Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chicks and Crias

Yes, Mr. Lonely settled in well with his new playmates. There are 45 now, of 4 breeds. I've stopped naming them ;)
I believe this handsome guy shown below is a 'Partridge Chantecler', a heritage breed. This breed is a variant of the Chantecler chicken which originated in Canada, and is resistant to our cold climate. Do I know what I'm talking about? Not really. I do find the whole chicken breed research fascinating though.

Well, it's summer here at Misty Haven Alpacas. Our weather has been pretty decent. Not too hot. Enough sun and rain to make things nice and green.

And what could summer be on an alpaca farm without some cria to adore?

This is SCA Pepita and her new baby from noon hour today.
It's a girl weighing 19.4 lbs! I love the medium fawn colour. The dad is our multiple ribboned bay-black DEA Cyrano.

Pepita is a new mom and even though she had a pretty tough time delivering this baby, she has taken to mothering like a pro.

Thanks for popping by to read my posts. Please leave a comment if you are inclined. I love to hear from others who either share my interests or those who are drawn to read about a lifestyle far from their own.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mr. Lonely No More!

Mr. Lonely isn't so lonely anymore. In fact, I think he's a bit overwhelmed!

We were waiting for the call from the post office all day for the chicks to be picked up. The hay lady called to say that the hay was probably going to be baled for pickup off the wagon that night.
And you know how that goes.
The post office called at 6:00pm saying that the chicks were in North Bay for pickup before 7:00pm. The hay lady called to say the bales were ready to pickup...30 minutes in the opposite direction of North Bay.
I picked up the chicks, hubby and daughter picked up the hay.

Can you hear it now? "Oh, sure, we're unloading the hay and you're taking pictures for your blog!"
We are done one load of three. We usually ensure we have about 375 small bales of hay for 20-24 alpacas and llamas. Alpacas only eat 2% of their body weight in hay. That means that a 150 lb alpaca will eat about 3 lbs hay a day. Not much, is it? Some farmers weigh out the exact amount, to optimize costs and to keep the alpacas lean. Lean, healthy alpacas have finer fibre than overweight alpacas. The trick would be to ensure that each animal gets his portion. We choose to offer extra hay and much gets wasted. We have always had around 80-100 bales left over, but it's always good to be prepared with extra, in case of a late spring.

Lucy is our 12 year old husky cross. She's a sweet, sweet dog. Lucy had a very hard time getting over the absence of her buddy Molly, our 14 year old dog who recently passed. Lucy had never been alone for longer than 30 minutes. We are giving Lucy extra attention these days. Many people suggested that we get Lucy another younger dog or puppy for a companion. I think Lucy will enjoy her final years as an only dog who gets all the attention.

That black box that you see at her throat is the transmitter for our radio-controlled invisible fence. Huskies like to run and we live in a fairly populated area on a fast road. Having an invisible fence means never having to tie your dog up to keep them safe.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mr. Lonely

Lonely, he's Mr. Lonely.....
Poor little chick had a rough start. Mom kicked him out of the nest and hubby found him on his side with his eyes closed. So, the back of my alpaca trailer has become a chick nursery. We've been wearing a path to the trailer checking on him. None of the other eggs have produced a live chick. We suspect some nasty chicken business is going on...I'll leave out the details for the faint of heart.
Hubby has ordered some chicks to arrive tomorrow, so Mr. Lonely will have some friends.
It was either that or I was going to bring him in the house.

I did some crock-pot dyeing of rovings on the weekend. Wild and crazy colours. The colour is random and fun to spin.
Some for sale, but I just have to try some of this myself.

Saturday was my first day at the North Bay Farmer's Market this season. I'm an occasional vendor, which means that I get offered a booth when a regular can't make it. I like to talk to people so I usually enjoy myself there. As usual, I run into old friends and customers that I haven't seen for a while. It didn't rain, which was a bonus on a market day.

Smokey the barn cat. "Mr. Cool" defined. It's his barn...don't forget it.

Our hay lady called to tell me that they've started cutting. Hopefully, within a few days, the hay loft will be full and another job will be behind us.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

It's Been a Month!

Here's a picture of the "Simple Shawl for Fancy Yarns" that I made out of my hand spun, handpainted alpaca\kid mohair\merino blend. The pattern is by Jenn Hintz of FibreFibers and can be found on Ravelry. The shawl's for me and I love it! So soft and colourful.

It's been a month since my last blog entry. I could say that I've been awfully busy but that would be true of my life in general, no more this month than others. Well, I can say that I was rather distracted with an sad event that was unfolding in our family. I'll leave it at that for now and tell you about the positive things that happened in the month.

On May 16th, the Country Roads Studio members had it's own studio tour. This is the day that we set aside to travel together to each others' studio, have a meal and a meeting together. It was a beautiful day, spent with friends. I'm always amazed at the talent that is possessed by these artists and artisans on our tour. I'll be posting some pictures of this work in later entries.

The next weekend was our Victoria Day long weekend in Canada. We don't usually shear until the end of May or early June, but it's been terribly hot and I gambled that the May 8th snowstorm would be our last. Our family of three decided to try shearing without help this year. It went marvelous. We started with the little ones and found that it was so easy, we continued on. Usually we would be having a very long day trying to get all 17 animals sheared while help was onsite. This year, we sheared a comfortable number each morning and when it got hot, we quit and went to the lake. On the last morning, our friends Tim and Lise came over to help lift the table when we did the last 4 heavyweights. It was such a relief to get it done!

The following week, May 28-30, I drove to Kapuskasing, Ontario to participate as a vendor at the 2010 Weavers and Spinners of Ontario North conference. It's a 6 1/2 hour drive north, through a lovely part of Canada. I was happy to have my friend Jane travel in my car for company. The conference was wonderful as always. It is always amazing that such a large event can be put on by the members of these small guilds. I was the chair of the conference in 2008 when it was in North Bay, and I appreciate the amount of work and organization involved. Seeing it from the 'outside' this time, I can also appreciate what this conference does to help keep our craft and our important artist relationships alive.
Hat's off to the Kapuskasing guild, especially for juggling to find numerous generators to keep the conference going when Ontario Hydro announced a total town power outage for Sunday morning!

My friend and fellow weaver, Suzanne Philbin, completed our two black alpaca jackets in time for Wasoon 2010. We wore them in the fashion show and received much praise for them. Staying in a hotel crawling with textile artists and carrying these jackets on a hanger through the lobby made me feel like a celebrity! Everyone wanted to touch and admire! These jackets deserve their own blog entry - so pictures will follow on another day.

We are on "cria-watch" at the farm. That means that one female has passed the 11-month mark in her pregnancy, so we have to keep an eye on her. The other will follow shortly. We are only expecting 2 cria this year.

However, we have some new life springing forth. One of the eggs under Velma has hatched the night before last! Cute! We are waiting for 9 more....

This is our first time having chicks! I hope he has some buddies soon, he looks a bit bewildered!

So...the sad event unfolding is the death of our 14 year old dog, Molly, last week. We knew it was coming and thinking about it overwhelmed a lot of other things in our family life. Someday soon, I'll write about Molly and share some pictures to honor her. Not now. It's too soon. It's too hard to write it.