Friday, May 17, 2013
Growing up, we always planted a huge garden. We thought it was a lot of work being a kid and all but mom and dad insisted that we have a garden because no matter how much work it was, it would "beat a snowball in Winter". Well that tradition has carried on in my adult life as well. I remember my dad always bragging that he would have fresh tomatoes by the 4th of July. I could never get that, no matter what I tried. Then, I learned his secret..........he bought tomatoes (at least 1 or 2) with tomatoes already on them...we then coined the phrase "cheater tomatoes". About 2 weeks ago we went to a little greenhouse around the corner from us and got some Tomatoes (3 kinds of course because "more is better" right?), Bell Peppers, Jalapeno's and Eggplants. Well while shopping at the greenhouse, one of the type of tomato plants she had was "4th of July" (I kid you not)......guaranteed to have tomatoes by the 4th of July it said. No, we didn't buy any of them, nor did we buy any with green tomatoes already on them, but I did finally get them planted last night in the good tilled composted soil that had lots of Alpaca Gold dumped into it throughout the winter months. I can't wait for fresh ripe tomatoes.
Giant Sunflower, my favorite.
"Better than a Snowball"
Tomatoes & Sweep Potatoes from a couple of years ago.
Friday, May 10, 2013
Today we ended one journey and tomorrow we embark on a new journey. Today, I retired from my position at our church as office assistant where I had worked for 43 months....yes, our office manager counted how many months we had worked together. I will miss her and the pastors and all of the many visitors we had during those 43 months.
I have been very blessed with lots of talent. As many of you know I have been a seamstress most of my life and now I am blessed to be able to stay home and do just that while I take care of some daily maintenance of our herd of alpacas and try to keep a better household. I have been stretched pretty thin mentally (of course it didn't work physically), and I basically just maintained. Now, I need to focus on a new daily routine and make it work. I will be sewing, spinning, gardening and scooping poo so if you call, please leave a message and I will return your call. Our farm store will now be open more and I will be posting the hours soon so that means when you want to learn to spin, I'll be available during the week; if you want yarn, you can come out during the week; if you want a pair of socks for a birthday present........you get the picture, I'll be available during the week! I look forward to our visits!
Friday, May 3, 2013
I've been dreaming of one of these for quite some time now but it's not exactly what I thought. For years we've had a push mower with a bag to collect the grass so that the lawn looked nice and then we could use those grass clippings to mulch the garden. When we moved to the country we're mowing about 2 acres so we had to graduate from the push mower (only took about 7 hours to mow that way) to a little Cub Cadet lawn tractor. For some reason, I can't keep the yard mowed fast enough to keep from raking some of the very heavy spots and quite frankly, who has the time for that....not I! Not to mention all the weeds in my gardens for the past 3 years....so, I finally got the problem solved or so I thought! I picked up the new lawn sweeper on Wednesday, it did fit into my little Nissan Sentra (unassembled of course) and that evening, the farmer started putting it all together. Couldn't finish it though since it was missing a couple of small essential pieces (a nut and bolt). Darn! I really wanted to try it out. I went to town yesterday and did find those parts so he finished assembling it for me last night so after barn duty I did get to mow the front yard and play with the new toy and this is what I learned.
1. Glad I got the 13 cubic foot instead of the 22 cubic foot.....I never could have emptied that thing.
2. I really need to learn how to back it up.
3. I also really need to just mow first since I can't get close to anything lest it gets hung up on the fence (twice)...
4. It's really not what I thought it was going to be.
I really thought I could mow and envisioned having to go dump it about every 2 rounds but not the case. I now realize that I have to mow the yard first and then take that new toy around the yard to rake it all up and then dump it so essentially, it is going to take more of my time and more gas to make the yard look better. All in all I think my garden will look better for it though....after I get to plant and hopefully that will be next week. Just dreading having to dump those snakes because I know I will eventually sweep one up.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
We began our day with a fiber demonstration, showing from beginning to end, how we process our fiber. Started with the shearing table and then into the fiber tumbler. Then, the skirting table getting out all the vegetable matter that accumulates in the fleece over the year. After we finished skirting a batch, they saw how we washed the fiber, and how we dry it. With some already dry, we carded it into a batt that we would then be able to spin into yarn.
Inside the barn in the afternoon, Mallory our Cabana Girl, read a couple of stories to the children about Annabelle the Alpaca. She also had made some cute Alpaca donut cookies and also alpaca cutout cookies, Candies and lollipops in the shape of alpacas and had a couple of fun things for the kids to do including making a paper alpaca and Alpaca Bingo. We had a staging area for picture taking, saw some cute photos being taken and even caught a couple of adults pretending to be the Peruvian children talking to the two headed alpaca.
We got to enjoy some wonderful acoustic music in the barn with Mike Gerth and Becky Boling and had some wonderful vendors who set up their wares at the front of the drive coming into the barn.
It was a wonderful day, met some new friends, and saw some friends that we hadn't seen in quite awhile. Most of the alpacas were on good behavior all day, after the first incident very early in the morning and then they got the "what for" from the head pooper scooper upper....she told them absolutely NO SPITTING today......and they agreed fully that they should be nice today.
Making the paper alpaca
Storytime, Alpaca Bingo & the 2 headed alpaca
Great music, fun in the rocks and donuts & lollipops
Some of the best
Friday, April 19, 2013
An alpaca farm with a "Fisherman's Paradise" you ask. Well yes it is, seems that way. We've had quite a bit of rain off and on for a bit now, which brings up a lot of WORMS. I can't stand to see them struggling through the limestone paddocks so when I'm out scooping beans twice a day, I rescue them. They go straight into the bean pile out back and I'm sure they love it there. It also reminds me daily of my kids comments after some good rains in town when they were growing up....."smells like worms". It always makes me laugh when I see worms crawling to get to higher ground, no matter the consequence, I also decided that they must be the dumbest creatures on the earth. Although today I saw one and I have no idea how he got there, but he was on the side of the barn about 4.5 feet up off the ground. He was slithering down the metal siding, how in the world did he get up that high, and certainly, how did he slither down without falling off. Where was the camera.........
What is a "Fisherman's Paradise"? Well, of course, it's a secluded location where the worms abound and so do the fish. This past weekend, during our Open House, my son opted to fish. He loves to fish, had to dig for a few worms but didn't have any problems finding any. He caught and released 8 fish and he said he enjoyed his day. About 3 days later, I spied something huge and white on the pond and couldn't tell what it was even with the binoculars so I traipsed out and guess what? It was a huge catfish that had died, I measured him according to the hoe I was carrying (just so I could pull it out of the pond) and he was about 3' long. Too heavy to put in the bucket I brought and since I hate touching fish there's no possible way to get him to the garden for burial, so I threw him back in for "burial at sea". There were no signs of any wounds except its whole belly was almost like it had been gutted. We do have a Blue Heron who fishes our pond but I'm quite sure he did not do the damage. I think lightning hit it the night before I found it, my only explanation. Today, we had a big Turkey Buzzard pacing the bank of the pond waiting on his feast. So, "Fisherman's Paradise"..........I think so. Loads of worms, Herons & Buzzards......and occasionally a human. We love our little piece of heaven here on earth.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
We thought we would be snowed in this past weekend.........not so bad though. We had planned on going over to Nashville, Indiana (Brown County) for about a month now, had our room booked, farmer Mallory lined up to take care of the farm, Lucy and Casper. We had a plan. We were going to visit a friend who operates Homestead Weaving Studio, and walk around town, grab some lunch and then check in. Sounded good! We haven't both been away together for maybe 4 years, except for an alpaca show but that is still working, so this sounded wonderful to us. Lucy was going to spend a couple of nights in the barn (she's our house dog and my friend). About Thursday, they started talking about a snow storm that would hit the Midwest.......ahhhhhhhh! Now what? They thought we'd get 6-10 inches. Mallory wouldn't get in or out, so she agreed to stay over at our home so she would BE HERE! Problem solved. Cleaned house for a house guest, stocked the pantry & freezer, showed her where things were and we were off.
Skelly, Boots & Maggie
It didn't start snowing until late afternoon so we did get to see my friend Chris in Brown County (she has a driveway that would be treacherous in a snow fall that was expected. We had a great visit with her. We drove on over to Nashville, parked and walked around some, got to see a couple of shops, then the snow started.
We headed to Big Woods Brewery and Pizza, and had a fabulous pizza and a couple of great craft brews called Milk Stout. Checked in the hotel, by then it was snowing pretty good. Not to worry, we were inside, hot tub, food and the alpacas, LGDs, Lucy, Bo & Casper had farmer Mallory.
Monday, we ventured into town since the roads were pretty clear. Not many stores were open since it did snow so we went to Bloomington. There were a couple of yarn shops over there, got some yarn, a couple of patterns and then LUNCH time! We ate at the Upland Brewery. Ed had a Turkey Reuben, let me taste and it was just like a normal Reuben. I had my first Seiten Burger and it was definitely like a Tenderloin. Still snowing, cold, blowing............brrrr! We decided to check out Oz. We'd talked about seeing that since before it came out. It was good, but hard to beat a classic. I think the original is still my favorite.
Back to Nashville...through the scenic Indiana 45.......but, still not much open so we went back to the hotel, hot tub and shrimp. All the way to Bloomington and back, I kept thinking to myself and I'm sure I said it out loud a few times, how beautiful the trees were with all of the heavy, wet snow. It looked so peaceful. I told hubby, it reminded me of Narnia. I love snow, I'm tired of it this year.....seemed to have been a very white winter for us and I am more than ready for Spring to really be here.....but this particular snowfall was almost magical. They only got about 4 inches in Brown County, and by the time we got back home, there wasn't any on the ground here so not sure just how much Mallory had here.
We learned a lot about Nashville while on our mini-vacation. Not a lot is open on bad days; a lot of businesses shut down on Monday/Tuesday (we were there those days); some retailers (even restaurants) still close for the winter seasons. I guess this just means that we'll have to go back when it warms up. Thank you Mallory, for alpaca sitting.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Very exciting barn time last night and quite frankly, hope that never ever happens again!
We were in the barn for evening chores as usual. Hubby was on one side scooping beans and I was on the other. We decided that it would be good for our LGD Alex to let him out into the barn to be with us, figuring he is bored. That was all fine and dandy; then we let Vanna out too, and apparently she didn't miss Alex as much as we thought. They roamed the barn for a few minutes, and she went back into her pen. Currently, Alex resides with our herdsires...all 7 of them. They range in weight of about 160-180 pounds. When I clean stalls I throw them all outside and close the door behind them. When we let Alex out to roam with us, the outside door to their stall didn't latch and with the wind, finally opened up, unbeknownst to us. By this time, I was in the next stall OUTSIDE scooping beans when I heard hubby YELL, WE'VE GOT BOYS OUT!!! Holy cow! Were they ever out! We hurriedly closed the big barn door so we could confine them to the barn but by that time they were already heading inside to the girls run. They knew exactly what they were looking for and so did we. All of a sudden, we had 23 alpacas including the 4 fall cria in the same area......fence broken too when hubby went flying through it due to one of the males and his one track mind. Thank goodness our son-in-law was sitting at the pond fishing, we yelled for him to come help, his out of the box experience for the day I'm sure. We finally got them back into their own pens and don't think anyone connected but WOW! What a night. Like I said, hope that never happens again!
Friday, March 8, 2013
Spring is on it's way and we can't wait. Lots of exciting things happening here on our farm already, we've got new seedlings sprouting already and about an inch tall, I say it's due to the wonderful gold we have here on our farm. We've got Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and Cabbage seeds planted already.
Lots of dyed fibers
We've also been busy washing fiber, carding fiber and playing in fiber. We got me a new toy called a blending board and you make rolags on it. I've been making rolags and they are so much fun to make and the yarns you can make from them are so cool.
We thank you for supporting our small farm and you can see any of these items in person, in our store and if you can't find them there, you may also go to our Etsy store.
Little Blackfoot Carded Batt
Americana dyed Roving
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
I forgot to tell you yesterday that I changed things up a bit when I went out to feed our herd and do nightly chores. I started in the Little Boys pen, cleaned, watered, fed and then proceeded to the Big Boys Pen (herdsires), same thing...cleaned, watered & fed.
I then went over to Qui Qui & Skelly's side next and they immediately thought they were going to get grain....NO! I proceeded to kick them outside since I first had to clean up their MESS (beans, 2 full buckets full) and as I was shooing them out, Qui Qui kicked up her heels like a bucking bronco and Skelly turned around and kicked me right in the shin. Guess you should never change routines, even with an alpaca.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
The only wildlife we saw today so far, a coyote very far in the back 40.... I filled the bird feeders hoping to catch a glimpse of some Cardinals but nothing, I did see our barn cat saunter into the woods stalking whatever it is he thought he should pounce on. He should know that he can catch a mouse or 3 in the barn if only he'd look for them. The wildlife in the house though laid at my feet while I did some spinning. Cat on one side of me next to the heat vent under the window, and my ever faithful Lucy on the other side of me, I could feel the love. I did spin and ply 1 skein of Suri Alpaca yarn and it weighs 4.5 ounces and has 180 yards on it. I started it around 1:pm and just now finished it. People always ask how long it takes to make a skein of yarn and I tell them about a year.....not fibbing, it does take that long for the alpaca to grow their fleece. So, today in about 3.5 hours, I have a skein of yarn. Now, that doesn't account for the cleaning, washing, drying and carding of about 5 pounds of fiber before I got to the point where I was ready to spin it into yarn, I don't even want to estimate that time. At any rate, it is off the wheel and resting on my niddy noddy, tomorrow I will take it off and put it in a soak and then hang to dry to set the twist. By the weekend, I'll be ready to start knitting a couple of hats and scarves with it. Watch, I'll post pictures of the recipients when they get completed.....but do not hold your breath, I am not that fast!