Posts Tagged ‘farm’

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.

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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.

Alpaca Blog Update–About Comments on “Alpaca Sadness”

May 3, 2010

Thank you to everyone who took a peek and maybe shed a tear yesterday. 111 people clicked on “Alpaca Sadness” and made it the most read blog I have written by far. After sharing it, I felt reconnected with all that is good about people.

Several people commented, saying things that had never occurred to me as I wrote. “It is about the strength of mother love and appropriate that it was written just a bit before Mother’s Day.” Jesse would not leave her cria. She had carried it for ten months and she knew it was hers, alive or dead, for better or worse, forever, eventually she went on without it because there was nothing else she could do.

“It is about friendship and how girlfriends stick with you.” Thanks to Laguna and Tika. You go girls. When I watch the alpacas out in the fields, it is as though they were joined by some kind of invisible floss. They move in groups like ladies going to the powder room (or to the poop pile), hum to each other, watch out for each other, comfort one another. I guess friends are good no matter what your species. I am delighted to see that my beloved alpacas care about each other. For additional information on this, read my earlier blog about alpaca family groups.

“It’s life and death.” What can I say to expand on that? Life on a ranch is all about life and death and a connection to land, earth and sky and water and weather. It feels good to be here with the gentle, sweet alpacas. Even in sorrow we are truly blessed. As someone told me, it’s important to not pretend that there is never a tragedy and that bad things never happen. Life continues and is affirmed. We are expecting more 16 babies this year. I hope they are all strong and healthy. We will never forget that one.

Thanks to everyone. I’m working on a giveaway for my followers. Fleece, yarn, clothing? Something alpaca. We’d like to share our bounty with you. Watch this space.

Here Kitty, Kitty–waiting for Godot Alpaca

May 2, 2010

April 14 came and went. It’s been blustery, cold, and snowy up in Utah and Kaatakilla (named for the Incan moon goddess) was just not ready. We are still awaiting the birth of her full-Accoyo suri cria. Every day I think to myself, “O. K., today’s the day.” Now it is May 2 and still nothing. The little entity moves around and kicks poor Kat from the inside but refuses to arrive no matter how hard we wait and we still don’t know what color the nursery should be.

April in Utah this year seems to have meant no spring at all. Our house is still on the market and we are trying to decide if a new realtor is the answer or if the one-two punch of bad economy and nasty weather is somehow not his fault. Spring is here in Oklahoma, but not in Utah.

I hear that alpacas can “hold off” a pregnancy and I think I’m believing that’s true about now. Please Kat, one healthy, beautiful cria at your earliest convenience–a boy or girl would be just fine.

Oh, and for those of you who thought this blog would be about cats, here’s Bristol…

Bristol samples alpaca drinking water. Is it better than cat water?

Bristol samples alpaca drinking water. Is it better than cat drinking water?

Happier Alpacas

May 1, 2010

After our sad times, we are moving back into happy times. Two crias are due in Utah (yes, we still have alpacas there), three are due here in Oklahoma, and one is due in Michigan. We have a nice vet in place here and with the recent rain, the fields are green, green, green.

The house and barn look close together from this angle.

The house and barn look close together from this angle.

How do we raise alpacas? Do they take a lot of care? Our idea is to keep their environment as natural as possible but to supplement so they can add to their diet at will. Except for grain. Alpacas will eat grain until they burst, so we monitor their intake carefully.

We currently have four fields, about six acres, and four paddocks with four stalls currently set up in the barn. The alpacas can come and go within reason. On windy or rainy days I always say they are in and out like yo-yos (since they are not terribly fond of that weather. We were fortunate to miss the worst of the storms last night. Tornadoes, thunder, lightning–it all passed to our south and into Arkansas.

The crias try to decide if the grass is greener...

The crias try to decide if the grass is greener...

Usually Carmel Sundae leads the herd in and out. The girls in the next pasture over keep an eye on her for clues about potential danger and Carmel usually sleeps near the barn door in the paddock so she can keep an eye on everyone. I think Divinity misses Zeke, who is across the barn with the soon to be yearlings, so she is usually the first in and the last out. I would like move her in with Demelza her previous cria, but Divinity is a grain fiend and will keep everyone in Demi’s group away from the grain, frequently spitting a spray of that grain as a warning that she gets hers first.

I am wondering what will happen when Caramel Sundae has her cria next month. She will move away from the main herd for a short time and will then be in with the new moms. Can she lead from the sidelines?

Alpaca morning in Oklahoma

Alpaca morning in Oklahoma

Alpaca Homesteading–It’s a Buya’s Market

September 7, 2009

When we bought the land, we had no idea when, if ever, we would live there–but we bought it anyway. As my Uncle Jack told me, “Buy land. They’re not making any more of it.” I think he had heard that somewhere before.

The first inkling I had that the message had been ingrained so deeply was on a date–the 50th anniversary of “Gone With the Wind.” Scarlett’s father tells her about the importance of Tara, the land. My date turned to me and asked if I had seen the movie before. As God is my witness, I hadn’t. But I cringed visibly when she said she hated Tara.

As a child of Scots-Irish, Irish and Prussian heritage (yes, my grandmother hailed from Alsace-Loraine, secretly arriving in the U. S. in a trunk when she was four), the importance of saving a penny and owning actual ground has always been implanted in me through my family collective memory.

So now, I’ve worked hard and it’s become a buya’s market–buya barn, buya fence, buya house, buya a bunch of alpacas. It’s a good time to invest for the future. It wasn’t my idea to build and homestead. I want to thank my parents, my grandparents, my great grandparents, my Uncle Jack…and oh yes, thank you Mr. O’Hara.

Alpaca #5, Cavatina–she’s not mine, you know :-)

August 24, 2009

When we first purchased three alpacas, I had to make a solemn promise. I wouldn’t ask for any more alpacas for a year. Having a fourth born within days of our purchase was astonishing. The little black beauty, Demelza whetted my appetite and any woman who has and enjoys having a baby around knows that it makes you want to keep a little one around.

I really did intend to keep my promise–really. But Madrigal, our third alpaca’s mother had the most darling cria, Cavatina. One of my girls had a half Accoyo, half sister and I wanted her so much. Hmmm. I had been really good between July and November. OK, I wanted Cavatina and had to figure out how to add her to our herd. When I came to visit, she would break away and come running over to see me. So darling, so many alpaca kisses. Hmmm.

I confess. I gave her to my husband for Christmas.

Raising the Ranch

August 13, 2009

Considering that until June this was an empty field, we’re coming along amazingly well. We are fortunate enough to have a great contractor and friends locally who are overseeing all of the work. Dear Friends, we hope the house and barn are positioned properly. Turning them could be difficult.

Ranch, house, and shed under construction in Oklahoma

Hello world!

August 10, 2009

Just add water, a shelter, food, fencing. Is it a ranch yet? No, but stick with us and let’s see where this goes.