Sunday, August 10, 2014

fun with watermelons


come to the conclusion that there are simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done. I’m not complaining, mind you, I could really just go for a nap right about now.

watermelon jam
We started out the weekend in a nice relaxing fashion, by taking the Suzuki out to Gila Bend where we had breakfast at the Space Age Diner. The place is a hoot, doing its best Roswell impersonation. I’m particularly found of the sparkly stucco the place is covered in.  We ate so much I forgot to eat lunch. Which is just as well, because I made a pretty big dinner.  Some days I’m more domestic than others.

It wasn't all play for us. Brian did some more work on the new veggie patch. (The alpacas are dutifully adding their contribution to the project.) He also turned over what is now being referred to as the “little garden”, where the bulk of the winter vegetables will go.  It saves me a whole lot of time and backache when he turns the soil with the tractor. I love that tractor.

making wine.
For my part, I made watermelon Jam on Saturday, then spent Sunday morning preparing my mix for watermelon wine. I’ll have Brian help me put it in the fermentor after it cools down. Then it’s keep your fingers crossed and hope I get a good fermentation and remember to rack it at the proper time. Basically, hope that I don’t screw up. It’s killing me to know I have to wait six to nine months to find out if I’ve made wine, or three gallons of watermelon vinegar. I don’t think I know what I would do with three gallons of watermelon vinegar…  I wonder if I could use it for dying? Na, let’s think positively and plan on toasting with a refreshing fruit wine come the New Year.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Dog days of summer

We’ve been having a fairly wet monsoon this year. The watermelons are loving it. I’ve been picking melons that are between twenty and thirty pounds! It’s a good thing we like watermelon, though I have to admit, we gave the last one away because, well, we’re getting just a tiny bit tired of watermelon.

The weeds have also been enjoying the rains. We finally fenced off the watermelon patch and safeguarded the pomegranate and sage bushes, and let the alpacas loose in the yard. I figured they could weed just as easily as I could. Though it is just a little disconcerting to see an alpaca walk by the window every so often.
Molly isn’t too thrilled with this set up. She is not a huge fan of the alpacas and spends most of her time up on the porch giving me that accusing look. (You let them out on purpose? What were you thinking???) The feral cats are equally annoyed. Except for Rufus. 

He’s adopted the alpacas, and the alpacas seem to have gotten found of him. During the heat of the day, when the boys all find their favorite spots in front of the cooler, there is Rufus, fast asleep in the middle of them. And I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen Rufus, arched back, rubbing in and out of the alpacas legs. It’s nice to see they’ve all made friends.

Brian and I have been talking about setting up a new vegetable garden in one of the pastures. We figured we could block it off until it’s done producing, then open the gate, and let the alpacas clean up. Win-win. Brian decided to go ahead and get that started. He ripped up the soil and moved our compost pile to the new garden. We’ll keep adding compost and keep the soil somewhat moist so that it is well conditioned for spring when we’ll start planting. In the mean time, we’ll put the winter garden where the old compost pile was. 

Monday, July 21, 2014


It’s funny how you become aware of things, before you realize you’ve noticed. You get that nagging tug at the back of your mind; something is different here. You start to look around trying to figure out what is out of place, what triggered this feeling.

I had that out in the barn last week. I was feeding the alpacas. Everybody was eating. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary,

Then I noticed Inara was eating while kushed. Her mother, Godiva, use to do that all the time, but this was not typical for Inara. She hopped right up when I walked over to her and went to eat out by another feeder. I chalked it up to her just being lazy and left.

The next day, once again she was kushed while eating. This time when I walked up to her, I noticed that she seemed a bit unsteady on her legs as she walked away. I checked her temperature, which was normal, but there was definite tremble in her back legs.

My first thought was PEM,  (thiamine deficiency induced polioencephalomalacia).  The typical treatment by injection large doses of thiamine, or fortified B complex into the affected animal. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any injectable thiamine on hand. A call to Linda, my vet, resulted in her ordering some for me, but it wouldn’t be in until Monday.

The reason it is preferred to give thiamine by injection vs oral, is that coccidian protozoa, a parasite of the intestinal tract, uses thiamine to reproduce, thereby decreasing the amount available to the body. If you give Vitamin B orally, you’re basically sending it straight to the critters that are stealing it from the alpaca. By injecting thiamine, it goes straight to the blood stream and bypasses the gut all together.

But since Inara was already showing neurological problems, and some Vitamin B was better than nothing, I started giving her tablets.

After three days of vitamin slurries, Inara is showing improvements. I finally got the injectable B complex, and I’ll switch Inara to that until we get the results from the fecal to see if we need to be treating for coccidia as well.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Alpaca dolls

Alpacazona Farm is pleased to offer these adorable alpaca dolls. Each one is individually hand crafted from alpaca felt with accenting fabric. They each stand at approximately 8” tall. Discounts are offered for bulk purchases,


$17 ea

2-4 dolls $15.50 ea

5-9 dolls $14 ea

10-12 dolls $12 ea

13 or more $10 ea



Contact us at for purchasing info

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The last two weeks have been fairly busy out here at Alpacazona Farm. It started out when I discovered George, one of our borders, with an injury to his eye. I haltered him and tried to gage how bad it was. The tissue surrounding his eye was so swollen that I couldn’t even see if he even had an eye in there. It was late in the day and I couldn’t get a hold of his owner, so we flushed it out with saline as much as we could and left it until morning. I had thought about separating George from then others and locking him up in the barn, but he tends to fret when he is separated, I knew that the alpacas would all settle down for the evening shortly after sunset, so I left him where he was and hoped for the best.

George's eye injury
By the time I went out for morning feed (at four a.m.) I could see from the glow of my flashlight that the swelling around George’s eye was almost gone and there was just a little discharge. We flushed it out a couple more times over the next two days, and I’m happy to report that his eye is as good a new. It’s amazing how quickly they can go from normal to “oh my god he popped out his eye!” then back to normal.

George three days later.
As soon as we were done messing with George’s eye, it was time for our yearly teeth trimming. Of course George was on the list to be trimmed. All in all, I imagine George thought he was having a bad week.

The weather has been so nice recently that I have been doing a lot of yard work. All the gardens are growing well and Jim and Dot have helped me put some old pallets up on the barn wall to act as a trellis for some luffas that I thought I would try to grow this year. Hopefully in four or five months I’ll have some spongy looking things to show for all this effort.

Finally, I found some new hay I’m trying out. Hay has always been an issue for us. Alfalfa and bermuda are plentiful in this area, but alfalfa is too rich as a steady diet and the alpacas really don’t like bermuda. We usually buy timothy hay by the semi load and bring it in from the north, but the last load we got was so expensive and of such poor quality that I have been aggressively looking for other options.

I stumbled across a farm nearby that was growing a native grass mix last fall. Unfortunately, he was just about out by the time I came across his ad, but he told me he would be cutting some annual rye grass hay in February or March.

I picked up two bales this week and have been mixing it in when I feed the alpacas. While perennial rye should be avoided because of a fungus that grows on it, annual rye grass is okay. (at least according to all the articles I’ve read)  The alpacas seem to like it. I have yet to send a sample off for testing, but if the numbers come back where I need them, I’ll be feeding the critters rye grass hay this summer.

 Unlike other types of hay, this is very short and doesn’t hold together in a flake so when you cut the strings, it looks like a big pile of lawn clippings. I’ll have to make sure I open the bales in a location where I can easily sweep it all up.

The next big event (at least the next planned one) will be shearing in April.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I love a good day.

Friday was a good day.

I had the day off from work (which, quite frankly, by it’s self would have qualified Friday as a good day.) as I had a group coming out later in the morning to visit the alpacas. I started the morning with a nice relaxing cup of coffee as the sun was coming up. After feeding the alpacas and cats, I picked a mountain of carrots, kale, chard, chives, cilantro and a couple of tomatoes.

My group showed up right on time and spent an hour and a half feeding alpacas pellets and carrot tops. Okay, most of them spent an hour and a half feeding alpacas; the littlest ones spent most of their time playing in the dirt.

After everyone went back home, I finished cleaning carrots and blanched veggies for freezing. Since I was in the kitchen anyway, I made loaf of soda bread, which ended up being part of dinner.

Out side, I planted some watermelons and tomatoes. Dot brought over a day lily looking for a home, so we found a spot to plant that as well.

Then I wound down the evening sewing another alpaca doll.
It was a good day.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Spring is in the air

I was reminded yesterday that I have been once again neglecting my blog. I’d love to tell you that as usual, I’ve been swamped with activity, but the truth is I’ve just had a spat of laziness.

Not to say that I haven’t been doing anything, just nothing alpaca related. I’ve planted the spring garden, been busy trying new recipes, cleaned out part of the house and had a yard sale. I have not been out to the shop or even looked at my spinning wheel.


I’ve changed that these last couple of weekends. I have been warping the loom for a couple more scarves with the royal baby yarn we had done back in Connecticut. I’ve sewed some alpaca dolls from the felt we had made in Utah. And, here’s the big one…. I up dated the web store!


That may seem like no big deal to some of you. But for me code is a foreign language. And my website was built in such a way that I can’t just fill out a couple of fields and magically have the new items appear. Trust me, I wish that it did work that way, but it doesn’t. And I fear going to that type of system because I have finally got this one looking the way I want it, I don’t want to start all over. (hmm, there’s that laziness again.)

For me, all things computer involve some sort of evil magic and a whole lot of luck. Ironic, considering my day job is as a CAD Tech, and I spend all day on a computer. It’s a love/hate relationship.

Anyway, since we finally got our long awaited rain last night, and the yard is a muddy mess. I see another day of pleasantly puttering around the house, dusting off the spinning wheel, finishing the warp for the scarves and possibly cutting out another alpaca doll to start sewing on. Or I might make a loaf of Irish soda bread, (I did my first one yesterday. Easy to make and tasty, my kind of baking!) or do something domestic, like laundry (not that I really want to, but it would sever no one any good if we started running around naked for lack of clean cloths.). The sky  is the limit! Spring is in the air!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

RMFIH '14 - "Daddy's" girl

I'm not a huge fan of the Huffington Post, but this little gem needs to be shared. The next time a small child is asking for your attention, maybe you should stop and play turtle with them. (I especially need this reminder!)
Dear "Daddy,"
I don't know your name, but Kate called you "daddy" for the entire flight last week and you kindly never corrected her. In fact, you didn't even flinch as you could probably tell that she was not confusing you with her own "daddy," but instead making a judgment regarding your level of "safety" for her. If she calls you "daddy" then you better believe she thinks you are alright.
I sat Kate, my 3-year-old who has autism, in the middle seat knowing full well that there would be a stranger sitting next to her for the duration of this flight. I had to make a quick decision and based on her obsession with opening and closing the window shade, I figured she might be less of a distraction if she sat in the middle. I watched the entire Temple basketball team board the plane, and wondered if one of these giants might sit by Kate. They all moved toward the back. She would have liked that, she would have made some observations that I would have had to deal with, but she would have liked those players. I watched many Grandmotherly women board and hoped for one to take the seat but they walked on by. For a fleeting moment I thought we might have a free seat beside us, and then you walked up and sat down with your briefcase and your important documents and I had a vision of Kate pouring her water all over your multi-million dollar contracts, or house deeds, or whatever it was you held. The moment you sat down, Kate started to rub your arm. Your jacket was soft and she liked the feel of it. You smiled at her and she said: "Hi, Daddy, that's my mom." Then she had you.
You could have shifted uncomfortably in your seat. You could have ignored her. You could have given me that "smile" that I despise because it means; "manage your child please." You did none of that. You engaged Kate in conversation and you asked her questions about her turtles. She could never really answer your questions but she was so enamored with you that she kept eye contact and joint attention on the items you were asking her about. I watched and smiled. I made a few polite offers to distract her, but you would have none of it.
Kate: (Upon noticing you had an iPad) Is dis Daddy's puduter?
You: This is my iPad. Would you like to see it?
Kate: To me?????? (I know she thought you were offering it to her to keep)
Me: Look with your eyes, Kate. That is not yours.
Kate: Dat's nice!
You: (Upon noticing that Kate had an iPad) I like your computer, too. It has a nice purple case.
Kate: Daddy wanna be a bad guy? (She offered shredder to you and that, my friend, is high praise)
You: Cool.
The interaction went on and on and you never once seemed annoyed. She gave you some moments of peace while she played with her Anna and Elsa dolls. Kind of her to save you from playing Barbies, but I bet you wouldn't have minded a bit. I bet you have little girls, too.
Not long before we landed Kate had reached her limit. She screamed to have her seatbelt off, she screamed for me to open the plane door and she cried repeating, "Plane is cwosed (closed)" over and over. You tried to redirect her attention to her toys. She was already too far gone at this point, but the fact that you tried to help your new little friend made me emotional.
In case you are wondering, she was fine the moment we stepped off the plane. Thank you for letting us go ahead of you. She was feeling overwhelmed and escaping the plane and a big, long hug was all she needed.
So, thank you. Thank you for not making me repeat those awful apologetic sentences that I so often say in public. Thank you for entertaining Kate so much that she had her most successful plane ride, yet. And, thank you for putting your papers away and playing turtles with our girl.

Monday, January 13, 2014

RMFIH '14 - Raise the Roof

We're going to bring today's RMFIH '14 even closer to home. In fact, we're going to bring it right next door.

Jim and Dot have needed a new roof on their house for, well,  for years, but they didn't tell anyone. They just didn't know how they would pay for it, or how they would get it done. Over the last year, it has become impossible to hide the fact that every time it rains, the house leaks like a sieve. Granted, we live in a desert, and we don't get a lot of rain, but when it comes, it comes with a vengeance.

For the last four months, the roof has been covered by a big blue tarp held down with old tires and bricks. If there was ever any doubt that we're a bunch of red-necks, we pretty much dispelled it forever.

After spending months, worrying about it, and talking about it and thinking about it, Friday Brian and Jim got up on the roof and started lifting shingles to see just how bad it was.... It was really, really bad. So Brian calls me at work to ask if I could get anyone from the office to help. We knew it was last minute, and all these guys have young families, with obligations of their own, but it wouldn't hurt to ask.

I hadn't heard back from anyone by the time I left for home, so we assumed we were on our own.

Around six o'clock, JD Called to let me know he and two other guys would be there at eight a.m. to help out, and maybe a few more would be able to come. They could only stay until noon, but they would be there.


At eight o'clock sharp, JD's truck rolled in and six guys came piling out. They got right down to business and climbed up on the old rotted roof. It was like we had set six little whirlwinds loose up there. They managed to accomplish in three and half hours what it would have taken us all weekend to do. The roof was completely striped, the old rotted sheeting was torn off, trusses that needed shoring up were repaired and most of the sheeting had been replaced.

As they drove away at noon, Brian and I looked at each other with the same thought in our heads: Thank God they could only stay until noon, we were exhausted!

The roof isn't quite done yet, but we never would have gotten nearly this far without help.

Thanks JD, Josh, Kyle, Matt, Manny and Rich!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Restore My Faith In Humanity 2014

So it's a new year. 2013 ended with a whimper, leaving a slightly bad taste in my mouth. In an effort to not dwell on the negative, I'm starting a new project: Restore My Faith In Humanity.

As part of my effort to remind myself to be positive, no matter what, to see the silver lining, even when I would rather just wallow in self-pity, I am scoring the internet, talking to strangers and keeping my eyes open for examples, big and small of people doing good deeds for others.

We're starting out with this: a yahoo story about a guy in PA taking time to help out the elderly in his town during the recent cold snap, by delivering anything they need so they don't have to venture out into the cold.

Stay tuned for more stories of inspiration, or add one yourself.

Smile! It will really piss off a grumpy person.