Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tulips and Toenails

Spring is so close, I can almost taste it.  I keep walking into work and saying that.  People keep looking at me funny.  Like Monday, when it was -32C in the morning.  However, it was practically balmy by the afternoon.  Trust me, it's starting!

I love beautiful flowers blooming in my house at this time of year!  Plants don't do well with my neglect, but a pot of forced bulbs give almost instant gratification.  Such a lift in February.

Sunday was pedicure day at the barn.  Often people assume that alpacas have cloven hooves, like goats.  In fact, alpacas and llamas have soft padded soles on their feet and have two toenails.  The toenails grow, especially in North American soft pastures.  So, every 6-8 weeks, they need to be trimmed.
(I apologize for the poor picture, but this farmer tends to lose help if she spends a lot of time fiddling with the camera instead of getting the job done.)
When we first started caring for alpacas back in 2002, the nail trimming deal was a cause of great stress and it took us a lot of planning...even though we started with 5 alpacas.  Now, we can do 18 alpacas in just over an hour with minimal energy.  Partly because we know what we are doing, partly because our animals have all been here long enough to trust us and partly because my daughter has grown into a strong, tall farm helper.
Some farms use a chute.  We don't.  Toe-nail trimming here is usually a two person to hold the alpaca at the front, the other to lift each leg and do the trimming (that's usually hubby).  If there is a third person to stand at the opposite side of the alpaca to keep them from leaning, if needed, that's a bonus.  With alpacas, it's all about balance and control, if they can't balance or resist the amount of control (either too much or too little) being applied by the humans, then they rebel.  Alpacas have very strong legs and necks, are great at twisting, rolling and bucking.  Working with any animal, things just work better if the animal is at ease and cooperating.  And with upset alpacas, there is usually stinky spit cooperation is key (sometimes a shower cap helps, too.)
Now, the other side of the story...we have one big, bad female named Jimena who has a nasty attitude and really disgusting spittle when she's upset.  And she a "Friday the 13th" movie soundtrack.  She's a lot better now than when we bought her 5 years ago, but we still leave her for a day when we are feeling particularly adventurous.  She's number 19 in line and left for another day.

This a Berry Cake.  Ingredients include 2 cups of blueberries and 2 cups of raspberries from my freezer.  The wild raspberries were from the bumper crop that I picked around our summer trailer site.  Yummy! 
See how this baking/cooking thing turns into a monster.  Now, I have a litre of buttermilk that I bought for this recipe...minus the 3/4 cup required for this recipe.  I thought the cat might like a bit of it, but it offended him. 
So now...I need to find a recipe for buttermilk and eggs.

Thanks for stopping by.