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Merry Christmas!

 

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Hello!

Our Christmas prayer for all of our family and friends is that you experience a day of wonder and joy with those you love, immersed in our Lord’s grace! May you find peace in the year ahead beyond human understanding and despite the reality of our day to day lives and the trials that we may encounter along the way.

 

From our family (the alpacas – Raphael, Bo, Comanache, Felecity, Birdie, Andraya, Twizzler, Daisy, Sting Ray, Faith, June Bug, the cats – Linus, Moses, Zoey, the cluckers – Dolores, Nikki, Phoebe, and Jeff and I) to yours!

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Linus
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Zoey
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Reflections of Christmas by Raphael

Merry Christmas!

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Down To The Wire

So as fall is quickly fading away and winter is peaking around the corner I have been scrambling to finish my outside farm projects.  It was a hectic, fly by the seat of your pants kind of summer and I was shocked when I realized my last blog was posted in June.  How did this happen?  My resolve to blog at least on a weekly basis was ineffective to say the least.

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Our first heavy frost, a glimmer of what’s in store.

There seems to be a bottomless bucket of projects to be done on a farm.  I’m not complaining, just saying.  I feel like the list, for now, has become manageable.  One of the projects I was determined to complete was the addition of a lean-to off the boys stall.  Last winter the snow slid off the roof and successfully blocked the boy’s door every time.  Not this year!  With the invaluable help of my sister, we successfully kicked that project down the road.  By also adding an extension of the outer wall on the north side of the lean-to, the frigid north wind will be blocked.

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Before (with Comanche’s butt in the foreground).
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Karen (wonderfully helpful sister) and framing.
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Finished!  View from the northeast.
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Finished looking from the southeast.

I completed the addition of a temporary stall for Sting Ray.  He will soon need to be separated from the girls as he is a yearling now (think teenage boy).  I had Comanche gelded in August so he could become Sting Ray’s buddy.  Though Comanche’s attitude hasn’t caught up with his lack of hormones.  Hopefully soon.  Because of his size, Comanche would probably still bully and beat up on Sting Ray.  I’ll have to do a trial run and see how things go.  I have been feeding Sting Ray in his stall away from the girls.  All alpacas involved seem to appreciate the change.

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Sting Ray’s soon to be new digs.

I posted no trespassing, no hunting signs today.  It is something that should have been done two years ago.  We live in an active hunting county.  In the morning I frequently hear rifle shots.   We have not had any problems so far and I want to keep it that way.

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At the back of our property looking towards the house and barn.

I also got the chicken coop cleaned and rebedded with fresh pine shavings today.  It looks and smells, well, clean.  It will be short-lived but I feel better going into the winter with a clean coop.

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The girls already are tossing their feed on the ground.  Sigh.  Didn’t they get the memo?

Over the weekend I was able to get the wind break up on the girl’s side of the barn.  Without it the southwest wind howls through their stall door in the winter.  Next summer I would like to make it more permanent with siding and a window.  See I’ve already got my bottomless bucket list going for next year.

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This is my 3rd year of putting up the wind break.  I finally think I have it down.

Earlier in the fall I explored hand dying with some of my white skeins of yarn.  It took some experimentation but I was able to create the colors I envisioned.

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Aqua, blush pink, sunset orange and cranberry (which was my first dyed skein and not the color I was going for, but nice anyways).  Skeins are now available on Etsy.

Finally, I put my garden to bed and in the process found an intriguing friend.  Hope she fares well this winter.

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Whew, my fall went so quickly, I didn’t even get any fall color photos this year.  I’ll have to settle for yet another stunning sunrise.  I never get tired of them.  Batten down the hatches, sadly winter is crouching outside the door!

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Yet another beautiful sunrise.  They never get old.

Crazy Daisy and Other June Tidbits

I love Daisy!  She has the most unique personality of all our alpacas and follows the beat of her own drummer.  She is more curious than most cats.  She notices objects, whether they are high in the sky or low to the ground that the fall below or above the other alpaca’s radars.  She always does things with her distinctive Daisy style.  Drinking water is one of them.  For reasons only Daisy knows it is important that her feet are in the water container while she is drinking!  (Needless to say I clean that water bucket on a daily basis.)  😐

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“Ah that tastes better!”

 

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“Now how can I drink out of the bucket and have both feet in it at the same time?”

I’ve decided to breed Daisy this year.  I love her personality, and her fleece.  She may not be a show quality alpaca but her fleece feels like heaven.  I’m anxious to see how her 2016 fleece made into yarn (which is done and waiting for pick up at the mill) turned out.  For her romantic alpaca connection I’ve chosen Bo Jangles.  He also has an easy-going personality and has lots of luster and fineness for a black fleeced alpaca.  He is the father of my irrepressible Sting Ray.

The first “date” between the two occurred on Sunday.  Daisy is a maiden (never been bred) female.  Daisy approached the whole date with her own unique Daisy twist.  After 15 minutes of romance Daisy decided to get more comfortable.  I think Bo was left feeling a little frustrated!

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“So – I could go for a nap!”

I finally finished redoing my garden fence.  Though not perfect and a learning lesson, it is better than what was there previously.  The lesson learned?  If you are reusing fencing that is bent out of shape (perhaps by deer trying to run through it), it does not straighten out no matter how much stretching you do to it.  I’ve expended enough hours into the project for this year and will have to be satisfied with the results.  Also in an attempt to eliminate the grass growing around the fencing edges I’ve lined the front with a rock border.

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Redone fencing and straw mulch to cut down on the weeds and grass in between the garden boxes.  By the way the tall flowering plants in the left foreground are my rhubarb plants.  They are going gang busters this year.  I had to cut them back because they were taking over that corner of the garden.

I love the process of gardening!  Planting tiny seeds and seeing them sprout into seedlings never ceases to fill me with amazement!  God’s handiwork at it’s most mysterious!

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Pumpkin seedlings.

What do you get when you take one Zoey and add one box?  Why a Zoey Box, of course.

Zoey loves boxes of all shapes and sizes.  Her most recent favorite has been the box that my rice cooker came in.  It has resided on the kitchen nook bench for the last month or so advertising the rice cooker it once housed.  I got sick of looking at it but didn’t want to take away Zoey’s favorite box.  So I covered it in contact paper.  Now we both can be happy!

Weaning Time

Last week I intiated the excrutiating process (for the alpacas) of weaning.  To make the process as easy as possible on both Moms and babies I’ve been separating the babies at breakfast time from the Moms.  Then at dinner time I’ve been letting the babies back with their Moms for the night.  During the day the babies are with Daisy and Andraya, who have become reluctant nannies.

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Hello, Mommy are you there?
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Someone please tell me why my Mommy is hiding!
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Where are you Mommy?

Tomorrow night the babies won’t be going back with their Moms.  As the week has gone by I’ve seen signs of independence.  The babies have been venturing out in the pasture on their own.  Tonight when the babies went back to their Moms Sting Ray didn’t even nurse first thing, though the other two were quite anxious to.

The babies are on the back side of eight months of age.  I want to rebreed Twizzler (Sting Ray’s Mom) and Birdie (June Bug’s Mom) in mid June for babies next year.  This will give them a couple weeks to recouperate before becoming pregnant again.  I have to say that nature has wired them to be pregnant.  They are always on the the lookout for the “boys” and Birdie has been “practicing” breeding with Twizzler, much to Twizzler’s dislike!

Things are never dull here on the farm!

Spring Cleaning

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The daffodils have arrived!

April in the heart of the mitten has been surprisingly mild this year which has given me the opportunity to get a head start on my outdoor spring clean up.  Over the course of the last two weeks I’ve accomplished chores that normally I wouldn’t be able to do until May.

Starting with the garden, I’ve been able to clean all the square foot beds.  I top dressed them last fall with paca poo and they are looking fantastic.  The pp had a chance to decompose over the winter and has created a rich soil.  I’m hoping to get my onions in the ground over the next week.  I’ve got big plans to redo my fencing, upgrade and add a couple more square foot boxes and perhaps, if time allows, create a small outdoor “tool house” which would be about a foot square and mounted on a post (aka bird house).

In the barn I’ve started cleaning up the lean-tos and stalls by removing all the old straw and accumulated hay from the winter.  Since we’ll be shearing in May I won’t be putting down any new straw.  This will be for two reasons: One, it will help prevent straw from sticking to those velcro fleeces.  This makes it easier to skirt the fleeces.  Two, it will provide a cooler place for hot alpacas to lay as the weather gets warmer.

I also removed all the bedding from the chicken coop and replaced it with fresh pine shavings.  That made me happy!  I wanted to do it last fall and just ran out of time.

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Clean fresh pine shavings makes me smile!

I still have two more stalls to destraw and the boy’s pasture around the barn needs a serious clean up.  I have a few projects on deck for this summer based on how the barn/coop operated during the winter.  The first is to create a lean-to roof over the boy’s outside stall door.  The snow, rain and wind were hard to keep out of the stall.  Also as the snow would melt it would slide off the roof and create large piles in front of the stall door, creating a serious road block.

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The boy’s stall door.  I want to extend the roof out about six feet from the corner to the fence on the other side of the door,  creating a roof about 15 feet long and six feet deep.

I would also like to redo all the hay feeders I made last year.  I found they were too shallow and small to hold enough hay.  The chickens nesting boxes also need to be revamped (see the above clean coop picture).  I’ve already purchased buckets, which I will use in place of the current boxes.  This way the chickens can’t roost on top of them (too slippery) and poop as they tend to do, in them.  I also want to redo their roosting boards.

I’m thrilled to have the time to tackle these chores and for now I’m feeling energized and excited to be able check the items off the list!  Of course, that is subject to change based on the success of my projects.

Finally I want to leave you with a few of my current favorite photos.

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Linus’ new friend!
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Zoey’s new friend!

 

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I love daffodils! They are spring’s icon.
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Yet another fabulous sunrise!

I hope your spring has been as energizing as mine!