The weather this week has been glorious, warm, sunny, just about perfect.
The spring -like weather gets me to thinking about things that spring brings to our farm. We will soon be deep into breeding, shearing and birthing season.
It is also time to think about weaning fall crias (babies), which is always somewhat traumatic, with usually either mama or baby crying at the fence for a day or two. We move our crias to a pasture where neither mama nor baby can see the other, so going with the out-of-sight-out-of-mind theory, the whining doesn't last as long as if mama was just a fence away. We generally wean at 6 months and can keep the male and female crias together for a few more months, but as they can become sexually mature as early as 1 year, we will separate them again in a couple months after shearing into boy and girl groups.
Shearing will start no sooner than the end of April. We have shorn in early April before, only to have a cold snap and have to find coats and sweat shirts to put on "naked" alpacas. So now we wait. We do our own shearing on a table Sam built and we do it over a period of a month or so, doing a few a day or maybe 10 or so on a weekend day until we are done. I will do a detailed shearing post once we get started on that.
We only have 5 or 6 crias due this spring and not until May and June. Hopefully I can get a series of birthing photos and post on that. I do like to be present for births whenever possible. Sometimes I have to get the latex gloves and the lubricant out, but not very often. Sometimes I need to call the vet, but that is even less often, thankfully.
Now is the time to contemplate who is getting bred to whom. I have some I am sending to other farms for breeding, so I need to get any necessary paperwork done for that. If we start breeding in Late April, early May, our 2011 spring crias will be due about 11 1/2 months later.
Now in other news, I finished up the "sugaring" or making of maple syrup last Friday. Our final approximate amounts are that we collected and cooked down 75 gallons of sap into 2 1/2 gallons of pure maple syrup in about 9 days. Some of the finished product is pictured to the left. On the days we cooked down 14 to 15 gallons of sap, the syrup came out darker, due to the longer time in the evaporator pan than in the days we only cooked down 6 to 8 gallons. It all tastes great, though! We plan to do even more next year.
I also received my new to me Rick Reeves Frame Spinning Wheel (photo to the left) that I purchased from a lady in Washington State. I have tried it out and love it so far. When I say "frame" wheel that is the style. It is also known as a "castle" style wheel. It works just the same as my other Reeves wheel, which is called a Saxony Wheel (photo below), but it is more compact and takes up less room. Both these wheels are hand made of solid oak are no longer made and so are hard to find and highly collectible. They are also quite functional and I spin a lot of yarn.
More on spinning in the next post.