Monday, July 20, 2009

Fiber Picking

A friend of Cindy Telisak's, from Jacobs Reward Farm, came by for a visit today. Dawn was interested in finding out more about the alpaca breeding business. Dawn grew up with parents in the cattle industry, so she understands the "farm" life. Alpacas are really easy to care for. I spend approximately 45 minutes each morning feeding the alpacas, horses, and chickens. I check water buckets, hay buckets, and let the chickens out to begin their free ranging. The pregnant mamas are closed in their stalls for the day and the misters are turned on. Everyone has access to a stall with fans and misters.

In the evening, Hayden and Hailey assist with the barn chores. Hailey is responsible for the horses and the chickens, and then refills hay feeders for the alpacas. Hayden feeds the alpacas grain and refills all of the water buckets. I am responsible for cleaning the stalls and overhang areas. This usually takes approximately 45 minutes for all of us combined. It's not too bad. Those are the daily chores. Of course, there are days when we trim toenails, do weighings, give annual shots, collect fecals for tests, shearing, etc. All in all, alpacas are pretty darn easy to care for.

After returning to the house, Dawn mentioned she would be interested in the fiber aspect of raising alpacas and asked if I would show her how to clean a fleece. So, into the breezeway we went. Nisha's fiber was already on the skirting table. We began picking the hay out of the fleece and skirting it as we went. Before I knew it, we were done! Wow! It goes so much faster when you have a friend to do it with! As you can see, the results are beautiful! Nisha's fiber is now ready to be washed and sent off to the processor. It is a beautiful grey "cloud" of fiber. Ahhh... this is the part I love...putting my hands in all of this gorgeous fiber! It's soooo soft. It reminds me of those Charmin commercials. "It is so squeezably soft!" Grin... Go ahead. You can squeeze the alpaca fiber all you want!

First Snake of the Year

We "found" our first snake of the year the other day. Hailey was doing her usual chores of feeding the horses and chickens. When she went to collect the chicken eggs, she felt something "scaley" in the nest box. She immediately withdrew her hand and SCREAMED! Hayden and I ran over to find out what had happened. There in one of the nest boxes for the chickens was this snake. He had enjoyed a delightful meal of chicken eggs. Hayden promptly went and got a pair of gloves and proceeded to collect the snake. We put it in a bucket until morning.

Here is a picture of Tim and Harrison examining the snake. We usually don't kill the snakes we find at our place. They are simply "relocated" to another place to keep the rat population down. This is a rat snake. However, rat snakes enjoy chicken eggs, too, so we don't like them around our place for that reason.

Harrison was brave and even held the snake by it's head. Something mom doesn't like doing AT ALL. It's part of life in the country. I'm just thankful this is the only snake we've seen thus far this year. Let's hope it's the last!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fiber Day at the farm

Thursdays are fiber days at our place. The crowd was small today, but the work was productive! We missed all of our friends that didn't make it!

Donna completed an absolutely gorgeous lap blanket for the VA Hospital. She is entering it beforehand into the State Fair of Texas. So, today she began working on another blanket. This blanket has a large star in the center. You can see the outline of it in the picture. She is amazing!

Rebecca joined us for the first time today. Yeah, Rebecca! Rebecca is new to knitting, but hasn't let that slow her down one bit. She is making six inch squares out of some scrumptious yarns to later put together for a friend who is having a baby. This is going to be one gorgeous baby blanket! You go girl!

Iris makes the most AMAZING scarves! She worked on two today that were beautiful! I believe she was using a Turkish knitting technique. I'm not really sure how she does it, but it is truly an amazing work of art.

This is a picture of a shawl that I was taught how to make last Thursday by Faye. She wasn't here today to witness this. I had so much fun making it! We started at 9:30 am and worked until about 3:00 pm (minus our lunch break). I was so close that I picked it up again this evening. I just had to see it completed!

Here is my beautiful daughter, Hailey, modeling the newly finished shawl. I used a cotton blend on this shawl to get the hang of it. Now, I think I'm going to go get some of Tania's fiber that I handspun into yarn and make one out of it. Don't you think this would look pretty in solid black? Or, maybe I should use Nisha's yarn, which is a dark grey color. Hmmm... decisions, decisions. What do you think?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Update on my garden

Many of you have been asking about my garden. Well, here are some recent pictures. The garden continues to thrive, giving us tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, and jalapeno peppers on a regular basis. We have three watermelon continuing to grow and a few green bell peppers. The cantaloupe just haven't ever done anything.

I've already made five loaves of zucchini bread and even made a fresh loaf for my friend, Meshach tonight for Lifegroup. I'm really getting a "kick" out of this garden. I can't believe how much enjoyment it has brought me. It's been a lot of fun!

Good luck in your garden!

Friday, July 10, 2009

HOT days of summer

It's been well over 100 degrees the past few days. It felt like 106 degrees with the heat index yesterday. The alpacas are staying indoors until the evening. We keep misters and fans on them during the day to keep the stalls cool. When we let them out, they get a hosing down on their bellies before they head out to play for the evening. Khunu, as well as the others, just LOVE to roll in the sand after the hosing. It looks so wonderful on his WHITE fleece, doesn't it? We don't worry about the looks of the fleece during this weather. All of that will wash out later. For now, we are all just trying to stay in out of the heat. We'll come out and do some more playing when the sun starts to go down and the temperatures are slightly cooler. Enjoy your day!

Chicken Coop is CLEAN again

This is one of those events around the farm that I always look forward to...NOT! We were very blessed this year to have one of Hailey's friends, Bonnie, over to spend the fourth of July with us. We spent the evening over at my sister-in-law's house shooting off fireworks and enjoying a good meal together. Bonnie had never shot fireworks off before (I didn't think that was possible!), so it was a special treat for her! We got home around 12:30 AM on Sunday. Sunday was unusually cool (down in the high 80's) for this time of year, so I decided this was the time to clean out the chicken coop. Mind you, the chicken coop is two horse stalls, approximately 12' x 12', with approximately six inches of "flooring". What a work out! Anyway, Bonnie wasn't too keen on the idea at first. Up until this time, she felt that Hailey was living the coolest life ever on an alpaca ranch. I figured this would open her eyes to the lifestyle of WORK! :o) Well, both of the girls were wonderful helpers. We got everything removed, scrubbed down, hosed off, and setup again. Upon completion, I asked Bonnie, "Well, what do you think? Do you still think Hailey has it made living out here?". Bonnie answered with an emphatic, "YES!". Wow, who would have thought? I'm thinking, next time, I'm inviting more of Hailey's friends over! Grin...

Celebrate Freedom!

On Saturday, June 27th, the Christian radio station, KLTY, presented a free concert at Southfork Ranch (across the street). This is an annual event, complete with many different Christian artists performing live, followed by a great firework display. What does this have to do with Paca D'Lites Ranch, you might ask? Well, because this is directly across the street from us, we decide to open up our little place to friends for parking, an air-conditioned break, a cool dip in a swimming pool, and plenty of hamburgers and hotdogs for their hunger buster! The crowd was a little thinner this year, probably due to the heat (it's been over 100 degrees lately!). However, fun and laughter still abounds. We enjoy spending the late evening hanging out on our driveway with our friends watching the evening firework display. May God bless America and all of those who have served in the military fighting to preserve our freedoms! We look forward to spending time with our friends and enjoying the concert again next year!