Pregnant, or not pregnant, that is the question. Bred just one time on May 14th of last year, to our herdsire Thunderstruck, Lorelei was still refusing to be bred again when behavior tested in August. To me, that looks like a pregnant belly, and she is eating like there is no tomorrow. What do you think? I have been wrong before.
My husband is gone this week, so I’m doing double duty while he’s away, his work and mine. Along with shipping orders and a number of other things that he normally takes care of, I’m doing the morning chores. I should rephrase this … I get to do the morning chores! There are definitely days I’d trade the time I sit in front of the computer a good share of the day, for the stress relieving, sometimes down and dirty, tasks of caring for our animals.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease is a phrase used to convey the idea that the most noticeable (or loudest) problems are the ones most likely to get attention, and that’s true when it comes to our Angora goats. Quieting the bleating of our three goats, Mike, Ike, and Lola comes first. They act like they are starving, and I can hardly get the feed in the tubs as they push each other out of the way. Not very mannerly.
Why did we start raising alpacas? We fell in love with them, and the alpaca lifestyle! There are soo many more reasons to choose to start an alpaca farm…here’s just ten of them!
1. Love of the Animals
Like I said, we fell in love with the animals! When we visited that first alpaca farm and saw those intriguing looking animals, it was love at first sight! There is a peacefulness about these gentle animals, with their long elegant necks, large eyes, long lashes, and gentle humming. Alpacas continue to transfix us, making them irresistible for those of us who have taken the “taken the plunge.”
Shearing day is one of the most important days of the year on alpaca farms. It is the day that we harvest the beautiful fiber that our alpacas have grown over the last year. Preparing for shearing day and getting organized for the day ahead of time, certainly makes the day less stressful and chaotic. Teamwork and a well thought out plan will make shearing day run like a well oiled machine.
That being said, shearing alpacas is one of my least favorite parts of raising alpacas. Our shearers claim it takes them just eight minutes to shear an alpaca, and though they are not harmed in any way, it still is a scary experience for them. Some tolerate it better than others.
All of them feel better when it’s over.
Blazen Spirit of Lady Liberty, the first cria born on our farm, has moved to a new farm in Tennessee.
It is true that alpacas are quiet and peaceful. However, when it comes to male alpacas there is a pecking order, and sometimes they fight to determine who’s going to be in charge. Mostly they disagree over who’s going to stand closest to the girls. We’ve had two separate groups of males this winter for reasons I’ll explain in a moment. Recently, I nonchalantly opened the gate between the two groups because we are needing the barn space, hoping they all could just get along. I stood and watched what unfolded next, and found it to be quite interesting.
Thursday is my day in the alpaca barn, my turn to do farm chores. Of course chores get done every day, but Thursday is my day, and today I think the alpacas are excited to see me!
When we first had alpacas, I did all the chores. My husband was busy working a real job. Years passed, life happened, and Matt found himself with time to do farm chores. We took turns for awhile but before long, he was doing them every day. This freed me up to develop and grow our alpaca business, process fiber, run the store, teach classes, work on the website, crochet, knit, spin, felt, weave. It worked, for awhile. He found that there just really isn’t much stress in the barn, and that was very appealing to him. I found that I missed caring for the alpacas. So we’ve made some changes and now Thursday is my day … and I am loving it!
Alpaca fiber is oh, so, so warm and socks, hats, scarves, gloves, and sweaters made from alpaca, are the best! Alpacas have their fiber to keep them warm, and honestly they mind the heat much more than the cold. However, there are times and conditions when our alpacas appreciate a little help keeping warm.
Our rule of thumb is that we close the alpacas in the barn, when we hit single digit temperatures. Even alpacas appreciate being able to get out of cold, harsh winds and pelting rain or snow. We line the inside walls of their shelter with bales of straw, stacked three or four high, to cut down on the drafts as well as have handy for layering on top of the manure. Other than the cold and the snow, alpaca care is actually a little easier in the winter because we don’t clean up the manure in the barn. Rather we spread straw on top of the manure. Heat is generated from the lower layers of composting manure and straw.
Here’s something you don’t see every day in Washington, D.C.
Standing just a couple of blocks from the U.S. Capitol, a group of Peruvian highlanders, draped in handwoven cloths and ponchos in all the colors of the rainbow, pray to Mother Earth, to the mountains, to the spirit of their ancestors. They offer wine, incense and flowers.
Their wish is that their alpaca “cover the earth like the grains of sand by the ocean.”
Alpacas, in case you don’t know, are llama-like animals in the camel family. Their wool — called fiber — is prized for its softness and warmth. It’s woven into textiles and garments. So the more alpacas, the better. That’s why Peruvians hold a traditional blessing ceremony, performed since before Columbus discovered the New World and re-created at the national mall last Friday for the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
A group of gals from Columbus, Ohio came for a Farm Tour over the weekend. They had asked if they could bring their lunch, then do a Drop Spindle Class in the afternoon. Though they enjoyed learning to spin, and they enjoyed shopping in The Farm Store, their picnic in the alpaca pasture was the highlight!
When given some options where they could have their lunch, they opted for in the pasture under a shade tree.