Saturday, June 30, 2007

I to get pictures of projects that my buyers have made. It's so fun to see what my yarn has become. This charming baby set is from Linda in Dayton, Ohio. She calls this shower gift, "Goldie" Linda made "Goldie" from yarn that I spun from the fleece of alpaca Beau. The darker trim is from Tobasco. Thanks so much, Linda, for sending this to us.
OMG! Linda reminded me after I posted that she bought roving, not yarn. I checked the purchase date and that means that she created this lovely in less than two weeks - spun it & knitted it. WOW!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Husband has gone and done it. We are now not only alpaca shepherds, but also will be sheep shepherds. Yesterday we drove to Brooklyn, MI and put money down on a ewe (that's a girl) and a boy ( is that a buck? a ram? a gelding? - I have a whole new vocabulary to learn.) The little girl isn't weaned yet so we can't get her until the end of this month. He also called a farm in Ohio and spoke for 4 more there.
Credit for this charming picture goes to Amy Bidlack of Shepherd, MI. Amy is the lovely person who helped us get started in this new adventure. Visit her farm, The Bidlack Pasture

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ Breeding update
Hopefully the two girls here are bred. Ariana did another 20 minute breed with Alde this a.m. and Celeste did a little couple minutes with Pudge yesterday. We will spit test both of them in a couple of days. Spit test? We're not going to spit on them although my imagination is going wild creating a new pregnancy test. What we do is take the girl up to the stud and, supposedly, if she is, in fact, bred, she will run, or kick, or spit, or all of these to reject the male. I guess the old head ache plea won't work here.

Oh, my gosh, so much has happened since I last posted, I'm not sure where to begin. Will do this chronologically, I guess. Tuesday Mary and I drove to Hastings to pick up my roving. It's GORGEOUS! Thank you so much, Suzanne. I have been weighing and wrapping it to get ready to sell. Actually, I'm just loving getting my hands into it. Were eight bags, I think. These pictures are of my two favorites. The black is from Berringer and has blue silk in it. You can see by the skein above that I couldn't wait to spin up a couple ounces. It spins beautifully and almost wants to be lace weight. The lighter picture is white merino, gray alpaca, fawn alpaca, and hand dyed pink silk. It's yummy to handle and look at. Will see how it spins soon. I am listing batches in my Etsy store as I finish them.
Mary and I ran over to Nashville to have lunch with my bestest friend, Marianne. We visited her 3 dogs, 2 horses, 2 alpacas, 2 goats, and numerous chickens and ducks, and got a tour of her fabulous gardens. Marianne will be selling her awesome soap in our booth at Allegan's Michigan Fiber Fest.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007



Breeding update: Celeste stayed down for about 10 minutes for a breeding this a.m. My friend Phil of Applewood Alpaca Farm brought over a young stud of his. Beth and I had both noticed that Celeste doesn't seem to like white boys (does that make her a racist?) so thought we should try a different colored alpaca. Phil brought Pudge, his fawn colored boy, over and after about 15 minutes of being silly, she seemed to figure out what she was supposed to do. YEA! He will bring Pudge back in about three days to try again. If you want to see Pudge click on Phil's link above and look for Silver Creek's Minute Man.
About 9:30, Mary and I are leaving for Suzanne Pufpaff's mill to pick up my roving. I am so excited to see it that I was up at 4:30 this morning.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

♥♥♥♥♥ Eeeehaw! Ariana bred for 24 minutes (yep, that's right - exactly 24 minutes - we time them ) with the handsome stud Alderon who is here for a 'paca holiday. We are so hoping that Celeste will be willing tomorrow a.m. Although alpacas are induced ovulators the do have a cycle of about two weeks when follicles ripen and she will be usually be more ready to breed and conceive. We women living together, and horses, and dogs, and who knows what else, will have our periods together. So I'm thinking, why not alpacas. If Ariana was ready today, why not Celeste tomorrow?

This picture is of our sweet Ariana and her last cria, Orion (barn name - Slammer). She was bred to a black boy and produced brown Orion then, but Alde is white so I'm predicting a white cria next spring. Gestation is 11 months.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Back on Blossom Street

About a month ago I received an email from Anne, a Marketing Coordinator, who asked if I would like a copy of Debbie Macomber's new novel to review and use in any way to promote it. Of course, I said yes because I am a Macomber fan. In fact, I had just ordered a copy from Amazon. I received these two copies in the mail and cancelled my Amazon order. I read one and was delighted to meet old friends and be introduced to a few new ones. I knew that I was going to give these away and didn't want one to look read. Have you ever read a book by opening it just enough to peek inside? Husband thought it was pretty funny.

My give away plan is to use them as drawings on Saturday and Sunday at the FiberFestival in Allegan, MI. That would be August 18 and 19, 2007.

♥♥♥♥ Still no alpaca breedings here.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Getting ready for Michigan Fiber Festival

This is what I have been doing in my kitchen for the last few days. Definitely not cooking. I hate to cook! I'm going through bags and bags of roving deciding what I want to get ready for the Michigan Fiber Festival. I couldn't decide how I wanted to present the roving. Leaving it in the plastic bags and weighing up for people doesn't seem very professional so I came up with this process.
First I weigh out the roving into 1 or 2 ounce piles (I always add a little more), then wind it around pegs on my warping board. The pictures that you see happen to be the 1 ounce samples. Cary suggested that I do 1 ounce samples for folks to try. Sure appreciate her advice since I have only done a walk through at a fiberfest once in my life and don't really know what I'm getting ready for. Anyway...... then I am wrapping the sample with a label featuring a picture of the alpaca that I printed up on cardstock on my computer. I think I will price these small samples at $4 a ball? bump? wrap?, and offer a mix and match at 4 for $12.
So far I have wrapped 73 2 ounce samples and 32 1 ounce samples. Goes fast because I can do it on my bar dividing the living room and kitchen, allowing me to visit or watch television.
Anyone interested in the breeding that is supposed to be going on in the barn -Ariana almost cushed (cush, meaning kneeling on all 4s) this a.m. She was interested but wouldn't stay down. I'm trying to be patient.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

'Paca Porno

I'm going to talk about alpaca breeding because I think the whole alpaca thing is so interesting. First of all, you must realize that alpacas are induced ovulators which means they won't ovulate until conditions are right. The conditions are, or so I understand, that the male must penetrate her and while he is doing that, he orgles. The orgle is a loud, gurgling sound that the guy makes the whole time he is with his woman. The mating itself may go on for half an hour or so and the whole time, he is doing his orgling thing. It may take a long time because he is a dribbler, not a spurter. :-)

The reason I'm mentioning this today is because we have been trying to get a breeding on Celeste and Ariana, so every morning this week one of them have gone over to visit Alde, our visiting stud. We aren't having much luck. If the female is ready, she will cush (like little Orion is doing in the picture above). If not ready or pregnant, she supposedly will spit at him, maybe kick, and run off. Neither of the girls are doing this, but they just won't go down for him.

We are definitely amateur breeders and are getting frustrated. I guess there is about a two week period when their receptivity raises and falls. I think we need to be patient for another week or so.

Update on the two girls who are off to be bred - haven't heard from Lady Belita in Jackson, but Sonata, at Belding, probably is bred and will be ultrasounded soon. We're hoping - that's with Tribute, the handsome gray guy with incredibly fine fiber.

The picture above is of Orion and mom, Ariana, just an hour after birth. Alpacas don't lick or clean their cria up like many animals but let them dry off naturally. This makes me think of another fun fact to know and shout. They normally have their cria in the morning or before 1 or 2. The theory on this is that in the mountains (Andes) of South America, it gets very cold at night and to survive the newborn needs that sun of daytime to dry off and warm up.

Later in the day. Hmmm, this probably WAS "too much information" . Sorry, I guess I just got carried away but, like I said, I find the whole process incredibly interesting and sometimes assume that the whole world wants to know what I know........and then the teaching genes just kick in.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hoodie by Pam

Look at the hoodie that Pam made for me to give to the grandgirls for their American Girl dolls (actually there are two of them in different colors). Isn't it just way too cute?! I feel a little guilty because Pam has designed and knitted doll clothes for me before. When I give them to Meredith and Elizabeth I really don't mention who made them. Well, naturally the girls think their clever, wonderful grandma made them. Uhmmmm, is this lying by omission? I will fess up this time when I present them. Maybe.....
Take a look at Pam's Etsy shop to check out her own designs. Pamala's Pastime. I so admire that she can design and write a pattern. You can also visit her blog.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Passing On Addictions

I guess that my addictions and/or passions are both my love of animals and of fiber arts. My own three grown children are animal lovers, be it dogs, cats, birds, worms, wildlife, whatever, and this passion has filtered down to the two grandgirls. This is 5 year old Elizabeth resting on my good girl, Cassie, and 8 year old Meredith is holding up her first, just cut off the loom, weaving. She thinks her weaving wants to be a pillow. We used up a bunch of my not really nice alpaca handspun yarns for our first project.
I'm pretty optimistic that we may hook our little, always on the go, Elizabeth into our fiber fun. She spun a little yarn on my wheel for the first time yesterday. Before this she just wanted to pedal - FAST. She also wove a couple rows on Meredith's weaving.
I'm alternating spinning the yarn and knitting on my Faroese shawl pattern. I have made enough mistakes that I'm not entering it into the MIAF fiber arts contest this fall. I still am really enjoying the knitting on this so am already thinking ahead to what kind of yarn to spin for my next one. Maybe some of that alpaca/dyed silk that is being made into roving for me......

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Love is in the Air

Yesterday I mentioned how little the alpacas look in the horse trailer. I took this picture this morning so that you could see. The 4 legged is Sonata, 2 legged is husband, who I call Smitty, but his name is really Howes.

Today Sonata made the journey to Belding, MI, to hopefully be courted by Tribute to Money. He is a handsome, gray stud who lives with Leslie and Bob Gosnell at Irish Valley Farm . You can see him if you take that link and click on alpacas. You can also see Sonata's mom, JLFA Sofie.

I whispered across the fence to Tribute's ear "Healthy, rose gray, girl" That would be the ultimate for us. Sonata probably won't be home for a few months and we will really miss her. She's our greeter for all our visitors because she gives kisses and likes to be scratched. Little Orion will have to assume this role 'till she gets home.

The two girls left here, Celeste and Ariana, look lonesome in their pen. They are going to meet up with a boy who is coming to visit next week. I can only hope for 4 babies next spring.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Lady Belita's Holiday

This morning we took Lady Belita to Jackson to be bred. I always get a chuckle loading a 200 pound alpaca into our rather large, slant load horse trailer when I am used to seeing my nearly 2000 pound horse in there. Alpacas cush right down when traveling and many folks transport them in their cars or vans. I have never seen 'paca poop in our trailer after a trip. Tidy little darlings, aren't they?

Belita was our first alpaca purchase from our now dear friends, Lew and Kathy Kukla of Luka's Alpaca Ranch. Going to visit one of their studs is no big deal to Belita. When Smitty let her go in the pasture, about 10 females had to come up to say hi and sniff and check her out. At least half of them are old buddies. Unlike horses, the check in went quickly with no squabbles. Belita ran right up to the barn to investigate. I know she was shouting, "I'm home, I'm home"

Belita will be 7 in September and she has given us two boys and a girl, Celeste. She will hopefully breed to a handsome white Peruvian boy named Eveander. We are surely hoping for another girl in 11 months. With white on both sides of the lineage, the cria will be white.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Karen Harbaugh

Yesterday I mentioned that I have met some interesting folks through my Etsy shop. Karen is another one. She bought some roving from me that she wanted to spin up, and we have had an on and off correspondence throughout the winter. I received three of her books yesterday and will be diving into Dragon Lovers, or maybe Night Fires, or.... when I get off this computer. I think that it is incredible that a fellow spinner out in Washington state has this wonderful writing talent - and that I sort of know her. And she has an Etsy shop to pass along her handspun yarn. You can view her novels and get acquainted at her web site.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Sales Goal

Handsome Beau with Awesome Fiber

My goal for sales in my Etsy shop was to have 100 in 6 months. Thanks to selling two of Mary's flowers and 4 ounces of Beau's fiber yesterday, I had 99 sales as of yesterday. EEEHAW! Etsy has been really good to and for me.....a profitable outlet for my creative endeavors. Plus I have met some really interesting friends. For example, I have purchased roving and silk from
Isis's Etsy Shop and we are going to meet up in person in August at the Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan.
EEEEEHAW!!!! Again!!!!
June 1st Update: 100th sale of Berringer's yarn to Rebecca Bateman. Link to her Etsy shop - Visit her to see her lovely paintings. Thank you, Rebecca for being my 100th sale. Your friend will love his scarf, handmade by you.