Archive for the ‘Shearing’ Category

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.

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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.

My New Spring Resolution–Alpacas

April 2, 2011

After one tough, record-breaking winter we are crawling out to inspect the damage and to prepare for shearing–yes, shearing will be on April 8 this year.

We had not one but two “Storm of the Century” events that brought 14 inches of snow and a week later 27 inches of snow (our average yearly snowfall here is 8 inches), a record-setting 27 degrees below zero, and wind gusts around 30 mph. OK Mom Nature, we know you can surpass your own records after the driest, the coldest, the wettest, the hottest: Can we just be average for a bit?

In the midst of all of that on a cold, but sunny day I was on my way to try to help a friend’s llama that was down when I managed to totally roll and destroy my trusty Trail Blazer. When it was over, Spot (who had been sleeping in the back seat) and I were covered in soft dirt and basically OK. I got to go to the emergency room in an ambulance, had a flare-up of my RSD (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome)  and am still stiff and sore over three months later. I was scarcely able to move for weeks, but the call of the alpacas finally got me up and moving. They more than missed me–more on that at some later date.

Just now, I am going out to enjoy a sunny day in the 70s amongst my alpacas. They are so happy to see me that they come running even from the furthest fields. I find myself sneaking around, going out one of the other doors: Maybe I need a Halloween costume so they won’t know it’s me? Maybe I need to stop feeding special treats? I think I am just so happy to be a survivor that I have spoiled every one.