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.


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