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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Where Has August Gone?!

Rowdy says "Hay!" from the top of the hayloft.  We have about 1000 bales of hay in the barn, so he scales the bales on the floor and accesses the loft that way.  I think he is hoping to find one of the barn cats napping!

It has been over 2 weeks since I posted.  That means we've either been very busy, or been away.  In this case it is both.  Our 2 grown sons live and work at a lodge at Yosemite National Park in California and we just spent a week visiting them there.  They have been there for about 2 1/2 years, and we do not see them very often.  They are living the good life.  When not working, they enjoy hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, swimming in hidden river pools and more.  They also have a small band and were able to perform for us our first night at the lodge.  Our sons are the one in the center, Ian, and the left, Zac.  The other band member is their friend Ryan, who also works at the lodge.



We miss seeing our boys often, with them being so far away, but we are happy that they are doing what they want since they are not tied down in any way.  
We did some hiking and swimming while we were there (who could not enjoy swimming someplace that looks like this, the water really is emerald colored, and there are no other people around!):   



and then spent our last night in San Francisco, where we went out to dinner and then to a baseball game where the Giants unfortunately thoroughly beat my son's favorite team, the visiting Cincinnati Reds.





It is a great feeling to have that barn stacked to the rafters with hay, especially since Labor Day is not yet here.  Speaking of Labor Day, we are preparing the farm for our annual Labor Day party.  This will be our 12th party.  We started it the very first year we lived here and have only missed one year, which was last year, due to some health problems I have been experiencing.  This year it is back on.  We generally fill the guest house with my family members from out of town and their friends and then we invite neighbors, clients, friends and whomever we think might like to join us for Saturday afternoon.  We cook, drink, play cornhole and volleyball and just have a lot of fun.  People bring their kids and dogs and kind of come and go all afternoon and evening.  It really is a great way to make us get the place all cleaned up at least once a year!  We look forward to it.

Our garden has been taken over by our acorn and butternut squash plants!  They have engulfed the tomatoes and the basil.  They have spread well beyond the usual garden boundaries.  I have never seen the like of it before.  The good part is that we will have tons of squash to freeze, so we will be having yummy soups and squash with butter and brown sugar all winter.  Too bad the tomatoes aren't doing as well!

I also weeded out the asparagus bed again this weekend.  We have poison ivy at one end which I try really hard to avoid because I am so allergic to it.  I have a few itchy spots, but think I managed to escape too much of an outbreak.  Next spring, we should be able to enjoy plenty of asparagus.  It will be the third season since we planted it and it is doing very well.



Just before we left for our vacation, Sam and the neighbors (what would we do without them?) erected a windmill atop the picnic pavillion at the pond.  It is attached to a bubbler by a long hose and will aerate the pond with wind power.  It looks really cool, but we have not yet been able to actually view it in operation.  It must be similar to that watched pot that never boils!

There is not much going on with the alpacas at this time.  We bred 9 females last fall, so should be having 9 crias between the beginning of September and the end of October.  The gestation period for alpacas averages 11 1/2 months, but they are all different every year and can go from 11 months to a full year, or shorter or longer.  They like to keep us guessing.  So, when each pregnant female hits the 11 month mark, we start to watch her daily for signs of impending delivery.  We call this "Cria Watch".  Usually I can tell when an alpaca goes into labor by her behavior.  They often hum excessively, get up and down, roll or lie on their sides.  But, they can also exhibit any of these behaviors from the discomfort of late term pregnancy, so sometimes they fool me.  Our first girl goes on cria watch on September 5th.  This will be her first cria and she has been quite crabby the duration of her pregnancy.  We'll see when she delivers.  


I have just found out about a fiber festival in West Virginia, a couple hours away.  It is the weekend after Labor Day and is being hosted by an alpaca organization in West Virginia.  I have decided to attend it and will be taking a pen of alpacas to try to sell and also will have a vendor booth to sell my yarns, rovings and hand-made items.  The neat think is this is not just alpacas, it is for all fiber animals, so maybe it will be well attended by knitters, crocheters and spinners.  I hope so.  I will take my camera and get some photos to share.  The Festival is called the "Wild 'n' Wooly Fiber Festival" and is in Reedsville WV, near Morgantown.  Here is a link to their web page:  http://www.wvalpacafiberfest.com/
I hope to begin to do more of these kind of festivals as I get more of my fiber processed every year.  Plus, they are just a lot of fun.




It is starting to feel like fall is just around the corner, which it is.  The days are still hot, but the nights are pleasantly cool again and we sleep with the windows open and a blanket on the bed.  The weeds are in full color, which I am able to enjoy since I do not suffer from allergies.  I love the purples and yellows.  September and October are without doubt my favorite months of the year. 

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