We go to my mom's for Thanksgiving every year. It is my favorite holiday and almost all my family is there. Of course my 2 sons are usually unable to make it from California and this year my cousin and her husband didn't make it from Michigan, but they are all there in spirit, along with all those who are no longer with us. Somehow, the conversation always comes around to how much we miss them and how they'd love to be there and how much richer our lives are for having had them while we did. The house fills with warmth and laughter (and dogs!) and we all wonder how another year could have gone by so fast. We realize we are blessed in so many ways and have such wonderful people in our lives and in our pasts. For this, we are truly thankful.
I am always saying that as soon as this is over (whatever it is) things will get back to normal. I have yet to figure out what normal is however. Today started Ohio's gun season for deer, so 1000's of people are taking to the woods in search of that trophy buck, Sam included. He has already shot one doe which is in the freezer, so he will be watching for the big buck. I don't mind that he shoots one or two deer each year because we do eat it and I am even thinking of starting to make my own dog food with it. The deer population in our area is huge and if not for hunting, I think overpopulation would lead to starvation and even more deer being hit on the roads. So many are.
The holidays and the shelter are managing to team up to keep me busy. We have been trying to close down the shelter for the winter since our building is inadequately insulated and heated and the location often makes it very difficult for volunteers to get there if the weather is bad. We are down to about a dozen cats and are planning an adoption day, but now we find out a local puppy mill is being forced to turn over some dogs, so we may be taking in 10 to 15 pomeranians tomorrow. Yikes! Sad to say, but I think they will find our chilly shelter to be the lap of luxury. We are also trying to put together a volunteer appreciation holiday dinner for next week and we have a booth at the Woodsfield Christmas Festival this weekend and will be doing a fundraiser there. I will also be there with my alpaca products. So you can see, things never seem to slow down.
On the farm, life continues as it should. Last weekend (before Thanksgiving), I spent a good part of Sunday moving alpacas around. I moved all the spring crias to the weaning pasture from the main barn, moved Lightning and Oscuro back down the road into the male herd since breeding season is over, and moved a couple adult females in with the 4 yearling females for the winter. This is a very stressful event for Rowdy since he has to stay on his cable tie. His herding instinct overpowers his good senses if he is not tied up and then my attempts at being calm and assertive with him go right out the window. The cable tie is the best solution!
Since winter is about upon us and it has been an extremely dry fall, the alpacas are pretty much eating hay now. That means it must be moved from the lofts in the horse barn to the various buildings. We have 4 different buildings on the farm that house alpacas, 3 of which are 3-sided sheds which have lofts across the front. The 4th is our main alpaca barn. Each shed can hold about 10 to 14 bales of hay, depending on the size of the building (1 is 10 X 20 and the other 2 are 8 X 16) and we can usually stack 20 bales or so in the main barn at a time. So in other words, moving hay is pretty much a weekly job for 3 months of the year.
We have this nifty little 4WD truck that we use for many farm chores. Here I have loaded 15 bales of hay onto it from the horse barn in the background and my co-pilot and I are about to take this hay over to the girls' barn, which is on the other side of the creek (which is still dry....unprecedented in late November!).
Since the creek is dry, I can either go down through it or go across the bridge, but I usually lose a bale or 2 coming up the other side, so I generally take the bridge.
Once across the creek, I back the little truck up to the barn and right into the main sliding door, turn off the engine, and unload the hay.
Then I stack it on pallets in the front corner of the barn where it will be handy come feeding time.
With the 3-sided sheds, I can back the truck into the buildings (except one) and then stand in the bed to put the bales up into the loft. Then I have to climb up into the loft and push the bales to the far end, trying not to hit my head on the rafters because it is only crawling room up there. Oh, and I also check for wasp and hornet nests if it is prior to first good frost! Don't want to be up there with an angry bunch of hornets!!
|Hay stacked in Girls' Barn|
So, I have a festival in Woodsfield this weekend. This is the 4th year for it and it has really grown. They actually sell vendor spaces in the courthouse, which is where I will be set up. I will take some hand made items and some commercially produced alpaca products and my spinning wheel to do demonstrations. I hope to have some more rugs done by Saturday and warped up my loom last week. Today I wove one rug and can do 2 more with this warp. Here is the end of the one I did today. I love the colors and can't wait to see how it will look once off the loom. I have the next one planned out, but still have to decide on the 3rd one. The weaving takes surprisingly little time once I get started.
I am also finishing up a pair of lacey fingerless mitts knitted from hand-spun hand-dyed yarn to sell at the festival. I'll try to remember my camera so I can take photos!