Thursday, April 29, 2010

Winter is back! Blessing or curse?

Yesterday, I was out in the pasture with the new baby alpaca in sleeveless tee shirt, shorts and my favorite work boots.( a fashion statement I know.) The goats are to the right of me, and they are checking out the new baby also. It was a windy, humid 70+ degrees out.

I am holding up the new little alpaca, she is not yet 24 hours old, and you can see how large she is. Pity the poor 150# mother that had this all scrunched up in her uterus. See how long legged she is.

This morning we woke up to the weather in the low 30's and snow everywhere.

Good thing that I put a coat on my babies every night so they don't have to burn calories to stay warm, just use those calories to grow.

The girls are looking out at their pasture longingly, but not today girls.

Even Dennis pigeons were outside, peeking through their enclosure. Waiting for the sun to come and warm them up.

I finished my flannel quilt,

back label and all.

Note my feather quilting on the back( it is hard to see from the front as the colors and patterns of the quilt.)

I would never have had the guts to try this stitch if it weren't for my friend Linda who told me how to do it. She is such an inspiration to me,to try things outside of my comfort zone, and they have really paid off. I used a variegated thread to quilt. You can see the different color on the chocolate brown back of this quilt.

Winter is back, a blessing or a curse? Well, the snow will give new life and nutrients to the pastures, and I foresee a ton of girlie stuff getting done today. To all my Arizona friends and family, just remember, it is a damp cold, so don't worry about me. It will probably be gone by 3pm today.

More later........

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It's a Girl!

We had an alpaca birth yesterday. Sara Lee gave birth to a girl, finally. Those of you who know me, know that I have had predominately male births since I started in the alpaca business over 10 years ago. Sara Lee is 13 years old, and I have only had one other female baby from her, Whosey Do, who I sold to a rancher up in Washington, so we are so pleased to finally get a girl. This girl is the first cria(baby) out of our herdsire Pulitzer Prize. I call him Prize for short. The baby is brown with a small white spot on the top of her head, and she was a huge cria. Will get a weight on her later today. One of her elbows was locked in the birth canal, but was easily remedied by me and she was delivered. Enjoy the pictures, and I will post more later.
Moments after her birth, have not named her yet.

Aunties checking out the new arrival. Sara Lee gave birth in her shelter as the other females were out grazing. She never did relax fully until the other females came in, as the rest of the herd will "watch" over mother and baby to keep them safe. Then the mother can relax after the birth and rest as she knows the other females are watching out for her and her baby!

All dried off and enjoying the warm sun. You can see Sara Lee's head in the picture. She is such a good attentive mother.
Looking up at mom. You will notice that her little tail is flipped up over her back, this is a sign of submission in alpaca body language, all the while mom and baby are humming to each other, which is their bonding process.

Head study of Roxie, who is due this fall, and she is pondering about her upcoming birth.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What you wish for! Rain rain go away, alpaca shearing

In my last entry I was hoping for inclement weather so that I could do "girlie" things in the house. Well, be careful what you wish for, as the rains started here on Wednesday night and by the time they were over on Friday we had an accumulation of 2.78 inches of rain. The pastures were jumping for joy no doubt, now all we have to do is sit back and harvest the rain and sunshine in the form of pasture grass for the animals. The flowers and rhubarb that we received from my friend, Linda, are all doing great, we only lost one hollyhock thus far. We still have some more fencing to put up, and to put up some pallets on the north side of the garden for a windbreak and we should be almost caught up. Our to do list is becoming a done list. We still have to finish the chicken coop, which we have not worked on for over a month, and we are getting our chick and baby turkeys the middle of May, Yikes!!!
Here is a picture of the standing rain in the alpaca paddock. Not only did we get a lot of rain, but it was windy and cold to boot. Come to think of it, as I was coming in from doing chores on Friday, I did not even hear that old Scandinavian Meadowlark singing. One of these days I hope to get a picture of him for you all, he has been quite elusive when I take out the camera, just as Dennis has been.

Here is a picture of a house that I saw in Ryan's neighborhood. I just love the color combination on this house, I think that I will paint my chicken coop the same color, and when our house needs painting, I will do it the same, but hopefully that will not be for another 20 years!

I can't help it, but I most squeeze this in about Lily. Here is a picture of my dear little Lily Ann, we have only been able to see her smile a few times, but here is a beauty! She is two months old already, time goes so fast, but the nights are still long for our son and daughter in law!

Saturday we helped some friends south of here with alpaca shearing, thankfully it had stopped raining, but they still had standing water in their pens, if the alpaca fiber is wet when it is taken off the animal, you have to make sure to lie it out for a few days to fully dry or it could mold and rot for you. Her fleeces were dry, only the alpacas feet were wet. We helped with 20 alpacas being sheared yesterday, not like the 100plus per day when I used to help at the large farms in Arizona. Not too sore today, there is still some energy left in me to dig a few more post holes!
When alpaca are sheared, they are laid down flat and stretched, so they lie still and won't get cut. Here is a not so willing victim,

and here he is stretched out. You can see that the shearer is trimming his nails. The alpaca is stretched out with a rope tied to each foot and stretched taunt just to before drawn and quartering like they did in the old days(just kidding, but I bet the alpaca feels that way)I do not have a picture of the after shearing as my camera batteries died.
Dennis is helping the owner get ready a plastic bag to collect the fleece as it comes off the alpaca. My shearing date is May 16 and I will get more pictures then. Our shearing crew at this farm consisted of everyone over 50 years old. The only thing that we were requested to bring with us was our own tylenol, advil or ibuprofen. There was a lot of grey hair at this shearing!

Be careful what you wish for????? Maybe next time I will wish for the big lottery win!

More later........

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Outside work, animals grazing, quilting

There is nothing that can deflate the creative drive more than digging fence posts. Dennis and I have been doing this since Easter, so I have not been able to attend to my blog like I would like to. Four of the posts took 36 hours to dig, they were up by the road, and we had to keep adding water, then wait and dig out an inch or 2 at a time,this went on all day and a half. Exhausting!!!! The end is in sight however, and we are almost there. We have the goat pasture, sheep pasture, female alpaca enclosure all finished. Now all we have left to do is the male alpaca pasture, and to fence in the garden so we can get that planted.
Here is a picture of the goats, and female alpacas out in the goat pasture grazing. They are sharing grazing space until our land is out of CRP. (set aside acres by the government, for use of the native animals)

Here is Dennis fencing off a cottonwood tree in the sheep enclosure, one of maybe a dozen trees we have on our acreage, so we have to give these trees special treatment and protection, as each one is precious out here on the prairie.

In our sheep enclosure, we found 2 galvanized calf huts for protection from the elements. We have seen a lot of these since we came to Colorado. Never saw any down in Arizona, I suppose due to metal constuction and closed off nature, the animal would be barbecued in the hot desert sun. The company who makes these huts is based in Iowa, so I imagine that they have them up in Minnesota, but I don't ever recall seeing them. We had the plastic calf huts up there. But these galvanized are very sturdy construction, with a flap in the back for air movement in the summer, and you can close these up in the winter. It took me a long time to find these huts. The distributor in Longmont no longer carries them as it costs too much to ship them down here. I even called the manufacturer to check how much it would cost to ship a couple down here to me and he quoted me a price of over $500 just for the shipping!!!! I lucked out that a neighbor of ours is moving and had 2 that she sold me. As you can see in these last pictures that there is a storm brewing in the background. This storm went all around us, with us only getting a few sprinkles, like the Arizona rains that my dad is always talking about. Except ours rain drops were not the size of quarters, this time anyway.

The male alpacas are haltered and walked over to our back yard that is enclosed with chain link fencing, they are grazed there about 2- 3 hours every day. No mowing the lawn for us. The alpaca and goats are so happy to be able to graze on grass! I don't think they miss Arizona at all, except for the 20 below day we had last winter.
Here is a picture of me and the boys. They are such good fellows.

I told Dennis that we have to get a new camera, something is dreadfully wrong with this one, it makes me look fat! This is the new fashion statement, shorts with workboots, you gotta love it.

Alas, with all the outdoor work around here, I have not had much time to do the things that I love the most, quilting, and spinning.
This is a picture of a flannel quilt that I started nearly 2 months ago. It is from my stash, I found 13 yards of flannel, a hoarder for sure I am. I am doing some applique flowers around the edge, to give some pizzazz to this quilt.
I will be able to make 4 quilts from this stash. I already have one done, this is the start of my second one, and I have one cut out for Lily. The first was a bed size quilt, the last 3 will be a little larger than lap quilt size for snuggling up on thses cold winter days in front of the TV or fire, reading a good book. So I am patiently waiting for rain or those 100 degree days that they get here, so I can rest and do some of the girlie things that I so enjoy.

More later.......

Monday, April 12, 2010

dog outing, garden preparation, happy Grandpa.

You should have been a fly on the ceiling of our Blazer on Saturday!!! Lordy, lordy. We had an appointment to bring the 2 livestock guard dogs to the vet for their vaccinations. LuLu jumped right up into the Blazer, but to get Bear on board was like a rodeo. He did not want to have anything to do with it. With me inside with LuLu, on my hands and knees, I was pulling him, and Dennis was lifting, but we did it. The ride to town was 24.8 miles, they were good dogs. Lulu is dog aggressive, so we had to take her in the side door, so she would not be exposed to other dogs. Bear, would not step on the side walk up to the vets office for anything. All the coaxing and pulling in the world did no good. The vet finally came out in the parking lot and did his physical exam and temp, and gave him his shot, out there. The receptionist carried out the scale and he was weighed out in the parking lot. He is in excellent health(we knew that) and weighs in at over 100# at just a year old, with lots of growing left to do. He was a little easier to get back in the Blazer, but the 2 of us were exhausted. Bear litterly flew out of the Blazer when we were home and opened the door. The vet said that if we wanted to get him neutered, they would have to sedate him out in the parking lot. LuLu is going to have her spaying in May, we just have to escort her in the side door. So with no whole females around, hopefully Bear will be OK.
This morning we had a minister out to till our garden spot with a tractor and tiller, he does this on the side to make money for his church. Dennis usually does this by hand, and with our little Mantis, but it was virgin sod, and I was worried that it might do him in. I am not really ready to collect life insurance at this stage of my life. The fellow did an excellent job, really pulverized the soil. All in less than an hours time! We are going to have a big garden this year, about 100feet by 50feet.

The locals say that we are going to have trouble with wind and hail, but we are like that old Scandinavian Meadowlark. We got a bunch of pallets from our egg lady, that we will use for a wind break, but can't do much for the hail. We will have to wait and see.

Ryan and Julie were over with little Lily on Sunday, here is proud Grandpa feeding her. I got the next feeding. She is so cute, you just want to hug and kiss her. The little dear.
More later.........

Monday, April 5, 2010

Christmas in April? fence posts, spring flowers

Happy Easter! We had a quiet, but busy Easter Sunday. Tera, our daughter, was on call at where she works, and Ryan our son had to work the pm shift, so we will be having our Easter dinner next weekend. After starting out the day by giving Thanks to our Lord for his suffering for us, we started putting in wood fence posts. We got a total of 5 done yesterday(Sunday). This is no small feat as we have to put them 3 feet into the ground, and the soil has clay in it, so digging is really back breaking. Not to mention, neck and shoulder breaking also. We set fence posts last fall and it was a lot more difficult at that time. Over the winter, the ground freezes here, and then come spring when the frost comes out of the ground it loosens the soil making holes easier to dig. So now we are in a mad rush to get at least 5 or 6 more posts in today, before it starts raining and tamps down the soil again. My hurts are hurting badly from yesterday, but we sure do not want to miss this window of opportunity. Here are a few pictures of some of the braces we put up.

We have been putting water around the posts, all we have to do is wait for them to set up, then we can stretch the wire. Piece of cake, huh???
Here are some pictures of me doing post work.
Of course there is always a dog to lend a hand. We got a record 10 posts in today(Monday), and then about 15 T posts. Of course, Dennis does all the work for the T posts, I just can't pound them in. Definately not womans work!!! As we were doing the fencing we spotted 4 buck antelope just behind our pigeon coop. As Dennis said"in shotgun range" way off on the horizon we could see the 15 does we saw yesterday. Our neighbor said that they should start having their little ones around the 15th of April. If you left click on the picture, you will see a larger view of the antelope.

We went and visited a good friend of mine, Linda, she was digging up her perennial flower bed and said that we could have some of her perennials, that is why I call this Christmas in April. We took home quite a few new flowers and plants(irises, mums, hollyhocks, wild geraniums, and a few others that I can't even remember the names, oh and she also let us take one of her beloved rhubarb plants, that my husband was eyeing. Sounds like more baking will be in my future.) We were done putting them in the garden last night, giving them a good start, as the sun was setting behind the Rockies. Thank you so much Linda. Linda did not want her picture in the blog, but I snuck a few pictures of her garden, with water feature, I can imagine how breathtakingly beautiful her garden is in the summer.

Hers is something that I would like to model my garden after. It makes me think of my koi pond and rose and wild flower garden that I had in Minnesota, I miss them so.....
This morning while doing my chores, I just had to take a picture of LuLu giving Gabby the goat a kiss on the cheek. Gabby was raised around dogs,so likes them, but she is my only goat who does, my other goats were raised around dogs also, as I have always had dogs, but they only tolerate them and will not allow a dog this close to them.
I thought that it would only be fitting, being the Easter Holiday and all to end this post with some spring time flowers from Colorado!

I posted these a few weeks ago, and they had been frozen several times, but are all tough, must be Scandinavian flowers. Just like me! Enjoy while I go out and toil like my fathers before me and put fence posts in by hand, the way the old folks used to. Gee right now, I wish I were baking some rhubarb cake!
More later........