Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Fiber Arts-Knitting Update and Farm Friendly Goat Shed Cleaning

Well what a week! I did not spend too much time on fiber arts as most of my time was dedicated to feeding 3 crazy goats. I finally moved from feeding 4x a day to 3x and this should help me enormously. However I did get a couple of skeins of yarn spun but they are still on the bobbins. And I managed to make a bit of progress on my wristlets. I realized that the pattern isn't written correctly. I am getting a dainty lace pattern and the picture of the wristlets does not have this lacey appearance. According to the directions sk2p means slip one, knit together pass stitch over (this is what is written by the author). And she wants me to k2 directly after sk2p. Does that mean knit two stitches? Well apparently not! It means k2tog. So why didn't she write it like that? Grrr. Anyhow I have been K2....knit two stitches. And it looks fine so far. If the wrislets get to the point where I decide it isn't going to work out, heck, I will just make something else..a scarf perhaps?

On another note my black goats have been coughing and the vet gave them a shot of medicine last week as they had bronchitis and pneumonia. (Thankfully I moved Mama goat out a week before her delivery and she was spared that illness). They were doing better towards the end of the week. Then we had this wet, damp weather. I moved them into the barn for a few days to keep them out of the mist and rain. I didn't want Anna Nana's condition to worsen. Since today was clear, cold and sunny I decided to clean the goat shed while goats recuperated in the barn. It is impossible to clean their house when they are in their paddock. They stand in the way and get between my legs and climb on the gator, whine and basically are a nuisance. Anyway what a mess it was! 4 gator loads of hay and muck later I had a nice clean house. Ready for the goats to return to mess it up again! Now for the alpacas....
Happy Friday Fiber Arts, Creative Friday and Farm Friendly Friday!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Friday Fiber Arts PhatFiber Sweet Shop and some knittin

Thought I would share my Phatfiber sample contribution this week for Friday Fiber Arts. The theme for this month is Sweet Shop. I chose some of my creamy alpaca fiber and twisted it together with hazelnut (dark fawn alpaca) and mocha (bay black and rose gray alpaca) into delicious tarts for spinning. Each packaged sample has a felted ball and some sprinkles made of felted fiber. It was so much fun to create and dream up a confection I hope is worthy of Willy Wonka's Factory! I got to take a peek at a box from last month and was humbled by the amazing fiber artists that contribute samples. Plus it was so fun to open a box and discover all the wonderful treasures inside.

My knitting project, unfortunately, has suffered this week. I am going to spare you the boredom of posting a photo that shows only four more rows. The reason I am so behined is that on Sunday we had three new kid goats born on the farm. I have been busy feeding them with a bottle 4x a day. Mama Faith goat was touch and go for the first few days after delivery so we decided to let her reserve all her energy repairing her body.Check out my previous blog to read about their harrowing birth!

This is Taima, my daughter, feeding the babes.
Check out Wonder Why Gal, Natural Suburbia and Verde Farm to see what fiber artists and farmers were up to this week!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Via Verde Farm goes to a Job Fair

I was invited to speak at the Eastern Middle School Job Fair in the Forest Hills Public School District yesterday. I was of course speaking about my job as an Alpaca Farmer. This is the third year I have gone to the fair but the first time I took alpacas. The girls were the star event! I took Esmerelda and Areiya. Both are crias born this past fall. They were amazing. They were adorable and the kids loved them. I brought a slew of alpaca related items for the kids for show and tell. While that was of some interest they could not keep their eyes off the crias. I gave a fifteen minute talk about alpaca farming and in this picture they were listening to me as I was answering some of the questions they had to fill out on their forms. The crias were tough competition! But I didn't mind. I am just happy there was so much interest. It was a great day. I finished about 11 AM and got home just in time to bottle feed our new kid goats.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Birth of Goats

Well I have to say I am exhausted. This day has been quite overwhelming in the sense of both joy and sorrow. I have a Nubian goat, Faith, that I knew was ready to deliver. She was right on target for her due date. I noticed Saturday evening that she was not quite herself. She was huge and very tired. This was not her first delivery. She has had two sets of twins and one set of triplets in the past. Yet I was worried about her. I checked on her at 11 pm, 12:30 am, 2:30 am, 4:30 am and 8:00 am. No news. She was uncomfortable but not really progressing along. By 10:00 am Sunday she was draining mucous and she had started her contractions. I was home alone so I called my friend Karyn and Catherine to come over in case I needed an extra hand or two. Thankfully I did this. Catherine lived for a time in Norway and delivered sheep. This was my first real goat delivery as my Dwarf Nigerian Christina Moon managed to have her twins before I got down to the barn. Was I nervous? Heck yes!
The first kid was born without a glitch. The second boy had a leg bent that we had to get straightened out. We waited awhile to see if there were anymore. Faith seemed fine and began to eat a bit. We thought she was finished. We waited some more. After 20 minutes we realized that she was trying to deliver another kid. She wasn't able to get him out. Catherine put her hands in and the kid was breach. By now Faith was on her side and we were concerned for her. The kid was pulled out but was stillborn. It was heart wrenching. And then there was another kids coming forth! And in the right position. She plopped out and was beautiful! Poor Faith. She had a hard time. She sniffed her unmoving kid and realized that he wasn't going to respond. She turned her head began to focus attention on her three beautiful babies.

A photo of the first born male.

We wondered if we could have prevented the stillborn. Should we have been more invasive sooner? Was there something else we could have done?
Truthfully I can ask myself all these questions but it was not meant to be. Living on a farm, breeding and raising animals has its miracle moments and it sorrowful moments. We must accept these times for what they are and savor life's precious gifts.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Fiber Arts-Knitting Wrist Warmers

I am attempting to pick up knitting again and realizing that I need to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. When I first started knitting I was focussing on felted purses and did not have alpacas. Now I have all this beautiful alpaca fiber and would like to make myself a few items. I found a nice EASY pattern for wrist warmers on Lion Brand Yarn Company. The pattern is Cottage Wrist Warmers. I am not using the suggested yarn obviously because I have my own. And because I am really awful about being told what to do!!
However I did check my gauge and am fine in that aspect. It is a simple lace pattern. I purl the first row and the second row is "K1 *yo, k2, sk2p, k2, yo, k1 (repeat from *). Easy right? Oh my gosh, I must have started over 10x. I start and then the phone rings and I forget where I am. Am I at k2, sk2p? Aggh! I finally learned to finish the row before setting it aside. I confess this is the second attempt to knit these wrist warmers. I tried with another yarn and was totally unsuccessful. I just could not concentrate. I pulled it out at least 4x. I set the whole project aside for a month and now I am retrying the pattern with different yarn and a new mindset. It is easy pattern yet I cannot get my mind wrapped around the project. I am not going to give up. I am determined to finish it. Even if I need to put it on a shelf for a while.

So I am sharing my first two rows today! So far so good.

And my lovely yarn was spun by my dear friend Curly Bird. She spun some of my alpaca Delphine, wool (merino, teaswater, romney), mohair, silk, desert sunset firestar, silver iris angelina. It is gorgeous. See her etsy shop for more beautifully hand spun yarns.
Check out the other awesome Friday Fiber Artists at Wonder Why Gal & Natural Suburbia.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Hand Spun Alpaca

I really love the beautiful natural colors of alpaca fiber. Here on our farm we have 18 pacas and each one is different in color from the other. Yes I have several dark silver grays, but each one has their own unique characteristics. Tula has a few beautiful brown spots on her coat while Nightengale is a "solid" beautiful mix of gray, dark gray and black. Even our fawn alpacas vary from dark fawn with a white foot, Iquique, to a solid light fawn as in Esmeralda. Every time a cria is born I love to imagine what the fiber will look like when it is spun up into a skein of yarn!
When I am on Etsy I see all these beautiful yarns chock full of gorgeous fibers and bursting with color. I love them all, but my heart is pulled to the dark bay, creams and rose grays of alpaca. I can imagine sunset orange with bay black or fawn with turquoise blue, lime paired with dark brown, peppermint pink plied with silver gray, etc. Natural alpaca fits with any color!
I have been working with color lately, but think I am going to start spinning my natural alpaca again. I am posting a few photos of hand spun yarn and hopefully you will be moved to spin some fawn, rose gray, white or brown alpaca too!!

Please check out Wonder Why Gal and Natural Suburbia for more Friday Fiber Arts!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fallen Tree

I have been watching this birch tree the past few days. I am not exactly sure when the top broke off. I think it was about a month ago when we had a huge wind storm. At first it looked as if it would fall by itself and towards the woods. However, I finally decided today that I must do something about it as it seems as if it isn't going to make things easy and behave itself and fall away from the chicken coop. The way it is caught on the trunk of the tree it is stuck pretty good. I took a survey of it yesterday and I am not sure that I can get it down myself. I thought about pulling on it, but don't want to be caught underneath! Who has time to have a broken leg? Not to mention any other injuries. I also thought about getting a ladder and a chainsaw but no worries that thought lasted a total of one second. The chainsaw is one machine on the farm I do not use! Gator, fine. Tractor..fine. leaf blower..fine. Heavy but fine. But not the chainsaw. I know me and I always have some weird thing happen. Tractor stuck in the compost pile, gator clogged in snow, breaks don't work on the mini-van, etc. so I don't want to take any chances with a chainsaw. It scares me actually. And imagine on a ladder?? No thanks. So I am going to have to call someone to take care of it. That someone will be my husband. Sam, are you reading this?? Can you please fix this tree??