Monday, March 29, 2010

MOPACA Invitational Fiber Arts Competition

I submitted this skein of yarn to the Invitational which took place on March 19-20. The minute the package left my hand and slipped into the letter box, I totally forgot about it. When I saw the mail tonight I quickly opened the envelope only to find that I had placed 1st in my category!! I was thrilled. I spun this skein from roving of our alpaca Tula. She is a beautiful black bay and has very nice luster. I confess that this skein gave me a fit. When I was trying to count the yardage it somehow got all tangled up and took me 2 hours to get it set straight. I was on the point of tears and/or screaming. Yarn and tangles can be so frustrating not to mention time consuming. Well it seems all my efforts were worth it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Black Gold

Growing up I was a Barbie Doll girl. I had ballet Barbie, tanning Barbie, gymnastic Barbie and even a grow-up Skipper. I would rotate her left arm and viola! breasts appeared! Sara, my best friend, and I would take over the living room and create elaborate houses for our doll families. We embellished the rooms with knick knacks from the shelves in the library or swiped from my Dad's office. We spent hours dressing the dolls up in glittery evening gowns with velvet coats or faux fur stoles. Never mind that between the two of us we had all the latest Barbie paraphernalia; houses, an airplane, a camper and a dune buggy. And we spent hours and hours if not days focused on our game. Never in our wildest imagination did we think of playing with toy trucks or moving dirt around with shovels and wheelbarrows. To play outside was only to bring our dolls with us and run around in the corn fields surrounding Sara's farmhouse. As adult I fondly remember my Barbie days. When we bought our first farm toy..the Kubota, I scoffed at the mere mention of driving it let alone doing chores with it. I swore to myself that I would not even attempt master it. First of all I knew if I learned how to drive it, I would be responsible to carry out any chores involved with it. Secondly, I was scared. It is a large piece of machinery. Well those sentiments lasted about a year. I am glad to say that I did learn how to drive the tractor. Not only do I love to cruise around, I won't let anyone else mow or turn the compost pile!! I still am a bit nervous of driving it on a hill (in case it would turn over) and I do watch to make sure the bucket is not too high. But other than that ...I am sorry for the time I lost. I love to rev it up and drive out to flip compost.
And I am glad to say that my efforts are finally having some results. I have been churning up the pile about every other day. Adding some organic matter from the kitchen, dried leaves and of course poop. I am maintaining a temperature of about 125F. This is good as it means the pile is working its magic and soon I will have black gold to put on my garden. Thank you Alpacas!


The Culprit--Captain Cavalier

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bantam Chicks

Sunday on a trip to Family, Farm and Home to get feed I was delighted to see that they were offering Bantam chicks at 50% off. Of course, I had to have them. They are now in basement, the only location free and safe from the seven cats that roam around. They have been named, by Taima, John, Ringo, Paul, George and Isaac. And no we don't know what sex they are!
Last year we purchased 10 adult chickens and basically "learned" how to take care of poultry. They wandered around as they pleased. Slight mistake as my flower beds were constantly being scratched and pecked at. I did not mind free range chickens but sometimes they refused to go to their coop and roosted in the garage. Noah was constantly searching for eggs in the hay bales or woods. Enough is enough and we fenced off an V shaped section of the alpaca paddock, moved the coop and contained the birds. At first they were confused and annoyed by being closed in. But they got over it.
At the end of the summer I sold them so I did not have to over winter them and mess around with shelter, etc. This year we decided to get chicks and start from the beginning. The Bantams were an impulse purchase. I am hoping to convince my kids to show them at 4H. Plus they are a beautiful bird. We pretty much had everything we needed to set the chicks up. Introducing them to their new home was simple enough. We just held each one and showed them where the food and then water was located. I think the heat lamp was a bit too hot as they spent the first two days huddled in one place. Sam moved it up higher last night and this morning I checked them and they were moving all around their pen. Last month in Hobby Farms there was an article on starting chicks which helped me learn the basics. Sam is taking a "photo a day" and by the end of the month he will put together a collage and I will post it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday

With the weather turning nicer the barn is demanding more of my attention. I guess it can be called "spring cleaning." And I was elated to haul out the sorely missed water hose! I am sporting some nice arm muscles due to hauling water buckets all over, but am relieved to not have to do that if possible.

I unfortunately did not get as far as I wanted on my fiber arts project. But here is the beginning. I am planning on trying my hand at a wet felted bowl. I am going to use carded alpaca, compliments of White Lace. I will embellish the bowl with pink merino and alpaca dyed in onion skins. I think it will be pretty. Below are the tools I will use to make the bowl. I cannot wait to take the scissors to the medieval torture chamber--a pair of panty hose! As I was sure no woman created the pantyhose, I lookws it up and yes, we can thank Mr. Allen Gant of South Carolina. Figures it was a man.

I will post the results of the bowl on the next FAF. If any of you have created a fiber bowl in the past and have suggestions, I would welcome them. Thanks.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Lesson Learned

I usually do evening chores around 5 pm or so. It takes me about one hour to complete everything. As of late I am cleaning the pastures in the evening as the ground is a bit thawed and easier to remove debris. The mini shelter is on a slight incline and I park the gator in the shelter while I work. For some reason today I pulled up to the side of their house, turned the engine off and grabbed the hay for the goats. The goats were whining and complaining. I, in turn, was fussing at them. Suddenly I heard shwoosh, shwoosh. I turned around to find the gator careening towards the goat fence. The thoughts that ran through my head as I saw the impending disaster..No, Wait! Stop! Don't! But I couldn't move fast enough to get to the gator before it crashed in the fence. Ahh. I jumped in the driver's seat and pulled it up the shelter again. This time putting the parking brake on. (Light bulb) I guess I was too busy talking to the goats to remember the parking brake.
All in all the damage was minimal. A bit of scratched paint on the gator and a bent board in the fence. The wire for the goats is a bit distorted, but not too bad. I have been pleasantly surprised at how well vinyl fencing holds up. In the past 1 1/2 years I have had only one damaged board compliments of a kick by Lukomotion-the Quarter horse. Last fall we even had a tree fall on the back fencing and it did not break.

I have to say that this was not one of my finer farming moments. Lesson learned: Put the parking brake on!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Come on snow..Melt!

The days of green pastures and flowers bursting with color are nagging at the back of my mind. I don't actually mind snow. Although farm work is so difficult in two foot high drifts. Deep in the middle of winter winds and icicles I can manage by not doing anything except feed the animals, but early spring just makes me want to pull my hair out. It is muddy, poopy, and swampy. A cesspool of muck and yuck. I almost lost my boot yesterday in the mini paddock. Yeah, yeah, I know. It wouldn't be that muddy if I actually had grass. Darn those mini choppers. I am enjoy the lovely sunny days albeit cold and frozen in the morning. But afternoon when I can actually remove the poop piles because they are unfrozen, I pray I don't trip and fall into the mess. Thankfully early spring is short and spring break falls into the middle of it. I can leave and let my wonderful caretaker, Rena, deal with daily chores as I fly off to ten days of adventure.

But farm work goes on rain, shine or snow and as does the saga of the goats. Yesterday late afternoon I went out to check on the little monsters. And as you can see from the photo...Juliette in front of their little house. Guess who is inside? New Goat. She won't let her out!! This is unbelievable. Never in my life did I expect such obstinate goats. Finally I coaxed Juliette away from the house with a little grain. I sat down to to observe and basically monitor their behavior. Of course Juliette and NG want to be scratched which I did. I had put 1/4 of flake of hay on their house to hand feed to them as incentive if they got to be quarrelsome. Anna Nana found it and was trying to eat a bit. I had my back to the house and she was behind me. My phone rang and I was talking with a friend when suddenly I was knocked forward. I was taken completely off guard by a falling goat. She smashed into my upper back and head with a powerful klonk! I was so surprised as was she. Thankfully no one was hurt and I nearly cried I was laughing so hard. I guess it is just another day of goat life. Thank goodness Alpacas are quiet and serene!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday-Jewellry and Needle Felting

I love Fiber Arts Friday! I have set aside every Thursday afternoon to work on a project whether it be wet felting, needle felting, spinning, knitting, dyeing or thinking of fiber. I have been coming up with lots of fiber arts concepts that I want to explore, but time..time! There is never enough time for all the wonderful fun things to do. Actually this week I have been wet felting a bit. I am not sure this is my preferred method of fiber arts. My hands are dry and itch. I find with wet felting I don't have the control as I do with needle felting. Plus my hands stay soft and supple without all the water. I know, I know I should wear gloves. The only time I wear gloves is in the kitchen when I am using a cleaner for the stove top.
A few weeks ago I had hand carded a batt of alpaca seconds which I wet felted and will do something with for next week..maybe. I also felted a flower and some balls. The bracelet below is alpaca fiber and beads. I had to redo this bracelet 4x to get it right. I love the textures of beads and fiber balls.
I also needle felted this pin. I think I might be a possible needle felter. This was really one of my first attempts, but I love the process. You can go where ever you want with needle felting only your imagination to hold you back. I am planning on working with felted flowers for now until I gain some skills and then I will move on. I really want to wet felt a bowl. I should be spinning though. I have 6 bags of gorgeous alpaca fiber sitting in my basement calling my name. Maybe for next week.

Sun and Snow

Sorry for the thumb!

Goyo the mischevious

Meet and Greet

The past few days have been wonderful. The animals are all basking in the sun and enjoying the warmth. I decided to separate the boy crias from their mothers today. They are about 9 months old now and have stopped nursing. In the first few months of criahood we decided not to force wean the babies and let nature take its course. I did some research and discovered that around 8-10 months crias typically wean themselves. Sam and I decided this was the best approach for our herd and our farm. However, Goyo has been a little bit aggressive and mounting the mommies of late. We thought it was time to move the boys into their own paddock. After graining this morning I kept the boys in and let the moms and girls go out. Delphine, Goyo and Quito were nervous being alone. I fixed up a paddock for them complete with hay rack and water, then turned them out. I put them next to the males for reassurance. Eventually the boys will be in the same paddock as the males. I was nervous that there was going to be pandemonium. However, I was pleasantly surprised that the boys were not overly distressed. They were delighted to see the males. The moms did not even notice the babies were gone! Whew!

The goats are another matter entirely. New goat is being bullied by Anna Nana and Juliette. It is driving me crazy. I want new goat to just fight back. Anna Nana is going out of her way to be annoying. I usually feed between 7-8 am while the kids are getting off to school. I cannot do that now because I feel obligated to take grain/hay to the goats and put the hay in four different areas so everyone has a bit to eat. I take the grain and give AN and Juliette first. Then put some in a pan for new goat. She usually runs into their little house and I put the pan at the entrance and sit on the ground with my back to her and ward off the other two goats. If I don't do this..she won't be able to eat anything. Today after she ate her grain I gave her one fourth of a flake of hay. I held in my hand and she and Juliette ate from it. Then AN got involved and the shoving began. And she stopped eating. Grr. I basically spent 30 minutes feeding this goat. And that was just at dinner! I don't really mind sitting with the goats. They are notoriously messy and have hay strewn hither, tither and yon. But it is clean and quiet. I scratch them and brush them. They love it. New goat pulls on my clothes until I rub her under the chin or on her back. She is really cute. I hate the animal pecking order!
This is Anna Nana..she seems so innocent.