Saturday, December 8, 2012

Coming home...

After a nice vacation, we returned home to our animals and our place.  While out for a morning walk, I took some pictures of my incredible neighborhood. 

 This is the view from the back of my pasture, facing my neighbor's property.  They have horses and their property sits along the creek.  The colors are just beautiful on this day.

 Not as lush, here our back pasture.  We have a little over 4 acres.

 Down on the cul-de-sac, again the colors are so pretty.  This is a wonderful, little neighborhood.  We each have acreage, but still have a community atmosphere.

 We know all of our neighbors by name.  We've each lived here for quite a long time.  I can't believe it, but we have lived in our house now for 20 years!

 We've seen some families come and go, but most of us have been here for over 20 years.  Neighbors still work in their pasture and yards, take walks through the neighborhood, and stop to catch up on each other's lives.  It's as if we live in another country.  I hear about other friend's neighborhoods, where they don't even know their neighbors and sometimes never even see them.  I feel so very, very blessed.

Here is a random picture of my daughter feeding a little cria (baby alpaca) whose momma won't feed him.  We get to bottle feed every three hours.  This little guy has stolen my heart.  He gets so excited when he sees me coming with his meal!  :o)  Yep, count YOUR blessings today.  I bet you have a story to share, too.

Where to start?

Wow~  We had a blast on our Carnival Cruise line vacation!

My family took a 7 day cruise to Mahogany Bay, Belize, and Cozumel.  We had a fantastic time!  This was the first time we have ever taken a trip over the Thanksgiving holiday.  While we were gone, a few things happened.

The kind neighbor that was taking care of our animals for us found out his mother was very, very ill.  He needed to go and see her quickly.  He didn't know who to find to help out with the animals, so his wife stayed behind and did the job.  However, she is afraid of horses and cows.  That makes for quite a story!

While it was 34 degrees overnight here in Parker, one of the alpacas we decided to watch for another lady, gave birth.  There was a little bit of panic going on our property!  Mind you, we had no telephone or internet access while we were gone.

Hailey and Harrison's poultry projects arrived on our property only days before the entire PISD Ag barn burned to the ground.  Needless to say, my children's poultry projects will be representing all of PISD.  There is so much more that I won't even go into, but you get the idea.  It was CRAZY here!

So, while it was freakishly crazy here while we were gone, our animals are all fine and our house is still in place. 

We had an amazing time and enjoyed the time away.  I am blessed beyond measure with an amazing family!  Praising God for His goodness.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Herd health days...

Today was a busy, busy day!  Today the alpacas got their "spa" treatments, complete with toenail trimming and fecal collections.  Doesn't that sound exciting!?!
We began after church, around 1pm, with the alpacas located at our ranch.  We currently own 12 alpacas.  We are also caring for an additional 5 alpacas, which we picked up yesterday.  Tim and I knocked those out pretty quickly.  We then moved over to another neighboring farm and completed another approximately 15 animals, with the help of our friends, Ted and Cindy.  Many hands make light the work!  Isn't that true?

In between ranches, the owners of the alpacas being boarded here, came by to see their alpacas.  This is the first time in almost four years they have seen their animals!  Bless their hearts, the ranch who boarded them prior to us never allowed them to see their animals.  So, they were super excited to have a reunion with their babies!
Here is Monica holding the newest addition to her herd, born on Thursday.  It was a very sweet reunion.  Smiles abound everywhere.

Mike enjoyed a moment getting to bottle feed the cria (baby) while one of his daughters (who to this point had never seen any of their animals), got to hold and snuggle with the little guy.

These are the sites that make this "job" so awesome...  This is what it is supposed to be like.  Alpacas are the most calming, sweet animals on this planet!  Their humming sounds, while communicating, will make even the most challenging of days melt away.

Are you experiencing struggles or stress in your life from health, work, or anything else?  Consider alpacas!  These quiet little creatures will win you over with their sweet faces and calming personalities.  While you're at it, sit down and enjoy the sunshine while being surrounded by chickens and alpacas quietly grazing in the pasture.  Enjoy the sounds of the roosters crowing and guineas honking.  Do you feel it?  Do you hear it?  The country life awaits you.

Friday, November 2, 2012

On the road again...

What a day!  A dear friend of mine, Cindy Telisak, had let me know about a situation involving a friend of hers who needed some alpacas picked up and relocated.  So, I called my other dear friend, Cindy Schildknecht, and the three Cindys (Cyndi) were off!

It was quite a rodeo trying to get eight alpacas, none of which had been halter trained or apparently "touched" for quite some time, into the trailer.  You get the idea...  but the three farm girls prevailed!  All were loaded up successfully, without any harm.

We knew that two of the females were pregnant, but were still 6 weeks away from their due dates.  We've trailered animals that are pregnant before for shearing, so this isn't new.  However, when we opened the trailer door to unload the alpacas at their "new" home, we had nine alpacas, rather than eight!  Apparently, one had been delivered only moments after being loaded.  The cria (baby) was already sitting up and humming.  Mom was already in the process of delivering the placenta.

The alpacas were unloaded and "assessed".  We found there were three males in the group of alpacas.  Yes, the boarding location actually had males pastured in with the females.

The male alpacas were taken to Jacob's Reward Farm, just down the road, while the females stayed with us here at Paca D'Lites Ranch.  This was just a matter of convenience for us.

Here is a picture of the one cria we picked up.  Isn't she a cutie putootie?  She appears to be approximately three weeks old.  She is out of the fawn female and we believe the dark, brown male.  Blood tests will tell.  :o)

In between unloading the alpacas at my place, I found out my truck was ready to be picked up, so off we went to run that errand, too, as well as picking up two of my three kids from school!   My truck is fixed (it needed a new transmission pump) and I am thrilled!  Thank you, Chip, at Heller Automotive!  Ok, I just love my truck, so I had to put that in there!  Shameless, I know...

After picking up the truck, we were off to take the boys to their new home.  Here they are meeting their new herd mates, across the fence. 

Here is another cute picture of our "trailer baby".  Isn't he adorable?  Here he is only about an hour old.

Oh!  But the saga continues!

Mom wouldn't have anything to do with this little guy.  We don't know whether she is a new mom or not, but she went berserk when we tried to hold her and let him nurse.  She kept spitting at him and going nutso.

We placed them in a stall together, just the two of them, and watched.  She never tried to hurt him, but didn't want him even in the same corner of the stall with her.  We tried pulling milk off of mom, to no avail.  So, we gave him a bottle around 11:00pm.  He drank 3 oz!  Way to go, little guy!

This morning, mom was actually laying down by her little cria.  Progress!  However, she still won't let him nurse.  We've added warm compresses to her teats and all, but she doesn't even appear to be bagging up.  So, we're "on the road again" to the vet today to get some meds to help that.  Meanwhile, we continue to bottle feed, in the hopes mama will allow her little one to nurse before the 24 hours is up. 

Isn't life exciting?  No?  Well then, you must not live on a farm!!!!   :o)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Whew!  I'm on a roll!  I have 10 batches of alpaca thirds (fleece) that has needed to be washed before being sent off to the mill to have rug yarn made.

At three loads (average) per batch, that's approximately 30 loads of laundry to do!  My fleece washing machine is in my breezeway, which can be an issue when trying to get hot water brought out.  In the past, I've loaded and loaded and loaded bucket after bucket of hot water from the sink in the kitchen and hand carried it outside, splashing water all over the floor along the way.  Not this time! (Music please....)

 I disconnected the hose from the "inside" washing machine and attached a good, old fashioned, garden hose.  You know where I'm going with this, don't you?

 Yep, here is a look at my laundry room, with the attached hose coming out from behind the "inside" washing machine.

I then had to run the line out my kitchen door and through the screen door to the breezeway, "outdoor" washing machine.  I had to cut off the water at the "inside" washing machine and take the hose back into the washroom after every load.  It isn't the greatest of ideas, but HEY!  It beats carrying all of those buckets of hot water out of the kitchen!  I am hoping that the increased mosquito activity in the house last night will convince my husband to run me a hot water line to the breezeway.  :oP

I even utilized my tumbler in the breezeway, as a holding place for fleece.  I'm telling you what!  I can utilize even the smallest of areas to hold my "stuff".

Ok, here is confession time.  This is what I have LEFT to complete. 

 These are all of the fleeces that are first and second cuts.  I still need to skirt about half of them and tumble, then wash the remaining.

May I just say, "I can't wait for cooler temps!".  These last couple of days, working in a stagnant breezeway, shooting boiling hot water with steam coming up in my face, has not been the most pleasant of experiences.  It's my own fault, though, for waiting so long to get this done (my alpacas have been shorn since the beginning of April).  So, here is to accountability and for drop dead dates!  The Lone STAR Fiber Expo (coming up in early November) has gotten me back to business!  Anyone want to join me?

Monday, May 7, 2012

New Chicken Nesting Boxes...FINALLY!

It's been time for some new nesting boxes for awhile.  Here is a picture of our old, kitchen cabinets that served as nesting boxes for the past ten years.  As you can see, they have seen better days.  Twice a year, in the fall and spring, we remove the nesting boxes to give them a good bleaching.  Over the years, the wood has begun to rot and fall apart.  So, I got on the internet to see what I could find in the form of durable nesting boxes.

Using 5 gallon buckets left over from all kinds of products we purchase on a regular basis, I began by drilling holes all over the top portion of the buckets for ventilation.  Then, I purchased some lids from  These lids are pretty nifty.  I purchased four of them to get me started.
However, with over 80 chickens that live here on our property, four nesting boxes are just not going to cut it.  So, I began checking out how I could make some of these for myself.  Obviously, they aren't going to be as "pretty", but should serve the purpose.  I'm in the process of collecting my horse's CW Wormer buckets around the barn. I've found three.  I think these are going to work even better since they are rectangle.  More pictures will be forthcoming on those.  My friend from church, Larry Mills, heard about my little project and informed me that he knows a lady who works at a Smoothie Factory and throws these types of buckets away regularly.  Bonus!  Ten more buckets are heading my way!  The buckets are attached to 2" x 4" boards and placed on the wall with brackets.  The buckets simply slide off of the wall for cleaning.  Brilliant!  Again, thank you FowlStuff for the idea.

 Here, the two of the hens are checking out the new buckets. They are trying to figure out what happened to the old cabinets they used to lay their eggs in.  Hey!  They must have forgotten it is bulk trash pickup this week.  Perfect!

 In addition to our new nesting boxes, we have a new addition of Guinea keets.  My daughter's friend, Shelby, called to let us know her grandfather had hatched out a bunch for the fun of it and didn't want to keep all of the chicks.  So, we were more than happy to take them off of his hands.  We now have nine Guineas.

 I also purchased five chicks from a local feed store (that's a long story...don't even begin to go there).  After a 30 minute time period in the back yard (chicks were left alone) while I went to pick up my youngest at school, four of the five chicks were found dead in the pen.  I'm pretty sure one of our mama hens was the culprit on that one.  So, the remaining one chick is in the chick coup with the Guineas.  They are getting along great!

Whew!  I'm tired, but excited!  We have a lot more eggs in the incubator (thanks to Logan West for encouraging me to give it another try this year) that are due out in a couple of weeks AND are on cria watch (baby alpaca) for Dolly, who is due at the end of the month.  Ah!  This is the life for me!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wilbur is now 268 lbs! He has worked his way into our hearts. On October 11, 2011, Wilbur came to us all the way from California, weighing in at a mere 40 lbs. He was sunburned, wrinkly, and very, very frightened.
Hailey, with some advice from our awesome farrier, Joe Spearman, began winning Wilbur over by offering him apples...and then Nilla Wafers. It was instant love!

Through the months, Hailey has fed Wilbur every day, bathed and conditioned him every other day, and taken him on walks in our pasture and, yes, even our neighborhood every single day.

How can you not become attached to an animal after spending that much time with it?  Wilbur loves to have his chin and belly scratched.  In fact, if Hailey even comes near Wilbur's belly, he falls over for her to get a "good angle" to scratch all over. 

Now for the hard part... From the very beginning, we knew that Wilbur is an FFA project.  That means that all barrow pigs (male) have a terminal show.  Wilbur's terminal show is this Thursday at the Fort Worth Stock Show.  The teachers warned us.  They've seen it over and over again.  Kids crying while having to say goodbye to their "pets".  Let's call it what it is.  Yes, they become "pets". 

However, unless you are a complete vegan and are against eating meat all together, you must realize that the meat you purchase at that grocery store in the clear plastic wrap actually comes from an animal on a farm somewhere. 

Animals have been used for meat for ages.  Not so long ago, animals were treated with respect.  Now, you can watch films that show chickens stacked on top of each other in barns where they never even get to taste fresh grass or feel the sunshine on their backs.  Cows spend their entire lives in a barn at a feeding trough, being fattened up for slaughter... again, never getting to graze free range.  There is simply too much of a demand for meat and too many people who do not understand what is happening to these animals.  The more demand for food (fast and pre-processed), the more the industry seems to make poor decisions on the care of these creatures.  We've got to grow them faster in the shortest amount of time... after all, it's a money thing, right?

Why am I bringing this up?  I am hoping you will consider a couple of things.  I am hoping you will consider buying locally, from a farm that raises their animals with respect and consideration.  Do a simple internet search to find a farmer's market or a farm near you that raises their animals on pasture.  Purchase your eggs from ranches that have "true" free range chickens (more than just a 12" space to roam in front of their cage).  Consider preparing more meals at home and eating dinner as a family, rather than running through a drive thru.  And last, but not least, consider eating a couple of nights a week "meat free".

It is really hard sending Wilbur off.  However, we know that during the time he has been with us, he has lived a very good life.  He has had constant attention, proper feeding, exercise, and play time. 

As we say goodbye, we realize that as we close one chapter in our lives, another one opens up. With death, there is always new birth.  This has been an eye opening experience for us.  We appreciate more where our food comes from and we are more intentional about our choices.  We hope that by reading this, you will be, too.