Friday, January 30, 2009

Lunch with the Alpacas

I had to run out to the barn for Jr's (Libra) noon feeding of gruel and took my camera to show you that the little guy is still with us. Tonight is weigh in and I'm hoping that he will hit 30 pounds. He's layered up here with a turtle neck underneath his coat. The taller white guy standing behind him is Astra (Snickers) who was born 3 days before Jr. Astra is about 4 times larger. I had a little naming help with Astra. Marianne was the winner of my naming contest.

More Finished Fiber

Look what Michele from Jersey City, NJ just finished.....a lovely black/brown scarf that will be gifted to a friend. I know it doesn't show up great for you but black is incredibly hard to photograph, I think. I have problems photographing red also.
The fleeces were from Sonata ↑, black Chinella, and black Berringer. Go here to read Michele's blog where she mentions the fiber in a couple of posts.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fleece to Socks

You know how I love to see "stuff" made from my alpacas. At the beginning of the month, Jeanne from Eugene, Oregon bought the yarn for these socks.

They are for sale in her Etsy store (go here: ohthisnose ) but I asked her if I could buy them if they haven't sold in a week. She has a lovely store of her fiber art....beautiful quilts in all sizes, handmade shopping bags, and MORE SOCKS. I think that she should ask more dollars for the socks (well, after I buy some ☺).
The fiber originally came from Lady Belita, seen here with her cria, Celeste. We love Belita but she is rather grumpy. Her ears are usually back just like this picture. Don't get me wrong, she isn't mean and doesn't spit or anything like that. She's just a little insecure and would rather be left alone.
Back to the yarn......I had Belita's fleece blended with Merino and spun into 250 yard skeins up at Stonehedge. They do a great job. In fact, I have 10 pounds of gray alpaca and merino up there right now.
Back to the yarn.....I dyed a couple of skeins in my crock pot using Jacquard dyes. This was my last skein of this blend. So now, tah, dah, Socks!

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Jen from Pennsylvania ordered this hat to be sent to a different address than her own. Come to find out it was to go to her sister-in-law's hospital room.
Her sister-in-law, Maria, is receiving chemo and will no doubt be losing her hair, and Jen wanted her to have something besides the tradition chemo scarf.
Jen says, "She's the best"

I hate cancer! It's a horrid, sneaky disease. Smitty was setting fence posts 2 months before he died.

I hope that you all will send good energy, or prayers, or whatever you believe in out to Maria and all the others who have had their world shaken by this horrible illness.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I Dyed Yesterday

Sharon gave me over a pound of adult, white, alpaca roving quite some time ago thinking that I might like to dye it up. Look at it! Isn't that yummy! As alpacas age their fiber tends to become less fine so when you see something listed as "adult" alpaca, keep that in mind so that you are not disappointed in the softness. I used my crock pot to dye 5 different dye lots.

I got one batch of two 2 ounce bumps listed in my Etsy store. See here
I say 2 ounces but I alway weigh at least 1/10th over, usually 2/10ths.
And what's a post without a picture of an alpaca? This is Chinella ( 1 year, 4 months old) who is joint owned by Beth and me. Lucky for me, Beth doesn't spin so I can't wait till May to get my hands in this lovely black, black fiber.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Jr's New Duds

It was warm here yesterday and I wanted to wash Jr's (Libra's) coat, so after cutting part of the sleeves off an old turtle neck, I slipped it on him. I cut a couple slits for his back legs and gathered the extra up in a little pony tail and fastened it with a rubber band. He's styling, isn't he? It is supposed to be cold again tonight (about zero), so I slipped his regular coat over his T neck for the layered look. By the way, he is up to 28.3 pounds tonight. EEEHAW!
I guess that I'm going to have to put a halter on him soon if I continue weighing him weekly because he's getting pretty heavy for me to pick up. He's a good little boy though and doesn't squirm.
That mess on the back of his neck is hay. Because he's so small, the rest of the alpacas eat above him and lots falls down and sticks in his fiber. I'm definitely not saving that baby alpaca fiber at shear time.

I dyed a little over a pound of alpaca today - 5 different dyelots to go in to my Etsy store.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New? Sweatshirt

For Christmas daughter Terre gave me a gift card to Macys. Knowing full well that I won't be going to the city for a long time, I found this hooded sweatshirt on line and ordered it. Can't have too many hooded sweatshirts for the barn, you know. I thought the kids would be proud of me because it's a Ralph Lauren and not another shirt from Tractor Supply. Polo is a big deal name brand, I think. I really love it!

This morning I pulled it on over my turtleneck to head out for chores. I liked that the cuffs were long and turned them up. Well, damn, the cuffs are all worn with holes. Thinking I could pull the mailing envelope out of the trash and send it back, I noticed that the holes are all in threes and evenly spaced around the cuff. Oh, my gosh, this must be the worn look...... Duh! Yep, I'm definitely an old timer .

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Help Me with My Morning Chores

I thought it might be fun for you to help me with my morning chores. The first thing we do is throw my obnoxious horse, Ivan, a tiny bit of hay or he will continue banging on his stall door with his hoof.
Separate Sonata and Jr (above ▲) and give Jr his two tubes of gruel before it cools off. Toss a pad of hay into their feeder. Can you tell that it's still dark out? And look how he's growing. His coat is quite small for him.
Now go back to the horses and give each horse a drink because they will be shut out for the day and then give them a scoop of grain. Don't forget to slip some Bute (horsey aspirn) into Abbey and Kellys' pails. Water the alpacas while you have the hose out.

While the horses are munching, go back to the alpacas and fill the pans for the babies ► When you hang the feeders on the gate, call them, and they will come right over. The big girls can't get into this pen so the little ones can eat in peace. So now you can fill 5 more pans with alpaca pellets and feed the big girls.

Open their door and throw some hay out in the nice clean snow for them. Leave a little inside also.
Turn all four horses out with a couple pads of hay. Leave Cord's door open so that he can come inside if he likes.

Over to the 4 boys' pen and spread 5 pans of pellets on their gates. Leave a couple feet between each pan so they don't get to fighting and spitting at each other. When they spit, their bottom lip hangs open and they can't eat for a while. I read somewhere that the spit is quite acidic and that's why they do that. Don't know though. Open their door and put some hay outside for them. They didn't clean up all their hay from last night so don't give them as much.

I hope that you remembered to speak individually to each 4 legged and called them by name. I believe that like kids, they each need the special attention.
Now before you go in, think back, does each critter have food? water? are all the doors secure? This only took us an hour. If Josh weren't coming to clean, we would be out here for two more.
Walking in we pass by the horses who give us a look of thanks (or so I like to think).

Sunday, January 18, 2009

My Path to Humility

The definition of humility is "the quality of being humble". I became humble this morning when my snow blower wouldn't start. I've been a little proud and feeling "just a little bit superior" that I can get my snow blower going and stuff plowed out before the neighbor guys get around. You know, that "I am Woman, hear me roar" stuff.
Well, she wouldn't start this morning and I asked Ben who was plowing my driveways with his truck if he would take a look at it. Well, duh, what I thought was a choke is actually some sort of prime thingy. Using the correct little choke lever, it took right off.
So above is my snow blower path to humility and the barn......

Friday, January 16, 2009

Another Vet Call

This is little Lyra with her mom Celeste right after she was born last spring. Today Vet Russ had to come out and redraw blood because Michigan State's lab totally messed up the samples that we sent in a month ago. We were testing progesterone levels in Celeste ↑ and Lady Belita to see if they could be pregnant. The lab also screwed up our blood samples from the babies that were sent for BVDV testing so we had to redraw from the babies. You can't even imagine how hard this is to take blood from their necks when it is covered with 4 inches of fiber. Cudos to you, Russ.
....and this is Celeste and Lyra now. Lyra has really beautiful dense, crimpy fiber that is a beautiful golden fawn color. I can't wait for the May shear to get my hands on this fleece.
Have I mentioned the sub zero temperatures? ☺ I'm pretty sick of hauling and busting up frozen water pails. We are supposed to get a big snow tomorrow and then maybe a warm up to the 20s.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Toy Tractor Auction

Before Christmas I had an auction at the North Star Township hall to find homes for Smitty's tractors. They (400+) were in our basement on shelves. We used to joke about if they were going to get dusted each year. None of the kids were interested in keeping his collection, but at friend Mary's advice, I did have both of the grandgirls keep one.

This picture is one long tableful and there were two more long sets of tables forming a U around the center where the bidders sat.

I didn't think they would be worth much for two reasons. One, he didn't keep the boxes that they came in, and two, he had engraved his driver's license number on each one.

But, my friends, after auctioneer, advertising, and other expenses, I had a check for just about $12,000. Isn't that amazing!

I had a few uncomfortable feelings about selling his collection, but it is nice to know that some went to children, to grandchildren, and to collectors who appreciate their value.

This morning was brutally cold at 14 below zero. The water in the barn was frozen but I am partially to blame because I didn't think to take the nozzle off the hose. I got it thawed out by removing the nozzle and then sticking a little heater into the insulated water closet/thingy that the neighbors built for me. Remember? - here for a picture.

I had to include this really lovely photo taken by my dear young friend Heather when she came to visit over Christmas holidays.

Cold Weather is Here

Christina from Texas bought one of my Moebius scarves and in our conversations, she suggested that I design a winter hat that would accomodate lots of hair. This is what I came up with and listed it in my shop - here
Right now I'm finishing up another in a plain stockinette stitch using a natural brown alpaca/merino blend.

Chores this a.m. were a little brisk. The temp on my thermometer was zero but the television news is saying that it's 12 and 14 below zero. The temperature in the barn was 15, which doesn't seem too bad. I left the horses in and rewatered them because their water had frozen. The alpacas all have heated water. I opened the alpaca doors, but they don't seem to want to venture out. I will go back and check everyone about 10, and maybe kick the horses out. I think it's healthier for them to be outside than shut in their box stalls.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Beautiful Michigan Morning

I don't understand the weather this morning. It was 10 degrees and the surrounding schools had fog delays. Everything is covered with that beautiful white frosty snow/ice. The dogs and I took a walk around the property to enjoy. The pictures above and to the right are about 200 feet from the back of my house. The deer have been in there and all the hot wire fences are down. Will have my work cut out for me in the spring. They have never foraged in my little wood lot so I'm thinking they must be hungry. All our snow must be taking it's toll. I heard on the radio that December had the record snowfall for Michigan - EVER.
Remember, you can click on these pictures for enlargement - especially if you want to see my dear Cassie under the trees.

Of course, I had to give you a shot of the barn. It's so nice to have energy left over after feeding and watering in the morning. Josh is working out incredibly. He is coming 3 days a week and I, surprisingly enough, am having no trouble leaving the poop hauling for him.
I think the Heat Gods must have been angry at me yesterday. My furnace quit and I had to call a repair man. Of course, being Sunday, it was considered an emergency visit - $s. But I'm happy someone came and fixed it. The humidifier had leaked and dripped all over important things. Scott repaired it and I'm not using attached humidifier. Actually, I have a little cold air vaporizer that I'm running.
I keep a small heater in the tack room in the barn and that decided to also quit yesterday. Will have to replace that soon because I understand that we are in for some really, really cold weather later this week.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Little Libra Update

For all you friends who are following little Libra's (Jr.) progress. .....yesterday he was 4 months old and weighed 25 pounds exactly. Four month old crias usually weigh about 60 pounds. You may think this is not a pretty picture of him, but it sure is to me. He just finished eating his "gruel".Like most little boys, he hates to have his face washed. I'm up to feeding 6 ounces, 4 times a day now, but think I may cut back to 3 times a day for a little relief for me. He's still slurping and sucking down his concoction. Here's where I talked about the recipe -

A Gift of Love and Memories

My down the road friend, Cary, gave me these beautiful handspun, handknit socks last night. Cary, I'm sorry, but I will probably never wear them. They are just too precious and full of memories and love to put on my feet. They hang here in my office.
The white stripes and knit "NorthStar" are from Pollux, my fiber boy. Cary said she added my alpaca around my ankle because it is so soft.
Cary handspun and 3 plied the gray from my roving of alpaca and SouthDown Sheep that I had Zeilingers blend last summer. These sheep were Smitty's joy in the barn. Cary doesn't realize it, but they were sold and left the farm about 3 hours before he died.
These socks are probably my most precious symbol of love from my friends and my years with Smitty that I have and I want to keep them forever. So, nope, I'm not going to wear them, not even as bed socks.
Thank you, Cary

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Barn Help - EEEEHAW!

I am the luckiest woman in the world! I found someone who can come 3 days a week and help with the barn.
♫♪♫ Zippedy Do Dah ♪♫♪
Josh (above dumping on to the manure pile) is a 27 year old young man with a wife and baby, plus another baby on the way. What a worker! He's young, strong, and does an incredible, tidy job. He takes pride in what he does. Although he hasn't been around animals before, he likes them (talks to them) and wants to learn. Of course, I will pay him.
I feel like I have a new lease on life and my world looks as sunny
as this day.

And here are two more helpers in the barn today. Black Chinella and fawn Astra (Snickers) were assisting me with the feeding of Libra (Jr.) They are always too funny and usually manage to pull my hat off and get stuff out of my pockets.
Thanks, Beth, for taking this picture.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


So many blogs that I am reading talked about Christmas, so here I am doing the same. Little Max up above enjoyed our celebration day the Monday after Christmas. The grandgirls and my 3 adult kids were here. We missed Bob, my son-in-law, who had to work.
On Christmas Eve daughter Terre came and spent the night. We were going to Owosso to watch the grandgirls open their gifts on "the day" but stayed home because of some nasty, icy roads. T went home and I spent the day watching movies and eating junk food. Suprisingly enough, it wasn't horribly depressing, nor lonely.

Rob came home from Scranton, PA, the day after Christmas and stayed for a week. Lucky, lucky me. I love having my son around!!!! He did work his little hiney off though. This is a picture that Meg took of Rob plowing for me. He also repaired doors in the barn, moved many bales of hay, removed shelves in the basement, patched the holes, shoveled mountains of snow, hauled the snow blower to the repair shop, helped with chores every morning and night, even replaced my toilet seat (which I admit was getting dangerous)

On New Years Day we went to daughter Nikki, son in law Bob, and granddaughters, Elizabeth and Meredith's home in Owosso. Had a most lovely meal and got to play Christmas games. This pict is of Rob and Meredith taken by Meg. Again, I'll remind you to just click on the pictures for enlargements.
Many folks mentioned that the holidays would be really hard without Smitty. Probably because of all the forewarning, the days weren't so bad after all. I stayed pretty busy which is my way, I guess, of dealing with "stuff". We all missed him, of course, and I had many moments of that little lurch in my gut thinking of him and what he was missing.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Libra, the Cria

Libra's barn name has become Junior. He just won't grow like a normal cria. His birth weight was 13.6 pounds on September 19th, the day this picture was taken. Even though he was full term, that is very small, at least for our farm. I would guess that our babies average 20 pounds. He was eager to nurse, but his mom, Sonata just wasn't making much milk. I'll spare you lots of details, but we (Beth & I) ended up taking both of them to Michigan State. They couldn't tell us much.
I tried desperately to get Jr. to nurse from a bottle but he was getting just enough from Sonata that he would just fight me. He started eating grass and hay almost immediately after birth.
Two weeks ago we had our good vet, Russ, draw blood from him but all the info that we could use was that his immune system is practically nill. Iron, thyroid, everything else is ok.

Russ did his research and got this recipe from a fellow vet who works for Alpaca Jacks, a really big Suri farm.
Grind up:
1 cup alfalfa pellets
1 cup alpaca pellets (Paca Nutrition)
jar baby carrots
2 cups yogurt
1 cup Glucerna (a diabetic form of Ensure)

Doesn't it look yummy?
At the beginning I had to force it down, but now he's slurping and sucking away. The syringe that I'm using is an old, washed out Vitamin container that holds 3 ounces. I use another syringe to load it up and then warm the whole thing in hot water, and feed him 4 times a day.

Here's a picture from this morning of Jr. chewing. He had just finished having a milk snack from his mom so you can see his little foamy milk mouth. He's 3 1/2 months and now weighs 24.3 pounds. He was gaining 1/2 pound a week, but last week gained 1 1/2 pounds. EEEHAW!