Monday, May 31, 2010

False Alarm

I had a premonition this morning. I knew that I should have put the goats in yesterday. I did not. I think that I dreamt that I did move them indoors. When I woke up I could have kicked myself. It was lightening, thundering and pouring rain. I managed to get through chores and finally to the goats. They have a small Little Tyke play toy that I put a tarp over to keep them dry. It is a temporary housing until Sam can get a proper shed built for them. New goat is huge now. She is due June 13. I swear she is going to pop. The alpacas never look this bad! She was nestled down inside the house and I swear I saw the beginnings of a delivery. I ran around trying to gather up the birthing kit, etc. I called my goat mentor and she advised not to move her if she is in labor. I have had a stall prepared for her for one month now! Taima sat inside the toy with New Goat (we still cannot decide on a name) to monitor her until I could get my bearings. All for naught! No kids and besides it is way too early. We did manage to get her into a stall in the barn as it stormed the rest of the day. We put Anna Nana and Juliette in a stall too. Juliette really prefers to be the with the minis but she did finally concede and enter the barn. All is not lost however because tomorrow I will clean the paddock and get it ready to build the new shed.
Meanwhile I am reading up on delivery of kids. I found a great site for all things goat--Fiasco Farm. Other sources I have read state that 95% of deliveries go well. I am worried though. I suspect triplets. Multiples frequently become tangled in the uterus. I better go buy those long gloves tomorrow....

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Back from India and no time to rest

Got back on Monday evening. All the animals are fine-thankfully. I am playing catch up with the garden, yard and barn. The flower beds are full of weeds and I have not started the vegetable garden yet. I mowed the lawn for the first time today. I used the Kubota and then trimmed with the weed eater. I hate those things. They are difficult to start and then the nylon thread runs out. I don't have the upper body strength to pull the stupid cord to start it. It is absolutely frustrating. But at least it is done now.
The rest of the week will be spent trimming the grass around the fence line and planting the garden and repainting the bird houses.
On another note, Anna Nana, unfortunately, has ring worm. I have separated her from the other two goats and she is being treated with fungicide. I didn't realize that is what she had and I touched the area on her back. Grr. New goat is huge and due in about 15 days. I cannot wait!!
Outside I can hear the beginning of a spring storm. The wind has picked up and thunder is rumbling. I finally got the pool all set-algae gone, chlorine just right and now it is going to rain. Ahh. Never a moments rest on the farm.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday-Shearing 2010

This week was full, full, full of fiber. Last weekend we sheared our animals and all week long I have been moving bags of the glorious, soft fiber out of the house to be processed or sorted/graded.
Shearing day always begins a few weeks before the actual removal of fiber. This year I was crunched on time and did not clean up the paddocks before shearing. I won't make that mistake again. One of my crias, Floreanna, was full of vegetable matter and her refusal to stand still for 1/2 of second for me to try to clean it off was frustrating. I am sure if she walked by a refrigerator it would stick to her. She picked up every small bit of straw, hay, grass,etc. Lesson learned. As the forecast was for rain I moved the animals into the barn 2 days ahead of time. They hated it. They hummed and hummed begging me to let them go outside every time I came into the barn. I stripped the stalls every day to remove any debris that might wrapped itself into their locks. The morning of shearing I cleaned the stalls again and laboriously cleaned each and everyone of the 15 animals by hand. Taima helped me pick off most of the vegetable matter. I then gave the animals a small bit of hay to munch on. And we waited for the shearer. Dave Easter came late in the afternoon and we began our work about 4:30 pm. Beforehand I cleaned the barn, organized an area for shearing and prepared the bags for fiber. Each animal had 3 clear plastic bags with their name on it. One for the blanket, one for the neck fiber and one for tail, belly and legs. Andrea Morrison of Wonder Why Alpacas is an apprentice grader and sorter. Following her instructions I was a able to organize myself and felt much better this year about shearing. Of the 7 animals that I wanted to have show blankets on I used flannel backed table cloths to wrap the fleece in. All clearly labeled, of course.

Thankfully I had help. The Talbotts of Grand Alpacas and my spinning cohort Katie and her mother in law helped to hold the bags as Dave sheared or to wrap the blanket and weigh all the bags.Taima held the head of the animal while Sam clipped the toenails. I found that if each person had a specific job it was much more organized and less confusing. I sort of did this and that. The most amazing aspect of shearing is watching the blanket as it is sheared off the animal. We have a bay black, Kahula, and his fiber reminded me of melting chocolate as it formed "waves" onto the plastic bag under him. I cannot properly describe how beautiful it was.

There are three things I would do differently next year..1. clean the paddocks 2 weeks before shearing. 2. Use Ty Vac to place under the animal and wrap the blanket in. 3.Make sure Noah is home to help out (he was at a Regatta out of town). Other than that I think we were very productive.
We finished shearing around 9 pm. I still had to feed the other animals and clean up. We were all exhausted on Sunday and a bit sore. We had a great time. I love shearing day.