Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Graduation, A Trip and Back to Life as Usual (for a week or 2)

I am so proud of how well Grover did in his obedience class!  He got a first place ribbon at graduation.  Of course I realize that it was teamwork that actually earned him the award, so I guess it was my ribbon as well.  I have to admit, though, that I have been very lax since classes ended and I need to get with it and continue his practice sessions.

View from the condo looking toward the dunes
So a week ago Monday, I drove up to Grand Rapids Michigan to visit my cousin for a few days.  Her family has a condo on the Leelanau peninsula, which is best known for the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, and we traveled up there to spend a couple of nights on Wednesday.  We ended up staying 3 nights, 1 of which was actually spent at Tracey's in-laws' lake house right on Lake Michigan, and 2 at the condo.  The weather was perfect and we spent one day on a boat with a friend of Tracey's on Glen Lake and even got into the water to swim.  Since we stayed up at the lake until Saturday, I had a long drive home, but that was ok.

Sunday I got into the beehive and harvested another 6 frames of honey, or a little over 2 gallons.  In my last post I explained how the wax caps need to be cut from the frame before the honey can be extracted.  Here are the wax caps after being cut from the frames being cleaned of every last drop of honey by the bees.  I think I will melt this wax down and make a candle from it.  The whole sheet pan is covered in it, so there should be enough.

On Monday I brought a male alpaca over to the females' barn to test the females I had been breeding over the past month to see who might possibly be pregnant.  I was attempting to get 6 females bred, 3 to my white male and 3 to my grey male.  One of the females, who I was planning to breed to Opi, the grey male, was never receptive, so never bred.  The other 2 females I bred to Opi are both showing signs of being pregnant.  Very good news.  However, none of the 3 that were bred to my white male, Lightning, are pregnant.  All 3 were still receptive to being bred, despite having been bred to him (twice) and having shown signs of ovulation (which means they spit at him at one week post-breeding).  We had several crias from this male in the fall, but last spring I had no luck using him either, so he is not a very reliable breeder.  Or maybe he is only fertile when the weather is cooler in the fall.  Either way, it is very disappointing that we will have only 2 crias next spring.  It looks as though we will have 2 crias this fall, though, one each from Opi and Lightning.

Our weather has been great.  Lots of rain, mostly at night.  It has been difficult to keep up with the weeds in the garden.  I try, but I admit not that hard.  Everything is growing like weeds!  I will be harvesting beets soon for pickling and canning, as well as garlic.  There are green tomatoes on the vines and the squash plants are getting huge.

Speaking of huge, look at this skin from a black snake that Sam discovered in our vacant alpaca building.  It is a good 6-footer.  And you know they shed those skins when they get too large for them.  At least there should be no more mice in that building!
One of the chores I have been working on lately is cleaning up the fenceline along the creek in our main alpaca pasture.  The fence runs along the road, but there is the creek between the road and the fence.  When we put in the fence 13 years ago, we left enough space between the fence and the creek to get a mower down.  But over the years, the bank has eroded and in places is only abut 18" wide.  Sam just got me a new brush cutter with a metal blade and I have been making progress.  In this photo, you can see the creek and the steep bank and then the fence (sort of).  I have it mostly cleaned out, but forgot to take an "after" photo, so will post that next week.  I have also been up on my hiking trail on Wayne National Forest clearing it out.  I only got about 100 yards on one tank of gas in the brush cutter on Monday.  It is pretty thick.  Considering I have about 1/2 mile to clear, it might take a while, but it will be so much nicer to hike on.

I started a new shawl last week and took it along with me on my trip and had some time to sit quietly and work on it.  It is the Daybreak shawl  and I am knitting it in a skein of my hand dyed millspun alpaca and a skein of my natural brown millspun alpaca and LOVE how it is coming out.  I am more than pleased with the colors in my hand-dyed.  You just never know until you knit something sometimes what it will look like.  This will not be a large shawl, more of a crescent shaped scarf.  

I have also made progress this week on the black yarn I am spinning for the blanket I plan to weave.  I still have a long way to go before I am ready to start warping my loom! I need at least 4 bobbins of this black and then I need white (which I have a good start on) and brown and fawn.  January?
Of course Michigan is known for its cherry crop, which unfortunately was not yet ripe when I was there.  But no trip to Glen Arbor is complete without a stop at the Cherry Republic, where you can graze your way through their wonderful samples of chocolate covered cherries, cherry salsa, cherry jams and more.
So what did I buy?  




  1. When is the crop of cherries ready up there? It might influence where we take our vacation.

  2. very soon. They are expecting a bumper crop this year after a very poor crop last year. I think the Cherry Festival in Traverse City started this week. But 4 years ago when we were up there for Tracey's wedding it was mid-July and the cherries were ready