Saturday, June 22, 2013

Near Catastrophe!

Last Friday night I was in California and Bill was at home alone with Jack and the Alpacas!  This week I was at home with him and we are thankful that the near catastrophe happened when we were both here.

Jack and I had been out in the back yard visiting with the pacas at the picket fence while dinner finished cooking.  The boys all came over and sniffed him through the fence and he had a blast.  We went in and the boys went back to grazing.  Dinner was ready and Bill went to the kitchen sink to wash his hands and suddenly said, "Bev, I think Lefty has his head caught in the fence!" I ran out the back door through two gates and got to the back of him.  Bill ran to the fence and tried to quiet him.  He had apparently tried to sniff a sunflower and had stretched his neck up and over the fence and when he came down his neck slid between the pickets!  He was trying to pull his head out by moving straight back and he was stuck!  Sammy and Pancho were watching him carefully and Lefty was beginning to panic!  As was I.  I ran up behind him pushed him toward the fence and lifted him up all at one time and his head popped up and out!  He was fine and I took them to the back and locked the gates.  Gave them some food and sat with them for awhile to be sure he was ok. My heart was pounding!  I may not understand why I have them, but I can tell you this showed me how much I love them!

It was a miracle that Bill saw him so soon after it happened and we thanked God all night and still are today!  We also got chicken wire today 12" wide and folded it over the top of the pickets so we don't have to think about this again, but it shows that things can happen so quickly!  And, we really need to look at all parts of the yard and fencing!  So scary, but so thankful that all is well.

I had expected to start writing about my incredible four days in Oregon at the Camelidynamics Clinic, but before I had a chance to think it all out - we had our scare - so next week I hope to start sharing the goodies I learned and some amazing pictures.  For tonight - I just share a picture of my boys and their current "tenant!"

Sleep well, more soon!
You can see how that long neck could slip into a picket space!  EEK!!!!

Cottontail been traveling all over the pasture - boys totally ignore!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fiber - Finally Digging in to the Three Bags Full!

If you read or follow both of my blogs you will be seeing double!  This post fits the creative blog and the boys blog so I'm using it on both.  I've never done that, but as they say there's always a first time!
Starting fiber

The boys were sheared in April and I have three bags full of their blanket fiber, plus two smaller bags from their legs and neck.  I just love saying three bags full - makes me think of that sweet nursery rhyme,  Baa Baa Black Sheep have you any wool,  but I digress.   On the third day of classes in Bend we will learn to assist our shearer, to sort, clean,to card,  and even needle felt some of the fiber. I don't want to get there and say I have three bags full but I've never touched it except to sort and put in bags, so today was the day to put my hands on it.

Hand Carders
I pulled out some of the blanket fiber from Lefty's bag.  Pretty and white, but with lots of vegetative matter aka vm.  So I started by just pulling it a part with my hands, making it light and fluffy and pulling out little pieces of dried grass and twigs.

Next, I used my hand carders.  They also make hand crank ones and electric ones (very, very expensive), but, for once, I decided to see if I liked doing the fiber myself or would I choose to send it to a mill for processing before I jump up in cost. I had so much fun today and saw how slow this process would be - fine for a little, but I see a hand crank carder in my future!

Blanket left to card does not
include the legs or neck!
Roving - ready to spin or felt
Trash after carding
 It took about 10-20 passes with the carders to get out vm I wanted out and even with that there are a

 few specks, but for the most part it's clean.  When I was finished I had two small pieces of roving. This can now be used to spin directly from the roving or use for needle felting or other crafty things.   Pictures show how much I started with, how much vm came out of it, the carders and the finished product.  And it took about an hour or maybe more!  And then there's what I have left of Lefty's blanket and remember I have two more bags from the other boys, plus all of the legs and neck bags and so you see why there is a hand crank carder in my future!

The boys had lots of visitors this week and so more about that coming soon, with some fun pictures.  And I leave for Bend tomorrow!  Exciting time for me - haven't been away from home for 6 days in a long, long time!  I'll miss all of my boys and Bill will be doing alpaca duty while I'm gone!  The hottest week of the year!  Keep him in your prayers!


Monday, June 10, 2013

The Weekend and Preparing for Cameldynamics

Great weekend with the boys!  They have come a long ways since February 16th and, of course, so have I.  First and foremost, I no longer expect them to be a dog.  haha  Actually, that's kind of true - not that I wanted a big dog, but I did want them to come running and be so excited that I had given them a nice home.  And I must admit, they seem much happier now that I let them just be alpacas.

I have a rubber stamp that says "Be Yourself - You are Most Qualified for the Job!"  Point is that's not just for us, it's for our pets too!  It seems to be human nature to want to try and change those around us, including our dogs and cats and even alpacas!

The boys are even getting friendlier with first time visitors and a little food in a hand goes along way in making friends with an alpaca.  Seems like only yesterday that they finally ate out of my hand and then I had to stop because they got so impatient with each other that some spitting began!  Not at me, but at each other and well, it's easy to get in the way!  LOL   So, yes, a little chewed up green grass sometimes landed on me too!  Not my favorite thing, so I stopped the hand feeding.  Now I can do it again and they take turns for a small amount each and then go to their bowls for the rest.

Yesterday we had friends out with their little girl.  She's about six and cute as a button.  She met the boys for the first time and like always the boys were very curious about her.  They seem to be fascinated with children and they came right over to investigate her.  After she had spent some time around them and I told her all about them I put some food in her little hand and Sam came right over and ate it.  He's the most gentle with eating and it actually sort of tickles and she loved it!  I did not have my camera with me and so no picture until next time! :(

And now on to the subject at hand! I leave this Friday for Bend, Oregon!  I'm going out for alpaca handling classes!  I got an email from Marty, my soon to be instructor, on Saturday and she said, "Summer is here!"  And then what caught my attention was that it's now in the 40's at night rather than the 30's!  What??????  Well, glad I didn't just read the summer part and pack like summer here!  I would have been buying some winter (for me) clothes for sure.  So I pulled up the weather for Friday - Wednesday and found that the warmest day 74 and coolest night 36.  Needless to say jeans rather than shorts and jackets and sweaters are in order.  I am excited - from 90 something to 70 something with a 30-40 thrown in at night and no humidity - will I come back?  I just don't know - maybe in October!

The goal of the classes is to learn how to handle alpacas with respect for who/what they are and earn their trust.  We will see!  They already are much improved and follow me all around the pasture, and even have begun to let me touch them occasionally, but usually when my hand goes out they move away and I want/need to be able to halter and lead them without stress to them or me.  Actually as I write this I'm thinking - maybe this is all about a trip to Oregon for me!!  No really I want the boys to be used for homeschooler visits and maybe even be able to take them out to schools and at the least the vet and shearing without traumatizing them and me.  And so, off I go!  It will be fun and I will come back smarter and hopefully after some time they will let me and others give them a pet on the head and not be quite so afraid.

And, Bill, will be an experienced caretaker by the time I return!  He will be feeding, hosing and cleaning up after them for the duration - bet he will want me back before October.  Of course, he'll have Jack too - oh yeah, he'll come get me if I'm not on that plane Wednesday!!!!  He actually already helps with them all a lot and two of the days are weekend, so he'll be just fine and maybe even in the habit of cleaning up the pacapoo!  No that  won't happen, but a girl can dream.

Speaking of Jack I used him as a measuring stick for the weeping willow we planted two weeks ago.   Yes, it's that little twig right behind his head and yes it has leaves - just dont show well against the grass!  Planted three weeping willows this size and 20 hybrid willows down the side of the pasture that holds water! Supposed to grow really fast - many feet in one year - so we will see!

Squatter Update - only two hatched - I thought there were three, but no - just two and momma and papa aren't as happy when I'm in the area as they were - a little dive bombing took place the other day when I wanted a newer picture.  So I'm steering clear and letting them raise their family without my further interference.  They don't seem to mind the pacas walking back and forth - another case of animals/birds etc. knowing what's a predator and what's not.  Example: the boys don't care if a rabbit runs all around them, but don't let a cat come within 200 feet or an alarm is given!

Lots to do and I must get started doing it!  Later!

Friday, June 7, 2013


I started to title this renters, but they're not paying, so I changed it to squatters! What ever you call then, the boys have guests in their stable!  A most unlikely place for mockingbirds to build a nest, but a next they have built.

Several weeks ago when we needed to keep the boys dry and it decided to rain each day, we changed their living quarters.  We stretched a roll of wire fencing across the concrete that makes the covered area at the back of the barn.  Their stall is a step down from this area and has a dirt floor and raised area for a dry spot and can be closed off from the pasture.  We closed the gate and gave them the concrete and their stall the couple of nights before shearing.

We stretched the fence across as a temporary measure (or so we thought, but more about that later) and so we didn't cut the wire from the roll when we reached the end.  We just fastened it to a post and let it stand.

A week or so ago I saw twigs around the top of the fencing and pulled them off.  Then I looked down inside and saw a nest had been built.  It was empty!

Then I found it with four eggs!

And as of this picture we had two eggs and two babies!  Last night I looked and there were three chicks and one egg.  I haven't looked today and am trying to be careful so mom and dad take care of these babies.  Mockingbirds are known for being mean (protective) but they aren't bothering the boys who walk by and stand by the nest off and on all day and I'm out there quite a bit and they just sit on the fence down a few feet and watch me.

Last year they built a next in a basket on my back porch right under our kitchen window!  Not the smartest birds - but after flying off the next every time I walked up to the sink - they finally had four little guys hatch - so I'm hoping this year they have the same success.

My friend Becky saw the nest last Friday and was thrilled when I sent her a picture of chicks.  She suggested I might want to change the name of my blog, but I'm hoping they don't hang around that long.  We've become quite a wildlife yard though as we now have many small rabbits and one very big momma!  Thankfully I don't have a garden this year or my lettuce would be gone!  I don't have pictures of the rabbits - they're way too quick, but I'll keep trying because these babies are sooo cute!

Hosed Down!

It's getting hot in Texas!  I am happy to say that it stayed cooler this year than it has for the past few years, but those cool days are gone and the boys are thankful that they are sheared.  It is already growing out and I can only imagine how they will feel in September, but for now we will do all we can to keep them comfortable.

We have two primary ways of treating them to a cooler day and and night - one is a fan blowing all of the time and the other is hosing their legs and tummies!

We turned the fans on a couple of weeks ago during the day, but it's now on full time.  They go out to the pasture and graze and come back to the cool concrete to rest in front of the fan.  Sam is definitely the fan hog and so we will probably be adding still another one soon.

The spraying of their tummies and legs had me concerned, remember they don't always like what I do to them and so I emailed Laurence with my concerns.  His reply - just turn on the hose and aim at their legs - they may even remember it from last year!

A few days later we had 20 new trees (twigs) put in the ground.  We put along side of them to protect them from the pacas and I decided I should water them in really well.  I stretched three water hoses across the pasture and  turned them on.  Suddenly I knew there was someone (thing) behind me and there they stood!  I turned around and turned the hose on Sammy's legs - he reared up and then came down turning each side to side to be sure all legs got the water.  The other two were a little more shy, but came toward the hose.

Pancho cushes down the minute the water hits his legs and wants the water right under his stomach creating a cool puddle.  He's the one that loves puddles when it rains and Lefty goes back and forth from standing and cushing.  Funny boys.

As I stood there with the water hose Sammy put his mouth to the stream of water and began to drink. We have been doing this now for about a week and the other two are now drinking from the hose, too. Pancho just learned yesterday.  He's been watching the other two and finally gave it a try.  He stuck his nose in and shook the water off!  He did that several times, but finally got the hang of it and looked so proud of himself.

The funniest part is watching them discover that the water has been turned on.  They put their heads down and get in their fastest running position and run as fast as they can to be first in line.

Now the fun part will come soon as Bill is the one to take care of them for five days!  I leave a week from today for Bend, Oregon for alpaca handling training and "cool" weather.  Bill will open the gates to the big pasture each morning and give them their treats and "bath" each evening.  He will be glad when I get back home!