Friday, March 26, 2010

winter wonderland!

Tuesday morning we tackled all the goat hooves and alpaca toenails readying for the big storm that was supposed to hit on 3/24. After trimming all those feet, we knew that we would have muscle soreness for a few days, me especially. But it is so nice to see animals with their feet well trimmed. Someone once said that if an animals feet are overgrown to almost the point of lameness, look for other signs of neglect with the animals also. I have always taken care of my animals feet, as that is always in the back of my mind, when I look at other folks stock also. Of course, mine have never been overgrown too much.
Well, anyway, enough on the ruminants feet, we ended up with only a few inches of snow, not the 8-12 inches that they were predicting. It was 30 degrees here Wednesday am. The air was so fresh and crisp, nothing to taint the smell. I breathed deeply several times to supply all of my inner cells with this life giving gift from God. We are so lucky to be far from any major metropolitan area ,and to live in an area with no pollution. I took a few pictures of the snow scene that morning. All the fence posts still had their night sleeping caps, waiting for the intense rays of the sun to free them of their encumbrances.
The storm had started out with rain and then wet snow coming down in sheets sideways, the chicken coop is seen with snow stuck to the north side, as if someone hastily tried to wrap her up and protect from the ravages of the snow and wind, but had failed miserably only halfway through the job.

DOSADO is seen here basking in the sun as only a goat can do, eyes closed, and dreaming of frolicking in the green grasses of spring. The little girls are munching their hay, in the goat world, the one who eats the fastest, gets the most, and then they go lie down and quietly chew their cud and ruminate on what the new day will bring.
Yes, this is a white alpaca! But with the dampness outside, Prize decided to take a dust bath anyway, so hence his dirty unkempt appearance. Pretty undignified for a blue ribbon, reserve champion. Most of this will dry and fall off come shearing time on May 16Th. I hope so anyway. Then his fleece will be spun up into wonderfully soft scarves and sweaters.
My female alpacas decided to bask in the warmth of the morning sun. Sara Lee is my old matriarch in the foreground,she is the black alpaca. Her and I have a long history together. She is probably 13 years old now, and is expecting a cria(baby alpaca) in about 2 weeks. I know that she does not look pregnant in this picture, but she is.
Alpaca carry their babies for a 11 1/2 month gestation. She will nurse her baby for 6 months after giving birth. I don't breed my alpacas until they are 18 months old or older, and the male is usually not able to sire an offspring until 3 years old, or older, but there are always exceptions of course.
Half way through our chores, we humans were shedding our outer layers, as the intense sun was smiling down on this winter wonderland, soon to be swallowed up by the thirsty, parched soil of the prairie!
I can still hear the lonesome call of that old Scandinavian Meadowlark,no doubt battle scarred, as he defends his territory, perched atop his favorite fencepost, perusing his small piece of the world. Occassionally stopping and cocking his head, watching for things that might swoop down and cause him harm.

Well, it is off to lefse making for me today. The potatoes are all cooked and just waiting to be riced. Will take pictures for you all if they turn out.
More later......

Friday, March 19, 2010

Winter, again?????

30 degrees this am. Snow coming down sideways, but nothing like the storms that we had in Minnesota when I was growing up. Even amidst all this snow, the soulful song of the Meadowlark can be heard, breaking the sounds of the softly falling snow.One tough little bird, must be a Scandinavian!
It was 74 degrees here on Wednesday. Dennis and I were in short sleeves, and he commented that he should be wearing shorts. I said, yeah, we should have taken our bathing suits with us also. We started the day out at the local auction in Fort Collins. They were auctioning off sheep, goats, llamas, horses and hogs that day. We stayed about 4 hours. I sat on my hands the entire time. The goats were so cute. I hope they got good homes, but some no doubt ended up on the dinner plate. Here are a few pictures at the auction out where they keep the animals. I got a few good ideas for feeders while I was there. An old man, probably in his 80's sat by me, (the old ones always hit on me) He used to live in Pierce and farmed there, it is about 5 miles south of us. Well anyway, he told us quite a bit about the auction. He pointed out who was who, and what they were buying for. He said he would see us next week. Another new friend made. (One of my friends told me that if you left click once on my pictures, it will enlarge them)

This is from yesterday. guard dogs on duty, as we finish up our bluebird houses. We got a total of four done.
I was so excited when I went out to the mailbox this morning, with all the good photo opportunities, that I forgot to pick up the newspaper. It seems like whenever I take out the camera, Dennis disappears, but the dogs love having their pictures taken, here they are waiting for me at the gate.
The front and the back of our house.Large, I know,but acts as a good windbreak out here on the prairie.

This is a picture of our country road, leading 1 mile to Nunn, or another 12 miles to Highway 25 and Wellington. If you can imagine, how many weary travelers have traveled down this dirt road, by horseback, wagon train or horse and buggy. You can almost here the squeaking of the rusty wheels as they hit the ruts in our washboard road.
Will my daffodils survive yet another cold snap????
Will the bluebirds start looking for our new houses????
Another winter day. A good time for reflecting, doing various projects indoors like quilting, sewing or spinning. A good time for an oven dinner. For on Saturday, they are predicting 50+ weather again. No shoveling for us today!

More later........

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bluebird day!!!!

It is just beautiful, and spring is in the air for sure today. Dennis saw a few bluebirds the other day, so we thought that we should get ready and build some houses for them, in case they choose to nest here. I went on line to the national bluebird society to get directions on what type of house to build. Here is a picture of me putting the house together, we ended up getting 2 done. I did not plan it this way, but it looks like I am the lady in gray today.
I also took a picture of our unfinished chicken coop, we have a good start on it however. We will be getting our baby chicks and turkeys on or about May 15th. The window is facing the south. We want to get another window for the west, and with the door facing east, should be good cross ventilation.

Ahhh, the sounds of spring in the air! There is nothing quite like a husband and wife building something together to bring out the best in them..........each with their own way of doing things. But that is another story, for another day....
More later.........

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The wind, I remember when.........Uff'da!

This morning doing chores, the winds have picked up, big gusts of winds that can suck the breath right out of a person. Winds with such force, walking into them plasters your clothes tightly to the outline of your body, leaving nothing to the imagination. Somewhat like a wet tee shirt contest.
The alpacas are happily munching on their hay, with an occasional low soft humming, as the winds whip over their shelters--so content and oblivious to the weather. Here in Colorado, the normal temps in March are in the 30's at night, and the 50's during the day. We usually get a foot more of snow in March, but with the intense heat of the sun at 5280 feet elevation and the warm weather, it is reportedly here not longer than a day or 2. We shall see.
Anyway getting back to the brings me back to another time, long, long ago, when I was just a little girl-unleashing memories, that will forever be a part of me. Staying with my Grandma Carrie, out on the farm in Stephen Minnesota. I loved my time with Grandma, and being out on the farm. I remember her hanging clothes out on the line. She had an old wooden clothesline, and on the top of the wooden ends was a square open box. In the spring of the year, the box was usually lined meticulously with twigs and a Morning Dove would be sitting tight on her clutch, the only thing giving her away was an occasional blink of an eye. The clothesline was near a stand of stately Cottonwood trees, with trunks so large, even the biggest man could not wrap his arms around them. And when the winds would blow, the fluttering of those leaves was like magical melody to ones ears, and would easily lull even the fussiest baby into a blissful deep sleep. Not to mention the Cottonwood seeds that would fill the air with a winter like scene, riding the wind, and holding on for dear life, only to settle stubbornly on someones screen. I used to wait for my uncles to get off the school bus, under those stately Cottonwoods.

I remember Grandma making lefse. Standing at the kitchen sink, which overlooked the back yard. Off in the distance the well pump could be seen, it was located on a green wooden platform. My brothers and I used to look through the slats of the green wood, and we could see the water below, hiding whatever lurked below those dark waters. A pebble or two would not rouse them from the deep. Here is an old picture that my mother had, my Grandmother, and my mother as a child on the left, and my aunt Marlys on the right, you can see the old well and the grove behind them.
Behind the pump was their farm grove. I remember when my brothers and I used to make grass huts out in those woods, and the time my brothers decided to light a candle in one of them..... No one was injured, by the fire anyway, and the fire was put out before the woods were burned down. But that is another story, for another time.....
Anyway, back at the kitchen sink, my Grandma is mashing or ricing the potatoes and I watch in awe as she rolls out the dough-consisting of potatoes, butter , cream, sugar, salt and flour, into a large round, very thinly rolled, and then transported to the hot lefse iron. The finished lefse is white and round, with brown circles scattered throughout, I think where there were air bubbles. Then cooled, and can be folded in half, and then folded in half again, giving you four pieces of lefse, each one pie shaped. My favorite way to eat lefse is slathered with real butter, and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, and then lightly heated up. DELICIOUS! They say that russet potatoes are the best for making lefse as they are dryer, but I don't think that my Grandpa planted russets, only the good red potatoes.
Here in Colorado, and also when we lived in Arizona, when we would go to the grocery store and ask for lefse, they would ask what it was, like we were from another country. They never heard of potato sausage, rosettes or krumkake either, can you imagine that? We did find a small grocery store in Ault Colorado that specializes in Scandinavian foods, they have lefse(brought in from Mn) and also potato sausage, but not as good as we are used to or that my grandma used to make. I have decided to start making my own lefse, and have been searching for an iron. I found a neat site giving the history of lefse, and to order supplies and even lefse itself. Supposedly, Norway has only had potatoes for the last 250 years, they went to war with Ireland, and the Norwegians kept all the potatoes that the Irish threw at them, then they made this bread type lefse from them, they were a perfect side with their lutefisk.(we can get that at Ault also) The website is if you want to go back to your roots! Uff'da!

This is a picture of our homestead, looking out a window from our two story house. These are the animal shelters and the hay barn, all with a low profile to withstand the winds of the prairie.
In the background you can almost see the farmer trudging behind the draft horses, tilling the soil, readying it for the planting season. The flock of seagulls flying around him as he kicks up buried treasures of sleeping grubs and flies and what ever has been hibernating in the soils. Toiling from sunrise to sunset, bringing to market potatoes, so we can make lefse, and listen to the winds as we gaze out our kitchen windows, and think of days gone by, and bask in our memories. No stately Cottonwoods however, but they are growing.
More later..........

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A new little Radi

We were blessed on March 1st with little Liliana Marie! Our son Ryan and his wife Julie are the proud parents. And we will be able to see her a lot since we located here from Arizona. We were not able to say that with our first grandson Brady for the last 5 years.
Liliana is the most beautiful little girl, she was a whopping 6# 4 ounces, and 20 inches long. She is going to be hard not to spoil. I am sure she will get much love from both sides of our family.
Welcome, Liliana! A proud Auntie Jen and proud Grandpa.

sheep and alpaca weekend

Dennis and I had another great outing last weekend. Saturday we started off with a day of shopping. Then later in the afternoon we went to Greeley to see a American Blackbelly ram. Dennis has been wanting to raise these kind of sheep for sometime now. They are a "hair sheep" meaning that they do not have to be sheared, they shed their hair, naturally like a dog would do, but it comes off more in clumps. They also don't have the lanolin the wool sheep breeds have to taint the meat. Some meat breeds of sheep come with wool that needs to be sheared. The hair sheep Barbados and Blackbelly, are smaller sheep, much to my surprise, and will be easier to handle, with our employee base of 2 (Dennis and I). Wool sheep meat breeds have to be harvested when they are younger, before the meat gets the off flavor of mutton. Hair sheep you can harvest later. But anyway here is a picture of the handsome ram that we saw this past weekend. It is an American Blackbelly.
The rams with really nice racks(or horns) can be purchased by big game hunting reserves. We are interested in raising our own meat source for health reasons. We recently saw the movie "Food, Inc" it is a real eye opener, if you really want to see where your food comes from, this is the movie to see. But some of it is not for the weak of heart. I always like to be an informed, aware consumer. So rent this documentary film and watch it. As they say, you are what you eat. We are not yet set up for our sheep, but hopefully within the next 6 months.

We took a trip to Longmont/Boulder area on Sunday and took in the alpaca extravaganza that is held there every year. There were spinners, weavers, and other vendors there showing their wares. I got tons of good ideas for future projects, and I need to get busy.
We took a picture when we first entered the building, but it is a tad dark. These are pictures of vicunas. They are related to alpaca but are a wild cousin, with very fine fleece, from South America also. They are commanding $30,000 and up here in the US now, as there are not very many. But I will stick to alpaca, as they fulfil all my needs now.