Friday, December 26, 2008

My Near Death Experience 0R Avalanche in Flatlands of midMichigan

I am obsessing about this experience so maybe blogging about it will free it from my mind. Christmas Eve Day turned warm and rainy here and I was out in front of the barn digging trenches to try and drain water away from the barn. I heard a little rumble and took off running (well, as fast as I run). The snow that you see in this picture came off the metal roof up above. It would have smooshed, broken, and buried me completely 'cause I was standing right in the middle. (Remember you can click on this pict to see how massive it really was)

My first question is "What are the odds of this happening while I was standing there?"
The second is "How did my body know to move out of the way?"

Of course, now I'm a little giddy thinking of newspaper headlines-
Alpaca Breeder Dies under Tons of Snow
Snow Breaks Every Bone in Senior Citizen's Body
First Known Avalanche in Michigan's Farmland
Widow Joins Husband in Untimely Death
Animals Survive but Caretaker Meets Death After Storm

Do you have any headlines to add to my collection?

How about this from my online friend Zuleika originally from Bermuda, now living in Edinburgh, Scotland:
'Freak Alpaca Farm Accident Makes for an Icy Grave'

My friend Sharon Winsauer suggests:
"Death from Barn Chores"

I was waiting for Beth to get home from the U.P. because I knew she would have some great headlines:
"Snow Slides....Granny Dives"
"Loud Cursing Sets Off Near Death Avalanche"
"Santa Makes Emergency Landing on Barn Top: Grandma Gets Runover by Cascading Roof Snow"
or how about:
"Metal Roofing Sends Barn Owner Hoofing"

Just in from daughter Terre:
"Snow Avalanche Makes Alpaca Granny Move Her Fanny"
"Alpaca Granny Finds Get-up-and-go Because of TwoTons of Cascading Snow"

From Friend Kathy down in Jackson at Luka's Alpaca Ranch
" Spinning Lady Spins Out, Saving Herself by a Thread"

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Another Storm Blowing In

Another storm is blowing in today but I didn't have to shovel to get in to the animals in the barn. They are all cozy with food, water, clean bedding, and listening to Christmas carols. A lovely surprise while out there - about 8 o'clock Dean, my across the street neighbor, popped in to offer any help. He shoveled a path to the outdoor poop pile and dumped my wheel barrows for me.
The picture above is Max, my Sheltie, and Cassie, my Golden Retriever. They are just on their way back inside this morning. Max is a little short so I have had to keep a path shoveled off the deck for him.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

More Damned Snow and Cute Alpacas

Folks told me not to be surprised if I got mad at Smitty for dying on me but I thought, aw, not me, how could I be mad? it's not like he did it on purpose. Well, this morning I was really p....d having to deal with all this snow by myself. How could you do that to me, Smitty, a 66 year old woman shouldn't have to take care of this mess by herself. Was probably a good thing that I was mad because although it was only 9 degrees, I didn't get cold.
This picture is the front of the barn. I had to snowblow a path out there and managed to blow out an area behind the drift so that I could open the big door.
..... and here's another shot of the front. You can see my tracks where I had to climb over the drift to get in to the service door.
Enough moaning and feeling sorry for myself. The rest of the shots are of the alpacas when I let them out this morning.

Sniffing at the curious white stuff that arrived overnight.

Celeste's cria, Lyra, stayed pretty close to her until she was sure the white stuff wouldn't hurt her.

The wild ones! Snickers (Astra), on the right, is only 3 months old and definitely the boldest, most curious of the herd. He was the first one out and went pronking through the drifts.

Snickers again with his mom, Goldie, needing a little snack.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Etsy Sale # 500

I knew that my 500th sale was coming up on Etsy but I didn't want to make a big deal ahead of time so that it would seem like a promotion. I just wanted to wait quietly and then ♪ ♫ ♪ TA DA ♪ ♫ ♪ announce to the person that he/she could pick something out in my shop as a thank you. Last night Edie Bowles from SpinningMoonFarm ordered a skein of gray yarn and was number 500. She preferred that I pick something out for her so I sent her a skein of my brown alpaca/merino blend and, now get this - some white roving that has mohair that I purchased from her.

Edie was the person who convinced me that, yes, mohair can be soft and compliment my alpaca. We have become online friends and because she lives here in Michigan, we plan to get together for a spinning day. Couldn't have planned that 500th sale any better.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What Happens to My Fiber

This is a picture of Lynne Macco. I don't really know where she is going but I like to imagine that she is on her way to her spinning guild meeting. I smile every time I look at this.

Lynne, from BayShore, NY, has bought roving and raw fiber from me. This beautifully spun brown yarn is an alpaca and merino blend that she did up. Most of the alpaca came from Sonata, my visitor greeter and barn diva. The merino is from the McMurrays colored lambs.
And look at these lovely mittens..... Beautiful work, Lynne.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Spinning on a Wintery Day

This was a day to hunker down by the fireplace and spin. ♫♪♫ The weather outside is frightful ♪♫♪ Yesterday it was in the 40s and water was seeping into the barn. Tonight it's 12 with winds at 20 mph. This is Michigan!

This is the yarn that is on my wheel up above. I finished it up, took some pictures, put them in my Etsy store, washed the yarn, came back to my computer and it was sold. Will be off to California in the morning when it's dry.

And this is a cute little hat that I knit up with some of Sharon Winsauer's cochineal dyed alpaca. You really should click on that link and go see the awesome new butterfly shawl pattern that she recently created. The woman amazes me. I couldn't even knit those lace patterns, let alone create the actual pattern.
I just spent 15 minutes trying to get that writing off the side of the hat pict. Sorry.....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Granddaughter Weekend

This is Elizabeth (age 6) watching television on my oh, so tolerant Cassie girl. I am very fortunate because since the girls were born, their parents have allowed them to come spend time here. I love having them and I think that they like to be here.
This weekend our big project was decorating Christmas cookies. Actually, Meredith (age 9) ended up by doing most of the decorating. I got called away and Elizabeth got "the b.... word." They aren't allowed to say they are bored here. I tell them that only boring people get bored.
After cookie decorating, we met Terre at the matinee in Alma to see Bolt. It was a fun time because we had to wear the 3-D glasses. I can't believe that I'm so sappy that I cry in a dog cartoon. Geese.

♪ ♫ TaDah ♫ ♪ I will send lots home with the girls and freeze the rest or I will be snacking big time. Need to save some until Rob comes home. He does like decorated cookies.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Snow Continues

Anyone for a picnic lunch on my deck? That's over a foot of snow on the table. I'm getting quite handy with the snow blower now and thinking that I'm doing a pretty good job. I keep looking at the neighbors' driveways and they leave a little too.

Today was a cold, but sunny day and you can see here the horses soaking up the sunshine. It's been a challenge keeping those doors shoveled so that I can get the horses out in the morning. Each of the four here have their own door and paddock.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Alpacas in Snow and Damned Truck

Remember that snow game we used to play? We would stomp a big pie in the fresh, new snow and play tag. Was it Fox & Geese? I think that's what these 'pacas are playing. They get really excited when I let them out in the morning.
Here's the real reason that I'm posting today. The truck had a recall - windshield wipers, or something. I had to rid it of snow because it gets driven about once a month. If the neighbors were watching, I'll bet they were holding their breath. A snow brush didn't move this snow at all so I got out a rake. Heh, heh, prongy side up and very carefully, I pulled the snow off.\
Anyway, here's the deal. The truck was a year old when Smitty died and he had put life insurance on it. I'm really tired of making the payments and have been contacting the insurance company since the end of August. They are trying to be sure that he had no preexisting conditions before purchasing truck/insurance. Which I understand. But first of all, I had to sign a waiver releasing medical records to RiteAid and the Clinic uptown. To speed things up I contacted both these places myself and asked them to send on the records.
Well, RiteAid's records showed that he had scripts from two other doctors - a cardiologist (routine tests) and a surgeon (knee replacement). I learned this by calling the ins. co. When I contacted these two doctor offices, they hadn't had a request. I faxed a medical release (glad we have a trust) to the offices and asked them to fax Smitty's records on to the ins. co. Finally, on Monday the insurance company says they have all the requested papers, they will evaluate the claim, and I might know by Friday.
Now what if I had been a distressed, grieving widow who didn't want to make waves - would this get settled? Would they have contacted the docotors' offices? How many years would this take?
This is a pretty boring post, but makes me feel better to vent. (That's why I put the cute alpaca pictures first ☺)
Number 24 . I ran the snowblower today. Rob, when you showed me how to work it, you didn't tell me I was going to be covered with snow and that I probably shouldn't wear my glasses.

Monday, December 1, 2008

First Snow Storm - December 1, 2008

We got about 6 inches of the really heavy, sticky snow that turned my morning trip to the barn into a true winter wonderland.

Beautiful! yes, but look what I needed to move before I could clean. I left a show shovel outside last night thinking that I would need it, but it's buried somewhere in that drift by the barn door. Thankfully, I had that other one inside. I moved Cord and Ivan out so that I could clean their stalls. That's Cord peeking over the fence.

The alpacas were just too funny when I let them out. The young ones had never seen snow like this and were jumping and running and body slamming each other. Each of them had to drop into the white stuff and take a roll. The 4 alpacas in the left picture are (left to right), Orion (Slammie), white Pollux (Luxie), naughty gray Gunny, and our handsome dark fawn, herd sire, Polaris (Lars). On the right are crias with little Junior in his purple coat. He's up to 20 pounds now, but not growing like he should. Vet Russ will be here tomorrow and I will have him examine and do a blood draw. Maybe we will get some answers.

As I was finishing up my chores about 10 o'clock, I heard a snow blower. Dean, my across the street neighbor, blew out my house driveway and this path from my house to the barn. Aren't I the luckiest woman in the world? Actually my son, Rob, was here for T'Day and showed me how to run the snow blower, but I'm really glad that Dean did it for me.
As Dean was finishing up, Ben, the young man who farms my property, arrived, got the tractor out, and cleaned out the barn driveway. I'm in great shape!
23. I realize that I can't do EVERYTHING by myself and am so grateful and thankful that I have folks to help me out.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Changes 21 and 22 & "Twilight"

In my last post I forgot to add some of my daily changes since Smitty's death, so will add them tonight.

Number 21. I don't get nearly as much knitting done as I used to. When ever we went anywhere in the car or truck, I would take along some knitting. Now that I have to do my own driving (I hate driving), I don't even think to grab some on the way out. I do have one friend, Kathy, who drives and knits at red lights.

Number 22. For some reason I now pay bills as they come in. I used to save them up until our Social Security and Retirement came in. I think that I'm afraid of not having enough money and wanting to be on top of finances.

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I had a wonderfully fun evening with Beth and my daughter, Terre. We went to the matinee to see Twilight from the book by Stephenie Meyer, and then out to dinner. I am currently reading the third book, Eclipse, in her series which is basically a vampire love saga. I think the film was very well done, close to the book and all that. The scenery was beautiful and I kept wondering if it was really filmed in the state of Washington. My old and dear friend Mac lives near Seattle and I thought of him throughout the film.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Another Use for Alpaca Fiber

It always wows me when I see the artistry and creativity that abounds in some folks. Kim bought some white Bellagio alpaca roving and sent me some pictures of what she does with roving. Pretty amazing, aren't they. If you want to see more of her things, you can take a look at her blog:
Kim lives in Brighton, Michigan which is about 1 1/2 hours from here. Maybe some day we will meet face to face.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Morning in the Barn or Ridding the World of Sh**

Hey, this might not be a pretty picture but it demands lots of minutes in my day. Yep, it's the manure spreader. I remember when we bought it new as a Christmas present to ourselves. The chain in the old one would break and someone would have to climb in to fix it. My city folk friends, the chain runs along the floor......
So what I do is push the wheel barrow up the wooden ramp. I'm not steady enough anymore to actually walk up it, so I walk along side, push it up, and tip the whole thing over. Shorter folks like Beth don't have arms long enough to do it. (But it's rather fun to watch them try)
I had this interesting comparison/metaphor this morning. I sort of dump all my sh**y feelings and thoughts into that spreader. Maybe we could do away with therapy if we could all dump poop everyday.
I'm sure you are asking yourself how many loads do I dump daily. Let's see, 4 horses @ 1 load each, and 16 alpacas for 2 more = 6 trips up the ramp every morning.
But you will see why it's all worth it in the next two pictures:

Here are two of the four horses greeting me. Each one has a distinctive morning nicker. I tell myself that it's because they are glad to see me, but know they want their morning hay.
On the left is Abbey, a now 30 year old Appendix Quarter Horse (that means that she has Thoroughbred in her). We bought her as a 2 year old for my middle daughter, Nikki. They did it all - Jumping, Dressage, Western, Trail (well, sort of, Abbey was a little flighty). She gives me the best nicker. Beyond Abbey is Ivan, my big guy. He is a Percheron/Thoroughbred cross and we specialized in Dressage and a little Jumping.

And down at the end of the aisle are the boys. The girls' pens are in the indoor arena just behind the gray guy, Gunny. The handsome Gold fellow is Polaris (Lars), our herd sire. The rest are "fiber boys" Gelded and fiber producers.
20. I depend so much on my two dogs for company. They are at the groomer's right now. Their last appointment was on the day of Smitty's funeral, so they have been here constantly since then. It was awful walking back in to an empty house this morning. Well, Riley Cat was here, but, frankly, he's not much company. How awful it must be for folks who have nothing live waiting for them at home.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Autumn Sunrise and Herd Blend Yarn

I wonder why Autumn sunrises are so intense? I took this at 7:30 this morning off my deck just before I headed to the barn to do chores. Wish I had sound because 3 of the 4 horses were whinneying and telling me to get my butte out there. It was raining a little but they don't seem to mind.
Remember I mentioned last week that I picked up some roving at Zeilinger's in Frankenmuth, Michigan? Some black and some white? This is the white. It's incredible! I used some white from the blankets of a few of my alpacas and purchased some from Katie, who is our shearer's daughter. It's all weighed, wrapped, and ready to go.
I have spun up a couple of skeins. It's very easy to spin and is coming out soft and beautiful. This particular skein is a slubby single plied with a normal single.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Blog Neglect after Great Weekend

What a really super weekend I had. Youngest granddaughter, Elizabeth, age 6 was here for an overnight. We played games, made yarn, petted alpacas, and went to dinner with Aunt Terre. The picture above is of her very first skein of yarn. EeeHaw! Maybe I'll have another fiber kid. My own girls aren't interested but both granddaughters are now. Elizabeth says that she wants to start knitting on her next visit.
When I took her home, I ran over to Frankenmuth to Zeilinger's to pick up some fiber that I had left. Oh, my! I have some really, really beautiful black and some white roving - about 5 pounds of each. Per usual they did a lovely job cleaning and processing it. Was Sunday afternoon and very quiet so I got to spend some time visiting with Kathy. She says the mill is processing lots of alpaca now. I have already spun a skein of the black and am working on the white now. It's incredibly easy to spin.

Remember how I mentioned that hauling buckets of water to the animals is tough in the winter because the hose freezes so I have to take it down? Look what Jim, Billie, and their grandson built for me. It's insulated and has a light bulb to keep the faucet from freezing. I am so fortunate to have friends who care....... Isn't it just the greatest?!?
17. Even though I have an electric blanket, I wear socks to bed - usually the ones that Chris made for me.
18. With a little help from Billie, I refilled the windshield wiper fluid. Heh, heh, was easy to find because it had a picture of a windshield on it. I bought the kind that won't freeze up.
19. I find that I'm more assertive with service people because I think they may take advantage of me. I seem to have more guts to stand up for myself now.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Corn Harvest

This is Cord, Beth's horse. I put him in the front of the barn today so that he can watch the corn being harvested. He's a curious kind of guy and will enjoy it. Do you see the big combine in the back ground. It has pulled up to the road and is unloading the corn in to huge semi trucks.
And here is the combine behind the barn. The alpacas are all a little nervous with the activity but they too are very curious and sometimes get a little brave and walk toward the fence. It's ok, girls, they will be done in about 3 more hours.

Couldn't resist getting a few extra pictures while I was out there. This is Lyra, born last spring. And there's little Libra behind her. Is 60 degrees and sunny, absolutely beautiful so I took Libra's coat off.
Don't you just want to rub your hands and face in that awesome fleece?
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15. I am getting much better at accepting help from friends and neighbors. Billie reminded me just the other day that I don't have to pay for everything. Sometimes, folks just want to help.
16. I'm learning how the faucet in the barn works. It was bubbling water up around the base. When I called Garrett, the well digging man, he said that it's probably ok, but he will stop over and check it. Apparently when the faucet handle goes down, the water drains out in to the ground. Maybe because the ground is wet and we have clay soil, it's bubbling up. Hope that it won't be a costly thing.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy Halloween from Spot and Beth and John and Maple

Do you remember this little guy, Spot, who was born last spring and had no clue that he could get milk from his mom. I bottle fed him for three weeks and then his light must have come on 'cause I caught him nursing from his mom, Ariana. From then on he would have nothing to do with the cow's milk. He is now huge, bigger than the yearlings and the happiest little guy imaginable. Handling him did not cause "berserk alpaca syndrome" for you folks who worried about that. He is willing to do just about anything we ask of him but is very respectful of the two-leggeds.
And here he is wishing all of you a Happy Halloween:
(Photos by Beth)

14. In the past when the weather got cold enough to freeze the barn hose, we would disconnect it and haul water pails to the horses and alpacas. I can't easily carry a full bucket so I would fill two half pails. My good neighbor across the street, Jim, is going to make an insulated box with a door to go around the hose reel. He is going to put a light bulb inside to keep the hose from freezing. EEEHAW! no bucket hauling.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Watercolor Painting

Beth and I decided that it was time to get the watercolors activated so we had a paint date on Tuesday. Chris had send us some lovely Vermont pictures and I asked permission to use them for painting. Above is my interpretation of his picture on the left. To thank him for letting us use them, I sent him a little 5X7 of birches along a road.

My work in progress at the bottom is from the sheep photo that Chris sent. Of course, I am changing the sheep to alpacas. They are white here because I masqued them out to paint my background.

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13. I can leave my watercolors and stuff all over the kitchen while I am working/playing/creating. For days, if I want.