Archive for the ‘fleece’ Category

Alpaca Photos! Luster and the Field

April 10, 2011
Coco demonstrates luster

Coco Demonstrates Fantastic Luster

Finally a couple of pictures! Granted they are taken with my cell phone and it has a permanently clouded lens, but there is nothing that can hide just how gorgeous Coco is–and Carmel Sundae looks pretty good for six and a half years old too. Carmel’s most recent cria is Stagedoor Johnny who is a simply stunning and promising junior herdsire.

It ‘s amazing what a few weeks of great hay, extra grain, and a huge field of verdant grass can do. Everyone is packing on the pounds. Here is a photo of the alpacas in the new field.

The alpacas love their new field.

I had to lure the alpacas into the new field with grain. Carmel is the alpha female, so most of the other alpacas followed her as she followed me to the open gate. When we reached it I heard something similar to the sound a child makes at Christmas when it sees all of the presents spread under the tree. Gone were any thoughts about the grain as she dashed 15 feet into the field before suddenly stopping to eat–she was nearly run over by the others scrambling to get in too. There is plenty of room for all. I am going to move the boys over to the vacated girls fields where the grass is now running amok since it was had rain, warmth and sunshine and no one eating it. That will give the boys’ fields time to rest a bit before formal weaning. Many of the crias are already naturally weaned but a few are not above grabbing what they can get on the side.

Amber Rose and her Cria Samantha Before the Mad Dash

A couple of the alpacas had to be haltered and brought to the field. Amber was a skeptic. The former alpaca fields for the girls were  two acres and one and one-half acres. This one is 15 acres and they love running and pronking in it. (The odd shape in the foreground is my finger.) We bring the girls into the paddocks at night, or should I say they bring themselves in and we shut the gates for added security. Now we have to get up extra early because they line up in the little one acre field by the gate just before dawn waiting to get into it. I love watching them as they graze in a herd, moving up and down the field and back and forth across it. We are all in love with the new field.

Alpacas and the Wind and the Fields and Fire

April 6, 2011

Maybe the 35 mile per hour gusts will blow the hay out of the fleece before shearing. It is windy again today and reminds me of a cruise Tom and I once took. He insisted on going up to the very bow where the wild wind made it impossible to speak. It’s difficult to believe that too much air can suck your breath away, but it can.

All of Oklahoma is under a burn ban and with wind like this it seems anything could burn. West of us there are fires–but far west so far. We see pictures on the news and smell whiffs of smoke on occasion and it is unnerving. We are a bit more fortunate than most of the state. This is Green Country and we have had rain. But I would not take bets on fires not catching given the right circumstances. The alpacas don’t seem worried and they seem to know about things long before we do.

I’m not going to write too much today. The new field will be ready in less than an hour and we’ll be letting the alpacas in shortly. The fence is not totally complete on the south side–there is fencing, just not the 5 foot no-climb I like so much. Since the field is somewhere around 12-15 acres, I don’t expect them to notice the fence at all, just all of the grass. They will only be allowed in the field when I am home and able to keep an eye open in that direction and they will be able to come into the barn at will. I don’t expect them to want to come in very soon.

I’ll get pictures and look for that camera cable. I promise.

Prep for Shearing Alpacas

April 5, 2011

If I had time I would be looking for my photo cord, but the truth is I just don’t. The alpacas are happily letting themselves in and out of the barn in the morning, but the boys didn’t want to stay out or use their three-sided shed last night, so today I had to do door duty for them. Last night was freezing cold but it is 10-15 degrees warmer in the barn this time of year and there is no wind chill. Yesterday we had gusts up to 40 mph but in the afternoon the wind stopped.

Tom and I were watching the news and I said, “What was that?” What it was, was no wind. It’s slated to start again later today. No matter really. The alpacas only mind it when it is cold and when it is warm the suri fleece lifts and they are air-conditioned. We should hit the sunny mid-60s later. The grass has greened up very nicely and with any luck we will get to open the new field this afternoon. They will have access to one of our little half-way house barns as well as the main barn for wind protection and shade and the new field has something else they have not been able to get near–up to this point: It has trees.

Oh, I almost forgot about the shearing in the title. We shear on Friday–how did I ever wind up with shearing on a Friday??? I think this means I have no helpers at all. I hope the shearer brings help. I am trying to concentrate on getting bags and labels and the CDT shots about half of the herd needs ready. We will also give vitamins and weigh both alpaca and fleece I am nervous. Last year’s shearers weren’t so wonderful. Read down in my blog history if you want to know how awful it was.

I feel as though I am going in for a new hairdo myself. I wonder if the shearer does people too. If he does a good job, I’ll ask. Oh, and if you’re in the vicinity come on by and I’ll put you to work.

A Beautiful Alpaca Morning…

April 4, 2011

The sun is rising earlier and earlier and so am I. Once upon a time in a prior life in Salt Lake City, I got up at 9:30 or 10 and it was the unusual day that saw me bathed, dressed and ready for the world before 11. Currently, wake-up is done by the sun at about 7 and I go out to check on the alpacas–half of the time still in my robe. For the most part, they aren’t up yet, just cushed and chewing cud. The looks I get! I sneak back out and wait until 8 before putting out hay and filling/cleaning water buckets.

My main purpose in their lives has become that I am SHE WHO GIVES GRAIN. I am convinced that they listen for the squeak from the front door (remind me to oil that) and recognize the sound since they look up and, if they see me, come running even from the farthest fields. I am an easy mark.

Saturday was an absolutely perfect day, the kind you would like to bottle and keep for emergencies. Sunday could only be described as hot–and sunny–and windy. We have had winds gusting up to 50 mph for a full 24 hours now. Welcome to Oklahoma “where the wind comes sweeping down the plain.” It should be here another day or two and then die down for a bit. Most of Oklahoma is dry, dry, dry, but we have had quite a bit of rain here in the far northeast Green Country. Our biggest worry is wind-driven fire across the prairie Possible thunderstorms are forecast every day this week, I think–a little frightening but so beautiful. We have cut the fields so there is not a lot to burn and more green grass.

I really am looking for my camera cords so I can begin including pictures again. If it stays not so very nice out I may have time to look… in the meantime, it’s a simply breathtakingly windy, glorious morning and it may freeze tonight and it will be in the 70s and 80s later in the week.

Excuse me–the alpacas and I have a plan to march up and down the fields and take a look at the big new field going in as I write–about 15 acres, I think (3 sides=1/2 mile of fencing.) I’m glad that I don’t have to try stretching fence myself today. This wind almost takes your breath away. There is an added bonus to all of this wind maybe? Maybe some of the vegetation and hay will blow out of the fleece before shearing on Friday.

Carmel Sundae Administers Alpaca Therapy

July 16, 2010

I just had an amazing experience. I always thought alpacas might be therapeutic but I had no idea. Tonight is one of my truly difficult times with compound regional pain syndrome and I went downstairs and just plain screamed. I didn’t want Tom to hear me. Rough.

While I was downstairs, screaming so loudly Tom could hear me upstairs, Carmel Sundae came to me. Alpacas like to stand at about arm’s length so you can’t touch them. Carmel came over and offered herself to me. She let me touch her bonnet, her baby, and anything else that amused me. There is nothing like the trust of something so soft that comes to you because you need it. I am truly blessed. I have a wonderful husband and alpacas that understand. Who would have ever thought.

Welcome Zena’s Stage Door Johnny-35 alpacas now

May 26, 2010

This has been an ultra-busy week. My mentor, Carla Llewellyn flew down from Wanship, UT, to help me get ready for three births. Only one of the girls obliged and delivered while she was here–but what a nice cria and what a textbook presentation! Our beautiful color champion Caramel Sundae presented us with an 18.2 pound white-faced, red brown Aspen Ace son who we named Zena’s Stage Door Johnny.

In 1968 or so, I won big-time betting on a horse by that name in the Preakness. In case anyone is wondering, a stage door johnny is the dapper young man who waits for starlets by a theatre’s back entrance. Johnny runs everywhere like a race horse and with his already gorgeous fleece he is sure to get those starlets to go with him. We own a half-interest in his full brother, but this boy may give him a run for the money.

Advertising Alpacas

May 7, 2010
The Cria Demand Their Grain

The Cria Demand Their Grain

We are working, trying to get our ranch set up for our June 10 Grand Opening. The Grove Chamber of Commerce will host a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. and we will be officially classified as one of Grand Lake’s official attractions. There are not the same event, but both are part of the promotion of an alpaca ranch. We plan to have a little shop with fleece, yarn, alpaca bears, and finished alpaca products. Whew! So much to do. Eventually we hope that most of the things we sell will be made from our our renewable alpaca fiber. We are biting purposely biting off more than we can chew, I think–but watch us grow.

Shearing Alpacas 101–past midnight

April 12, 2010

Ain’t life fun? Sometimes maybe not, but if it works out in the end???

We sheared alpacas Saturday night, or was it Sunday morning. Two days later we are all bleary-eyed except Tom, and maybe the shearers. The alpacas and I are still dazed.

Friday I picked hay, straw and all manner of stuff out of 26 fleeces. Saturday I did fine tuning picking. We had our helpers in place and we waited for the shearers to arrive in the afternoon as planned. 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6p.m.–our volunteers started to leave. We sent our ranch helper home at 6:30 since she has a family and we fed our alpacas hay, which they promptly absorbed into their fleece by rolling and rolling and they spread it everywhere–so much for all of our work, and we don’t know yet what we will be able to salvage to show or sell.

People who know me from twitter are aware that I began dissolving sometime between 8 and 8:30. I called our alpaca shearing central and she tracked them down. It seems the farm/ranch before us had 46 alpacas instead of 23, so it took a little longer than planned. Our shearers arrived at approximately 9:10 p.m.! Only Tom and I were left–he was 9/10 asleep and I was a total basket case. The shearers wanted to get the shearing done. Somehow it was done, but I’m afraid to even look at the fleece and two days later I haven’t even entered it all into the record. Near the end Tom was reporting post-shearing weights that were higher than pre-shearing weights.

We did not get to give the post-shearing vitamins we had ready–no one to do that job was left. It was all we could do to identify who was being sheared and label the bags. So much for being prepared. People, please let the shearers know how many alpacas you have–the real number including any from neighboring ranches that you might have for them to do. There is no way to plan for something like this. We knew we would be later in the day, but we never planned for shearing past one a.m. The alpacas all screamed–it was past their bedtime and a couple were so groggy I was afraid they would never recover. …and we try so hard to keep stress to a minimum.

Still, they are shorn and it is done for a year. I’ll report on the fleece in my next blog.

The shearers were good and there were no nicks or cuts, but I suspect it will be next week before we know what the true effects of this nocturnal nightmare will be. Personally, I am trying to schedule time to be downright ill. Not a very good experience for our first shearing.

No pictures, sorry. No pre-shearing, full fleece photos for our website. Now excuse me, I’m going to faint. I’ll let you know if we have any fleece from our prize alpacas in a few days. The good news is that we are all still here.

Alpacas and the Business of Spring

April 7, 2010

Whoa! Time slips by quickly, doesn’t it? Saturday is our first shearing here at Zena. Spring=nude alpacas. There is some lovely fleece out there in the fields that I can’t wait to get my hands on–unfortunately there is a lot of hay in it and picking it out at this point seems to do little good since it magically reappears overnight.

The little ones are pretty much weaned and partly/mostly halter trained just in time for the business in store for us. Saturday is our big shearing day! I almost messed us up good and didn’t find a shearer to come. I had plenty of time and then I suddenly had no time. Fortunately we have been fit into a schedule. Shearing will happen in the evening on what should be a beautiful Saturday–or the crew may wait and do the deed early Monday morning. We are providing a place to sleep and a nice bathroom with shower.  🙂 The crew does not work on Sundays so we will be playing everything by ear.

I have been invited to speak about alpacas to a local woman’s club and we have had our first ranch visitors. We plan to be open for visitors several times a week–this is a big summer tourist area. The local Chamber of Commerce has announced that we are one of the area’s attractions and we had to put up a gate (before we even talked to the chamber) because we were having so many unannounced visitors. And here we thought we were so out of the way no one would ever come. Now we have to announce hours and everything. Come and visit if you’re out our way, far Northeastern Oklahoma–less than 25 miles to Kansas, Missouri or Arkansas.

There will be a grand opening for our business in June and by then, hopefully our shop will be in place. I owe all of you photos–now all I have to do is find my camera. So much to do!

Our first visitors came with their grandparents on a rainy, cold April day. Luckily we have a big barn and a heated office. The boys came to check them out and appointed Marti as their official spokes-alpaca. We will have another group of alpacas coming in June and have half a dozen babies (cria) due this spring.

Please call 804-389-2579 or email zenasurialpacas@gmail.com for information about tours, purchasing alpacas, alpaca products or agisting (boarding) alpacas.

Another Dozen Alpacas

March 16, 2010

Sunday meant another dozen alpacas. Can you believe it? Friday we had our first ranch visitors, a lovely couple who brought their grandchildren and compared our house and property to a place they’d been in New Zealand–the green rolling meadows and the porches all around the house, I think, rather than Jay or Grove.

The dozen alpacas hit the ground and never looked back. Utah? Um, hmmm. I think I may have been there once.

This morning the girls headed for the field with wild ecstasy, like they were “strung together,” Tom said, wildly flinging themselves into the field with abandon. Go babies! If joy could be bottled, this was the place to bottle it!

It is wonderful to see them interacting as a herd and the first group did this to a degree, but this seems to be multiplied many times over with the arrival of the second group. I talked about family groups before and, for some of the alpacas this seems very important. Divinity, who is still nursing Zeke, sleeps with him and her daughter from the previous year, Demelza. Divinity’s mother Mindy May is here with her son Cruz. Mindy is our oldest girl and Cruz is currently the youngest.

Sonnet is here with her son SkyKing, but her daughters Madrigal and Cavatina are still in Utah. Since they are maidens, our mentor kept them in case they need assistance and so they can be rebred. I feel badly about this now because Sonnet seems to be looking for them.

While Tevilla’s mother, Dynasti is here, Tevilla appears to be on her own and chooses to spend time with Demelza during the day.

Tevilla, at the alert

Carmel Sundae has two of her three children here. Her son Agassi, the most recent, is in Utah and will be shown this spring. While Fantine and Shira are here, this family group seems to be simply three adults.

One or two alpacas seem to be appointed to watch while the rest eat peacefully. Rhapsody notices a lot even though she is not one of the primary lookouts. When she is in the paddock and we are looking out the windows, she watches us right back. So I guess she watches us watching her watching us…

The boys had one new addition, Ozzy, a gelding. Cantu and Marti, below, express their opinions at his arrival. Everyone, boys and girls, seems to be adjusting fairly well.

So how was your day?