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Monday, December 23, 2013

It's the Holiday Season!

And here is Grover in all his holiday spirit.  He actually does not mind wearing a blinking Christmas light necklace.  He is just the most easy-going dog I have ever known.

Yes, the holidays are in full swing with Christmas only 2 days away and then the beginning of 2014 fast on its heels.  I have kept busy with my Christmas knitting and weaving, which I will share with you all after everyone has received their gifts.  I thought I was finished and today I decided that I had to come up with one more quick gift for this weekend.  Whew!  Plus last week I baked about 8 dozen cookies for a fundraiser for the shelter.  We had a "Cookie Bazaar" last Friday and raised about $500, so the Shelter has benefited this month from everyone's holiday generosity.
 
Our weather has been crazy!  We had several days where it did not get above freezing, resulting in beautiful scenes like this across the creek from our hayfield and like this of the chickens eating bird seed off the back deck



















I do love it that no matter how cold it has been, there is still a lot of green to be found in  the woods.  And this moss is such a vibrant green.


Then, this past Friday, it really warmed up and we got about an inch and a half of rain.  While the warm up is nice, I could do without the resulting mud.  Another bad thing about a warm up is that the asian beetles (or lady bugs) that swarm into our house after the first frost looking for a place to overwinter seem to wake up and think it is time to move around.  This means they crawl through any crack and crevice toward warmth and light, which mostly seems to be into the interior of my house.  I spend about 1/2 an hour a day just vacuuming them off my bedroom and bathroom walls, ceilings and windows.  They stink and they make a mess.  I really hate them.  I also hate whoever it was who decided to import them into the US

This is just a few of the many clustered on my bedroom window.  As I vacuum them up, more arrive to take their place.  If I try to read with a light on next to the bed, they dive bomb me because they are drawn to the light.  There seems to be no way to get rid of them other than patient vacumming, over and over again.

I have mentioned in past posts that there is oil and gas drilling going on in our area and right adjacent to our farm.  It is still happening and another drill pad is being prepared now on the farm adjoining us to the south.  They have even torn up the hard surface of the county road and replaced with with something they can more easily haul the heavy equipment in on.  

Here is Grover up in our upper hayfield and you can see the drill rig which is on the next hill top over just to his left.  

I have started to get some fleeces ready to send of to be processed into roving.  My favorite mill for roving, which is in Michigan, usually offers big discounts when you send in fiber in January, so it is a good idea to be prepared.  I need to get out in my studio/fiber storage room and see what all I can send them.  So far I have skirted a rose grey, a black and a light fawn (which I plan to dye) which I hope to have done into a 3-way swirl roving.  I will make a sample up on my hand carders once I get the fawn fleece dyed.  The fiber I took to Morning Star in late October is due to be spun in January as well.  

Rowdy was sick this past week.  He decided to eat something in the woods he should not have eaten and it led to us making a trip to the vet a few days later.  The vet thinks he had pancreatitus and he was on several medications for the last 5 days and now we are down to just one pill twice a day.  He really did not feel well and I am so glad he is back to his old beloved self.             

Our Christmas plans include spending Christmas day at Sam's parents' house.  They live about 1/2 an hour away.  His brother will be there along with his daughter and possibly his girlfriend.  Then on Friday I will drive across the state to spend some time with my mother and see my brothers and their families.


I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!  See you next year!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

It's Cold, It's Snowy, It's December!

While as I write this it is rather bright and sunny outside, but frigid, most of the days lately have been on the gloomy side.  That does not mean we have to stay inside.  The dogs and I manage to get out for our daily trek most days.  Rain and dark sometimes stop us, but not alwaysGrover has perfect snowy woods camouflage: If he were to stop moving among the trees in the snow he would all but disappear.  Normally, however, he does not stop moving.

Rowdy has been undergoing laser treatments for osteoarthritis in his hips and right hind leg.  He has had 4 treatments over the last 10 days and will have 2 more next week.   I am not sure if the treatments are helping or not, but the medication we tried affected his liver, so this is our alternate choice.  We'll see how he does.

Saturday was our town's local Christmas Festival.   It was started probably 6 years or so ago and has grown into a nice yearly event.  It starts with Breakfast with Santa for the kids and then the local shops have specials all day and small businesses who do not have shops in town are allowed to set up in the county courthouse for a nominal fee (which I do), and there are free carriage rides and it all culminates in a parade in the evening.  I have participated in the festival as a vendor since the event started and I enjoy it.  I mostly sell alpaca socks and imported alpaca teddy bears, but I also sell small hand-knitted items (mitts and hats) along with honey and maple syrup.  I have my yarn displayed (just in case a Knitter comes along) and my rugs are around the corner.  It is always fun.  I talk to lots of people I know and of course my friend Tari is set up just across the aisle from me so we get to spend some time together.

Sunday was the last day of gun season for deer.  Sam was coming back toward the house as the dogs and I headed out for our walk Sunday afternoon.  No one was hunting on our property except Sam, so we were able to get into the woods again and hike up by the pond.  Of course the dogs and I saw 2 deer at the pond, a doe and her fawn from this spring.  The fawn bounded around my side of the pond quite close, which was fun to watch, as the dogs chased the doe off the other side of the pond.  My dogs only chase a very short way.  Usually once the deer goes into the heavy undergrowth, they give up.  

 I baked some more bread this week.  I found a really good recipe on line I like, though I have modified it a bit. 
http://www.bestbreadrecipe.com/  Sam hand grinds the wheat for me.  I make half a recipe and get 3 small loaves.  I reduced the amount of honey since I thought the bread was a bit too sweet the first time I made it.  I cut it by about a third and it still has a nice sweetness.   Really wonderful bread.  Bread baking has to be one of the best smells ever. 

 The last 2 mornings it has only been about 12 degrees F outside.  Everyone is always happy to see me but I think especially so when it is so cold.  Everyone is waiting for breakfast.

I am happy to see smoke coming out of the chimney because it means the wood I put in the stove before going outside has caught from last night's embers.  


You may wonder why we love our wood stove when we have free gas we can heat with.  The answer is that our house has almost no insulation (tax records show our house being built in 1870) and the furnace we put in 7 years ago would have to go all the time in order to keep the house warm.  As it is, my kitchen, which is farthest from the furnace, was only 57 degrees this morning.  The wood stove just makes a warmer more radiant heat.  Also, if the furnace comes on less, our bedroom stays cooler, which makes for better sleeping.  

I still have no fiber-y stuff to show since I am still working on holiday gifts.  I am down to one (!) which I hope to have finished by Sunday or Monday and  then I plan to be quite self-indulgent.  So maybe next week I will have something to show off.  Nothing finished, but something.

Now for something completely humiliating to dogs, though they know nothing about it!

 From the look on Rowdy's face one would think that hat really was on his head!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thanksgivng is Behind Us, The Year is Winding Down

This is Sadie, our new foundling barn cat.  The Sunday before Thanksgiving as Sam and I were walking the dogs in the afternoon, we found her dumped along the side of the road.  I heard a meow, and looked over the bank above the hayfield and there she was.  How the dogs did not hear her I have no idea, but we kept walking so as not to draw their attention and I returned an hour later after our walk and she was in the same place and came right to me when I called.  The temperature was forecast to drop into the teens that night and she was so skinny and little, I could not leave her.  So she has joined the other barn cats and seems quite happy.  She has put on a lot of weight in a week and half and holds her own at feeding time.
 
 Here are all the cats at morning feeding time.  If you look up in the right hand corner, you can see Road Runner, who was found running the road at the shelter and has been here at least a year and still won't usually come near the food while I am in the barn.  I have petted her a couple times, but she is happier left alone.

Thanksgiving was nice.  All my family was there minus my 2 boys and my nephew, Cody, who is serving in the US Army and is stationed in Colorado right now.  



My sister in law, Jill, and her daughter, Haley, and I all did the Miamisburg 5 mile Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning despite the 20 degree temperature.  It was cold!  But it was sunny and not windy, so it wasn't too bad.  I managed to run/jog most of the 5 miles and finished in 1:00:49, which I thought was quite respectable.  Of course 14 year old Haley left Jill and me in the dust.  

I always bake apple pies to take to Mom's for Thanksgiving, and this year I did an apple pie and a butternut/acorn squash pie.  I had a small piece of the squash pie and it was very good, but hard to tell from pumpkin.  Both pies disappeared fast and I didn't even get any pf the apple.  Usually I end up taking pie home with me.  Not this year, even though there was also pumpkin, apple and pecan someone else had brought.  I did have some of the pecan.  Yummy.

Not much is going on on the farm.  Gun season for deer is in full swing and so the dogs and I have not been going into the woods.  I have been at the office all week so far except Tuesday, so it hasn't even been an issue.  Tomorrow I will stay home, but rain and freezing rain are forecast, so we will be staying in.  I have some preparation to do for the local Christmas Festival, which is Saturday.   This is the festival where local crafters and retailers can set up in the county courthouse and my friend Tari will be set up next to me, so it is usually a lot of fun.  I have to label some alpaca bears and socks, but otherwise I already have the car loaded since I knew it was going to be nasty weatherwise tomorrow.  I have knit a couple pairs of fingerless mitts and a hat to take, but mostly I will have bears and socks and some rugs for sale. I will display some of my yarn, but I do not expect to sell it at this event.  I do sometimes sell a skein or 2, so who knows? I also have some honey and syrup to take, but very little.  I have sold most of it.

 Most of my knitting time is still being spent on Christmas gifts, so no photos.   I have finished my last weaving project (also a gift).  Here is the warp on the loom.  I am looking forward to being able to knit for myself again and have a lot of projects in mind.  Plus, I still have to spin lots of alpaca for the blanket I hope to weave sometime in 2014.



Buck and Star are doing their job watching over the alpacas.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

November Blahs

Yes, the woodburner has been going for the last week or so.  Our weather is fairly typical November:  It can be 25 degrees when we get up and then 55 or only 40 by afternoon.  One never knows.

This may be a fairly short post.  There is not a lot going on on the farm right now.  The chickens are all laying regularly and we are getting 5 to 6 eggs a day.  When you only purchase eggs from the grocery store and then have your own chickens, it is an eye-opener to find that not all eggs are perfectly egg shaped.  Here are 4 of the 5 eggs that were in the chicken coop when I went to let them out this morning.  Look how small and pointy that one is!  Sometimes we will get an egg that has a soft shell.  It will feel leathery and may not even be strong enough to pick up without breaking.  Grover likes these kind of eggs.  Most of the time, the eggs are normal looking, though they can vary in color.

I do love watching the chickens wander about the yard and barnyard scratching for bugs and worms.  That big ole rooster looks like he's watching over, but he will be the first one to scurry for cover at any sign of trouble.  The appellation "Chicken" suits him. 


I have decided I am going to sell off most of my alpacas.  I no longer want to breed and I have some very nice young females who I hate to part with, but I think should be in someone's breeding program.  So the other day was nice and sunny and I decided I needed to take some new  photos and update my website.  This is what happens when I want to take photos of individual alpacas.  They form a clump.  It's like they know which ones I want to photograph and those individuals hide in the center of the clump.  I understand this is "Basic Herd Safety 101" and has helped prey animal species survive throughout millennia, but it is annoying.  Thanks goodness for photo editing programs!

I spent last weekend in the Dayton/Cincinnati area visiting my mom and having a get-together with a group of high school friends.  It was very nice and I have to say it is wonderful to be able to get together with people after 30+ years and have a good time.  

Next week Sam and I will be heading back to Mom's for Thanksgiving weekend.  Most of my family will be there, minus my boys from Portland, and I am looking forward to it.  I am kicking off Thanksgiving day with my sister-in-law, Jill,  my niece and 2 nephews and Jill's mom by participating in the Miamisburg Turkey Trot, a 5 mile walk/run.  It should be a good way to start the day.  I do not get into Black Friday shopping.  I don't need anything so much that I will subject myself to that.  I did it a few years ago and we had a good time, but I would rather sleep and then make our yearly trip to Jungle Jim's in Fairfield.  Its about the only place Sam actually looks forward to shopping.  You should see their craft beer selection.

All my fiber projects this past week have been holiday projects, so I won't be posting them here for a while.  I did acquire some yarn (with money I got for my birthday) and will likely be planning a new sweater project for January.  In January I will also get back to working on spinning alpaca for the blanket I hope to weave sometime in 2014.  


Here I am in Portland with my 2 sons, Sam/Zac/Satchmo  and Ian.  Notice the hand-knit beanies?
 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

First Snow!


Yes, it has been a while, but I am back.  Less than a week after my last post, Sam and my mother and I traveled to Portland Oregon to visit our boys, Ian and Sam/Zac/Satchmo (hereinafter referred to as Zac) and Michelle, Ian's fiance.  And to be honest, when I got home, I was just too worn out to sit at the computer and think.  So I am now back on my normal time schedule and sort of my normal work/home schedule.  It is amazing how getting out of routine (and being in a time zone 3 hours off) can throw one off balance.

Ian, Michelle and Zac are now living in a 2 bedroom apartment together in Portland.  Zac was ready to leave Yosemite due to many factors, the biggest I think was the devastation caused by August's rim fire.  I think it was just so hard for him to see the place he loved turned to ash.  His long term plan had been to move to Portland anyway, but not until next spring.  So he is now looking for some kind of work in Portland.  He is not sure exactly what 
he wants to do.  I am sure he will come up with something soon.
Here are Zac, Ian and Michelle at Multnomah Falls which we visited the day before we came home.  It was raining and cold and I was unable to keep the raindrops off my camera lens as you can see.  It was a beautiful spot and I would like to visit the Columbia River Gorge another time when the weather is better and I can do some hiking.  A cool fact here, there were 6 of us in Zac's van on this little trip and 5 of us were wearing hand knits by me.  Both boys are wearing handspun hand knit alpaca beanies, Michelle is wearing the Willow Cowl (from my last post) which I gifted to her and she loves.  All 3 of us girls (me, Michelle and mom) were wearing hand knit socks and I also had on hand knit mitts.  Poor Sam was left out.  He left his hand knit hat at home.  I think he wished he had had it.


Another rainy shot of my 3 guys together at the falls.      We also hit some microbreweries, some yarn shops and did some wandering around in the Pearl District.  Probably one of the best things we did was go to the fabulous weekly farmer's market on the college campus in downtown Portland on Saturday.  It was really wonderful.  I would probably go every week if I lived there.   We also visited the Japanese Garden and rose garden.  Below is a photo I took in the Japanese Garden.
But now it is back to life as usual.  That is a good thing.  It was nice to see Michelle and the boys, but it is always good to be back home.  I just wish they were a little (or a lot) closer.   So on to farm news.  Things were good with our farm sitter while we were gone.  The dogs did well at their new kennel.  I did have some sad news before I left, however.  When I went to feed the top bar hive shortly after my last post, I found the hive entirely deserted.  The bees had not died, they had left.  Not a bee to be found.  I don't know if our moving the hive 20 feet to a sunnier spot upset them or what, but they are gone.  I am done with the top bar hive.  I think I will stick with what is working for me.  And speaking of that, yesterday I went up and put some old hay bales around the orchard hive, just as a wind break for winter.  
Here's how it looked this morning in the snow.  I did not see bees flying yesterday as it was cold and gloomy, but Sam observed them one day last week when I was at the office and it was nice and sunny.  I really, really hope this hive will survive another winter.  It has been a really strong hive and they have lots of honey stores, so we will see.   
Another loss was suffered after our return.  One of our chickens was hit by a vehicle in the road.  We did not observe this happening and whoever did it just kept on going.  So we are down to 6 hens and our rooster.  I hope we do not lose any more hens.  6 is a nice number and we are getting a 1/2 dozen eggs a day now. 

I spent most of this past Saturday at the shelter where I am a volunteer.  We have had a huge project going on there which started as a way to eliminate water coming into the building and putting on a new roof.  It grew into all new fencing and run areas as well.  The roof and dozer work we hired out and paid for with donations, but the fencing, etc is all volunteer.  Needless to say, it is taking a while.  It is finally coming together, though I don't think we will have grass until next year.  This is how it was looking as of Sunday morning.  We have a great group of volunteers, though there are never enough of us.  

And fiber!  I can now post photos of the towels I was working on last month as they were a housewarming gift for Ian and Michelle and Zac for their new apartment.  They did not have a color scheme, so I went with red, black and charcoal.  I was happy with how they turned out.  I am now warping my small loom at home for more secret weaving and need to warp my big loom at the office for rugs soon.  Our local Christmas festival is about 3 weeks away and it would be nice to have some more rugs done for that.  I'm not sure if I will make it. 

Other than that, I finished a spring/summer sweater I was working on.  Happy with how it came out.  I need to get Sam to take photos of me wearing it. Since my dress form is smaller than I am it doesn't show it at its best.  This will look great with a  bright solid colored cami under it next summer.  I am also working on more Christmas knitting and that will be what I will be working on for the next month and a half.  In January I will be knitting for myself again and spinning alpaca for my blanket I hope to weave.






 

 




 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Is It Really Almost November??


It is hard to believe October is almost over, though yesterday it certainly felt like November.  We are having beautiful days interspersed with previews of the colder weather to come.  I took a lot of photos of the fall colors when the dogs and I took our daily hike last Friday and the next day I did a full day's horseback ride and look at my attire!  It was great fun, but it was very overcast and threatening to rain most of the day.  We were lucky and only really got rained on the last hour or so.  I was pretty happy that I was able to spend 5 1/2 hours in the saddle with no after-effects. I'm ready to go again.

Everyone is now moved to where they will spend the winter.  I moved the 4 girls who were over in the garage pasture into the main barn, so now all 17 female alpacas are in one place.  The barn seems crowded, though I have had many more than that in there before.  I am glad it is down to a more manageable number, however.  Sam and I also went out Sunday morning while it was still cold and picked up the top bar hive and moved it about 25 feet into a spot that gets more sun.  I am still feeding them a 2:1 sugar to water mix at least once a week.  Fingers are crossed they will overwinter all right.



For years I have had a sign for our farm up at the top of the hill where you turn off the blacktop county road onto the gravel township road and I had made a sign to hang on it for eggs for sale a couple years ago.  Well I had used cheapo cup hooks that I had laying around and earlier this summer they gave out and the signs fell off the farm sign.  So now that I have eggs again, I decided to upgrade my hardware and do signs for honey and syrup.  I got that done this week.  Whether or not this will help us sell our farm products, I don't know.

Tomorrow my friend Tari and I are heading north to Amish country for the day.  I have an appointment to drop off all that skirted alpaca fiber at Morningstar Fiber Mill and then we plan to hit a fabric store Tari knows of where she says there are incredible deals to be had.  I am looking for upholstery type fabric to re-upholster my dining room chairs and make a new cushion for the bench.  I have had this table and chairs for over 20 years and I recovered everything once, but it has to have been at least 10 years ago.  It is ready for a change.  Tari and I also plan to stop at a cheese factory and hopefully a bulk food store.  Regardless of where we go she and I always have a good time when we get together.

Sam and I will be making a trip to visit our sons in Portland soon.  You may remember that younger son Sam/Zac has been living at a lodge at Yosemite National Park and was evacuated in August due to the "Rim Fire" which devastated the area.  He is now moving to Portland and moving in with my other son, Ian, and his fiance, Michelle.  I spoke to Zac yesterday and he said it is just so hard to see the place he loves so destroyed.  The lodge itself and the grounds were protected thanks to the fire crews, but he said once you leave the lodge property, everything is gone.  He says the national forest which surrounds the lodge is closed until probably next September due to places where fires are still smoldering underground that can collapse into fiery pits on occasion.  Zac has lived at Evergreen Lodge for about 3 1/2 of the last 5 1/2 years and I know he and Ian both love the area.  I have been there 4 times over that period and I am glad I won't see it like it is now.  Very sad.






   As for fiber, other than my trip to the mill, I have finished the "Willow Cowl"  I was knitting out of some 100% merino wool yarn that I won.  It came out rather larger than I like, so it may become a gift.  We'll see.  I have been working on my weaving project and also on a summery sweater (in October, I know) which I hope to finish in the next few days.  Then it is on to the next Christmas present!





 




I am going to end with some more photos I have taken  recently on dog hikes.


 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Readying for Winter

I got this gorgeous shot of the boys in wonderful sunset light the other evening.  At the end of this post, you will see what was behind me when I took this.  

It has been a busy week, again.  We went to Dayton over the weekend to go to a 20th anniversary party for my brother and his wife and we spent the night at mom's.  The party was very nice.  The weather was nice enough to sit outside and chat.  Sam even went with me and we boarded the dogs overnight at a new kennel in the area.  The kennel where we used to board has shut down as the owner has moved out of state.  I was so apprehensive, as that is the only place Rowdy has been boarded since he was a puppy, and Ilaina never  kenneled him.  He stayed in the house with her and her dog, Roy, who is also an Aussie and Rowdy's best buddy.   He knows Roy's name.  He gets excited to go stay with Roy.  But things change, people move on, and Rowdy was fine at the new Plainview K9 Retreat, which is good because he is going to be there for a week soon when we visit our sons in Portland.

Yesterday I dropped off 20 pounds of fiber at the post office to ship to the New England Alpaca Fiber Pool which will magically be turned into 4 dozen pairs of wonderful alpaca socks for me.  I sell a lot of these at Christmas time.  Worth every penny of my $15 retail price.  So that is 20 pounds of skirted fiber out of my studio!  I also have 20 pounds of prime alpaca ready to deliver to Morningstar Fiber Mill next week, along with the wool fleece I purchased at the Wool Gathering.  I decided to pair it with Lightning's fleece and do a 66/34 alpaca/wool blend yarn.  I will only have about 5 or 6 pounds finished yarn from that, but I want to see how it turns out.  As I have been skirting these fleeces, I have also skirted the secondary fiber and sorted it into bags by color.  I will eventually have some spun into rug yarn and I will likely sell some on Ravelry at $2/pound like I did last year.  I have more than I can use.  Amazingly, I still have an abundance of fleeces in my studio.  

I have finished with honey extraction and have everything mostly cleaned up and stored away.  I will be feeding the top bar hive weekly most of the winter I think.  But the Orchard hive is pretty well set.  

The chickens are doing well.  We are up to 4 to 5 eggs a day now.  I will say I used some chicken stock that I made from one of my previous chickens on Monday to make chicken corn chowder (also used corn from the garden, garlic from the garden and potatoes from the garden) and it was excellent.

Tuesday I took advantage of fine weather and I cleaned out the garlic patch and planted next year's garlic.  It was a fabulous day.  I also got some knitting on the deck in.  I have been working on a cowl in some 100% Merino wool yarn that I won from a podcast I listen to.  It's in great fall colors and I should have it finished in plenty of time for our Portland trip.


I have my loom here at the office all warped and I will be weaving as soon as I finish this post.  I can't say what this is yet, but I will eventually.  Once I finish this project, I need to warp for more rugs.  Since I sold 3 at the Wool Gathering, I need to replace them.


I have been looking forward to this Saturday for several weeks because I have plans to do a full day's horseback ride.  Wouldn't you know the forecast is calling for rain?  Let's hope it is wrong and I get to go.  It'll really be a bummer if it gets cancelled.  



Here's the sky that gave me that pretty soft lighting for the photo of Rowdy and Grover.  Isn't that marvelous?




Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fabulous October Weather Any Way You Look At It!


Even the alpacas enjoy sunbathing on a warm fall day. These are 2 of our older girls, Chiquita (one of our very first alpacas, she has been with us over 14 years) and Tunita, who has also been here quite a while.  10 years maybe?

It was actually rather on the very warm side late last week and into the weekend.  We had bright sun and temps in the low 80's.  Then Sunday night a front came through bringing some much needed rain and also more fall-like temps with daytime highs in the low to mid 70's, which is about perfect if you ask me.                                                                                          
Here are Micki and Miracle.  These are the 2 girls who should be mamas with nursing babies right now.  I guess it was not meant to be.      
This week I decided it was time to give the alpacas a round of worming with an oral paste wormer, which I do a couple times a year.  It is a tough job as I need to do it multiple days in a row and no one really likes it.  The paste wormer comes in a big tube designed for use with cattle.  I have a gun I put the tube in and the whole thing looks like a caulking or grease gun.  There are notches on the gun and each depression of the trigger shoots out a measured amount of paste wormer, which is white and about the consistancy of toothpaste.  The size of the animal determines how many "clicks" of the paste they should get.  Alpacas need   higher doses of wormers than horses or cattle, so most of my adult alpacas get 3 clicks of the paste and I do this 3 days in a row.  So I shut everyone in the pen in the barn and in order to administer the paste, I catch each animal from its left side.  I place my right arm around its neck, pulling its head down to a level I can easily reach with the paste gun.  My right thumb goes into the corner of the animal's mouth to pry it open.  So at this point I have the alpaca's head kind of pinned to my right side with my right arm and my thumb is in its mouth.  With my left hand, I place  the tip of the paste gun as far back into the alpaca's mouth as I can and "shoot" the preferred dosage into its mouth.  Then I have to hold the alpaca's mouth closed and watch for it to swallow before releasing it or else it is likely to spit paste wormer everywhere.  The first day I do this, they really don't know what is coming.  By day 3, it is like a rodeo.  The average alpaca weighs about 150 pounds, which is a bit more than I weigh.  Fortunately most of them don't know how  much stronger than me they really are.  Some do.  Day 3 of worming, I was kicked, I was body-slammed against the barn wall and I was literally covered in paste wormer from hair to toes.  That was just the females!  If they really struggle to get away, I sometimes have to pin them up against the barn wall or back them into a corner.  This usually results in my being bounced off said barn wall. I have a bruise on my back, and my right arm is bruised from elbow to shoulder.  I'm glad I only have to do that chore a couple times a year.

Friday was so nice and warm and sunny I took full advantage.  I washed a fleece and put it on my drying rack in the sun and it was nice and dry and fluffy and ready for carding in no time. 
  I also got a good start on skirting fleeces to send off for yarn and socks.  I don't recall ever skirting in the fall before and having the maple leaves coming down into my fleece as I skirt.  I need to send 20 pounds off for 4 dozen pairs of socks and hopefully another 15 pounds or so for yarn.  
Another chore I did on Friday was my bee hives.  I fed the top bar hive by the garden, which I need to do again tomorrow and I took a whole box off the top of the hive up by the orchard.  I needed to remove that box so they would consolidate into a smaller area for the winter.  That box was mostly full of honey, so on Monday I extracted honey.  I have about another 2 gallons of honey.  I sure hope that hive survives the winter.  It is such a good producer.
         This is how my garden looks right now.  2 rows of lettuce and all my butternut and acorn squash hardening.  I have lots of clean-up to do still.  There's just never enough time.

Most of my fiber time this week was skirting and washing.  I have done some knitting, but it is still for holiday gifting, so I'm not posting any photos at this time.  Likewise my loom warping.  I'll have something to show off next week, hopefully.