Wednesday, December 8, 2010

egg in my face

We had our open house this past weekend. The weather was perfect. We had a good turn out and sales where brisk. I’d say it all went perfectly except for one tiny thing.
Laurel and our friend Sue where over admiring the new crias when Sue gestured me over. She whispered to me: “I know you told me Laurel’s new baby is a girl, but I swear to god I see testicles”


Well Dot told me it was a girl, and in all honesty, I never did look closely, being more concerned with getting the second cria safely delivered. Then working late the next day to make up lost hours and running around getting ready for the open house and….. ok I blew it, Laurel’s girl is really a boy.
We’ve all started calling him George Castanza (there was shrinkage!). Brian went out and bought his mom an Almond Joy and a Mounds to help here remember that Almond Joys have nuts, Mounds don’t. And poor Dot, when we asked if she noticed anything when she dipped the umbilical cord, responded with; “well I dipped something”. That has us rolling on the ground.

Oh well, so much for Laurel thinking we know what we’re doing around here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

a social comment

I have to admit that I’m fairly ambivalent about the whole boarder issue here in Arizona. While I don’t condone illegal entry, I do think the majority of people coming have good intentions. However, there is definitely a problem with the amount of illegal traffic. The following article is from a local news site. The area they are talking about is just a few miles south of my home. This all happened in a one week period. I added it up, they stopped over 5 tons of marijuana. They say for every drug smuggler they stop, three get through. Makes you think.

The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office has been kept busy the last two weeks, disrupting numerous drug and human smuggling operations in the Vekol Valley area southwest of Maricopa. This morning, PCSO spokesman Tim Gaffney released details regarding those cases.
On Wednesday, November 17th, PCSO deputies discovered a 2002 Ford F250 truck driving with no lights in the desert area. The deputies followed the vehicle for a short distance but the truck fled. The vehicle was located a short time later, abandoned. The truck had been reported stolen by a City of Phoenix resident. The rear tail lights were smashed out and he paint was badly damaged as a result of the vehicle being driven through the thick desert brush. The vehicle appeared to have been used to transport illegal aliens.

Deputies attempted to stop a 2000 Chevy minivan, near Interstate 8, the same day. The vehicle fled and was traveling in excess of 100 mph. Deputies backed away from the vehicle because of the dangerous driving. The vehicle was located abandoned a short time later. Deputies followed foot tracks from the vehicle and took an illegal immigrant (age 17) into custody. The van was packed with eleven bundles of marijuana and an additional bundle was located near the suspect.
On Thursday, November 18th, three trucks were observed traveling in a row near I-8. Deputies attempted to stop the vehicles but they split off from each other and began to travel through the desert. The trucks were eventually stopped and the drivers were taken into custody. One of the drivers attempted to escape by jumping into a canal but came out because of the cold water. The vehicles were headed to I-8 to pick up loads of illegal immigrants.
Also that day. deputies observed seven individuals carrying large brown burlap bundles on their back near Interstate 8. As deputies attempted to contact them they fled into the desert. Six of them dropped their backpacks and were able to get away. Ernesto Salazar (age 29) ran with his backpack and was taken into custody. Ernesto told deputies, he was in the United States illegally from Caborca, Mexico. (350 pounds of marijuana was seized.)
Friday, November 19th, PCSO located two abandoned trucks in the desert loaded with marijuana. Both trucks were reported stolen. The trucks contained a total of 3,700 pounds of marijuana.
On Sunday, November 21st, PCSO deputies stopped a Ford Explorer and immediately could smell the odor of marijuana. The vehicle contained ten bundles of marijuana. Three suspects were taken into custody. The total weight of the marijuana was 240 pounds.
Also that day, a vehicle containing seven illegal immigrants was stopped. They were turned over to Border Patrol. And an abandoned truck was located in the desert area with 1,750 lbs of marijuana.
Monday, November 22nd, a Ford F250 was observed driving with no lights near I-8. The vehicle contained approximately fifty (50) illegal immigrants in the cab and bed of the truck. All of the individuals fled when the vehicle was stopped. Six were taken into custody and turned over to Border Patrol. One of the individuals attempted to escape by jumping into a canal and had to be rescued by deputies.
Six subjects were located hiding in a wash near Interstate 8. Deputies also recovered communications equipment and fourteen bundles of marijuana. The total weight of the marijuana was 220 pounds.
Three trucks loaded with 2,035 pounds of marijuana loaded in them were also discovered that day.
On Tuesday, November 23rd, six illegal immigrants were located in a residential neighborhood, with marijuana backpacks, and were taken into custody. The total weight of the marijuana was 246 pounds.
Saturday, November 27th, PCSO was involved with two separate vehicle pursuits. Both trucks eventually stopped and both drivers were taken into custody. The total weight of the marijuana seized was 2,140 pounds.
And on Sunday, November 28th, PCSO was notified of a dead body in the desert. Saul Soto-Aguirre (age 29 of Morellia, Michoacan, Mexico) reported he, the deceased (age 42) and four other individuals had paid a guide $1,300 each to lead them into the United States from Mexico. All of them had been walking for the three days and had not eaten in two days. The victim fell while walking and the remainder of the group and guides continued on. Deputies followed the foot tracks of the other four but they disappeared once they hit I-8. Saul was turned over to Border Patrol.
Pinal County Sheriff Babeu stated, “We will continue to direct as many resources as possible to this area. I have joined my deputies during several of these shifts and continue to see the problems our Pinal County residents are faced with on a daily basis. The men and women of the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office are doing all that we can to help stop the continuous flow of drugs and human trafficking from Mexico.”

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

one boy one girl

Fate had apparently decided I didn’t have enough on my plate yesterday. Molly delivered her cria in the morning. It was a text book delivery. Dot arrived just in time to see the cria hit the ground. She called me at work to give me the news and I called Laurel to let her know her herd had grown by one, a little brown girl.

Then Dot called me back to tell me Inara was now delivering. This was a surprise; Inara wasn’t due for another three weeks or more. After an hour Dot called me back to tell me that we had a head, but there was no further progress. Fearing a dystocia, I gave any pretense of getting anything accomplished and headed home, leaving a message for Linda (our vet) as I walked out the door.

Linda called me back just as I got to the barn. I confirmed the dystocia with her. Thank goodness for Linda, as she was a nice calm voice on the phone talking me through what I had to do. Alpacas, like other livestock, deliver their babies front feet first with the head and neck laying in between. Well our little guy had his legs back and twisted around each other. Once I located the legs, I had to untwist them and then attempt to bring them forward. The first leg actually came out fairly quickly, though it felt like I was in there twisting and pulling and pushing for days. The second leg took a bit longer. I remember, on the verge of panic, saying to Linda that I thought she had said the second leg was easier and her reply of “No, I said your half way there. Don’t get frustrated, you’re doing fine”. There is not a lot of room to work in there and I swear his leg was getting longer with every passing minute. Linda suggested trying to push him back in a bit to get some more room.
You do realize that Inara is doing her damndest to squeeze him out? And you want me to stick him back in there???
Ok, I’ll keep trying. A few minutes more and I had given up trying to straighten to leg and simply folded it nice and flat and eased him out.


The little guy was up and nursing within the hour, no worse for his untimely arrival. He looks like he’ll be a true black. Now we have to come up with some names. I don’t know, but all I can think of when I see our little guy is “early”.

So we managed to finish up baby watch in one fell swoop. I suppose it’s nice that I don’t have to worry about anybody delivering while I’m away at a show, but I still could have done with slightly less excitement.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

off and running

Three events down two too go. We’re in the home stretch! Sort of.
We spent an afternoon at a local school with a couple of the boys. That was quite pleasant. Then there was Pat’s open house at JMS Alpacas. This past weekend was the annual Christmas boutique at Kathleen’s
The Boutique at Singletree Farm in Chino Valley was a big success. It was great to see familiar faces coming back to visit with the alpacas. Some of the visitors where having a brag session, telling each other how many years in row they had been coming out. Saturday the weather was perfect, Sunday I woke up to see snow falling. It was quite pretty, I haven’t seen snow in quite a while, but after a couple of hours in the blowing wind, the novelty had worn off and I camped out in front of the heater. Not that I’m a wimp or anything.
This weekend is the open house at our place, looks like we’ll be in the low 70’s. I can live with that.
We’ll finish off next weekend at the Mesa Art Show. After that I’ll have to get my butt in gear and do some Christmas shopping. It’s more exciting when you leave to the last minute. Really.
As for the critters, Molly is still holding out on giving birth. Her due date is actually this weekend (which would make for an interesting show at the open house) but her previous own told us she tends to drop her crias early so we’re keeping an eye on her.
We got the results back for the blood panel we did on Jack. He has a staph infection. Staphylococcus xylosus, to be specific. Good news is it is easily treatable with a verity of medications, so we just need to decide on what would be most efficient (the Naxel we had him on is actually not on the list of treatments for this form of staph, which may be why it keeps coming back) and hopefully take care of this thing once and for all! As of this morning he was feeling quite good. In fact he was being a pain in the a**. He was jumping and playing with everyone, they were trying to avoid him and eat their breakfast. I expect when I get home he’ll have a new coating of green slime all over him. But it is nice to see him feeling good for now.
Ok, that’s it for now, I’m off to felt more soaps. Ta!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Just catching up

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for us and we’re just getting started. The Southwest Fiber Festival and the Tucson Wool Festival are behind us. We’ve a fairly quite weekend this weekend with just a field trip for Jack and Cartigan to a local schools open house. The next four weekends are back to back events. It starts with an open house at JMS Alpacas another local breeder, then I’m heading up to Chino Valley for the annual Christmas Boutique at Singletree Farm. The following weekend is our open house, and we finish off with the Mesa Art Festival.
The weekend after that I plan to be recovering from exhaustion!
We rearranged the boys about a week ago. Cartigan was long overdue for weaning so he had to move. I took the opportunity to mix all the boys up. Luarel’s two (boarders) and Hielo and Adama moved in with the big boys. Mickey and Niska, even though they are older moved in with the little boys and Cartigan. Instead of having males separated by age, we have them more or less separated by size. It went with far less fireworks than I had anticipated.
In fact I was bragging to a friend about how smoothly it had all been and, of course, karma was listening. I heard a commotion in the middle of the night and headed out to find Niska squashing poor Cartigan. I pulled him off, but he was in rare form and wouldn’t back off. I finally ended up chasing him through a gate and closing it behind him. I ended up with Niska, Sunny and Spats on one side and Cartigan, Jack and Mickey on the other. Then I went back to bed.
That lasted for a couple of hours, when Niska decided Spats would be fun to jump on. Problem is Spats is a screamer and our bedroom window is thirty feet away from where they were. I spent some time out in the 30 odd degree night dressed in a tee shirt and paddock boots fruitlessly trying to get Niska to calm down. I finally just said have at it and closed the bedroom window. They appear to have worked out their differences for now. I’m kind of tired.
We also had a bit of an adventure with the dogs. Somebody knocked over the can of dog food (Dot had just added a 20 pound bag of food), and the pups had an early thanksgiving. Big Daisy and Molly ate their fill and left, but JJ and Little Daisy ate until they could hold no more. Little Daisy literally waddled when she walked, her distended belly practically hitting the ground. JJ was even worse off. Poor guy just sprawled on the floor looking completely miserable. You could practically feel kibbles pushing through his skin. We probably won’t have to feed him for the rest of the month!
Other than that things have been going well. I’ve been busy making felted soaps, just can’t keep up with demand! I’ve done a little work with the spinning wheel, but not much lately and I won’t see my loom again until after Christmas. Ah well, it’s a good thing to be busy!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pink Dad

It was a beautiful weekend. We’re getting into the time of year when we get to call all our friends and family across the country and brag about the fact that we’re out working on our gardens and sipping ice tea while they are bracing for freeze warnings and dragging out the winter coats.

The honeysuckle is just a mass of orange flowers,
and our wild sunflower is in full glory. Unfortunately, I found out the sunflower was doing so well because the hose had accidentally been left on for only god knows how long and it was responding to the large quantity of water. I’m so not going to enjoy the next water bill, but I am enjoying the display of color

My sister participated in the Susan Komen 3 Day Walk, in Philadelphia this past weekend. Through a series of events last winter, my father was, um, persuaded to dress in costume to cheer her on. She got to pick the costume. I will never think of tutus in the same way… (photos 33-37 are my Dad and his buddy Cliff)

Brain wants to blow up the photo and hang it in the spare bedroom so that Dad will always remember that weekend. Brian is just really thoughtful that way!

I got to sit at the loom for a little while and finished up a rug I've been working on. All I need to do now is sew the ends back in and call it good..

We had a visit on Sunday, which made the alpacas very happy as they snacked on a bucket of carrots. All and all a relaxing weekend.

Friday, October 15, 2010

life goes on.

Finally, things are calming down again. Everybody is on the road to recovery. Nadia, as it turns out had scratched her eye. The cloudiness is now gone. Cartigan is doing much better. He still has a bit of a limp, but he is using the leg pretty regularly now, it will just take time to heal completely.
We’re working on a new theory with Jack. Another breeder asked about the possibility of a reoccurring abscess. It made sense. We may have been knocking an infection down with medication, but not knocking it out. He is now on penicillin long term, much to his dismay. Normally we would keep him on 10 days. Now we’re looking at a minimum of 20 days and possibly up to 4-6 weeks. He really hates the shots and does his damnedest to spit at me and kick me when I go to give it to him. But true to his sweet nature, if I don’t have a needle in my hand, he still wants his treats and kisses.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

May your life be interesting

Life had been rather dull around here. Which, in my mind, is not a bad thing. That all came to a screeching halt this week. To start with, we got our hay. Very good news, since we were out and working on borrowed bales. However, Mother Nature seem to think this was a sign to finally send rain. And wind. Everyday. Things are a bit damp out here but we missed the worse of Arizona’s weather as Flagstaff had four tornados touch down yesterday.
Sometime during the last round of storms to hit our area, Cartigan managed to injure one of his front legs. We checked him out and didn’t see any obvious signs of trauma, nor could I feel any swelling, heat or break. As best I could tell the pain was in his ankle area, probably a good sprain. We wrapped his leg in an ace bandage to help give him some extra support and he will now walk around slowly on it. Any faster speeds and he pulls it up and hops around on three legs. At this point all we can really do is try to support the leg as much as possible, try to keep him from jumping around and let time heal the injury.
Mean while, Nadia has developed a cloudy eye. Again, no obvious sign of injury and she is an older girl so this may be just a sign of old age. We flush it with saline daily. Next time Linda is out, I’ll have her take a look, but at the moment, it seems to be bothering me more than it is bothering Nadia.
The latest is Jack is having another one of his fever episodes this morning. As cool as it was yesterday I doubt it has anything to do with overheating. More than likely there is some other underlying chronic condition and we’ll just have to deal with this periodically for the rest of his life.
I’m beginning to understand why the Irish think the most powerful curse you can say to someone is “may your life be interesting…”

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fall Festival 2010

The Fall Festival in Pinetop is behind us now. It went ok. It was quieter than last year; I guess the economy is still keeping people away. We still had a great time and did well for sales. It was nice to get out of the heat for a while.
A small farmers market that we had scheduled for this weekend was canceled because of the lack of participation, another sad note on the economy. Oh well, I could do with the rest.
We finally got a break in the heat. This week ahead is forecasted to be in the 80’s. It feels good to walk outside and not get slapped in the face by 105 degrees. The alpacas are enjoying the coolness as well. They are finally venturing away from the fans and coolers. Of course the drop in temperature has been accompanied by rain. I wouldn’t normally complain, we love rain, but we just got a load of hay and haven’t moved under the cover yet. There are tarps over it, but the bales still get damp, so we’ll need to uncover the stack and let everything dry out, and then restack it. Yippee.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

We're still here. Really!

Ok, ok, I know I've been lax about blogging lately, and this one will be very short. Suffice to say, all the critters are doing well. Jack had another bout with heat and this time he had a little bath buddy, as Linda had one of her boys out for us to nurse as well. Both came through with flying colors.
Work has suddenly gotten very busy and free time is at a minimum right now. Everything has been focused on keeping up while trying to get ready for the Pinetop Fall festival this weekend. Wish us luck!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Heat stress and downer alpacas

Heat stress on our alpacas is something we are very aware of here in the desert Southwest. When temperatures in the summer time average over 100 degrees and can get well into the teens finding ways to keep cool has become an obsession. We have fans and swamp coolers going 24/7 on the barn. We place buckets of water in front of the coolers which provides the alpacas with cool drinking water even at the hottest part of the day.
Even so, occasionally an alpacas body temperature will climb for whatever reason, and when it goes way off kilter, they lose the ability to self regulate for a while. Also when their bodies reach an extremely high temperature for any period of time, a certain enzyme is release which causes muscle pain and weakness (think how achy you feel when you have the flu). The alpacas kush in response to this and often are not only unwilling, but unable to rise. Linda, our vet, believes that we lose more of the alpacas to complications that set in because they are down and cannot rise for such a long period of time than due to the initial heat stress that started the whole ball rolling in the first place.
Last summer she had us build her a walk in tub to treat one of her alpacas that had gone down to heat. It cooled the animal rapidly and allowed him to ease aching muscles and get his weight up off his legs. This helped get the stain off him and allowed him to lightly exercise his muscles while he was ill. The tub was big, ugly and leaked like sieve, but it did what it was designed to do and Luc pulled through.
After seeing what worked and didn’t work on that tub, Brian and his dad built a second one. Since we had more time to dedicate to this one, it came out much nicer. We even had it fiber-glassed to make it water tight. Then the tub was rolled away into the shop and forgotten about. Until this past Sunday, that is.
I went out to feed and check on the alpacas and found Jack down and not behaving like his normal self. I quickly checked his temperature and was shocked to see a reading of 106.9. Brian immediately rolled the tub over and we got him into it. Since the water coming out of our tabs is pretty warm in the summer, we added several frozen milk jugs into the tub. We got his temperature down and set him up in the section of the barn that remained the coolest, right in front of the swamp cooler vent.

We monitored his temperature closely and every time it approached 104, we got him back into the tub. We also started him on Naxcel as a preventative in case there was an infection of some sort that started the fever going. Jack never minded going into the tub, and a big bucket of hay kept him content enough for the 30 or so minutes we would have him in there. We began to notice that his body temperature was staying lower for longer after each bath. By Wednesday, his temperature was staying in a normal range without the aid of the Paca-spa, as we are now calling the tub. Thursday evening, we let him back in with his buddies. We’re still monitoring his temperature throughout the day and at any sign of a fever, we’ll get right back into our routine, but it seems the Paca-spa has once again done its job. I’m convinced it save Jack a world of hurt, if it hasn’t in fact saved his life. As far as I’m concerned, that spa is worth its weight in gold!

Monday, July 12, 2010

time goes by

So it’s been a while since I’ve up dated the blog. We’ve been pretty busy. We’ve completed both the Show Low Days and The Northern AZ Arts shows. We had a great time at booth, and now we’re completely pooped. Brian and I decided to take this past weekend off and just relax. We took in a movie in Casa Grande. Had a bit of a hick-up when I tried to use AMC passes at a Harkins theater. Oopsie. Well that did explain the odd look I got as I handed the passes through the window.
June was really hot and July is shaping up to be more of the same. The swamp coolers have been going 24/7 for a while now. I know they are providing some relief as I’ll come home in the afternoon, and you wouldn’t know there was an alpaca on the place. They are all in the barns letting the cool air (ok, so it’s still 90 degrees, but it’s cool relative to the outside temp.) flow over them. Those big swamp coolers are a god send. We still go out and hose the ‘pacas of once or twice a day to help cool them, though I’m not sure how helpful it really is since the critters run right out into the sun to bake after they get their bellies wet.
Only another 8 weeks or so till cooler weather! Fall is right around the corner.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A pretty, gery box

Swamp coolers, while being very effective in our dry desert heat, are not really very attractive. The new swamp cooler on the barn is basically a big grey metal box.
My father in law decided that this just would not do, and dressed it up a bit.
Now we have the only alpaca weathervane in the State of Arizona that I know of. It can tell us from what direction the 110 degree heat will be blowing in from this weekend. Yeehaa.
Not that I’ll be here for the 110. I’m headed up to the high country for Show Low Days this weekend.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Good bye Miss B

Sometimes you need a little time and space away from and event to gain some prospective on it. We lost Miss B a couple of weeks ago and I only now feel up to writing about it. It happened suddenly, she was sick when I got up on a Saturday morning and by Sunday afternoon she was gone.
I could shake my fist at the universe and rally about how unfair life is, and in truth, I did indulge in some of that, but it neither made me feel better nor brought Miss B back. And I’m not one to waste a lot of time on fruitless endeavors. I’ve been engaging in alpaca therapy instead. The herd still wants to be fed and the poo still needs to be cleaned up, and spending time amongst the animals with their calming influence has help considerably. I still miss B terribly, but now I can honestly be thankful for the six weeks we got enjoy her. And what a joy she was, that little girl never stopped moving and would often leap into the air just for the sheer joy of doing it.
Rest in peace Miss B, and thank you for your gift.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Seriously, Monday again???!!!

Monday; day three: toasted another fan. Had a rock hit the wind sheild on the van on my way to Maynard's Market in Tucson. I now have a big 2' crack across the passenger side.

It's not all bad, this morning my mother-in-law let me know that my FIL has repaired the two fans. Any bets on how long it will take for me to kill them again?

And we did ultra sounds on the girls yesterday. Three out of four confirmed pregnant. The fourth is still determined to keep us guessing.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Monday... again

Do you ever get the feeling every day is Monday? I seem to be in a groundhog loop of Mondays. Yesterday (which actually was Monday) I got home to find that the second swamp cooler had once again blown a motor. I got a fan out of the shop so the boys could at least have some air circulating, which they managed to knock over through the gate and the motor on that heated up and stopped working by the time I found it.
This morning, as I was headed out for work, the sensor in my van said “check right front tire, pressure 25) Well ok, I drove over to the shop took about fifteen minutes to figure out how to work the air compressor and then started filling the tire. The sensor never moved from 25 psi. What the heck? So I put more air in the tire (you can probably see where this is going). I finally said the heck with this the sensor is bad, got in my van and headed into work.
About thirty miles from anywhere, the oil light came on. Ugh! Well all right, not much I can do about it now. When I get to the next gas station I’ll get a quart of oil and add it in. Ironically, I have an appointment to change the oil first thing in the morning.
Now I start mess with the sensors and scrolling through to see what else is falling apart. Right front tire still says 25 psi. Rear right tire now says 83 psi. WTF!!!!!! A sneaking suspicion starts to come over me. When I finally get to the office (with my newly acquired quart of oil) I start digging around the van for a tire gauge. Why I didn’t use the tire gauge in the first place and relied on those stupid sensors is beyond me, won’t make that mistake again. I check the pressure of the rear tire; sure enough: 25 psi. I check the front, and the tire gauge maxes out (its limit is 75 psi, so what do you think the pressure was? Anyone want to guess 83 psi???!!!) The sensor on the tire is reversed. The front is actually the rear and vice verse.
So it’s seven a.m., I’ve got the front tire pressure back down, the back will just have to wait until I get home, and I’m just waiting to see what else can go wrong this morning…..

Monday, May 3, 2010

Happy May!

Wednesday tends to be fiber day at Alpacazona Farm. Linda comes out if she is available and we spend the entire morning washing, picking, tumbling and carding fiber. After she leaves I usually try to keep at one fiber project or another. Last Wednesday was a dying fiesta. I hand painted over a dozen skeins of yarn, some hand spun some commercial. I love to just see the wild tumble of colors.
On other news, we’ve been really working with Kinesis. Back in January her demeanor changed, which we were expecting because we thought she was pregnant and due soon. Well she wasn’t and we should have seen the change for the warning sign that it was. She started to get pretty skinny and when she was shorn, we were shocked at the extent of the weight loss. I spent a good deal of time beating myself up for having let it get as bad as it has. But self recrimination does little to fix a problem so I went to work getting weight back on that poor girl. After week of paying very close attention the amount and verity of food Kinesis is taking in, I’m beginning to see progress. I haven’t weighed her in a week (another Wednesday chore) but I am beginning to see a marked improvement in her activity level. The guys at work have joined the “Feed Kinesis” band wagon have been bring in veggies and greens from their gardens to give her to keep enticing her to eat. Of course this may all back fire as she gets use to eating treats and will decide she doesn’t need hay anymore!
We had a horrible wind storm over the weekend. I hate wind. I really, really, really hate wind. I’ll be spending the next two evenings picking up all the trash that has blown into the yard and been caught up in the fences. I hate wind.
In the middle of the wind storm, we dragged out the old swamp cooler and started getting it cleaned up. We’re going to replace the smaller dead cooler with this big old monster. The thin has been sitting out in back of Brian’s folk’s property for years and is ugly as hell, but to my surprise the motor started right up when we plugged it in (ok, not right up, the capacitor needs to be replaced, but the motor still runs!) We’ll seal the bottom up; add a new water pump and presto! Cool air for the alpacas. And just in the nick of time, we’re headed for the nineties this week and I’ve a feeling they may be here for awhile.
Finally, we have three boarders arriving this week. We’ll be moving animals around once we see how personalities mesh. It’s always exciting for the first couple of days as pecking orders need to be re-worked.
Well that’s it for now.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Shearing is over for another year

The Alpacazona alpacas are naked once more. Brian and I finished shearing the last of the big boys yesterday. Now I can turn my attention to sorting, skirting and washing fleece. Oh, and I can return to the war against the weeds in the yard. They’ve gotten ahead of us as we’ve been spending most of our free time denuding alpacas.
Plus I won’t feel so guilty when I sit down and work and a project here and there. There’s yarn to be spun, plied and dyed, roving to label, scarves to weave, baskets to shape. The list just goes on and on. At least I’m never bored.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Summer begins

Things are slowly heating up. Literally. We had our first 90 degree day this week. It’s supposed to cool back into the eighties after this weekend, but it’s a temporary reprieve at best. We’ve been busy getting things ready for the long hot summer. The fans have all been cleaned and oiled, the swamp coolers have been checked and reconditioned, and the alpacas are, well, I’m working on getting them sheared. I do my own so it takes a while to get them all done. I’ve got two more girls to go and I did most of Legend. I hope to get the girls finished this weekend and start in on the rest of the boys. Legend will either have to go back to Kathleen looking kind of stupid (I couldn’t get any of his neck or head done) or wait until I either have a team of people to hold him down or a lot of drugs to calm him down. And possibly some drugs to calm me down as well….
Mean while, I’m taking advantage of the rising temps to get back into some solar dying. I did about ten skeins this past weekend. Brian and I took some vacation time and spent the first day and a half just hanging around the house doing chores and generally goofing off. Then we headed up for a couple of nights in the camper. A last little get away before the big shearing push.

Miss B is doing well. She usually spends the twilight hour racing around the fields trying to get Cartigan to play with her. Cartigan seems willing; he just can’t seem to get the rules. Though he spend a great deal of time following her around.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New alpaca fleece rugs

Our rugs have arrived! Whoooohooo!!!
They actually arrived a couple of weeks before I thought they would. The mill had been telling customers the turn around time was 14-16 weeks. So when we brought O out to TX in December, I figured I had until the end of April until I would see the rugs.
I was so excited when I got called from the front office to say I had five HUGE boxes waiting for me. The poor UPS guy looked so crest fallen when I told him I needed them in my van which was around back. In order to ease his aching back, I told him just to get them back to the truck and I would drive over to meet him. It worked out well until I got home and realized I had to get the boxes back out of the van…
Not to be thwarted, I just opened the boxes up and carried the rugs in around ten at a time. Only took me eight trips. Now I have a stack of alpaca rugs (from ours and Linda’s alpacas) three feet high in my loom room. Each rug is unique, no two the same, though some are similar. The mill did an amazing job with styles and colors and I have to say I am very pleased.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Our Easter earthquake Or "Why is our house rocking?"

We got to experience our first, and hopefully only, earthquake Sunday. Brian and I were hanging out at home, relaxing, and watching a movie. Our dog, Molly was sleeping on the floor next to me, when I felt the chair kind of rocking. I assumed Molly was stretching or scratching and hitting the chair. It went on long enough that I finally sat up to see what the heck she was doing only to see she was still sound asleep and not touching the chair at all. Then I noticed Brian was looking at me kind of strange and says, “Why is our house rocking?” The chandlers where rocking, the rod for the blinds where tapping the windows, it was kind of surreal. We thought the wind may have picked up, but it was still outside.
Of course we went next door to see if they felt anything and called a couple of friends. Everybody thought we where nuts.
I knew we had felt something, so, being a good geologist, I logged on to the U.S. Geological Survey website and started poking around. Sure enough, there had been a quake down in Baja California. At that time they said it had a 6.2 magnitude, which is big, but there had been bigger, closer earthquakes that we hadn’t noticed in the past. So I poked around some more.
The epicenter was 32km deep. Ah, there it is, that’s why the waves traveled so far. That’s a pretty deep earthquake and the deeper they are, the farther they tend to travel.
So I guess I get to cross this off the bucket list, not that experience any kind of earthquake was really high on my list of things to do.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A new baby!

The herd has grown by one! Tyche finally had her cria yesterday (361 days of gestation). A little girl weighing in an22.3 lbs. We were expecting white and at first we thought she was white, but after we got her dried off and cleaned some of the mud off of her, we noticed there was a hint of gold to her fleece. You can really see it at her tail. So maybe we’ve got a beige or a really light, light fawn. Brian came up with her name: Alpacazona’s Miss B. Haven.
Little B is doing well and testing out those very, very long legs by racing around her pen while poor Tyche waddles along behind.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Tucson Shearing Festival

The Spring Tucson Shearing Festival was a success! We’re starting to recognizing faces from past events so it’s like a happy family reunion now. And of course I always like meeting new people, like Sara of “Woolies” ( and “Buster and Boo (, who has been helping me work though some of the kinks in my Etsy store. I feel very fortunate to have met someone patient enough to walk me through the technical part of on line selling, especially with my unique inability to grasp anything computerish.
I was pleasantly surprised when Kathy, the hostess of the shearing festival, asked me if I would consider teaching a class on making coil baskets. It’s something totally out of my comfort zone, but I think I might take a stab at it. What’s the worst that can happen? The people taking the class tell me I suck and demand their money back? Ok, well that would be bad, but I would live through it. I think.
After the festival, I ran down to Maynard’s Market to drop off more yarn and socks and found out I should have brought more felted soaps. There was only one left! Guess I’ll have to get busy making some more.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Never a dull moment!

March will go down as an eventful month here at the farm. Things got rolling with the arrival of a female from CA, here for breeding. Then it was off to the SWRAS. I love getting to catch up with old friends and meet new people, who will become old friends.

One day to recover, then it’s off to Tucson, where Mom and I set up our vendor space at Maynard’s Market.
No matter how much you set up mock displays, you always end up changing it once you get in to your space. I’ll be heading back down there Saturday with more stuff and to rearrange what I felt didn’t quite work for me.

During this the folks got packed up and headed back home (by way of Vegas, of course). The day they left we had some strange men snooping around the house, up to no good. I called the sheriff’s office just in case other people had similar things happen, just so there would be a record for the police to keep an eye out. Brian added a “No Trespassing” sign to the gate. I hate to make people feel unwelcome, but we’ve been robbed once, I don’t plan to go through that a second time. Fortunately for us, Dot was keeping an eye on the house and she scared the men off by wandering over to see what they where up to. She said what made her suspicious, is that the guys never asked to look at the alpacas. Even the sheriff wanted to go see the alpacas!

That same day I made my report, I had to be home early from work because one of our boys in quarantine from the show (Jack) spiked a 106.5 temperature. Dot and I got him cooled down and I ran up to the vets to get antibiotics for him. By the next morning the fever had gone and he was back to his old happy self. Not that he’s enjoying the week long series of shots.

We also had another female arrive for breeding, which has been, um, challenging. She may have a retained CL, though she isn’t responding overly much to Estrumate. There’s also a possibility of a cyst. Or maybe she just hates boys, who knows. When I have Linda come out to do ultrasounds, I’ll get her done as well and see if there is anything to be gleaned.

Meanwhile, we’ve concluded that Kenisis is not pregnant after all, and have started breeding her. And Tyche is going for a new record on her gestation (353 days today with no sign of even thinking of giving birth!) Though we were hoping the hot air balloon they inflated behind the house would scare the cria out of her. But they must have just been training since both Saturday and Sunday, they came out, inflated the balloon, hung out for a while, then deflated it and packed it all up again without actually going anywhere

Now I need to get packed for the Spring Shearing Festival down at Kathy Wither’s farm in Tucson this Saturday.

I think I’m going to sleep in on Sunday.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

when your mind starts to wander...

So, we’ve been waiting for one of our alpacas to give birth. And waiting…. and waiting. I go back and forth between, she is still pregnant and she’s never been pregnant. Some alpacas just keep you guessing. (think young athletic females with incredible muscle tone that just tuck those babies right up tight)
Yesterday I happen to be at the dentist, suffering all kinds of inhumane treatment when a horrible thought occurred to me; we have another female due in about two weeks. I had to delay her breeding because the boys got a gate open and had a party with the girls. Was Kenesis here at that time, or was she still up north for breeding? Is she pregnant, but due much later than I thought because one of my knuckle heads is the father!!!!! Ugh! The harder I tried to remember where Kenesis was at the time, the more elusive the memory became.
When I got home I check my notes. I had written down when the boys got out, but not when Kenesis came home. Dang it. So since she is black, and she’s breed to a black, if I get a white cria, I’m going to be very suspicious….

Monday, March 1, 2010

Instructions for whimsy basket

Well, here is the first attemp to post the instructions for the whimsy basket. Not sure if you can read it or not...

Friday, February 26, 2010

whimsy basket

Well, I probably should be getting ready for the Southwest Regional Alpaca Show in two weeks. Instead I’ve been happily spinning yarn and setting up a new Etsy shop ( I’ve also been filling in odd hours when I’m watching TV or waiting in line by working on coiled baskets. I have a few Indian baskets that have been decorating the shelves around the house. I happened to knock one down one day and started looking at it. I thought, what the heck, I could try doing this. A couple of my creations are now on the Etsy site, and you’ll see I quickly moved away from the traditional Native American motif. The last one I did, was sold before I ever finished it, but I did get some photos before it went to its new home.

Friday, January 29, 2010

bamboo scarf

It’s nice to see bits and pieces of fiber become something. Like this:


Became this:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Christmas ornimants

Off on yet another tangent. I found a recipe for these cinnamon ornaments so I had to give it a try. My FIL made the cookie cutter mold for me. Now I have little cinnamon alpacas drying all over the kitchen. Smells nice.

Monday, January 18, 2010

We went ice skating this weekend for a friends, daughter’s birthday party. It’s the first time I’ve been on skates in over ten years, and let me tell you, it is NOT like riding a bicycle! I did pretty well, managed to not fall on my butt. I may have been a bit of a disappointment to the kids though, unbeknownst to me, Brian was merrily spinning a tale about how I use to train with the Olympic Figure Skating Team! Umm, I’ve watched figure skating on tv, that’s about as close as I’ve ever been to it. They wanted to see twirls and jumps. I wanted to maintain my dignity by remaining up right.
Haven’t had much to report on the alpacas. Everything is calm with them. We’ve got about six weeks until our next cria is due and another about two weeks later and then we’re done for the year.

Friday, January 15, 2010

woven tiles

I’ve been working on a few new projects recently. I actually started these tiles this past summer, but just got them to a friend who had her husband do the frames for me. It’s kind of a nice project for the left over bits and pieces from other projects. Now I have something to add to the store that doesn’t have cold weather as it’s focus!