Friday, November 23, 2012

some shows are more exciting than others...

Happy Black Friday. For me this is a day to do anything but shop. But I’m funny that way.
We’re half way through our eight week marathon of shows and open houses. So far everything is going well… mostly.
Last weekend was a little rough. It started out well enough. I set up for Diane's open house Saturday. The day was quite, but the weather was nice and the company good, so no complaints.
Saturday night I started feeling ill. End up with food poisoning and was up all night wishing for the end to come and take me. Brian got me some anti-nausea stuff in the morning, so I was feeling good enough to go back to Diane's Sunday, late morning.
A guy that lives down the road from Diane raises exotic birds. Lloyd (Diane’s husband) brought a cockatoo over because he was trying to get Diane to let him buy it and he wanted Diane to see how friendly it was. I went in to meet the bird and after a few minutes turned to go back outside. The crazy bird (feathered demon) flew off Lloyd’s arm, landed on my head and bit a hole through my ear. And not in a location where I can just stick a stud through it and call it good. Stupid bird (winged hell-spawn) has no fashion sense.
Then while I'm sitting outside with a towel and some ice on my ear, just to add insult to injury, an alpaca walked up and bit my boob.
Oddly enough, I didn't notice my stomach bothering me much after all of that!
So net result; my ear hurts and Lloyd's not getting his bird. (flying minion of death)
This weekend I’ll be at Singletree Farm in Chino Valley. I’m hoping for an infinitely less exciting time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Show season is upon us! Here is what we have planned for the next eight weeks:


Oct 27 & 28

JMS Alpacas Open House 17001 W. Hopi Dr Casa Grande

Nov 3

Southwest Fiber Festival Tubac, AZ

Nov 10 & 11

Open House at Diane's  in Stanfield (ok, I know how to get there, but I don't have an address!)

Nov 24 & 25

Holiday Boutique at Singletree Farm, Chino Valley AZ

Dec 1 & 2

6th Annual Open House at Alpacazona Farm

33117 W. Peters and Nall Rd Maricopa, AZ 85138

Dec 8 & 9

2nd Annual Open House at Mesquite Valley Ranch

22625 S. Val Vista Dr, Gilbert AZ 85298

Dec 15 & 16

Casa Grande Art Festival at the Promenade.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Time to come up for a breath of air! It's been pretty busy at the farm recently. I taught my first official class. In a Pear Tree hosted while I taught a class on nuno felting. I think it went well and my students went home with a couple of hand crafted scarves. I believe most were intended for Christmas gifts this year.

In a Pear Tree was also open for the first "Art in The Alley" of the season. I brought the trusty babe electric spinning wheel with me and spent a couple of hours spinning yarn.

Skeetzona Brand roving and yarns are now available at Tempe Yarn. I have been pretty busy getting the first order squared away and as of this weekend, it should hit the shelves. I've also been busy at the loom and with soap, gearing up for the coming holiday season.

We also started receiving back the felt that we have been working on with Spinderella Fiber Mill. It is always such a pleasure to work with a group that wants to be a part of the learning process. We told Lynn and Deanna what are goal was and they crafted a couple of weights of felt for us.
Now that we've had time to play with it, I've sent my thoughts and suggestions back and the next round is on the machine. So far we've been focusing on making outer-wear vest from the felt. We have a few other projects on the board that we'll be trying out as well, but they will have to wait until we can scrape together a few free minutes

I scored a couple of new display manikins. Brain decided that one, a child's body, just didn't look right without a head, so he dressed it up a little. Now the creepy little alien keeps showing up in various rooms of the house, scaring the crap out of me.

It hasn't all been fun and games. We had one of our boys, Donncha suddenly stop eating. I spent a week and ahlaf spooning gruel into him while we tried to figure out what was wrong. It moments like this, you really wish they could speak, and could tell you where they hurt. To make a long story short, it ended up being an abscess under his jaw. I had initially thought abscess, but couldn't feel any lumps in the usual places. This one was really deep and between the mandible bones. When I finally felt it, I had to actually check the other alpacas to see if it was in fact a lump and not something that was supposed to be there. The abscess was so deep, that Linda couldn't reach it to drain it without surgery. Fortunately, it finally opened at about two weeks out and Don was a happy camper from that point on. The wound is draining nicely and Don is making up for lost meals.

One of the things we did while trying to figure out what was going on with Don, was test him for valley fever. That came back positive (which had nothing to do with the abscess)so we've started him on Fluconazole for the next two months. Don is pretty good about taking his pills, especially because he knows he's going to get a nice big bowl of pellets afterwards. All I have to do now is shake the bowl and call his name, and he comes running.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

this and that

The cat trapping went well. We caught four males and two females and had a seventh give herself up. Apparently she decided that the easy life of the orphans (food and water 24/7, ac and a soft bed) was much better than the precarious life of a feral cat. Looks like I'll be bringing her in for spaying next month with the other three kittens.
The six that we caught have all gotten over their surgeries and are back to doing whatever it is feral cats do. Now I keep seeing the few that we didn't catch. They are mocking me, I'm sure of it.
We had to break the Paca-spa out earlier this week. Another breeder south of us called to say she had a girl down with a high fever. Heat stress is an ever present fear for those of us that have to endure months of extreme temperatures. Brian was a really good sport about dropping everything and hauling the tub to the other farm. It made for a late night for us, but our friends girl is doing well and we're hopeful for a full recovery.
I've been busy with my spinning wheel (of course!). The drive band on my electric wheel is made of some type of poly. For months I've been having trouble with keeping it together. The join is a weak spot and under the pressure and speed of the motor, it tends to snap and go flying across the room. You're supposed to be able to just melt it back together, but I've never had much luck with this and have it hold for very long. I finally just got annoyed and broke out some string that Brian had. I wove one end of the string into the other making a loop and now I use that. It's ugly, but functional and I'm pretty sure it's going to hold up to the abuse I give it.
The boys have finished trimming the front yard for me. I've got them busy with the back yard now.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Weeds, Cats and Seminars

Well the boys have been diligently mowing for me. Brian set up panels so they would stay in the front area where the weeds where the highest. This weekend we will be ready to move the panels to the back yard and get that cleaned up.
This time of year is when we start really watching the alpacas for heat stress. The next six weeks will be the toughest on them. Heat stress is cumulative, what the animals could tolerate earlier in the season may be too much for them later. I find now the alpacas are spending more time in the barns in front of the fans and cools. One thing we do to help them along through the summer is place additional water buckets in the barns themselves. (most of the water buckets are out in the fields) We place the buckets right in front of the swamp coolers where the cooled air will flow right over the top of them. Now the alpacas don't just have water, they have CHILLED water. Right now, between me and Dot, we're filling two five gallon buckets, one for the girls, one for the big boys, four times a day. The little boys have a water bucket in their barn year round, so they always have cool water. Luck of the draw there.
We're doing the "great cat trap" this week. I'll be picking up the traps Weds and setting them out Weds night. The poor feral cats should be good and hungry by then, as we were instructed to pick up all the feeding dishes as of this morning. Apparently well fed cats are not overly inclined to walk into a trap. Thursday I get to do all the running around, bring whatever cats we get up to the vet for their spay/neuter, bringing unused traps back to the depot, and then picking cats back up after surgery. We'll let the cats hang out in the relative coolness of the barn until they are ready to be released. I'm sure they will be thrilled about the whole thing. The feral cat colony needs to be reigned in before they eat us out of house and home. Besides, altered cats stick around longer so they don't have to keep replacing themselves. Kittens are cute, but thirteen this last spring got to be a bit much.
Finally, Brian and I went up to Gordon Teele Farm this past weekend. They were hosting a beginners alpaca seminar and asked if I would talk a little bit about fiber and what you can do with it. It was nice to be out of the heat for a little while, and they fed us very well!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

So it turns out, when you have a blog, if you don't update it periodically, all your friends gang up on you. Maybe, sometimes, there just isn't a whole lot to say. Damit.
Anyway, a few of us got together last weekend and played around with some of our fiber. I made a couple of new nuno scarves. I wanted to get some practice as I will be teaching a class on the topic Aug 25th at In A Pear Tree in Casa Grande. This time I used some silk gauze. For the class we'll be using silk scarves.
We've had a bit of rain so far this monsoon. The grass was getting pretty tall and I'm not feeling inclined to drag to mower out, so I let the boys lose. All the boys, big and small. There were a few minor scuffles but for the most part everybody was more focused on eating than posturing. They managed to clean out the corn patch pretty quickly. I'll probably hae to let the out a few more time to see any improvement to the lawn.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Happy July! I think, after a flurry of activity this last month, things will quite down and we will be able to enjoy the dog days of summer. And Summer is well and truly upon us. The girls have abandoned the front field and spend most of the day in the breeze way sitting in front of fans and coolers. The boys have been in front of the coolers since we turned them on. Read that any way you want, I don't judge. It seems that the alpacas don't mind the heat so much (the girls were still out sunbathing even though it was 108 degrees or better) as the humidity. As monsoon approaches the humidity is slowly climbing.
We rescued some feral kittens a couple of weeks back.
Their mom went missing when they were about four weeks old. It took a bit of doing, but we did finally manage to track the litter down four days after the last sighting of their mother. We've found homes for two of the kittens and are still looking for homes for the remaining three. We'll be working on getting them fixed shortly and then we'll post them on a local adaption sight. Everybody think happy, new homes for kittens thoughts.

We also assisted Arizona Llama rescue with find a home for some suri alpacas that had to be surrendered by their owner. The suris; Tommy, Dawn and Lola, are awaiting the trip to their new home on northern AZ as soon as everybody can get their schedules worked out.

I guess the big thing for us, was a trip to Branson for a family reunion with my folks and siblings and their families. It was a long drive but well worth the trip. My parents planned the outing in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary. It's been twelve years since all of us where together in the same spot. Like all good families, we just took up right where we left off. There was much laughing and catching up. I don't think I've eaten that well in a long time! My niece Meghan tried her hand at spinning,
and it turns out she's a natural, it must be in the genes! though she wasn't too thrilled with me snapping a photo of her working. Sadly, Brian and I couldn't figure out a way to become professional vacationers, so Monday morning we went trudging back to work.
On the drive back we stopped at a rest area in Texas and I just had to snap this photo. Comforting to know that if you can out run the tornado, they've built a bunker for you to hide in. Don't forget to wash your hands on the way out.

On a happy note, however, while we were gone, Dot managed to get all of our fleeces washed. Now we just have to send them up to Linda for picking!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Whooooooh! Shearing is done for another year. We've been at it all month. But I believe all the farms in the area are now full of naked alpacas. Belle was our last one. I ended up giving myself a break and brought her over to a friend's place where they had a professional come in to shear. I was more than happy to hand her off and write a check. I did about half of the alpacas on my own. My first day I did three and a half. It turns out Heilo isn't keen on the chute and after I got his blanket off, I decided it was too dangerous to keep going. So he ended up with a poodle cut for about a week until Pat and George came out and helped us finish him. I'm pooped!
In between shearing, we managed to get all the vegetable beds ready and planted . The Corn, beans and Armenian cucumbers are doing really well. Everything else went in late and is just coming up now. Sadly, I forgot to label the beds and now I've forgotten what went where. I love a mystery.
I've also been passing out broccoli seeds to all my friends. Turns out one flower makes a mess of seeds, and I let quite a bit of the plant bolt. Live and learn, now I know I don't have to leave so many blooms behind. Just means we get to eat more of it. Also on the agenda for April was getting everything prepared for the coming heat. The barn coolers got the once over, parts replaced got mended and the fans got oiled. Screens went up on the house this past weekend. I think I mat plant a couple more strategically place trees this year to help provide shade down the road. And though it all, Daisy still found time for a nap.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

We hosted a fiber fun day at the farm last Sunday.

We focused on painted dying techniques this time around. About a dozen people were on hand getting dirty in a very colorful way.

Brandi jumped in and helps me run the class and kept mixing dyes for the others. Without her help I never would have been able to keep up! Here's a huge THANK YOU shout out to her. The day started out with beautiful weather, but the winds picked up in the afternoon and we had to retreat into the shop as a dust storm came in from the south. The wind died down pretty quick, but I think we were all ready to leave the dyes behind by then.

The only one not exhausted at the end of the day was Daisy, who found herself a nice little nest for napping

Friday, March 16, 2012

Peaceful times at the Tucson Wool Festival

Last Saturday was the last Tucson Wool Festival, as Kathy is moving to Maryland at the end of the month. She didn't advertise very heavily (short timer syndrome I think) and I thought the crowd was way down. I know sales where. And I couldn't have cared less or had a better time. It turned out to be such a relaxing day. I got to visit with friends, work on projects and have time to eat a decent lunch (thanks for the mac and cheese Kathleen!) In fact, after Kathy shut down for the day, we all just hung out for a while. Eventually we all packed up and headed for home. It was nice to arrive at the house after a show not completely exhausted.
Of course, I still need the busier shows to keep the alpacas in hay, so I'd best not get use to it.

I've been spinning yarn like a mad woman so I have enough for everyone to play with next Sunday. I'm hosting a fiber play day. We'll be playing around with hand painted dying. I have no idea how many people plan on being there, but weather it's one or one hundred, I want to make sure everybody gets to try at least a little bit of dying.
Now I just have to clean out that end of the shop, so I can set up tables...

I've been playing around with the web site and have finally figured out how to do a little tweaking. For the life of me I can't figure out why computer programmers aren't all insane. It took me two hours to change one price. But I did change it, and that called for a small celebration. I rewarded myself with a nice chilled glass of wine. If I figure out how to change a photo, I'm gonna give myself the whole bottle!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

come on google, let me in...

Look! I'm up-dating the blog; now quit nagging me Pat.
I suppose I could tell you nothing has been going on, but we've been pretty busy, really. The problem I'm having is Google has decided to be difficult and keeps refusing my password. When I try to reset it, I get an email stating I don't have an account with the email I use. This is usually followed by another email telling me how to reset the password for the email they claim I don't have. ??? most of the time I decide it isn't worth bothering with. On occasion, I reset the password, only to be told the next time I try to log in that the pass word is no good.

I hate technology.

So what has happened lately? The Southwest Regional Alpaca Show has come and gone. I had registered Belle and Flynn, but the night before checking, Belle decided to get sick. Nothing serious, a bad case of the runs, but I didn't want to stress her further or take a chance she was contagious with anything so I opted to leave them both home. Belle was fine in a couple of days and completely unrepentant for having ruined my plans. Nobody else showed signs of illness, so it was probably something she got into. In hind sight, I was just as happy to not have the kids there. My mom didn't make it out this year, and I don't think I could have managed everything without her.
I headed up the ABA booth this year. I think we did pretty well. We managed to make a little hay money. (or made up the money we spent on not taking Belle and Flynn to the show)
The following weekend Pat and I participated in Arizona City Daze. The weather was quite nice, and I thoroughly enjoyed the wine I bought on the way home. Other than that, there isn't a whole lot to talk about. Think we'll put this one in the "thanks, but we'll pass" column.
We'll take a break this weekend and then head to Tucson for the final Tucson Wool Festival. Kathy has bought a home in Maryland and is shifting everything East. I'm sure she would welcome us there, but it is a bit of a commute.
One thing about AZ City Daze, I had time to take stock of my remaining product and realized that I am getting low on yarn. We have been selling it steadily all winter without me paying much attention. Now I'm hustling to get more done. My free time is spent carding and spinning. Now I'm getting notes that people are needing soap again. Shoot! note to self: free time must be spent carding, spinning and felting. Maybe I should just give up sleeping.
Some good news, yarn wise, our cream color yarn came back from the mill. I'm skeining that off the cones and on March 25, we're going to have some people over and spend an afternoon playing with hand painting techniques.
The other thing I've been trying to work on is getting our online store up dated. That is really not going well. (the "I hate technology" statement and the difficulties I have with Google should give you an indication of my computer prowess - slim to nil. On line stores are completely beyond me) Stay tuned for either a new on line store, or a news headline about a crazy woman that shot her computer.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy New Year!

Bu-bye 2011. Hello 2012. Let's see what the new year has in store for us.
The year ended in a whirl wind of activity. We had six events in eight weeks. All went really well except our own open house. For that the wind blew, the rain fell and the temperature plummeted. To say the least, it was a quite weekend for visitors. Oh well, can't win them all.
Then right on the heels of the events was teeth trimming day, Christmas and New Years. In between all of these, we had to keep running felted soap out to our vendors. That's some pretty big news for the end of the year; we now have soap in The Old Pot Shop in Tucson (an artist collective), Homology in Scottsdale (a contemporary home accessory store) and In A Pear Tree in Casa Grande (another artist collective).
I also plan on redoing the online store on our web site. But I've been planning on doing that for months, so I wouldn't be holding my breath on that one.
We did have some quite, fun moments du

ring all this. Like the afternoon we spent putting Santa hats on the alpacas and taking pictures. We had a blast and the alpacas were surprisingly tolerant. I guess they were in the holiday mood as well.
I finally got my but back out to the shop and have been dying and washing fleece again. I have an idea on doing some felted scarves. Hopefully after this weekend I'll be ready to actually start. I'll keep you posted.