Monday, December 12, 2011

The Holiday rush - I need a nap!

whewwww! We had our last event for the season this past weekend; and open house atr Mesquite Valley Ranch in Gilbert. The weather was beautiful and the turnout was good. I always have fun doing these events (ok, so maybe OUR open house last weekend when it was 40 degrees and raining wasn't exactly a good time...) but after four weekends in a row and events going on in 7 of the last nine weekends, I am totally sick of putting up tents and taking them back down. I'm ready for a rest!
And I'll have to keep waiting. We'll be trimming teeth this Sunday. Which means I only have Saturday to get caught up on four weeks of house cleaning and laundry. It's getting pretty bad even by my fairly low standards.
Mean while, our socks have been slowly dribbling in. We now have most of the crew socks back, and medium tan hiking socks. The mill sent out a rumor that another box would be ready for shipping by last Friday. I haven't heard if it happened or not. If it did go out, it should be here by the end of the week and I'm hoping it has more hiking socks. Our waiting list keeps getting longer and I really HATE to keep people waiting!
I was poking around on the Internet while waiting for my boss and I stumble across this:
It's the show at Charlie Clark's up in Pinetop that we did last July 4th weekend. There's even a picture of me and our booth in there! Cheryl and I always have a good time at that show. The best part was that our booth was close enough to the stage that we got to enjoy "the man of a 1000 voices". We especially enjoyed his rap song!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Getting ready for fall

Our fall show season is starting to kick into high gear. We spent an amazing weekend up north for the Artist Fall Festival in Pinetop. Brian and I always have great time visiting with Pat and Cheryl and enjoying their very gracious hospitality. And Brian and Pat managed to make too much fun of Cheryl and I for falling asleep in front of the tv by eight o'clock Saturday night.
Last Saturday was the Tucson Wool Festival down at Wither's Ranch. Kathy holds the wool festival twice year; Spring and Fall. This past spring it rained the entire day and it was pretty quite. We made up for that this weekend. I think Kathy said around 1000 people went through the ranch. I'm pretty sure I talked to most of them! Which is fine by me, I'm a talker.
Our next event will be the Southwest Fiber festival which has been moved to Tubac Presido State Park. It's a slightly longer drive for us, but still doable for a one day event. This festival will be Nov. 5th.
I've been busy spinning yarn. I've been on a mission to clean and paint the inside of the house this past summer. As I was moving stuff around I kept coming across bags of roving that had gotten tossed into corners and forgotten about. I have been diligently working my way through them. Got to get these spun up so I can start making more!
Brain and I are suppose to work out in the shop this weekend getting it cleaned up before our own open house in a couple of weeks. I need to move the carder back over to my corner. Through the summer I pull it out to the opposite wall so I can work in front of the swamp cooler. It makes the shop bearable for a little bit longer in the summer. Plus I have fleece scattered everywhere. That all needs to be gathered back up so I can start sorting through it for the next big project. I think we're going to get some felt done this year.
We've gotten our dark brown crew socks and brown yarn from the mill. We're still waiting on the rest of the socks and the white yarn. sigh. Eight months and counting.
Now it's back to spinning and cleaning and dying and weaving and...
toddles from the sock monkey and me.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fall is in the air!

Finally, cool weather! It was actually down in the forties this morning. We haven't had temps this low since..... well, heck it's been so long I don't remember the last time we saw forties.
Fall Festival up in Pinetop is behind us now. It was such a good show. We actually had several shoppers that had bought yarn from us at Charlie Clark's on 4th of July, come back and get more yarn! It is such a good feeling when people like your work well enough to come back again.
Flynn and George are now weaned, much to George's dismay. Flynn fretted for about twenty minutes and then decided he was hungry and hasn't looked back. Poor George has been pacing and crying and is taking much longer to settle in. Not overly surprising as he was always more bounded to his mom than the other crias. But al nearly eleven months old, it's time to cut the cord and if mom won't do then I must!
Mean while, we are still waiting for our socks to come in. I'm beginning to fear that we will never get them! The waiting is killing me!!!!!!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Nuno scarf inovations

I headed back out to the shop yesterday. I haven't done enough sweating this week. I'm bound and determined to perfect the lazy woman's nuno felting technique. When I first heard how it was done (put you fiber on your fabric and roll it all up. roll it back and forth 200 time) I thought: "I am so not standing here all day rolling a scarf back and forth".
Well with the building of the felting machine, I don't have to! I just make my roll, put it in the machine and go away to do something far more interesting.
This works well for the felt sheets, but I found that my nuno scarves seemed kind of, well, flat. Nuno is supposed to be textured. So I went back to the directions. (this is fairly unusual for me, maybe it's my defy authority youth, or the fact that I am one of the laziest people on earth, but I just don't tend to read/follow instructions). What I learned is there is another step. Apparently you are suppose to physically abuse your work by throwing it at something for upwards to 20 minutes.

.....??? (see lazy comment, so not gonna happen.)

This sent me in search of something to do my tossing for me. Enter my drier. Thirty minutes on air fluff with one of Molly's tennis balls whacking the heck out of my scarves and viola! Nuno scarves!

staying busy and waiting for cooler weather

Hot , hot, hot! Buster what's-his-name may like to sing about it, but out we're quite thurghouly sick of it. The weather forecasters have started to plead publicly for people to stop sending them hate mail. I feel bad for them, though I admit to calling them a few rude names after hearing the latest forecast. I have notice that as of last night, they stopped pretending that cool weather was around the corner and just have it at 110 degrees all week long.

At least for us there is some relief through the night. Temps up in town where they have all that asphalt and concrete will only cool down to around 90 degrees while we'll get down into the mid 70's. Small comfort while I'm out in the shop hearing the automatic vent fan kick on at 10 a.m. and knowing it's set to turn on a t 120 degrees.

That hasn't kept me out of the shop. I've been busy working with the felter and am pleased to see my felt sheets getting more and more consistent. Now Jim, Dot and I have been working on making flowers out of all that felt. We're having fun, though I doubt what we are creating would ever be found in nature.
I laid a bunch of the sheets out on my kitchen table to get a picture of them. Silly me I left them sitting there and walked away to do something else. When I returned I found Frosty happily kneading the sheets and making herself a nest. Never mind that she was sitting on my kitchen table, she was messing up my felt!

I also tried some more nuno felting.

The scarf didn't turn out quite the way I was expecting, my projects seldom do, but I liked it. It was interesting to see how the silk textured after the felting was done. I'll have to do some more playing with this.

I've also been making more coil baskets. I have some novelty acrylic yarn that I've been using up. I had the ball sitting on the floor next to me while I worked on the basket. When I reached down for another length of yarn, I found my ball missing. Looking around, I found the culprit. Daisy was feeling playful and was happily chewing up the ball of yarn. I took me fifteen minutes to get it away from her. .

Her legs may be short but she can move them really, really fast. There is a reason Brian nick named her the carper torpedo!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Summer will never end. I know in other parts of the world, people wish for this, but around here we can't wait to see the last of summer and all its 110 plus degree days. And to top it all off, we're in the middle of another heat wave. phooey, wake me when it's Christmas.
Last week we had the "great breakout". The older males managed to open, not one, but two gates to get to the girls. I don't know how long they were together before we discovered the party, but according to Dot, it was "long enough". I'm not super keen on doing it, but the girls will have to be treated so I'm not playing "whose your daddy" in eleven months. The gate to the girls could be fixed in such a way that you needed thumbs to open it, but the one from the boys to the hay couldn't be locked. I chased the boys out of the hay twice before the weekend. Once they figured out how the latch worked, there was no keeping them behind the gate. I even tied it closed once. The rascals actually managed to untie it and open it.
We spent the weekend reinforcing fences and fixing gate latches. Now I just get dirty looks from the boys whenever I'm out there. Apparently I've spoiled all their fun.
We have the veggie gardens going again. The heat wave managed to shrivel up all my carrots and chicory, but the corn, squash and cucumbers are doing well. In fact, I decided to hold off pulling out the Armenian cucumbers and the watermelon and those have had a bit of a resurgence and are flowering again. It will be neat if we can get a second round of fruit off of them.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

...if we can't have rain...

At least we can have a rainbow.

Monday, July 25, 2011

our new felting machine

I have long wanted a felting machine. I like felting, but I am at heart, a very lazy person and standing there rolling a wad of fiber around for thirty minutes just doesn't sound like a good time to me. So I showed my FIL a photo of one and said: "can you build it?". Well his version is up and running! Now comes all the experimenting and playing to find out just what we can and can't get away with. I think this will work really well with nuno felting, but only time will tell. I haven't really spent a lot of time with it yet, it's still pretty darn hot out in the shop. Heck, only two, three more months until cool weather is back again. By then I should know how to work this beasty.

the REALLY dog days of summer

sometimes a photo just says it all....

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Four weeks to the day after we took Jack off medication he went back down. I put him back on penicillin immediately and his fever didn't get as high or last as long as it has in the past. This is so frustrating, as next month it will be a full year that we've battled this infection on and off. The plan now is to put him back on Draxxin and leave him on for as long as we can. Now we face a situation like we do with alpacas that have reoccurring valley fever: the medication will control the infection, but it can also cause damage to liver and kidneys. Hopefully we will finally win out over this infection and we can safely remove him from medication eventually. For now we keep on and keep hoping.

Monday, July 11, 2011

dog days of summer

Ah summer. So far w have survived a record 118 degree day, (I wasn't in AZ for the all time record of 122 degrees) one of the largest monsoon dust storm the state has ever seen and a rise in humidity that makes the swamp coolers no more effective than big fans. The critters are taking it all in stride. One or two are still out sun bathing every afternoon.

We went north for 4th of July at Charlie Clark's again this year. We had a great time, as always. Yarn was the big seller this year. Which is a good thing as I've been doing a lot of spinning lately and have a good supply.

We're still waiting for our socks back from the mill. We should start getting the yarn sometime next month. The socks will arrive after the yarn, if our last two orders are any indication. I have to admit, I'm getting a bit antsy to see what we get. It's kind of like Christmas. I have a rough idea of what each color will be, but you never really know for sure until all the fibers are blended.

The veggie garden is more or less dormant right now. Except for the Armenian cucumbers and watermelons. The cucumbers just keep on churning along and the watermelons are still growing on the vine. I'm going to start fixing some of the beds this weekend for the next crop. We should be able to get another batch of corn. We left the first crop too long, since we had never grown corn before and weren't sure what to look for, and the corn got tough. But this time we know what to expect and will pull it off sooner. I think I'll also plant some pole beans in amongst the corn and see what happens. Some companion planting advocates also say to plant squash in among the corn as well. The summer squash didn't do a lot and I continually had an issue with end rot. I started tossing the small, stunted fruit over the fence and Niska became a big fan. Now when he sees me at the garden, he comes running over, waiting for his treat.

Jack is off medication again. We ended up keeping him on the Draxxin for 11 weeks. He's been off for almost three weeks. I won't relax until he's been off three months! At this point, we know we can control his staph infection, if we can't knock it out completely. If it does come back, I'll have to find out what health issues we need to be concerned about if we keep Jack on meds for even more extended periods of time. As of last night he was feeling well, since he was having a grand time neck wrestling with Cartigan.

Flynn and Belle are registered now. I didn't realize until I got Belle's certificate that she and Jack are related. They both have Royal Fawn as their great grand sire. Both Flynn and Belle (and George)are growing well. I think we'll be bring the whole gang to the Southwest show in March.

So now it's back to cleaning up from the dust storm. yippee.

Friday, May 20, 2011

time to relax!

Things have been quite here. With shearing behind us, there isn't a whole lot that needs to be done right now. Which means it's PLAY TIME!

Linda, Laurel and Brandie came out and I spent an afternoon teaching them the basics of hand painting yarn. We made a huge mess and had a great time! I figure you're not really playing hard unless you make a mess, so mission accomplished.

Here are some of the fruits of their labor. Not too bad. I got a bunch of yarn dyed and didn't have to do any actual work. I think this worked out quite well.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Where has the time gone?

My how time flies! I've been a little lax about keeping up with the blog, sorry. The folks have come and gone for their winter visit. They stayed long enough to warm up before heading back east to the cold and wet. The Southwest Regional Alpaca Show is a memory. We didn't show any alpacas this year, but I worked harder than ever! Next time I'll know better and bring some animals with me so I can rest a little.

Brian finally got our vegetable garden in. It got off to a shaky start. I think I had a nitrogen deficiency in the soil. Everything started greening up nicely once I started adding some paca-poo tea to my watering regime. I made a map of what was planted where so I could keep it all straight as the garden grew. Should have worked. Didn't I show cantaloupe melons on my map, unfortunately the seeds are labeled honey dew, and quite frankly, now that we're seeing fruit, they sure as heck look like summer squash.

Fortunately we like all three of those, so whatever we actually get will be eaten.
The babies are growing well. Belle is turning out to be quite the character. She will follow me around the pen, telling me stories while I feed and pick up. She loves to have her back and neck scratched. You can almost hear her purring like a cat. I've never had an alpaca behave like this before.

Flynn is also quite friendly. He knows what the pellet bucket looks like and will come running if he thinks there is the slightest chance for treats.

Poor Jack had another bout of fever last month. We got him stated on penicillin, which acts fast and knocks the fever down within a day or two. We also got him back in Draxxin, which as a slower acting drug, but far less painful for him to get. We'll keep him on this for a minimum of ten weeks and see if that will finally get to the source of the infection.

We've been shearing in this area for the last couple of weeks. Just about everyone is done. Now we start over with skirting, tumbling and washing fleeces. I see lots of lovely yarns in our near future.

As for the fleece we sent off, I'm expecting yarn to start coming back pretty soon. I finally let my curiosity get the best of me and called yesterday for an eta. Bummer that the only person that knew the answer had already left for the day. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to wait a little longer.

That's it for now.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

a busy new year

We've been busy around here. We finally got all the fleece boxed up and headed out to the mill for the next run of socks. I'm looking forward to getting everything back, as we are running really low on socks. Except large crew socks, we have plenty of those.

Kinesis had her cria this past weekend. She's a fawn little girl that we've named Alpacazona's Invincibelle Spirit. Belle's was a textbook delivery and we thought everything was fine, until Kinesis decided she wasn't going to continue nursing the cria. It may be that Kinesis has a touch of mastitis which makes nursing painful for her. Unfortunately, the only way to treat mastitis is to keep milking mom out until it becomes more comfortable for her. We're making progress, Kinesis will now stand and let the baby nurse, but we have to get her up and hold her head at first. Which means every two hours or so one of us is out in the field getting Kinesis and making sure Belle gets a snack. Hopefully Kinesis gets past this soon, I'm getting tired!

And to confuse the situation even more, Tyche has been trying to steal the cria. She even allowed the cria to nurse off of her on Monday. Neat trick that, since Tyche hasn't has a cria in over a year and has no milk. Others have told me it is possible for a female to start producing milk in certain cases. It would be pretty amazing if Tyche actually does start to make milk and becomes a surrogate for little Belle. These animals never cease to surprise me.

Jack is off medications at last and hasn't had a reoccurrence of his infection. (knock on wood!) Keep your fingers crossed that we've finally licked this thing. Poor guy is really tired of feeling like a pin cushion. I know he's had enough, when I went to trim his toe nails, he cushed and then just flopped over on his side as if to say "do what you will, I give up". It actually made doing his nail rather easy, though I don't know that I need yet another drama queen in the herd.

This weekend will be teeth trimming for everyone that needs it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Things to do in Casa Grande

It has been a whirl wind of activity around here. I hardly know where the time has gone. We had a photographer call up and ask to come out and take some photos of the alpacas. I'll post some of his stuff a bit later. Also among our visitors in recent weeks as Lisa Earle, a young lady from Casa Grande. She works on a local blog about things to do and sites to see in the area. She came out to visit the critters and took a ton of photos herself.
If you're interested in the article (a very well written article, if I do say so myself), here's the link:

We're done with all our shows for the time being. The next event won't be until March with the Southwest Regional Alpaca Show. Maybe I'll actually get some rest between now and then.... na.