Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Glorious Indian Summer Weather and a Farewell

Yes, it has gone from cold frosty  mornings to upper 70's with sunshine this past week.  Perfect weather for outside activities.

Sam arrived home from his elk hunting trip last Wednesday around 3 am.  The dogs let me know that he was home.  Unfortunately, we do not have elk for the freezer this  year and Sam's brother was unsuccessful as well, but a good time was had.  

I think this is the last thing my chickens saw
So I have had plenty of opportunity to catch up on things at home and spend time outside.   The biggest news, other than Sam's safe return home, is that our "foster" dog, Lacy, went to a new hone on Monday this week.  When I brought her home in July it was with the intention that we would probably keep her. And she and Rowdy were so compatible and really enjoyed playing together.  However, her fixation on the chickens eventually led to the loss of half of the chickens I had when she arrived.  In September, she got out and killed 3 in one short period of time and that is when we decided to put her up for adoption.  It was not an easy decision, but I think it was the right one.  I was contacted by a lady last week who was very interested in her and has a 2 acre fenced yard with a doggie door and 5, yes FIVE, other Aussies!  Not a chicken in sight.  After the adopter and I made arrangements for her to come and meet Lacy and take her home this Monday, Lacy actually killed another chicken, bringing her total to 4.  So, while I was very sad to see her go and we all miss her energy and happy presence, I think it was necessary for her to be re-homed.  Another dog will come along, I just know it!  I must admit to missing her more than I anticipated.

This week, I moved alpacas around for winter.  It really only involved moving the last 2 mothers and babies, Peg and Margarita and their 2 crias, from the garage pasture to the main barn.  Since my herd has been reduced so significantly, I figured I might as well eliminate one of my pastures for the winter.  This means one less place to move hay to and one less place to go to feed and clean up.  We have 4 completely separate areas for the alpacas due to the layout of our property. Our most useable area is in a  long narrow creek-bottom, so we do what we can with it.  I decided to eliminate the building that was hardest to move hay into and that is the garage pasture, which is actually the first area we prepared for alpacas back in 1999.  The other 2  3-sided sheds we have are situated so that I can load the little truck with hay and back into the building and stand in the truck bed and put the hay up into the loft with little difficulty.  In the garage pasture, there is a fence parallel to the front of the building and so I have to throw each bale over the fence, then pick up each bale, climb up onto a folding chair I keep for this purpose, and heft the bale up above my head into the loft. Not easy.  So, for this winter, I have 18 alpacas in the main barn, which includes the 4 crias and I have 5 adult females in the pasture across from the guest house and the 5 adult males are in the pasture behind the guest house.  Chores seem so easy now!

The lighting and colors have been nice for taking photos, although in the last couple of days, most of the leaves have come off the trees and the colors are gone.  I think last week was about the peak of the autumn color season.

 One morning last week as I was doing chores I noticed this spider web.  Each strand was beaded with tiny little droplets of water left behind by the early morning fog.  
Things like that make me happy.

I have started some Christmas knitting and need to complete one small project each week for the next several weeks.  Ha!  We shall see!  1 down. I also spent a good bit of time yesterday sorting fleeces to send off to get more alpaca socks.  I send my fiber to a fiber pool where lots of alpaca farmers send their fleeces in to put together and have products made.  This way, we all benefit from having large batches processed and although the items are not exclusively from our own alpacas, like my yarn is, it is still 100% American grown and American produced.  I sell quite a few pairs of these socks and our local Christmas festival is coming up, so time to re-stock.

 I  blocked that scarf I wrote about in my last post.  it came out to 6' long by 10" wide.  I am very pleased with it.  It will be going to the Christmas festival as well.


Friday, October 12, 2012

First Frost

They're not bothered by a little frost!

 It seems some weeks there is not much of interest to record here, and other weeks, there is almost too much.  This week falls into the latter category.

Sam is off on an elk hunt in Colorado with his brother, but before he left, we had the roof replaced on the guest house.  It was really in need as you may be able to tell from the photo of the rafters, most of which had to be reinforced, so the whole roof had to come off.  It was agreed that the roof likely would not have survived a heavy snow.

 So it is now done and looks much better.   Mom chose green metal and it was a good choice.

And last Friday morning, our final cria of the year arrived.  Peg gave birth to a gorgeous little female cria sired by Sancha's White Lightning.  This would have been our best year ever as far as female crias go if we had not lost two.  We ended up with 3 females and 1 male cria.  I am pleased with all of them.

Over the weekend, I participated in the annual Bethel Harvest Fest, which is a local community's fund raiser for their community center.  I have been attending since 2001 with alpacas.  The weather is either really nice or miserable.  This year Saturday was fairly nice and Sunday was cold and grey with some rain later in the day.  But we stuck it out!  I took Eclipse and Opi, 2 adult males and they were very well behaved.

I sold several pairs of socks and some yarn and a handwoven scarf and of course, teddy bears.  Ate lots of good food.  Nowhere else can you get great chicken and noodles for only $1.50!

So with Sam off on a trip, I need to be in the office every day as well as feed all the animals and get the dogs their exercise.  I really did not mind the extra office time as it enabled me to finally finish up my continuing ed for my real estate license renewal.  Done for another 3 years!  I did knit most of a scarf while working on it!  

It is from my hand-dyed commercially spun alpaca (from my farm) and I used a 300 yard skein, all of it.  I need to block it to make it lacy.  I'll post a photo of it once I do that.  It will look quite different. But I love how the colors work up in a knitted product.

Frost on the Alpaca!

Once again I took a lot of photos this week and can't post them all here.  But we had our first hard frost Thursday morning and so I took the camera along on my morning chores.  I also took the dogs for an extra walk down the road since I knew I would be gone all day and Lacy really, really needs a lot of exercise.  The sun was coming up over the ridge and it just makes for such nice lighting.  

You've likely heard of frost on the pumpkin, around here it is frost on the alpaca.

I love these hay bales in my neighbor's field with the frosty weeds and the sun striking the fall leaves in the background.  

And here is yet another shot of the maple trees in the yard.  I am afraid that by next week they will be about bare.

Here is a link to a video I posted of Rowdy and Lacy having what I call "Dog Races" in my living room.  It happens at least twice a day.  Cracks me up!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

October Comes in Like a ________(Fill in the blank)

Some days I feel like this, but don't have quite as much energy as this little guy!

Wow, October came in on a bad note, but I'll get to that.  September ended well, with beautiful weather and lots of color coming into the woods.  I took so many photos this past week that I can't possibly post them all here.  Well I could, but I won't.

Saturday I had to go feed some horses that are owned by a man who is in the hospital and whose neighbors were tired of doing it.  They called the sheriff's dept who called the dog warden.  She called me.  I agreed to do it Saturday and Sunday and then it was back in her hands. I have not heard how things are going.  I'm not sure if that is bad or good.

CCNF Electric Mayhem
So Saturday afternoon another of our awaited crias arrived.  This one is from our female, Miracle, who was bred to this nice looking male, CCNF Electric Mayhem, to whom I purchased the breeding in a silent auction at the Ohio Alapaca Breeder's Association show 2 years ago.  He is a beautiful rose grey color and I was hoping for a rose grey cria.  But I am happy with the spunky little female who arrived around 1:30 pm and was up nursing before she was even dry.

She is doing very well and is keeping Miracle on her toes.

Sunday I attended the Soakum Festival to do spinning demos with my guild as I have done the last many years.  I wrote about it last year in this post   
It was a beautiful day even though rain had been in the forecast.

Then on Monday, one of our last 2 pregnant alpacas was in labor, which I noticed around 10 am after finishing chores. Truffel has had 3 crias before and the first was very difficult, to the point where she refused to have anything to do with the cria once she was born and she became a bottle baby.  However, Truffel was much better with her 2 following crias and no intervention was needed.  This time, things did not go well.  At all.  There comes a time when I am watching a laboring dam when I decide how much longer I will wait before it becomes necessary to go in and "see" what is going on in there.  This is after the second stage of labor, which is the expulsion stage (the stage when the mother actively pushes the cria out) starts.  Once the dam starts to push, I want to see something coming out within 1/2 an hour.  Tops.  This did not happen. So I did what I hate to do and put on the shoulder sleeve and got out the lubricant and did an exploratory.  It was the worst case scenario, in my mind, a full breech with the hocks (heels) and tail in the birth canal.  A call to the vet who was nowhere nearby but told me how to manipulate the legs (which MUST come out first), followed by 5 minutes or so of awkward pushing and pulling and I pulled a beautiful little female cria ass-end first into the world.  She was quite dead.  In thinking about it afterwards, I am sure I must have broken the umbilical cord while I was trying to pull those long legs out from under that cria's belly.   This was our first and hopefully last breech birth here.  Truffel is doing well. She will not be re-bred until spring at the earliest.  So only 1 is left to deliver, my old girl, Peg.  Any day now, Peg.....

Otherwise, I am STILL working on my continuing ed courses online.  I am down to about 7 hours now, though.  I started a garter stitch scarf using some of my hand dyed alpaca yarn and I can knit on it while I go through the classes, so that helps.  Last week I finally finished up a pair of hand-spun hand-dyed mittens that I made for a friend.  I figured it would be good to give them to her before it got cold.

As I said, I took lots of photos this past week and here are a few to share.

'shrooms in the woods