Sweet Harmony Farm

  (Deerfield, New Hampshire)
Simple joys of the alpaca life ...........
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The Ladies

As you may already know, last December we had alpaca ladies join our farm. 

We had spent months trying to figure out how we could inexpensively build a new barn and pasture area for them.  We talked to other farms who house both males and females for tips on how to keep them separated the hardest task of all.  Knowing well that farming is much more difficult during the winter, we devised a plan of how to get them shoveled out relatively easily so that we’d be able to get them water and hay. 

In the end, the quickest, easiest, and most efficient method was just to divvy up the barn by moving one of the gates to block off the pens next to the tack room, run a line of fencing from the back corner of the barn to the back pasture fenceline, and then run fencing down the paddock with 2 handmade gates on either end.  Done.

The girls, or rather The Ladies as Dan calls them, have the smaller side next to the tack room.  The boys have the rest of the barn, the bigger side.  It’s not that much bigger!  I swear it was much cozier this winter for them.  With a smaller space and a few more alpacas, all that extra body heat must have helped. 

As it turns out, after the initial Meet and Greet, the boys just couldn’t care less about having girls on the other side!  They are always, always, much more interested in me bringing them hay than who’s on ‘the other side.’  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Fourth of July - 2014

Fourth of July flag

Home of the Free, Because of the Brave

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

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The Sling - Part 2

Sometimes, despite your best efforts and intentions, things just don’t go as planned. Spring arrived, and Shiloh was not able to regain the use of her back legs. Loving animals means your heart gets broken when they cannot be the beautiful creatures they were intended to be. More sadness came to our farm in mid-April, as the decision was made that it was best to let Shiloh and her wonderful spirit leave our world.  

Shiloh April2014

We had created a setup in the pen with a sling and pulleys so that we could sling Shiloh up with the least amount of stress to her, as well as to us. She really didn’t like being in the sling. She always much preferred that Dan lift her by her hind end and balance her on his leg while he sat on the small hay feeder. From there she could stand up using her front legs and see all around the barn, see ‘her girls’ and sometimes she’d even put weight on her back legs. Dan and I would massage her back and hips and massage her back legs and feet, trying hard to get the blood circulating. Then we’d gently work each leg, bending it and straightening it, forward and back and out to the side. Dan would even take that rear leg and pull it forward so that Shiloh could scratch her chest, like a real alpaca. :)  

Shiloh Apr2014

Shiloh actually liked us doing all this massage. When we’d arrive at the barn she’d get a really excited look on her face when she saw Dan and would try hard to get herself up, her front end anyway. When she saw us get the sling ready, she’d get an ‘OH NO!’ look to her. With Shiloh in the sling we could work her legs a little easier and she could move around a teensy bit. Anything to get her muscles working. I did reiki on her every day. We gave her homeopathic remedies for healing and pain relief, banamine for pain and swelling, MSM to build muscle, crushed B12 tablets to regenerate her nerves, and of course alpaca pellets as a treat. We kept her in the pen with lots of straw and a warm coat, and put up an extra tarp to keep the cold and wind off of her. We did this all winter long, every day.  

In return, she gave us happy looks, a never-give-up attitude, and a very loving spirit. She will never be forgotten.  

RIP my friend.

Dan and Shiloh Apr2014

Dan and Shiloh April2014

 
 

The Sling - Part 1

I really don’t need to explain to anyone that it’s been a brutally cold winter this season. Temps have often been near zero and with the wind it’s well below zero. The tips of my fingers go numb within a minute or less of scooping up frozen beans. It’s a nauseating feeling. I run into the tack room to get out of the wind, take off my gloves, and shake my hands wildly to get the feeling back. If I’m on the boys’ side, I usually run to Guinness or Arlo to put my fingers into their fleeces. This time of year the alpacas’ fleece is usually about 3+ inches long and it’s toasty warm down by their skin. Guinness will usually grunt and look up at me quickly, surprised by the sudden cold. I wish they’d stay still long enough for my fingertips to get as warm as their skin, but usually it’s just long enough to get the feeling back.  

On the plus side, we haven’t had as much snow as we’ve usually had the past several winters. On those odd days where the wind is calm, the sun is out, and it’s over 20 degrees, I am able to open up the ‘big door’ for the boys. They love it! It’s so dark in the barn with all the tarps up along the front opening. Plus, it gives me another way to get into and out of the barn to scoop all the paca poo.    

Over on the girls’ side it’s a bit different. We’ve been keeping the tarped gate closed and their ‘big door’ closed most of the time, trying to keep poor Shiloh warm. Shiloh stays cushed in the pen, on piles of warm straw, and wears a lovely coat. She can wiggle around fairly well using her front legs but doesn’t leave the pen on her own.    

Shiloh came to us somewhat mobile. She’d been injured back in October at the farm she’d been living at and went down, and then spent a week recuperating at the vet. For the next month she needed assistance getting up and overall seemed to be improving. When she first arrived here at the beginning of December, she just needed a boost to get up but could do a wobbly walk. After several days, Shiloh was getting up on her own! We were thrilled and thought she was basically recovered. NOT. The intense cold came on suddenly and within days she needed a boost to get up again, and just as quickly needed help just to stand. And then, she couldn’t even stand. Her front legs work just fine, but her back legs do not. It is incredibly sad for us to see her so helpless.  

Shiloh is considered a ‘down’ alpaca. In the mornings and mid-day, I massage and rub her legs as best as I can to get some feeling into them. I do reiki on the part of her lower spine where her actual injury appears to be. Her wonderful owners have provided her with all kinds of homeopathic remedies, vitamins, banamine [a livestock medicine to reduce pain and inflammation], etc. In the evening, Dan lifts her by her hips and she stands. He sits on the hay feeder with her hips in his lap and her back legs somewhat dangle. We then rub and massage and stretch out her legs and feet trying to work the muscles.  

Shiloh is one very co-operative alpaca. It is amazing how she just lets us ‘do what we have to do’ with really no complaints. She has the best disposition of any alpaca ever! The downfall is this: she is a rather large-framed alpaca. She is not fat, in fact even after all this she still body scores very well, but she is much too heavy for us to lift her easily; in fact I cannot lift her at all if she isn’t assisting and quickly trying to stand on her own. This makes therapy rather difficult and is certainly slowing down her healing process.  

It’s time for us to make a sling. Dan has put something together and we did a successful test run with a hay bale last night. It will still require both of us to get her into the sling and lift her. Once she’s in the sling and Dan doesn’t have to hold her up, we will both be able to work her legs much better.   Her muscle tone in those weak back legs will improve. She will soon be able to start standing on all 4 legs with the sling helping her to keep her balance. And then, she will be able to run again on her own.   That’s the plan, anyway.  

We refer to Shiloh’s condition as an injury, but it’s actually the affects of the dreaded meningeal worm.

 
 

New Year's ~ 2014

Happy New Year Everyone!!!  Bright Blessings for a happy, healthy, and prosperous year!

Thank you all for reading our little blog.  We very much appreciate it.

~ Mona

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Twenty

Our little farm has grown to 20 alpacas.  This little fact now begs the question:  are we nuts??

In mid-November we brought home 2 more boys in need of a farm, Soloman and Sam.  Soloman is an all-black alpaca with a wild and curly topknot and the longest eyelashes I’ve ever seen on an alpaca.  He is also rather good-natured and doesn’t mind at all when I hug him, usually.  He is papa to several of our boys: Cavalier, North, Eragon, and Copper.   Sam is a light fawn alpaca, another really nice boy, and a bit high-strung and nervous.  He is papa to still very shy Adagio.

Our girls are home!!!  Our girls have always boarded elsewhere, and at the beginning of this month, they’re finally home.  Dreamer is my older girl, full of spunk for her teeny size, with lovely light fawn fleece.  She never lets anyone get in her way and is most likely to spit.  She is mama to Guinness, Bo, and Arlo.  Then there’s Alana, who is very tall, with the loveliest medium rose-grey fleece.  I first saw her when she was a cria and knew I had to have her.  Even now, in the right sunshine, her fleece has a pinky glow.  I wish it would spin up that way!  She is mama to Coty, Henry, and Copper. 

Our girls came home with a couple of friends.  First there’s Christina, who is a medium brown gal, and mama to Desi.  Christina seems to be the lookout for the girls and often sounds the alarm call, especially when she sees Stella.  Their other friend is Shiloh, who probably has the best disposition of any alpaca, ever!  She has a dark brown blanket of fleece across her back, and the rest of her is white and brown splashes of color.  This little gal’s unique coloring stands out in any crowd.  She wears a red coat all the time because she hasn’t been feeling well [more on that in another post].  Christina and Shiloh are very well loved by their owners, who enjoy spoiling their alpacas as much as we do.

Dreamer looks incredibly small compared to the other 3 gals, who are all rather tall.

Dan refers to the four of them as ‘The Ladies.’

At first the girls were very nervous of their new surroundings.  They were definitely unsure of what to make of me and Dan.  The good thing is that they have lived together for years and are very bonded.  The four stay together and move together as a group, as a herd should.  I’d come walking into the paddock announcing ‘hello girls!’ and they’d all run into the barn and out their big door.  They’d stop and turn to stare at me wide-eyed wondering, who is this new 2-legger who’s always singing our names?  And what’s with that little dog?  The boys have always greeted me at the gate with kisses so to have alpacas actually run away from me was rather upsetting. 

Thankfully, they only took a few days to get used to me.   At first I used the universal language of alpacas:  I offered them hay.  I slowly held out hay from my hand towards their noses.  They all stared.  Dreamer, very obviously the alpha, was the first to take a teeny step towards me and sniff the hay.  Then she had a bite.  Yeah!  The others then felt safe and ate hay from my hands too, even very shy Alana.  It took me little effort to offer them minerals from the feed bowl, and then the cup.  I’ve been greeting each of them by name, staring right into their eyes.  I call their names from the back door of the house.  That has gotten them running out of the barn to look!  Now I can scratch all of them on their beautiful, long necks.  They stay in the barn while I work around them and ask to drink water from the bucket before I walk it over to the boys’ side.     

The girls also quickly adapted to our routine of being in the barn at least twice a day to put out hay and fresh water, and to rake up all the paca poo.  All of a sudden it seems like we’re raking up an extreme amount of poo, a never ending amount of paca poo.   There seems to be poo everywhere, on the boys’ side that is.  The Ladies are very, very neat, never pooing inside their barn, and only creating one, sometimes a small second, poo area.

Hey boys, are you paying attention???  Of course not; boys will be boys.

Dan and I spent all summer and early fall deciding on how best to divvy up the pasture and barn safely for the girls’ arrival.  We built gates, and more gates, dug holes for fence posts, and put up the fencing.  We built ourselves a Fort Knox system to ensure that the boys can’t wander over to the girls’ side, or vice-versa.

There is some humor to all this work.  The boys sniffed at the girls upon their arrival with the usual gusto.  They ran up and down the fence line trying to acquaint themselves with the new alpacas on the other side.  After a few days, that was it.

The boys are much more interested in me bringing them hay than in the girls on the other side of the fence.  Silly boys.

We had an unfortunate incident amongst the boys about a week or so after Soloman and Sam arrived, and Sam is no longer here on our farm.  We wish him well.  On our farm now, including our beloved Julio, are twenty.

 
 

The Fiber Twelve Days of Christmas

once again, it's time for our annual song ...................

On the twelfth day of Stitch-mas, my true love gave to me:

Twelve knitters knitting

Eleven cones a’ winding

Ten orders shipping

Nine rugs a’ hooking

Eight yarns a’ dying

Seven needles felting

Six sample cards

Five spinning wheels!!!

Four pounds of fiber

Three nuno scarves

Two socks on one needle

 And a yarn store that understands me

 Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

 
 

Changes

Oh my.  The past few weeks, we have been experiencing the best autumn weather, ever!! 

The dew is usually dried off the grass by late morning.  I’ve been wheeling down a bale of hay around noontime.  Everyday, several alpaca noses greet me at the gate while I wheel the bale in and follow me excitedly as I plunk it down alongside the paddock fencing.  The boys love to cush around the bale and mindlessly munch in the sun all afternoon.  In the evening I pick up what’s left and put it into their feeders, fluffing it up as much as I can.  By then they’re usually pronking about in the pasture.

Daji,Copper,Falcon Aug2013

Changes have been coming to our little farm.  Our little farm is growing, growing. 

Several weeks ago, I blogged that our adorable little CopperMoon had come home.  He arrived with his little shy friend Adagio, which we are calling Daji, and another friend, Falcon.  Copper and Daji are average sized alpacas and a bit cautious of their new surroundings.  Falcon is a smaller sized alpaca, calm and quiet, but he definitely can take care of himself.  The usual meet-and-greet over the fence with our herd went well.  We let the newcomers into the small blocked off area to the side of the barn so they could further acclimate themselves.  After a couple hours, we opened up the gates.

That was a mistake.  Within minutes a horrifying scene emerged while Desi, Coty, and North all insisted on asserting their dominance all at once over the 3 new arrivals, namely shy little Daji.  Dan and I managed to separate the 3 offenders rather quickly.  I scolded them and lectured them on manners.  I know that others will laugh and tell me that this is normal behavior for livestock.  I still see it as a nightmare scenario.

I knew my lecture would do no good.  Dan and I sectioned off the barn and secured a small pasture area.  I knew we had a problem that wouldn’t right itself on its own.  We phoned our vet immediately.  Luckily she was able to come to our farm a few days later.  On a beautiful sunny morning, my 3 ‘big boys’ were gelded.  All is calm and quiet again on our little farm, well, for the most part.

We now refer to Desi, Coty, and North as ‘The Sisters.’    :) 

In a few weeks our girls, Dreamer (momma to Guinness, Bo and Arlo) and Alana, (momma to Coty, Henry, and Copper) will be home!  More fun on our little farm is sure to happen.

 
 

Copper is home!

Do you all remember when our little Copper Moon was born?

CopperMoon b-day May2011

Well here he is now!

CopperMoon Aug2013

 

 
 

For Lisa and Val

The camera is working again!  Definitely operator error folks, so we'll just leave it at that.  :)

In honor of the camera finally working, the first picture is for you, Lisa!  Here in front is Desi in full fleece, just before shearing this year:

Desi full fleece May2013 

And the second picture is for you Val!  This is adorable little EarthWind&Fire, whom Dan and I call Earthling, in full fleece:

Earthling May 2013

And for all of you, here are all of our fiber friends!  The first picture is missing Guinness; he was probably just out of camera range.  The second picture is missing Bo.  Bo was probably in the barn.  Bo loves his barn.  Yes, our beloved Julio is in both pictures.  Enjoy everyone!

Alpaca friends full fleece May 2013

alpacas in full fleece 2013

 
 

The Alarm Call

Things are still strangely quiet on our little farm.  I just can’t explain it but it all seems so oddly quiet.  The alpacas have their occasional moments of rough housing and it’s odd not to see Julio step up.  Sometimes Guinness intervenes.  He’s a little guy though so this doesn’t always happen.  I tell him he’s a very good boy and give him a hug.    

There is still no clear alpha but I think it’s Cavalier.  He obviously doesn’t mind the rough housing ruckus.  He’ll just stand there and watch while he eats hay or grazes, if he even watches at all.   If he’s cushed he’ll just continue to chew his cud and ignore what’s happening.  Maybe it isn’t such a big deal to him or any of the alpacas.  Maybe I’m just overreacting.  Most of the time it’s as it’s always been, very quiet out there. 

I’ve been asking Cav, whom I often call Big Bear, if he’s the alpha now.  He doesn’t respond.  But when I say ‘hey A-Man!’ he looks me right in the eye in surprise as if to ask ‘What, Who, Me??’  His expression makes me smile and laugh.  Finally I’m laughing again.

The other night we heard the strangest noise outside.   Were raccoons fighting?  We had no idea.  We heard the strange noise again and tried listening for other noises.  Nothing.   Dan said ‘I think the alpacas are alarming!’  Alpacas make a loud, high pitched noise when they feel threatened.  They do not make this noise often.  This could not be good. 

We quickly turned on the outside lights to the barn.  We saw that all the boys were in the paddock, standing perfectly still with their necks straight up.  All of them were staring at the main gate.   They had stopped alarming now that the light was on.  The only alpaca who had ever sounded the alarm was Julio and he hadn’t done that in a very long time.  The hair was standing up on the back of my neck.

We couldn’t see or hear coyotes, nor dogs, nor a bear.  The alpacas will curiously follow wild turkeys along the fence line but turkeys are not out late at night.  When deer or the occasional moose come through the alpacas couldn’t care less.  Dan took the flashlight and cautiously walked out towards the gate.

And there, in front of the gate, waddling by without a care in the world was a porcupine.  Oh geez!  My wimpy alpacas alarmed at a silly little porcupine. 

Who sounded the alarm?  Usually it’s the alpha/guard but we didn’t see who alarmed and we haven’t got a clue.  

Ahhh, the Who’s The New Alpha Game continues on.             

 
 

Fourth of July - 2013

Fourth of July flag

Home of the Free, Because of the Brave

Happy Fourth of July Everyone!!

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Quietness

It’s been a long month since Julio left us.  Thank you all for your compassion and kind words.  Dan and I and the alpacas have all been getting into the new routine, the new normal.  

The alpacas have been very quiet.  They’re certainly not loud animals but they have seemed strangely quiet around me.  I’ve watched them to see who the new alpha will be.  Sometimes at night, for the first several days, we would hear fighting out in the pasture as the herd goes about the task to re-organize itself.  With very little fanfare, I’d say it’s Cavalier, who we call Bear, who is the new leader.  He’s the strong, silent type, with a very watchful eye.  Guinness of course will help out.  Nobody ever bothers Cavalier nor Guinness.

I’ve also been quiet.  I quietly go through the daily routines in the barn, scooping poo, re-filling water buckets, fluffing and putting out fresh hay, and opening or closing the big barn door and windows depending on the weather.  The alpacas all quietly mill around me as I work.  Slowly I’m getting back to my usual chit-chat with them.

A few days after Julio’s passing, I was doing a headcount.  I counted and counted, walked around to the back of the barn a few times to double and triple check, re-counted in the barn, and kept coming up with 11 alpacas.  I was almost in a panic when I realized ...... when I remembered why there wasn’t 12.  I collapsed onto the hay bale feeder in tears.  A few paca noses sniffed at my head and face; I wish I knew who it was.

The alpacas mourned too.  I’d often find Guinness cushed in the straw, exactly where his buddy had been cushed.  He’s always let me scratch and hug him and seems to enjoy it more now.  I can generally scratch and hug any of my alpacas, yes some more than others, but lately all of them are letting me scratch them without a fuss.  There’s solace in that.  They would hang out quietly around the barn and paddock and wouldn’t go near the other pasture for at least a week.  All except Guinness.  He’d come over to the spot where the dirt is still fresh and cush for a while near his friend.

My garden is close by to the fence line where Julio rests.  As I’ve been planting and watering seedlings the alpacas have slowly come back to that pasture to see what I’m doing and to keep me company while I work.  The other morning several of them were already grazing nearby.  As I approached the garden, Coty and Henry came right up to the fence and greeted me with upright ears.  Slowly the others did too.  Good morning boys!  After sniffing me, Guinness walked over to the dirt patch and cushed, and rolled.  Coty saw him and joined him, then Henry.  The three of them banged into each other and kept rolling.  Then the others all pig-piled and joined in, cushing and rolling and bumping into each other.  Bo ran over from the barn to cush and roll too.  The alpacas all seemed to be having so much fun.  Huge clouds of dust emerged.  After a few minutes they all jumped up, shook off the dust, and ran off to find some nice grass to eat.  All except Guinness.  He stayed cushed for awhile, near his friend.

 
 

Sadness

It is with deep sadness and a very heavy heart that I tell this story.

On Sunday morning, we lost our dear friend, our alpha, Julio.

It wasn’t a complete surprise.  Julio has not felt well for a very long time.  But he was a strong boy, always feisty, spunky, bossy, and definitely had the most personality of any of the alpacas on our farm.  After shearing the weather turned insanely cold, rainy, and windy.  Our poor Julio came down with pneumonia.  He appeared to be responding to the antibiotics. 

But on Sunday morning when we went to the barn, he was clearly in distress.  Coty and Desi ran over to us, gave Julio a quick sniff, and ran off to join the others in the pasture.  I love my animals.  I don’t want to let them go.  But Julio was obviously telling me it was time.  Our wonderful and kind vet, Amy, came right over.  I softly rubbed his ears and reminded him how much we love him.  Julio quietly and gently left us, crossing over the Rainbow Bridge.

Dan dug a hole in the pasture and we placed him in, with lots of straw and a few sticks.  Julio liked to chew on sticks.  While I said a prayer, I saw Earth and Coty watching.  They’d all been respectfully staying their distance this whole time.  I nodded to Earth and he came running, then Coty, and all the others.  The herd cautiously walked around the hole, sniffing into it, and each of them dropped down to roll.  It was as if they were all saying one last goodbye.  They each had a few bites of grass and then ran back to the other pasture. 

All except his lifetime buddy, Guinness.  Guinness stayed cushed after he rolled a few times, watching us, not wanting to leave his buddy.  Animals create bonds with one another.  And animals mourn; yes, they really do.

RIP, my friend.

Julio kisses

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The Pronkfest

It’s springtime!  And with fibered animals that means it’s shearing season. 

Professional shearers do extensive traveling this time of year.  They’re ‘on the road’ for a few months, driving from farm to farm setting up their mats, blades, and equipment, shearing the animals, cleaning up and re-packing their equipment, and off they go to the next farm.  Usually they’ll shear at more than one farm per day, and usually late into the night.  This is hard, grueling, dirty work, certainly not for anyone who is lacking in energy or cannot function on a few hours’ sleep.  There is no time for inefficiency.  The animals must be shorn before the hot weather sets in for their health and safety.  We farmers all stress over setting up for shearing day, the weather conditions prior to and on the day of shearing, getting enough helpers, and having enough supplies and snacks on hand.  In reality though, our job is absolutely nothing compared to what the shearers’ job is. 

Let’s hear it for our shearers!!  Whhoooo  -  hoooooooo!!!  Thank you all so much.    

Our boys were sheared Tuesday.  All went well as it normally does at least as far as we humans are concerned.  Of course the alpacas don’t like shearing day and are stressing more than we are.  For several days before shearing I close them into the barn at night and let them out late morning.  Otherwise they’ll roll in the early morning dew, get wet and grind in wet dirt into their fleeces.  Cannot have wet fleeces for shearing day!   Then on the morning of shearing Dan and I corral them into the 2 corner stalls.  That’s when the incessant fussing begins, their eyes widen and don’t blink, and their ears are folded back in obvious concern, wondering what the heck is going on.  When Jay arrives you can see their concern instantly change to that fearful look of ‘oh no!’   I try to shear them by color which went right as planned this year!  Thankfully I only have one real spitter, Bo, and since he is white, he also goes last.  As each one is sheared we let them out of the barn and yup ~ they run right out to the pasture!!  They’ll run off to meet up with their buddies and spend the next few hours sniffing each other all over, trying to figure out who each other is.  It’s pretty funny to watch.  Besides, they all look like aliens when they’re first sheared!  Their wide alpaca eyes really stand out on their little shorn faces.

That night I was concerned that they would be cold having no fleece and with the temperature dropping down to freezing.   We had returned well after dark from helping out at Val’s and I went right to the barn.  Bo and Desi were cushed in the barn and Julio and Cowboy were cushed in the paddock, all chewing their cud contentedly.  I walked to the corner of the barn and squinted into the dark pasture, trying to see the others and do my usual headcount.  It’s actually harder to see brown alpacas in the dark than black ones.  That’s when I realized the other 8 were running around, chasing each other in the dark, playing.  I sing-songed a ‘hello boys’ greeting and they paused momentarily to watch me.  Then Bo, Desi, Cowboy, and Julio, one by one, got up and sauntered out to the pasture to join their herdmates.  They all started to run together in a large circle, in an oval, in a line, and back to a circle.  Their path widened effortlessly.  They ran non-stop for quite a while.  There was no sound in the clear night sky except for the quiet thump-thump of the alpacas running.  I leaned against the barn watching them, listening to the rhythmic sounds of their little padded feet tapping the ground as they ran by me.  I swear 48 feet were all hitting the ground at the exact same time.  And 48 feet were all in the air at the exact same time.  They weren’t just running and playing.  They were pronking.  That’s what happy alpacas do; they pronk.    Pronking alpacas make me smile.

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Best Buddies

One thing about alpacas, and usually all animals, is that they make me laugh every day.  You just never know what silly thing they will do, silly to us humans but I’m sure just normal activity for them.

I went out to the barn last night for my usual evening check.  It was dusk and most of the boys were quietly cushed outside in the paddock, relaxed, and chewing their cud.  The snow has been melting, melting, melting in the sun this past week.  It’s been windy here too, so the ground was pretty solid and no longer muddy.  The stars were out.  I’m sure the alpacas appreciate being able to sleep outside under the night sky rather than still being cooped up in the barn as they have been.

I said my usual ‘Hello Boys’ as I came in through the gate, doing a headcount to myself.  10 alpacas.  Hhmmm, the other 2 should be in the barn.

I walked into the barn and turned on the light.  And there they were.  The two best buddies, BFF’s, my 2 geldings, Julio and Guinness were together.  Lately I’ve noticed them cushed together a lot. 

But last night, there they were at the poo pile together, bum to bum, tail to tail, doing their business together, at the exact same time.  What are the odds of that happening?  I laughed and laughed and laughed.  They both looked at me like ‘What’s so funny?’ followed by ‘Where’s the hay?’ 

This morning I'm still amazed they didn't pee on each other's legs.

 
 

Mud Season 2013

This past winter has been cold and somewhat snowy.  For the past 2 weeks, it’s been snowing every day!  Sometimes just several inches of snow, a couple times an actual snowstorm of 12 +/- inches, and most days just what’s referred to as snow squalls leaving us a good dusting.  The dustings are nice.  It makes all the yuckiness look so clean, like fresh vanilla frosting spread out over a just baked cake.

The alpacas have hardly left the barn.  They don’t really enjoy standing or cushing in cold, wet snow.  Sometimes one or two of them will come out and look around and ponder what to do, what to do, for a few minutes.  Sometimes I’ll see one or two eating snow.  Usually a few are just cushed in the little doorway, the rest cushed behind the tarps.  The northwest corner of the barn has been blown bare of snow by the winds and most mornings Cavalier, aka Big Bear, will be cushed out there on the frozen dirt.  He always seems to enjoy the solitude more than the others do.

Yesterday spring seems to have suddenly arrived!  The sky is perfectly blue, barely a breeze, and the beautiful sun is so warm on my face.  Reflecting off the snow, the sun almost blinds me.  The sun is melting the huge piles snow.  Snow is melting off the roof, pouring down like in a rainstorm, and there are large, deep muddy puddles all up and down our dirt driveway and our little road to the barn. 

I walk down to the barn through mud, standing water, and crunchy snow, carefully pulling the 2-wheeler behind me which holds today’s bale of hay.  I’m trying hard not to splash dirty water onto the bale.  The pacas hear me at the gate.  One by one they file out of the barn,  casually walking up to the fenceline where the snow is still fairly clean, knowing that I’ll lay down the 2-wheeler there.  The fresh bale of hay is an easy distraction.  Without them in the barn, I can clean up in there quickly.

The paddock area is a disgusting mess, as it usually is during mud season.  The snow is melting, melting, melting.  There’s so much snow remaining that there’s no place for it to go as it melts.  The large puddles in the paddock are looking like a small pond.  And this pond is a dark, muddy, poop-filled, poopy-water type pond.  Yuck is not the word for it!  It’s really not a pretty sight.  I’m just so glad that we graded the paddock well enough that the water no longer ends up in the barn.  Apparently we’ll need to do more grading this summer.  Spring is approaching so for now I’ll have to patiently wait as the ground thaws a little bit more each day and absorbs all this water. 

I was standing in the barn today, looking over into the paddock at the poo-pond and listening to the alpacas quietly chewing hay.  I stood there pondering farm life.  Farming really gets you in tune with the changes of the seasons, adapting to the weather cycles, and very much aware of the habits of birds, insects, and wild animals that share your little place on this planet.  Farming really makes you connected to the Earth.  Being connected to the Earth is a good thing, another simple joy. 

So I stood there, looking around at my muddy paddock, listening to melting snow pour off the barn roof, and watched my alpacas with very dirty knees and legs eating hay.  And I thought:  hhmmm, anyone considering starting a farm and saw this type of mess would most likely think twice about it, and run!             

 
 

A New Year ~ It's 2013!

Bright Blessings to all of you for a wonderful 2013!  May all your wishes come true.

Thank you all again for reading our little blog ~ much appreciation for each and every one of you.

~ Mona

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The Fiber Twelve Days of Christmas

 On the twelfth day of Stitch-mas, my true love gave to me:

Twelve knitters knitting

Eleven cones a’ winding

Ten orders shipping

Nine rugs a’ hooking

Eight yarns a’ dying

Seven needles felting

Six sample cards

Five spinning wheels!!!

Four pounds of fiber

Three nuno scarves

Two socks on one needle

 And a yarn store that understands me

 Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

 
 

12-21-12 and The World is Still Here!

And that makes me happy! 

The alpacas are spending the day in their barn, due to the strong wind-and-rain storm we're receiving.  I can see them all cushed in front of the doorways, watching Mother Nature's wrath of wind blow the rain and branches all around.  The wind is coming from the 'back of the barn' direction so we didn't need to tarp up the gates and close them in.  The wind sounds like a train and I'm leery of trees uprooting and falling down.

It's also the Winter Solstice today.  The days will start getting longer again, yeah!!  More sunshine is always a good thing.

Happy Winter Solstice Everyone!

 
 
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