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.

Beauregard

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.

Spring Open House Pictures

    

We had more families with children at our Spring Open House than we’ve probably ever had.  Fortunately I remembered to take some pictures, especially of kids and alpacas!  Gentle and curious by nature, alpacas respond  very well to children.  Kids got a chance to pet the alpacas and walk Sunscape, one of our Spring babies born last year, just shy of her first birthday.

Kids and Alpacas

We had neighbors we had never met stop by to see what was going on.  Others planned their visit intentionally to learn more about alpacas and what we do with their fiber.  Visitors saw spinning demonstrations throughout the weekend in The Fiber Studio and took advantage of our Spring specials.   Stacy Swesey was the winner of our drawing for a FREE pair of Alpaca Socks, congratulations Stacy!  We enjoyed two awesome days of beautiful weather … thank you to all who visited!

Schedule an Alpaca Farm Tour at Alpaca Meadows

If you’d like to visit our farm with your school, your scout troop, 4-H Club, civic organization, Garden Club, Mother’s Club, guild, family, or group of friends, find out about scheduling an Alpaca Farm Tour.  If you would like to be keep abreast on what’s new at our farm, upcoming classes, new products, free patterns, and other fun stuff, click here.

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.



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