Ok, I have to admit, I was kind of giggling at this point.
Me: “Pat, I’m sure everything is ok, you’re doing fine”
And though she didn’t say it, I could hear it in her voice: “Oh sure fine for you, you’re in Sedona!”
My mom is officially over her desire to see an alpaca being born.
Anyway, long and short of it, the cria arrived within ten minutes of the call. So while we were looking at this:

They were looking at him:

A big (20 pounds) boy. He appears to be a light fawn. This is Donnach’s first cria, and he’s a good one. Straight legs, impressive density, good balance so far. I’m a bit bummed that Don has already left for Texas; this little guy has me so impressed.

Now we can turn our focus to the Southwest Regional Alpaca Show in two weeks. It should be fun, and maybe we’ll bring home some more ribbons!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Occasionally, I’m reminded that this really is a small world. Last year, while out doing chores, a car pulled up and the driver asked if he could take some pictures of the alpacas. I saw his small daughter was sitting in the car so asked if she would like to come in and visit with the animals. She spent some time feeding the alpacas while her father snapped pictures.
Fast forward; we pick up a job for a client out near our property. Our client, Mo Sheldon, is in and out of the office. On one particular day, I’m talking to him and all of a sudden, something trips my memory. Mo is the guy who was out with his daughter and son (Benjamin, who I assume was sleeping in the car) visiting all that time ago.
Mo graciously forwarded some of the photos to me and I’m posting my favorite of his daughter, Sarah scooping grain, while the alpacas wait patiently in the background. Or maybe they’re actually keeping an eye on her making sure she doesn’t steal all the pellets. They’re greedy that way.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Winding down

Oh to have a cats life

Well, going back to work after a couple of weeks of a very light schedule has been rather tough. There are still dozens of things around the farm that need to be done. Brian did manage to get the temporary fencing replaced with much nicer permanent stuff, but we still need to set up an area for Legend, who will be coming back at the end of the month. Legend is one of those super alpha males that just wants to knock the snot out of all other males, so he has to get his own “space”. We’ll have him next to the yearling boys, which means we need to reinforce that fence, since he has a tendency to try and climb them.
Have any of you read that alpacas don’t challenge fences? Well I have to amend that to say MOST alpacas don’t challenge fences. Legend just thinks you’re daring him to get to the other side.
Other than that, life has settled down to a pleasant routine. Jacko is doing well and growing strong.

Not bad considering we thought we had lost him at least twice in the past two months. We’ve been doing some breeding and Momo and Godiva have been spitting off. Don has made a couple of field trips to visit a girlfriend and the last time he was out, she treated him so badly. We were all really happy to see that, Don; not so much. Tyche is due in February and then we should be done with crias until next fall. Hopefully ’09 will be a little kinder to us in the breeding department than ’08 was.
Now it’s back to fleece work. I’ve been cleaning and storing away fleece for our next run to the mill. The plan is to have the fleece sent out in February. We’ll see how close we actually get to that mark. Plus there will be time in the shop, carding cria fleeces that can’t go to the mill. So much to do, so little time. Maybe I can train the dogs to sort and card fleece…

See ya later!