Monday, December 3, 2012

Ooops I just brought home a mess of Alpacas!!!

Well what can I say? I am totally addicted. I picked up 6 new alpacas. Their colors are so beautiful and their faces so sweet. I really must stop. I just couldn't help myself. I promise this is the last set I will bring home. Really. But see for yourself. What do you think? How could I resist??
She has not been registered yet. So I haven't named her.
I brought home Kesara- dark rose gray, Monet-light silver gray, Solana-light rose gray, the little baby-bay black, Kesara's mom, and IVF Red Hot Fiesta-more to come about him!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

5 things to do to make farm chores more interesting.

1. Leave the gate unlatched so the goats get out and mess up the grain room and/or get bloat from ingesting too much grain. Then have get a workout while you massage their bellies and give them dawn liquid dish detergent.
2. Purchase a cunning male alpaca that manages to slip under the fence, break through to the girl's pen and breed with your maiden females!
3. Let the horses run into the barn vs. using a halter and lead rope when turning in at night only to have them refuse to come to their stalls while you run around and try to catch them. 4. Buy Silkies in order to get eggs, and don't. Plus realize later that they don't roost on their own. Trudge down to the barn in the dark for the 57th time that day to put the chicks away for the night.
5. Spend 3 days planning and preparing to trap feral cat to take to Carol's Ferals for spaying. Realizing later that she is the same one you took 3 weeks ago. If you don't have fun changing up your routine with these refreshing ideas...Then something is seriously wrong!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

May 7, 2012 Monday Sick today, again. Raining on and off. Slept most of the day and did not get anything done but the bare minimum. I did finish plying the black and yellow yarn and set it to soak for 15 minutes and then to dry. I like it! (on the left in the photo).
A note on the bunny: Mrs. Calliope Bunny has been running free around the barn most of the time now. I let her out of her stall (yes she has an entire 12 x 12 stall to herself) and she takes off out around the side of the barn and where?? Into a hole that one of the feral cats dug right into the last stall at the back of the barn! She hangs out digging holes in the sand. She has already dug into the goat stall. She will stay there for a bit and then sneak out through the hole back into the farm yard. At first I was really worried about her. But she stays up by the barn and all the cats including the ferals have sniffed her. And they seem to know that she is not food. In the evening she comes into her pen by herself. She is so happy. If I am going to be away from the barn I will put her in her stall, but if I am down there working I leave her to run free. May 8, 2012 Tuesday In bed again in the afternoon. I did, however, have a bit of energy and managed to clean up around the house. I fed the animals. Jane has been especially friendly. trying to spend a bit of time with her. Oh, she is a cat, by the way.
Around 4 pm I mowed the girl’s paddock. It took about 45 minutes. I love to drive my Kubota!! I decided to mow the path as well and by the pond. I didn’t feel like going back up through the barn gates so I tried to get out of the small gate on the side of the paddock. The post and the gate have settled into the ground and moved farther apart so there is a gap. I solved this by using a clip to keep the gate latched. I am sure that can be fixed. But I digress... I was determined to get out through this gate. I didn’t have a lot of energy due to the stupid flu so I just couldn’t use my arms to squeeze the post and the gate toward one another at the same time and unlatch the clip holding them together. So I did actually use my leg and wrap it around the post and pull it toward the gate and opened the clip. I cannot believe that worked but it did! Really am appreciating the leg muscle I am building up from my horse lessons. I know this sounds so weird. But where there is a will...there is a way!! Then I was able to unlatch the clip and let the tractor out!
Finished the mowing and went to sit down. Really tired! Topped off the evening at Noah’s band concert and then home at 9:30 and straight to bed.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

More from May 2012...

May 4, 2012 Most of the day was spent preparing the house and running errands for the fundraising event for Syria on Saturday. I fed and watered and swept the barn. Mohja Kahf, the guest speaker, arrived in the evening after her flight was delayed. We had several families for dinner and stayed up late speaking of the condition of the Syrian Revolution. I should mention that my husband is from Syria and immigrated 21 years ago. He still has family living there so this catastrophe is near and dear to our hearts. May 5, 2012 Fed and cleaned the barn. Mojha’s son Kinan helped me to hay the animals. We ate a traditional Syrian breakfast. And hung out. She prepared her speech and I got to spin my “bee” yarn and we waited until 4:00 and we fed the animals again and watered quickly. I shut up the barn early so we would not be late to the lecture. The lecture was awesome!! Stayed up late and talked more about Syria. Rained again at feeding time. Mohja got to feed the animals and she was thrilled!
May 6, 2012 Sunday Rain off and on, but light. Not feeling well today. Must be getting the flu. Fed and watered the animals and did not spend more time down in the barn today. Too tired. Mohja and kinan left around 12:30 pm. I did get to spin and finished the bobbin and began to ply the yarn. Chester sat on my lap and I got to relax with him a bit.I love my kittens! Must have cleaned the kitchen at least 10x today! The kids a had a bunch of friends over. Finally finished off the day with writing the draft of minutes for MI-Alpaca and fixed last month’s minutes. Wondering how everyone did at the show in Davisburg!!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Another day on the farm.

And continuing in May..The Job Fair May 3, 2012
The Job Fair at Eastern Middle School was today and I needed to be at the school ready to go by 7:15 am. Ha ha. Unfortunately I was too tired to take the fences up to the school to set up the pen yesterday. Although I woke at 5 AM fed animals I still was running late. I had to drop off Noah at 6:30 for jazz band so we could have the extra car. It was about 6:40 AM when I got back to the house and pulled the truck into the barn to load the girls. I picked Esmerelda for her easy temperment. She wasn’t too sure about getting into the backseat of a Honda Ridgeline truck but she did so with a bit of pushing and lifting. Taima and I thought to take Adele but she totally wigged out on the halter and we decided to convince Isabella instead. Yohoo we were in for a trip!! She refused to get into the car and we had to literally lift and push her. After a bit of coaxing we got her in. She cushed and away we went. When we got to the school we were, of course, running late and the busses were arriving. Esme happily jumped out of the truck and went to stand on the grass with Miriam. Isabella would not get out. We had to encourage her and then finally lift her out. Once on the ground she walked more or less to the doors but then had to be pulled/pushed inside. She was not a happy camper. She cushed right outside the fences and would not move. We had to move the fence panels around HER!! Getting back to the truck to head home was much more of the same. Noah held the lead rope while Taima and I carried Isabella out to the truck! People took photos of us the whole time. Apart from the fiasco of getting alpacas in and out of the truck the job fair went really well. I had four sessions and discussed alpaca farming. I broke out after 15 minutes and let the kids look at the alpacas. And they were the stars! The girls did really well with all the attention and I was proud of them. It was really chaotic because Northern and Eastern high school switched seniors for the senior prank and there were tons of kids. I settled the girls in their paddock. They were relieved and happy to be home. Then it was time for me to run errands and do some lawn work. Later in the day I vaccinated the girls and closed up shop for the day. What a fun and exhausting day.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Journal May 2012

May was a crazy month for me and I decided to journal each day to document what exactly happens around the barn. So here is my journal entries for the first two days of May. May 1, 2012 Today it finally stopped raining and I was allowed a bit of time to clean up the paddocks. I managed to get through the boys, girls and horses before I was too tired and decided that was enough. I also had a horse lesson this morning with Taima and that probably was a big contribution to my fatigue tonight. I was able to move the goat stanchion into the barn and take big boy goat on a halter and led him to the stanchion. He was less than thrilled. I bribed him with grain to climb up on the thing and stick his head through the contraption so he could get his nails trimmed which he did and was actually pretty good about it!
May 2, 2012 Today it was hazy and misty. My least favorite mornings to wake up too. Got out early to the barn and fed. Wasn’t able to do much in the barn due to weather and the fact that I need to prepare for the EMS Job Fair tomorrow. Still cannot decide which two girls to take. It finally cleared up and the sun came out. I moved the goats outside to their brush area. I cleaned up paddocks and worked around the yard. When I went to put the brown goats away in their stall I noted that one of the cattle panels was gone from the edge of the fencing. I walked up to the fence and girl goat had the panel stuck around her neck. Clearly she had freaked out and moved the panel clear across the enclosure. She was really scared. I tried to get her neck out of the fence but every way we moved her face her horns were stuck. Luckily I had my phone in my pocket and I called Sam. Asked him to come down to the barn and bring the wire clippers. When he arrived he thought he could untangle her but she only choked and then flipped out even more. How on earth she got her head stuck is really a wonder! I held her head and Sam clipped the steel which allowed her more room to unstick her head. Free at last but in the process a sharp edge of the cattle panel scraped her knee. So now she was bleeding. I led the goats out and thru the horse paddock to their stall where I cleaned her superficial wound and put some iodine on it. Finished feeding and put the cats in. Done. Finished. Tired. No photo of this fiasco! But here she is safe and sound.

Monday, July 23, 2012

New Cria! VVF Floral Fiesta

The newest addition to our herd arrived on Friday 13th of July. I found her lying on the barn floor and her mom eating some hay! She is the cria of VVF Floreanna and Irish Valley's Red Hot Fiesta. And she is gorgeous. In the past week she has lightened up a bit. Her sire is rose gray and Flor is dark silver gray. I am excited to see what color she ends up. I am happy about her crimp and does she have fineness. Enjoy the photos taken of her today in the paddock with her mom.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Saving Chester

As I finished feeding tonight and was about to shut the barn door I noticed a big black and white cat sitting at the bottom of a tree looking upward into the branches. I looked closer and there was Chester sitting on a branch. I approached the tree and saw that Chester was stuck. He was meowing and kept gingerly placing a paw on one branch and then another. I called up to him and he started to walk out onto one of the longer limbs. He paused and turned back to the trunk.

The three railed vinyl fencing that encompasses the pasture sits directly under the tree. I figured if I climbed up onto the second rail I could just reach the branch Chester was on and pull it slightly. He could then reach my arm and I could grab him.

What I did not factor into the equation is that it had been raining all day. The rails of the fence were wet and slippery. My boots had muck on them and I was pretty well bundled up in car harts and a sweat shirt. I climbed up quickly and then the sensation of falling hit me. I slammed my arm into the top rail and landed in half on my stomach with my head and arms on one side of the fence and my legs and feet on the other. As I lifted myself off of the fence, Chester skidded down the tree and raced up to the barn. So much for my effort to help him. I should have had complete confidence that a cat can climb up and tree and get himself down!
Tulip...Did he chase Chester up the tree??

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Boys on the Farm

A couple of weeks I purchased some new alpaca boys and brought them home. They come from full peruvian bloodlines and I am looking forward to adding their genetics to my herd. It has been quite a transition for them. I wasn't sure which boy was dominant. I found out a few days ago after they settled in and felt comfortable. I was trying to look at Charger's fiber in the paddock when suddenly his eyes became really big and he looked as if he was ready to spit. I turned just in time to see Bandit running towards us. I ducked just as they spit at each other. It was quite the tussle. They don't seem to fight very often but when they do they really go at it.

I since have moved them with my boys and they seem to be doing fine. Bandit walks the fence a bit but Charger has joined in with the crowd. Unfortunately I don't have great photos of either one yet. Here is Bandit after their big spitting fest yesterday. Yep he is green.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Willy & Sienna on the Lunge Line

Taima was home from school this weekend and decided to see if she could get the minis to trot/canter on the lunge line. I have tried several times and am greeted with soulful eyes and complete rejection! They just stand and look and me and won't budge.

She has quite a bit of horse experience and was able to get them to go forward. She didn't work them too hard. They both are fat and out of shape. She lunged them for about 5 minutes a piece.
Lunging is the first step in the process of training to pull a cart.

Sienna working.

Getting Willy started.

Someone is nudging my leg for a head scratch.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My 200th Post & A Relaxing Nature Walk

I just realized as I was ready to post this blog that this is my 200th!!

Today was a wonderfully sunny and warm day. I spent part of it at the horse barn for my riding lesson and part in my own barn with all my animals. I am scrambling around trying to get some things cleaned up before the end of the week and the temperature drops again. Boo.

I took a short break to walk on the path that runs through our property. I had a few companions along the way.
The trail full of dead branches and needs to be cleaned up. But not today!! It was lovely to see the sun shine through the trees.

Alice and Chester followed me. Not seen in the photo are Jane and Philipe who ran to catch up with us.

A small creek meanders through the property. The cats and I walked across the big fallen tree.

Finally we spied a male deer skull and a few bones strewn about.

We headed back to the barn to finish working. The cats flopped on the barn floor exhausted and I got to keep on task!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Goat Thinks She Is A Miniature Horse

Juliette just cannot be persuaded. She refuses to stay in the goat pen. Even if I manage to corral her in the pen she refuses to pal around with the other goats. She will sulk about the pen and whine.
The minute I open the gate to feed she is out like lightening. Her fat little body races down the paddock toward the horses. She slips under the fence and heads straight toward Willy and Sienna. She hangs right with the minis in their paddock. If I am in the barn working she will try to sneak into the grain room and knock off the lid of the grain bin and help herself.

Otherwise she is pretty good about staying with the horses. Sometimes she will climb the stairs of the house and hang on the front porch, usually this is around 4 pm. She paces back and forth and cries for me to come out to feed everyone.

She has a funny habit of protecting Willy's food from Sienna. I put the grain out in their feeder in the morning with some hay and Juliette will keep Sienna from getting to the feeder by grunting at her and sticking out her tongue It works! Sienna runs around to the other side of the feeder.

What surprises me is that the minis put up with her and never kick out at her or hurt her. They share food and space with her. They don't seem to mind if she stays near them. Maybe she is mini after all.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday-Single ply spinning & Shawl Knitting

Yippee for Fiber Arts Friday! I managed to work on a few projects in this bitter cold snap we are having. My latest knitting success was posted on WIP. Now I am working on another shawl and knitting with alpaca. The yarn is complied from many leftover bobbins of hand spun yarn. The great aspect of this yarn is that I can keep adding to it as I go! The pattern is a bit of a free form one I downloaded from Raverly (stockinette stitch with a couple of YO). I am enjoying the knitting process and am surprised as the colors unfold into an interesting scheme. As you can see in the photo:
Next I debated about plying this strand of alpaca with a gold thread but changed my mind. I have been sitting on this bobbin for about 4 months (not literally, of course!) and finally decided to leave it as is. I hand dyed the fleece and added some angelina to give it a bit of sparkle. I also added a bit of banana silk. My intention was to create something with an Indian flair. Not at all sure what I will do with this skein.
That about wraps up my week. Check out Andrea's blog for lots more fiber fun.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

WIP-DanDoh Scarf-Knitted Hug for Japan

This is actually not a WIP. It is completed. The pattern is DanDoh Scarf by Yumiko Alexander and was designed as a way for the artist to contect with her homeland after the tsunami in March of 2011. She wanted to create a pattern as a memorial to those who suffered from the tragedy. And a beautiful pattern it is. I used a soy blend from my stash and size 9 circular needles. I prefer circular so my work doesn't slide off and I find them easier to knit with. I have no idea what kind of yarn or the exact blend because I threw away the info one time when I was cleaning my office. It is beautiful and the variegation in the yarn really does this scarf justice.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Farm Tip Tuesday-Keeping Track of Chores

There is always something to do around the farm from fixing fences, cleaning water buckets, sweeping the hay loft, deworming the minis, herd health day, and the list goes on. I have had to struggle with the fact that the list never ends. I like to cross things off my list and move on, but that is not really what happens. The moment I cross off a duty and new one replaces it!
I found this vintage black board at a resale shop for $5.00. It is placed in a central location between the tack and grain rooms. In other words, I cannot ignore it. The black board works great for me to keep track of chores and a plus is that I don't lose the list.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday-Catching Up

As Friday rolls around I begin to wonder what I did all week with fiber. I frogged a project and started another one. It is too early to post photos as I am only on the second row.

Reflecting back over the week I think I was working on my Etsy store for a good part of it. I retook tons of photos and am slowly uploading yarn and roving. It is bit time consuming. I was messing around trying to get my focus right. I have a portrait lens on the camera and for some reason was having difficulty focussing and getting a clear perspective of the yarn. I think I have that all cleared up now. Yay!

Wednesday I went to the GR Yarnie Group and saw some friends. It was a lovely time. I did not knit at all! I jabbed the whole time. Imagine that??

And I finished the String Ray Shawl (aptly named by my son). It looks like a sting ray. I posted some photos of this one before. Cherry Hill Yarn in Charmed. Knit with a modified pattern. Very easy peasy. I love, love the color way. I could only get one skein so it is smaller than I would like.

I am posting a photo of my cat. I like to see other people's pets on FAF so I am posting one of TomTom the LGC (Livestock Guarding Cat). Only he is on break in this photo.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Hop on over to Wonder Why Gal's for more fiber fun.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Farm Tip Tuesday-Heated Water Buckets

I never even thought to put in automatic water feeders when we built our barn. I managed the first winter...barely. Finally I worked out a system to run electrical cords to my heated water buckets. Then I figured a way to use recycled milk jugs to keep the connections dry over the winter months. It has worked out pretty well. I have heated water buckets in five of my paddocks.
Only once did I have an issue. My male alpaca, Blazing Ben, got his foot caught in one of the extension cords and by the time I got down to the barn he had pulled the cord free from the bucket and tore down the stake. He wasn't hurt and all was well.

Ben is always doing crazy things. One time he got a bucket caught around his neck and he wore it for about an hour before I realized and could get it off of him. Needless to say there are no more small feed buckets in the pen. Another time I brought home new hay feeders with a grid on top to keep the hay in the feeder and off the ground. In the first 15 minutes he had the grid around his neck. He freaked out and tore it to smithereens. Pieces of PVC piping and sand were all over the paddock. I don't use those grids anymore either. But I digress...

This is a photo of my water bucket contraption.

And this is with the milk jug.

I used my favorite and all purpose tool-zip ties to keep the milk jug snug and prevent it from blowing away. I used duct tape to seal the connection between the two cords and to keep the cords in place on the stake. The stake I purchased at Family Farm and Home for a couple of bucks. This is the boys water and I placed it on cinder blocks so I don't have to bend over and I used a tire to secure the bucket in place. Just in case someone gets an idea in their head....

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Fiber Arts-First Post of the Year!

Welcome all to the first post of 2012 FAF! I am looking forward to a year of fiber fun with all my friends on Wonder Why Gal's blog. I actually am getting a slow start. I have not spun yet this year. Kind of sad...
I have knitted these cute little cuffs from my hand spun and Classic Alpaca. I sort of made up the pattern as I went along. They are simple knit/purl with a couple of yarn overs/K2tog in a few rows. I have wanted to make some cuffs for awhile to wear as I am always cold. I am not completely finished. Can you see the safety pin? I haven't stitched them up yet. I may add a lace edging in crochet. We will see..

Goals for 2012-Let us be realistic. Please!

1. Finish the cuffs.
2. Finish all WIPs. No cheating on this one.
3. Learn two new spin techniques.
4. Attempt to post more fiber projects on this blog.
5. Finish skirting fleeces. Please do this immediately.

That is all. I am not going to have a bunch of things that I will feel overwhelmed about and then not be able to do. That is what I do. I get stressed by self imposed rules and then I cannot do anything. Ridiculous. At least I know myself. he he.

That about wraps up my Fiber-round up. Skip on over to Andrea's blog for a peek at more fiber fun!