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.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Alpaca Training 101

When I got home from my monthly fiber group meeting, Beth and John had been here and left some pictures. A favorite trick of a cria just learning to lead is to cush down. These pictures of John and Mira tell the story.

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Changes -
11. I need to call the furnace folks to come and teach me how to program the furnace because I will be needing heat soon. Son Rob mentioned something about needing filters also.
12. I really miss going out to eat at least weekly. My at home diet consists mainly of cereral, soup, salads, sandwiches, and string cheese.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Little Libra

I've had several folks ask how little Libra, Sonata's cria, is doing. Remember, he was born 28 days ago on September 19th, and hasn't been growing very rapidly because Sonata isn't producing much milk. His birth weight was 13.6 pounds and he dropped down to 13. Yesterday he weighed in at 16.9 pounds so I'm breathing much easier. I stopped trying to supplement him two days ago because it was a really, really big battle. We were both miserable.
A week ago I started adding Xango juice to Sonata's twice a day feeding. Xango is a mangosteen juice. Friends, I think that it's working and she is producing more milk. Yesterday I started adding Dr. Pollard's Lactation Stimulator which is a blend of herbs that will hopefully also increase her milk production. This isn't very scientific because I'm not sure what will be helping. I just want that little darling to start growing.
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Changes since August 21
7. I leave my bedroom radio on night and day. It's tuned to MSUs Public Radio Station so is mostly classical. Even though both dogs and Riley sleep in my room, it's comforting to wake up in the middle of the night to music.
8. I don't spend as much time browsing online and visiting others' blogs.
9. I miss my kids more than I used to.
10. A major irritation - some folks will ask me how I'm doing and I usually say OK or Good, but then they say "No, how are you REALLY?" Makes me want to scream. I don't lie! Should I be better at this grieving widow thing?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Appreciation of Handmade

Deborah from Fort Worth, Texas contacted me a month or so ago and asked me to knit a matching hat and scarf to be given as a Christmas present. (Wish that I had asked who it was for.) Anyway, this is what I came up with. The white is alpaca and merino, some of my mill spun, and the pink is dyed mohair and a little angora.
I finished it this a.m. and emailed Deb with pictures to tell her they were done and asked if $60 would be ok. Oh, my, she mailed me back and practically scolded me and said that she wouldn't take it unless I charged at least $85.
Isn't that amazing???? Thank you so much, Deb, from all of us fiber folks enjoying our craft. It is so nice to be appreciated.
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Opps, I almost forgot - I'm listing my life changes....
4. I can drive that big old John Deere riding lawn mower in the garage. In fact, I "almost" enjoy it.
5. Riley, my cat, can go outside whenever he wants. Smitty always worried that something bad would happen to him because he has no front claws. I trust that he can take care of himself.
6. Money! I have a new appreciation for the green stuff because my income has been cut into half and I have no savings. Since the kids graduated from college, I have pretty much spent whatever I wanted with little thought involved. I'm glad that I already have the important things like my Majacraft Spinning Wheel and my carder.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fixing Pasture Fence

I finally admitted that I need some help. Cary's boy, 15 year old Alex, has come over for a couple of hours for the last two Saturdays to take care of some of the jobs that I dislike the most. He gets down enough hay for the horses and alpacas to last me a week. I do not like climbing up those hay bales. He has also chopped and dug up thistles in the pastures. You know, the kind that produce the round prickly burrs. I have been picking them out of my Ivan's forelock and tail for the last month. Fortunately, none have gotten into the alpacas' fleece. What a mess that would be.

This morning after I finished my barn chores, I walked out to admire Ivan's pasture, sans thistles. Damn! a wire was down. Sometimes deer will be running and explode from the corn field and go right through the electric fence. That's probably what happened, although it was only the bottom wire.
I loaded up my wheel barrow with a roll of new wire and wire cutters and headed out to the pasture. ...and my helper, Ivan followed right along. This picture was taken just before he pushed the wheel barrow over with his nose. Did I ever mention that Ivan's purpose in life is to play pranks and make people laugh? Well, I definitely didn't laugh at him but taught him some new two legged words.

♫ ♪ Ta - da! ♪ ♫ Here's my shiny new bottom strand all spliced in. I finished walking the fence and chopped down a bunch of weeds and vines that were growing quite close and could interfere with the electricity. This always makes me feel kinda cowboy-like, you know, riding the range and looking for fencing down.
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I've been thinking about writing down all the changes in my life since Smitty died because it seems so huge. I'm going to tack on some of my thoughts each time I post here........
1. The obvious - much more work. My morning chores used to take me from 7:30 to 8:30, and now I'm lucky if I'm done by 9:30.
2. I now know that my kids are grown up and not where I try to visualize them which is somewhere between high school graduation and college graduation. (That was a really big time span for son, Doctor Rob ☺) All three are beautiful, mature, intelligent, kind, dependable, caring, animal loving adults living full productive lives. The death of their father seems to have brought us closer together.
3. I can't leave the farm for any length of time because of the animals. (this isn't even important to me right now but might be in the future)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Alpaca Training and Cria Update - Astra & Libra

Today is a beautiful, sun shiny, autumn day in midMichigan. The main reason that I haven't posted in a while is because caring for little Libra (above in his GoBlue U. of Michigan coat) has been quite time consuming. Remember, Sonata, his mom has hardly any milk. For a couple of days, I was able to supplement him with a bottle, and then he just started to absolutely refuse it. I couldn't get any down him. So at the advice/help of Beth and Doc Russ, we decided to mix up a gruel. I ground up adult alpaca pellets in my blender and added some Ensure left over from Smitty's ordeal. I suck this gruel up in to a 2 ounce syringe and pretty much force feed it in to his mouth.
Libra does nibble on grass and hay and is frequently under mom trying to nurse the little milk that she has. He is 3 weeks old and has gained 3 pounds, for a total of 15.2 pounds.
The little white guy next to Libra is Astra, who was named by Marianne here on my blog. He is three days older than Libra. See why I'm so worried?????

Beth came over to give Oppie (Golden Opportunity) a halter/lead lesson. This little yearling is the hardest ever to train to lead. Even though you can see Oppie's resistance by the way she is leaning away from Beth, she is doing super. She is up right and actually walking. It's more normal for her to throw her self down and freeze. We lift her up and try another step. Beth is training her to follow along with a gentle tug, tug on the rope. We are out in the field with the other alpacas to give the little girl some confidence. I truly admire Beth. She is quite determined that Oppie will become a happy, confident, obedient alpaca.