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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Another Summer Fades Away and Some Sadness

Mom is off on a trip to Italy, so Luca is with us for a few weeks.  We now have a 3 dog walk.  Rowdy is making sure I'm coming.

I had a bad deja vu this past Sunday evening.  Last fall I wrote in this post http://straightforkfarm.blogspot.com/2012/10/october-comes-in-like-fill-in-blank.html
about losing Truffel's cria because the cria was presenting into the birth canal ass-end first, which is all wrong.  Last week I wrote about my 2 girls who were due to deliver early October but could deliver at any time, being the way alpacas are.  I noticed my fawn female, Miracle, acting distressed Sunday evening about 7 pm.   She was flat out on her side in the field.  Had it been a nice sunny day, that would not have alarmed me as they love to sun bathe.  But on a cool day at dusk, it is not normal alpaca behavior.  So I went to check her out.  She had swelling and discharge from the birth canal.  She was definitely in labor.  But 7 pm is a bad time for labor and I needed to do a quick check.  Unbelievably, I found a tail in the birth canal.  Dystocias are rare in alpacas.  In 14 years the only cria we lost to dystocia (improper positioning) was the breech cria from Truffel last year.  Our other 2 dystocias were just front legs back ,which require assistance, but are usually doable.  2 breech presentations in 1 year?  Unfortunately, Miracle may have been in labor all day, but I was not home.  Had I noticed her distress earlier, it may have been easier to pull the cria.  As it was, I worked on her for a good 10 to 15 minutes and was not able to pull the legs around.  There seemed to be no room in there to work.  I finally conceded defeat and called the vet, who I had called earlier, and asked her to come.  Then I gave Miracle a rest while I waited for her to arrive.  The vet was here within about 1/2 and hour.  She is a new vet, small and confident.  She got both hands in there and had 1 foot out fairly quickly, but struggled with the second leg.  Once it was out, it was pretty easy to pull the cria. He was dead of course.  Poor Miracle.  What an ordeal.  She seems to be pretty much back to normal 4 days post trauma, though.  They recover so much more quickly than we do.  

So, only one cria left and as I said last week, I am not that optimistic about this one.  Micki is very small (belly-wise) for being 10 1/2 months along as usual for her and her track record is very bad.  Maybe I will be surprised.  But then we will have a lone cria with no one to play with. 

 
In other news, the chickens are doing well.  Still getting only 1 egg a day.  We are down to 7 hens, though.  We had one who I called the "errant chicken" as she refused to come in to the coop to roost at night and I would find her waiting to get into the chicken yard each morning.  Well she has been missing for 48 hours now so I am sure some predator had an easy meal.  Once a hen goes to roost for the night, they are basically like sitting ducks and anything can just pick them off.  I am surprised she lasted as long as she did.  I have no idea where she was roosting.

I canned another batch of tomato sauce this week and picked the last of our corn.  The ears were all small and weren't going to get any bigger, so I prepared those for the freezer.  It was only 18 ears so it wasn't much, but I have 2 bags of frozen sweet corn for our favorite chicken corn chowder.  Yumm!  Another good thing about fall weather, homemade soup.
My squash plants are dying back and I have read I need to leave the squash out in the garden even after the plants are dead to harden before bringing them in for storage.  So I will be leaving them out as long as I can before frost.  I did make some really yummy squash soup last week.

Monday was a gloriously beautiful day and I had set time set aside to get into the bee hives and see how they are doing and maybe take some honey off.  I got into the new hive first, the top bar over by the garden.  This hive is not doing well.  I don't know if it is because of the location or what, but they have literally NO honey.  They have comb drawn out, but no honey stores.  This is not good in mid-September.  So I gave them some 2-1 sugar/water and will feed them again either tomorrow or Monday.  I don't hold out much hope of them surviving the winter and if they do not, I am done with the top bar hive.  On the other hand, the Langstroth hive up by the orchard, from which I have harvested about 6 gallons of honey this year, seemed to be doing fine.  I wanted to remove one of the 6 boxes to consolidate them for winter, and I did so.  I removed 4 frames that were basically empty of anything except comb, and 5 frames that were full or partially full of capped honey.  They had lots of partially full frames to finish filling with goldenrod nectar.  There were less bees in the hive and they were surprisingly docile.  I hope this hive survives winter again.  
 I got about another gallon of honey this time.  I did a taste test with this honey and the earlier honey I had harvested and the difference is remarkable.  The early honey is very flowery in flavor, very complex, I am sure due to the spring fruit blossoms and variety of wildflowers.  While this late summer honey is good, it is just not as intensely flavorful.   Here are the frames I extracted honey from.  The bees are busy cleaning every leftover drop of honey from them and then I will store them away for next year.



 Tomorrow I leave for the Wool Gathering in Yellow Springs.  I am so looking forward to it.  I think the weather forecast looks favorable.  I had a new banner made up fpr my booth.  I had a 6' or 8' banner I used to use above my stalls at alpaca shows and it was just too big for these venues.  Plus, it focused more on the animals than the products.  This is 4' long and will sit atop my display since in most places I cannot hang a banner.  I am quite pleased with this.  My car is mostly packed and I have until 8 pm tomorrow night to set up.  I hope to leave by 2 since it is a 3 hour drive and I want to get through Columbus prior to rush hour.  I just hope I have a chance to do some shopping.  I want to buy a nice crimpy wool fleece to blend with some alpaca, maybe for yarn.  We'll see.  There are 3 tents full of yarn and fiber at the Wool Gathering.  I'll post more about it next week!



And last, I finished my Pinnate Cardigan.  It fits nicely and I even wore it to the office yesterday.  It is a wool/bamboo blend and is a drapey garment.  It has no closure on the front and I think I would like to get some kind of clasp to just pull it together at about bust level.  I think I will get a lot of wear out of this this fall and winter.  Isn't that a great fall color?

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