Keandre’ and Zavier, our eleven and six year old grandchildren, couldn’t wait, were coming out of their skin excited, to come help Papa on the alpaca farm yesterday.
I don’t think they had any idea what they were in for. My husband wasn’t sure what they would be able to do, would be willing to do, or how long they would hold out. They started by picking up rocks out of the fields that had been plowed in the Fall, in preparation for planting hay this Spring.
The incentive for Keandre’, because he is the older of the two and with age comes privilege, was getting to drive the 4-wheeler and pull a trailer behind it! My husband drove the skid-steer and Zavier rode on his lap. Of course there was lots of time spent bending over and picking up rocks filling the trailer and bucket on the skid-steer, not a real fun job. For two young boys, driving and riding on the equipment seemed to make it all worth it! They picked up lots of rocks and made many trips to the rock pile to dump their loads. Zavier found two golf balls and you would have thought he had won the lottery! Keandre’ found a horse shoe which was also pretty special!
When they had gotten most of the big rocks up so they wouldn’t be causing damage when it’s time to cut hay, my husband let Zavier drive the skid-steer. Still on Papa’s lap, Matt told him to pretend he was playing a video game … and that made sense. A little jerky at first, he got the hang of it!
The next job was to clean a winter’s worth of hay and manure out of the alpaca barn. Zavier rode on my husband’s lap, holding his nose as they drove into the barn and picked up the first scoop of the very smelly, wet, nasty, yucky stuff. He could not stifle his disgust as he exclaimed “it stinks in here!” It was clear that was not a job the boys were interested in helping with.
Matt asked Zavier if he would rather vacuum the pastures. He would have said yes to most anything just to get out of that barn!
Matt hooked up the pasture vac to the 4-wheeler which Keandre’ was not about to lose control over, as that had become HIS job.
Instructions were given.
Zavier was in charge of vacuuming up the alpaca beans and Keandre’ moved their operation as needed.
They worked at cleaning pastures for quite awhile and did a good job.
Finally Zavier was tired. They hung in there longer than I thought they might. My husband gave them a little money, wanting them to know that hard work does not go unrewarded, then took them home.
They could hardly stop talking as they shared with their parents all they had gotten to do that day. I was proud of my husband for taking the time to spend with his grandchildren, not wanting to get so much done, as much as just sharing some life experiences with them. When they go back to school next week and are asked to share what they did over Spring Break, I think it’s quite possible that they might mention their day at Nana and Papa’s alpaca farm. I don’t know that it was the highlight of their Spring Break, but it might have been.
To any of you that tried to find us on Fall Farm Days and couldn’t, we apologize. For those of you that I was unable to notify, we have moved! Changing our address was one thing. Changing our address on the web in all the various places we are listed, was quite another. It may still be wrong in some places and I am sorry for any confusion.
So here is our NEW address …
Matt and Julie Petty; 1200 Rock Road; Mansfield, Ohio
Get the driving directions here.
We have a smaller house, which is easier to keep up with, and less stuff
because there just wasn’t room for all we had and we were forced to clean out before we moved. Trust me, that was a very good thing, cleansing even…
We have more acreage, room to add more pastures and grow our own hay…
and a beautiful woods with paths for walking.
The Farm Store and my studio is nearby so I don’t have far to go to work.
Our alpacas are close to the house which allows us to enjoy them that much more! We have alpacas for sale and our specialty is starting new farms. If raising alpacas is something you think you might enjoy, give us a call, and we’ll talk alpacas!
We offer Farm Tours and The Farm Store is open most Saturdays from 12pm-5pm. Occasionally, Matt and I are both gone so checking our calendar or calling ahead is always best.
Do come see us if you are nearby! And again, my apologies for anyone that felt they were on a wild goose chase last weekend!
A group of children from Harmony House came to visit our farm. It is not unusual to have kids come on our tours that have never even been on a farm, let alone an alpaca farm. They enjoy the sights, the sounds, the smells, getting up close to an alpaca … experiences they have never had before. We enjoy providing that experience for them and try to make our tours fun, yet educational.
When groups of adults come visit, we spend time talking about alpacas, their history, their care, what they are used for, the business, and there are lots of questions. With kids we’ve learned it is quite different and we need to keep them moving! We took our young group into the pasture, the alpacas stopped what they were doing and all came across the pasture to see their new visitors, the timing was perfect. Shy, but curious, they came very close and the kids loved it!
Most of the herd kept out of arm’s reach. Melody and Ariella were especially friendly, and enjoyed being petted and loved on. We hadn’t fed yet, so the group got to see what feeding time is all about. It was a hot day so we got out the garden house and sprayed alpaca bellies which they all love. The youngest in the group got stung by a wasp and that brought tears, but mixing some baking soda and water into a paste and putting it on the sting, soon calmed him and he seemed to enjoy the rest of the tour.
The kids were allowed to each choose an alpaca finger puppet in the Farm Store. They watched a spinning demonstration, and each got a turn carding some alpaca fiber which was a big hit. They seemed to have fun, and I think they probably learned something while they were here.
What a beautiful Sunday morning in Ohio…started out cloudy after rain during the night…then blue skies, sunshine, and a very pleasant temperature.
I decided to do some work with our babies this morning before it got too hot.
They are not so much babies anymore, still young though, at nine and ten months old.
I really don’t like separating moms and babies at weaning time because it is such a sad time for them. Sometimes we have reason to wean them such as moms not keeping their weight on because of a cria that is demanding too much from her. Sometimes we wean them because they have been sold or are going to a show. We want to be sure our little ones are eating on their own, gaining weight like they should, and adjusting to life on their own without mom.
What I do enjoy very much about weaning time, is that these precious, now very needy babies, become interested in bonding with us! This is when we begin halter training and through halter training they learn to trust us and to feel safe. A herd that feels safe and trusts us is so much more enjoyable than one that doesn’t. Our alpacas are much calmer and I believe, happier, because of how they are handled. If their stress level is minimal, they also produce a lovelier fleece, and because they are fiber animals this is important!
I am always amazed at how quickly alpacas learn. I just take baby steps with them. The first day I just put on the halter, then off again, then on and off, several times. The next day they wear the halter while they eat. On another day I add the lead. I always work in a small square pen, standing back behind the alpaca allowing them to initiate movement, and leaving an opening ahead of them so they don’t feel trapped. I add a few more minutes to our training session each day and always have a buddy in the pen so the alpaca in training is not alone.
They then graduate out of the pen to a small pasture, or narrow runway if there is one available.
I use a very long lead, giving them plenty of distance from me. Miss Miami is very fearful and with head down and feet planted, she refuses to move. Rather like a stubborn child, wouldn’t you say?
Slightly tugging and then releasing, tug and release, tug and release, tug and release, she learns that what I’m asking her to do isn’t so bad.
Finally, she is able to pick her head up off the ground …
… and stand up!
If you ever have a chance to attend a Camelidynamics Clinic, they are very worthwhile and actually make owning alpacas much more fun! Marty McGee Bennett has been to our farm twice now presenting clinics. She travels all over the world teaching alpaca owners how to train and handle their alpacas, and she has a sense of humor! She has written a book called The Camelid Companionthat I highly recommend, and also has a website with lots of helpful information.
Her advice is very practical…it makes sense…and it works!
I worked with Aurora and Miss Miami this morning, Miami being my biggest challenge. I could see how fearful she was, understandably so, both she and Aurora lost their mothers in the dog attack on our farm this Spring. I knew I had my work cut out for me with her.
I decided to take them out of the pasture. I hooked the two of them together on one lead, which meant they had to figure out how to walk together.
They were very hesitant in the beginning. It wasn’t long before they wanted to be right next to me, now trusting that I would keep them safe.
We walked through the backyard…
…down a path through the field…
I offered them some blackberries,but neither were at all interested. They took in the sights and the sounds, but were very much on their guard.
We walked next to the hay field and then through the hay field, stopping to let them eat, but again they had no interest.
Everything was too new, too scarey.
I suspect that eventually they will indulge in such treats, and then our walks will be like going on a picnic!
It was a successful outing and I felt like I made progress with these two!
I enjoy the training and gaining their trust. When I feel like they are at ease with the halter and with me, I will put them back in with the rest of the herd and they will reunite with their family and friends, having gained more of a sense of calmness about their world around them.
Have you always wanted to visit an alpaca farm? Get up close and personal with an alpaca? Feel their wonderful fiber? Learn more about them?
Schedule an Alpaca Farm Tour for your school, your scout trip, 4-H Club, civic organization, Garden Club, Mother’s Club, guild, family, or group of friends. Meet our alpacas and learn about their history, their care, their habits, their sounds, their fiber, see first hand the magic of alpacas!
The tour is educational but fun and lasts about an hour. It is a short walk around our family farm to meet the boys, the girls, and the little ones. Find out how where alpacas come from and how they are used. If we haven’t done chores yet, you can help us feed! If it’s a hot day you can help us hose bellies! The tour concludes in our fiber studio where you will see all types of products made from alpaca fiber. We highlight the yarns made from our alpacas. We will spend time in the fiber studio where you will see all the different products made from alpaca fiber. Depending on the age and interests of the group, you might want to see a carding or spinning demonstration, or walk alpacas! Be sure to bring your camera! Plan a little extra time to visit The Farm Store while you are here. Take home a souvenir, or some beautiful alpaca yarn, or something soft and warm made from alpaca.
Farm Tours are $5 per person. Children under four are always free!
We do have plenty of room for a bus or RV, or whatever, to park and get turned around.
Be sure to dress for the weather, uneven terrain, and depending on the time of year, sometimes mud.
Contact us or give us a call at (419) 529-8152 to schedule a Farm Tour.
NEW – Add a Mini Felting Class to your Farm Tour!
Wet Felted Soap
Wet Felted Flower
Add $5 per person
*Sorry, we are not handicap accessible and do not have public restrooms.
I’ve been out hunting morel mushrooms
…never really had found any before… other than the year my brother found some and then pointed me right to the spot! My brothers have hunted for years, as have my parents, and grandparents making many trips up into Michigan sporting protective clothing and headgear for protection from mosquitoes in order to hunt these elusive beauties!
This year I hunted with some friends and found two…then with my daughter and found twelve..and then down to one Sunday on Mother’s Day hunting with my daughter, son and my son’s girlfriend.
I did enjoy just being in the woods, taking in all the new signs of Spring, with my family.
Spring really did come, just like it does every year, after a very long winter.
Maybe winter lasts so long in order that we might appreciate Spring all that much more…I love when the earth comes back to life!
As I crossed the creek on my first outing, it didn’t take long to discover that I need a new pair of boots! Oh well, I’ve been wanting a pair of those cute flowered ones, anyway!
I’m told that most of what we’ve been finding are called Peckerhead Morels or Dog Peckers…okay then… The best known morels
are the “yellow morel” or “common morel” ; the “white morel” ; and the “black morel”.
It just kind of irks me when my friend calls and has just found about a hundred…or a five year old boy walks out of the woods with a grocery bag full.
I’ve been told to look in moist areas, around dying or dead elm trees,
sycamore and ash trees, old apple orchards and maybe even in my own back yard. Walk slowly and look at my feet. Ground cover varies and it is very likely that each patch of mushrooms may be growing in totally different conditions.
When you do find them chances are that there will be more than one. The reason for this is that fungi tend to have an underground “root” system that is normally there but relies on the proper conditions to flourish. Moisture, temperature and other factors dictate whether they will “pop” and when. Some years they do in certain spots, and some years they don’t! Morel mushrooms will grow when the temperature, humidity, variance between daytime and nighttime temperature, soil acidity and many other factors are JUST RIGHT.
When temperatures in the Spring begin to climb into the sixties during the day and are no colder than the forties at night… START LOOKING! Right after a rain is a good time. Look in stream and river beds, wooded areas, around fallen timber that has been decaying, and don’t forget to look within brambles and thick underbrush. Many people won’t go in there and you may be surprised what you will find!
Mushroom hunting etiquette dictates using a mushroom bag …which is nothing more than a woven mesh bag (such as an orange or potato bag) to put the mushrooms in. This is extremely important, because morels spread thru spores, which shake loose as they are jostled about. Allowing the spores to fall to the ground will help to ensure more hunting in years to come
It is also a good idea to have a long stick to push aside tall weeds, limbs, and grass to get a better look.
One reference I was reading even suggested hunting morel mushrooms by crawling on your belly like a snake!
I learned that the scientific name for morel is Morchella, that they are prized by gourmet cooks, particularly in French Cuisine. They appear honeycomb-like in that the upper portion is composed of a network of ridges with pits between them, that morels are hunted by thousands of people every year simply for their taste and the joy of the hunt. So that’s what it’s all about?
Evidently this is a banner year for morels in Ohio. My son found the Spring delicacy growing in his front yard…now that’s my kind of hunting!
The state of Minnesota has actually adopted the morel as its state mushroom.
Morels have been called by many local names; some of the more colorful include dryland fish, because when sliced lengthwise then breaded and fried, their outline resembles the shape of a fish; hickory chickens, as they are known in many parts of Kentucky; and merkels or miracles, based on a story of how a mountain family was saved from starvation by eating morels (the spelling “merkel” reflects a corruption of the word “miracle” as spoken with an Appalachian dialect common to SW Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky area). In parts of West Virginia, they are known as “molly moochers.” Other common names for morels include sponge mushroom. Genus Morchella is derived from morchel, an old German word for mushroom, while morel itself is derived from the Latin maurus meaning brown.
I found there are entire websites dedicated to morel mushrooms and even videos such as this one… How To Find Morel Mushrooms …and did you know a mushroom scientist is called a “mycologist”!
I do so love to eat them…had them for breakfast just this morning…sauteed in olive oil and stirred into an omellete…delicious! I could purchase them…found out they sell for about $10 an ounce…ikes! Click on the picture above if you’re interested.