Morning Chores

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.

Alpacas Eating

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.

The chickens are also very near the top of the feeding order. My husband’s automatic chicken coop door will close around 10pm, then re-open around 7am, but it does not open or close the outside people door so I am anxious to get the chickens fed before they are out free ranging and laying eggs who knows where.

If I happen to not get to the chickens before they are out, it’s not the end of the world. They do come eagerly when they see me coming, and I feel like the pied piper as I dish out their feed, and close them back in the coop until later in the day after they’ve had a chance to lay their eggs. They’ll get let outside mid-afternoon hopefully to eat lots of pesky bugs like flies and such, until our beautiful, grey rooster named Beauregard corrals his girls back in at dusk. If all goes well, they are back in their coop and roosting before the automatic door closes. Most nights, this works like clockwork.


Our Angora rabbits are next, especially if we have babies, which we do right now. They get feed free choice until they are about six months old, so I try to get to them early, and feed our rabbit mom, Mrs. Fitz, who can’t seem to get enough to eat. Got to feed mom, so she can feed her babies.

Alpacas are next. They do the least complaining, except for maybe standing at the gate watching, so they are last. My husband and I do this differently, go figure! If you’re going to see alpacas spit, it will be at feeding time, arguing about who will eat out of which feed tub. I choose not to be spit on, so I like to put the alpacas out of the barn, dish out the feed, then let them back in to eat. Less alpaca stress. My husband does not put the alpacas out first, but seems to like the chaos of alpacas practically on top of him trying to get their heads in the bucket, or pushing others out of the way trying to find the tub with the most feed in it. That’s not for me.

I’ll clean up manure next, so that I can just hang out with the alpacas for awhile. I’ll put out hay in various places, or recycle hay from the day before turning it over so the smaller, greener pieces that have fallen to the bottom are at the top and can be eaten a little easier.

Filling water bottles, water buckets, and water troughs is next. From time to time I’ll leave the water running somewhere, so I’ll try not to do that this morning. Check minerals and replenish if necessary. Make note to self that toenails need trimmed on a few of our alpacas next month when we do herd health.

That’s it for the outside animals. I usually will have already fed the cats, Desmond and Priscilla, and our dog Louie as well as carried Louie outside quickly as he has back issues and has become incontinent in his older age.

It feels good to have cared for all the animals, who depend on us to do so, and to be outside in nature, with God’s creations. Unless I leave a gate open somewhere and the alpacas get out, there really is very little stress doing morning chores, but rather something very peaceful, therapeutic, even joyful.

Of course, nothing beats my granddaughter Brylee spending the night, and helping me with morning chores, watching her enjoy the animals, like I do, and happy to be sharing that experience with her.

Thursdays in the Alpaca Barn

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!

I love it most on sunny days, but that was not the case today.  It seems to have turned to mud season … ugh!


Certainly, not a job everyone would love, but I do.  Getting outside, caring for animals that count on me to bring them hay, feed, and fresh water is a privilege, really.  Clearing my mind of all except the task in front of me, is therapeutic, and a welcome relief from some of the tasks of running a business that weigh me down.


I don’t waste any time putting their feed out, spreading it out in numerous different feed dishes to keep the arguing (and stress level) over who eats first and who stands where to eat, to a minimum.  Yes, alpacas do spit (mostly at each other), and feeding time is when you will see it.  Hence, this is the reason the inside of our barn is covered with spit.

This is Mabelle, waiting patiently.   I like to put the alpacas out of the barn, then put their feed in their dishes, and then let them in.  This way I have a chance to touch each one, and they have a chance to learn to trust me enough to walk that close.



This is Savannah, Amelia, and Amelia’s sister, Annalise.  Sorry if there mouths are full, but it is feeding time.  I put out hay in different locations, both inside and out, in Rubbermaid wheelbarrows that can be moved to different places as needed.

     I start clean-up, working amongst the alpacas, wanting them to feel comfortable with me in their midst, and also because I just like being with them.  In the winter, chores are actually a bit easier because we layer fresh straw over the manure each day, a system called deep bedding.  The water and urine seep down to the lower layers of straw and the straw on top keeps the animals dry.  Find out more caring for Alpacas in Winter.  Did you know there actually is a Manure Management Handbook?  I discovered it just today.  It actually is quite interesting.

I add fresh water to the water troughs and heated buckets, that we switched to mid-winter, because the floating heater in the boys’ water trough gave out.  The chickens get feed and water.


Fitzgerald, our angora rabbit, and the latest addition to Alpaca Meadows, gets some leafy greens, and fresh water.  More about him later.

Chores don’t take that long, just depends on how much time I want to spend.  It’s very peaceful in the alpaca barn.  Sometimes I just enjoy sitting on a bale of straw watching the alpacas interact.  Caring for the animals on our farm, as well as the two that are inside, seeing that their simple needs are met, is the least I can do for them compared to the joy they give back to me.

I finish up my chores each week by working with one or two of the alpacas, on halter training, and going on walks out of the pasture back through our woods and hay field.  I worked with Martha today, three years old, but still resisting having a halter on and being led anywhere.  I’m making progress, but it takes time to build trust.  Today Amelia (left) and her sister Annalise go for a walk with me through the hay field.  They are somewhat tentative, but have each other so it’s not quite as scarey.  The walk back to the barn is at a much quicker pace.

Family Business Starts Them Young

 I couldn’t resist posting pictures of my grandson!  That’s what grandmas do, right?

Taken a year ago at this time, I ran across these this morning and they made me smile.

Spending the day with his dad, Clayton was “helping” on a fencing job at our farm.

So much like his father, my grandson Clayton is already learning the ropes!

He was consoled by his Papa after getting a “boo-boo”.

Matt, Aaron, Clayton, and Adam Petty


Our family is so blessed that my two sons and husband have an opportunity to work together in a family business.

 In Ohio and need hay or fencing?  Call Petty Farms!

Petty Farms

Hay Sales, Square Baling,  & Custom Fencing

Spring Break and Grandchildren

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.

Keandre', Zavier, Papa

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.

Keandre' Driving 4-Wheeler

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!

Zavier and Papa on Skid-steer

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!

Winter's Worth of Manure in Alpaca Barn

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.

Sizing Up The Situation

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!

Alpaca Beans

Keandre' on 4-Wheeler

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.

Hooking Up the Pasture Vac

Instructions were given.

Zavier Running Pasture Vac

Zavier was in charge of vacuuming up the alpaca beans and Keandre’ moved their operation as needed.

Zavier Running Pasture Vac

They worked at cleaning pastures for quite awhile and did a good job.

 Zavier Is Tired

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.

We Have Moved

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.

Alpaca Meadows Has Moved

So here is our NEW address …

Matt and Julie Petty; 1200 Rock Road; Mansfield, Ohio
Get the driving directions here.

New House

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…

Hay Field at Alpaca Meadows

We have more acreage, room to add more pastures and grow our own hay

Woods at Alpaca Meadows

and a beautiful woods with paths for walking.

Farm Store at Alpaca Meadows

The Farm Store and my studio is nearby so I don’t have far to go to work.

Dogs and Alpacas at Alpaca Meadows

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!

Flowers at Alpaca Meadows

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.

More Flowers at Alpaca Meadows

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!

Alpaca Farm Tour – Harmony House

Kids from Harmony House

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.

Alpacas Exploring the Pasture at Alpaca Meadows

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!

Alpaca Farm Tours at Alpaca Meadows

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.

Alpaca Finger Puppets

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.

Training Day

Blue Skies at Alpaca Meadows

What a beautiful Sunday morning in Ohio…started out cloudy after rain during the night…then blue skies, sunshine, and a very pleasant temperature.

Weanlings in Training at Alpaca Meadows

I decided to do some work with our babies this morning before it got too hot.

Aurora at Alpaca Meadows

They are not so much babies anymore, still young though, at nine and ten months old.

Miami and Shining Star

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.

Alpacas Bonding

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!

Alpacas Exploring the Pasture

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.

Alpacas In Pen

They then graduate out of the pen to a small pasture, or narrow runway if there is one available.

Miami With Head Down

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?

Training Miss Miami

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.

Training Miss Miami

Finally, she is able to pick her head up off the ground …

Training Miss Miami

… 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.

Training Miss Miami

Her advice is very practical…it makes sense…and it works!

Aurora and Crassy

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.

Aurora and Miami on Double Lead

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.

Alpacas Trusting

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.

Backyard at Alpaca Meadows

We walked through the backyard…


…down a path through the field…

Blackberries at Alpaca Meadows

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.

Next to Hay Field

We walked next to the hay field and then through the hay field, stopping to let them eat, but again they had no interest.

Hay Field

Everything was too new, too scarey.

Walk With Alpacas

I suspect that eventually they will indulge in such treats, and then our walks will be like going on a picnic!

Walk With Alpacas

It was a successful outing and I felt like I made progress with these two!

Aurora, Miss Miami, and Julie

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.

Alpaca Farm Tours

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!

Camelid Deliveries

We do have plenty of room for a bus or RV, or whatever, to park and get turned around.

Silly Tourist

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!

Choose from:

Wet Felted Soap
Wet Felted Flower

Add $5 per person

*Sorry, we are not handicap accessible and do not have public restrooms.

Into the Woods on My Hunt for Morel Mushrooms

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.

Violets in the Woods at Alpaca Meadows

I did enjoy just being in the woods, taking in all the new signs of Spring, with my family.

May Apples in the Woods at Alpaca Meadows

Spring really did come, just like it does every year, after a very long winter.

Wildflowers in the Woods at Alpaca Meadows

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!

Creek in the Woods

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.

Into The Woods Hunting for Morel Mushrooms
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.

Into The Woods Hunting for Morel Mushrooms

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.

Into The Woods Hunting for Morel Mushrooms

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!

Into The Woods Hunting for Morel Mushrooms

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”!

If you are a first time hunter, you should make your first hunting expedition with someone who knows what a good morel looks like. There are several types of morels, some edible and others poisonous. You might want to check out Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms of the Worldor  Mushroom Picker’s Foolproof Field Guide.

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.

Or I discovered you could Grow Your Own

…but then you would miss out on the hunt and it seems like that’s just as important as the prize…kind of like life is not just about the destination but the journey!

Leave a comment if you’re a “shroomer”.  How many mushrooms have you found so far?  Have you ever tried to grow them?

Winter At Alpaca Meadows

Alpaca Meadows