Saturday, February 28, 2009

Can't wait until shearing day....

That's why. Friggin' cute! Plus, I get some cria fiber to card and spin. I already got my hand carders and some practice fleece so I don't ruin Devi's fleece when I finally get it. I washed the fleece, but it's super dirty so I think it needs another soak. It's from a bay black cria on a farm in Michigan called North Star alpacas. They also sent me some fiber from a beige alpaca. I'll post pics when I'm feeling less lazy. I think I'm going to save the seconds and leg fiber and attempt to make a felted rug. I have an idea on that...more to follow. I have some corriedale to finish plying, then it's all alpaca...that is, until I decide I want to spin the rest of my hand-dyed (by me) corriedale. I'll post pics of that soon too.

Monday, February 23, 2009

This is sure to cause cuteness overload

Here's another amusing vid. No idea where this farm is, but the cria is adorable and it makes the humming noise that I like to listen to. Devi does it like crazy when she's away from her mom. It's actually a little absurd, but she's still a baby. :)

I got nothin', so here ya go....

Unless you want to read more about me slipping and sliding in the mud while trying to herd alpacas into a catch pen, or about a 7 month old male making me look silly, OR my own alpaca giving me a good kick in the shin (at least I haven't been spit on ...yet) then I've got nothing this week. So, here's a video I came across that amused me.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Most Awesomest Alpaca Farm!

It's February break, so I'm away from my kiddos for the week. Still a ton of work to do for school, but at least we all get the mental break we need. I took advantage of my mental break time by visiting another farm here in CT. Six Paca Farm has 46 awesome alpacas, and a store with a coffee shop where you can sit and watch the herd of alpaca! OMG!! This is exactly what I want to have some day! Soooo, jealous. I got to visit with the owner, Linda, who talked with me for three hours and was kind enough to answer a ton of questions and show me her animals. Her herd is amazing. She has gorgeous girls and handsome boys that are all very well socialized and handle well. The girls were so sweet! There was one fawn colored girl that just stood next to me and let me pet her. It was awesome. I could have stayed there for hours. I think it's worth the long drive just to go there and hang out. Unfortunately for someone like me with 'less' money, it's probably not likely that I will ever have anything as awesome, but I can dream and enjoy the alpaca I have now and the one or two more I will have. Anyway, the pic is of the Six Paca herd running in from the pasture. Yeah, they actually all come running for Linda!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Alpaca handling n00b

I visited my girl today, and she's awesome. Her fiber is very fine, and has the nicest handle. She's quite the wiry little girl too. She's a baby, so she's not used to being handled much. Couple that with a n00b handler, and you get a cria covered in vitamin D paste! The breeders that sold her to me are awesome. They are teaching me about handling and alpaca care, all of which I need to know about despite the fact that I will be boarding my alpaca at a local farm where she will receive daily care from an experienced farmer. I learned that when handling alpacas, you have to hold them under the chin and at the shoulders with a firm but gentle grip...until they squirm out of your firm but gentle grip. My four month old alpaca is absurdly storng, and wiry like I said. She wiggled, squeezed, squirmed, or dashed out of my hands elevently billion times today, and I was only there for an hour and a half! Handling FAIL.

Then it was time to give her a dose of vitamin D paste, which alpacas need in the winter months when the sun's rays don't provide enough. You have to hold the alpaca, open their mouth a little, and use your finger to rub some of the paste into their mouths. It looks easy, until the n00b gets a try....before I new it I had vitamin D paste all over my alpaca's face, her ears, and my sleeve! The Great Pyrenees that guards the animals was psyched because he got to lick the paste off my sleeve, but my alpaca was not to thrilled. Handling FAIL.

After that, I got to watch them weigh a couple of animals, and then learned to recognize animals who are on the thin side or on the heavy side. I concluded my visit by hanging out in the paddock with a bunch of animals including my own cria, two other adorable little girls, their dams, and one fiber gelding. This was awesome because it was a time to just let the animals be, and let them check me out a bit. There's something wonderful about herd animals. They are not needy for human attention like dogs and cats can be, but they are curious and inquisitive yet also calm and gentle (for the most part, there are always a few who are a little high strung). It's nice to just stand and watch them. I also got to talk to the breeder for a while. She's really great, and I enjoyed our conversation too. She even offered to have some fiber set aside for me for the next time I visit! How awesome is that?! Animal and fiber WIN!

Meanwhile, I ordered a pair of hand carders and some raw alpaca fleece. These items should be arriving at my home in the next week or two. Stay tuned for my first adventures in prepping raw fiber. Behold, the power of youtube! I learned to spin that way. I can learn to card that way too.

I need more alpaca pics!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

When yarn attacks....

I finished plying my fugly yarn, as seen in a previous post. I took it off the bobbin and soaked it to set the twist. I thought I had securely tied it into a hank. Ummm, not so much. I also over-twisted it, because when I went to hang it up to dry some of it escaped the ties and it started curling on itself like crazy. Now, a rational person would just have let it dry, but not me. I tried to retie the darn thing, and my yarn attacked. It curled on itself and managed to end up in the most absurd not I've ever encountered. I was fuming and hollering obsenities that I'm sure my hard of hearing nieghbors were offended by. In the end, the yarn won. It now sits atop a cabinet in a pile of nots because I can't bring myself to throw it out, but I also don't want to untangle it. Makes sense, huh? I'm clearly very rational about it. The kicker is that I don't even want to use the yarn for anything. It's hideous! But it's my first wheel spun yarn.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My first alpaca!

What a week! Monday I was sick with a stomach flu and had to leave work. Actually, I was sick before work, but I tried to go in anyway. Smart huh? So I was down for the count. Total waste of a day, and a horrible way to start a week. I came back in on Tuesday, and my students were all asking my how I was, even the ones who like to give me a run for my money showed a little caring. I have remarkable students. And to think I gave them all a huge test that day. ;) So Monday sucked. Tuesday was a bit better, but I got a temp of 103 for going to the gym and working out the day after being sick. Lose #2. Wednesday was a snow day, which was cool, but I graded tests all day. Meh. Thursday and Friday were run of the mill teaching days, as run of hte mill as it gets at my school anyway. Saturday was the best day ever!

Yes, it's official. The animal in my banner is actually mine! I got her yesterday. Her name is Devi, and she's a 3 month old bay black Huacaya girl. I purchased her from Flatland Alpacas, here in CT, and that's where she'll live until she's weaned. Then, she'll move to the farm where I'll be boarding, which is closer to my home so I can visit her more often. She's my first alpaca, and coincidentally is the first sale for the owner of Flatland Alpacas. I love that. I get to help a farmer grow their business, and meanwhile begin my own. It will be a long while before my farm is actually a 'business', though. In fact, it's going to be a virtual farm for quite some time to come. Fortunately, the family is in on it now, and we're going to work together to get this thing going. We've already got one nice little animal. The next steps are to get ourselves a nice property for our farm, set up the shelter and fencing, get the feed, and get the next animals. If all goes well, in the next year or two, we will be getting our farm started. It may take longer, and that's ok. Right now I'm just happy to have an alpaca, and to be at the beginnig of becoming a part of the alpaca industry and fiber industry.

For anyone considering becoming an alpaca farmer, start by visiting as many farms as you can. You'll find alpaca farmers to be wonderful, friendly people who want to show you their animals, answer your questions and help get you started. There's also a lot of info on, as well as sales listings. That's how I found Devi. If you're new to alpacas, but ready to get your first animals, be sure to look closely at their fiber. Check the density, the crimp, and the fineness. They should have good coverage throughout their body too. Check their bloodlines as well. If they've got a nice sire and dam, with some show ribbons, the animal will be worth more. Look for good conformation as well. Be sure to ask for a health record too.

Now that I've got my first animal, the next steps are for me to learn about handling alpacas. The farmers who sold her to me are going to help me with that until she's ready to move to her new farm. Soon after that it will be shearing day! I can't wait to get my first fleece from her.