Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Officially Spring on the Farm!

Spring came in with beautiful weather all weekend. No complaints about that!

As I said before, it is time to think about springtime things like weaning, breeding, birthing and shearing on our Ohio alpaca farm. We started Saturday with some weaning. We leave our crias with their moms (dams) for about 6 months. By this age they are well able to thrive on hay, grass and the supplemental feed we give twice a day. We had 10 crias in the fall, all born in September and October. I had already weaned the oldest, as he is sold and I'd like his new owners to come and pick him up soon. So with Sam's help, 3 6-month-olds were moved to the weaning pasture, and 3 18-month-olds were moved back into the main barn. Next weekend, we will wean the remaining young'uns. I call them whiny weaners because they have a tendency to whine at me every time they see me since they
miss mama. But that doesn't last long.

Sam also did the unenviable task that needs done twice a year of spreading 6 months worth of collected manure on the hayfields. A tractor with a front end loader and a manure spreader pulled by a tractor make this job less back-breaking than it could be. He said someone driving by actually stopped and asked him if he was a politician as he was spreading a wagon load of s**t!

The weather was warm enough to entice Rowdy to swim in the pond. That water is way too cold for me, but it doesn't bother him at all! Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me.

In case anyone was interested in more information on spinning, I thought I'd explain a little more about it in this post. Last week I posted photos of 2 of my spinning wheels. This week, I am posting a close up of the "flyer" unit of the frame wheel, to the left. The "U"-shaped piece is called a flyer and it has a bobbin on it, onto which the yarn winds as it is spun. To the left of the bobbin is a round piece called a "whorl". The size of the whorl determines how fast the treadle (foot pedal) spins the flyer. If you use a smaller whorl, you can treadle at a slow speed and the flyer will go faster than if you treadled the same speed with a larger whorl. Why would you want to do this? Basically, all the flyer does is twist the individual fibers together. Sometimes, you want the fibers twisted tightly, which you would need to do with a shorter length fiber. Other times, you do not need as much twist to hold those fibers together, like with a long "staple" length fiber. The less twist in your fiber, the softer it will be in general. There is a string on the wheel which goes in a figure 8 around both the whorl and the bobbin. This is called the drive band and it is what makes the wheel turn both the whorl and the bobbin as the spinner treadles. it turns the bobbin a little slower than the whorl, which allows the spun yarn to wind onto the bobbin. The yarn on the bobbin in this photo is some of my hand-dyed alpaca roving, which looked like this prior to spinning. Now I have spun it, it must be "plyed" to make a 2-ply yarn.

A busy week is ahead. My mother comes to visit tomorrow for a couple of days and I need to make some vet arrangements for some male alpacas I sold to Georgia so they have proper paperwork when their new owners come in 2 weeks to pick them up. The garden is ready for tilling and it's time to get lettuce and beets into the ground. And all the alpacas need their monthly wormer shots, so I won't be bored! Almost forgot to add that I also received about 15 pounds of processed roving back from the fiber mill this week. Need to do some more dyeing!

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