Sunday, June 19, 2011

Almost Summer

Well, I won't bore you with the details of why I've been too busy to blog for several weeks.  Life happens and blog entries sometime get to the bottom of the priority list.  Thanks to everyone who takes the time to leave comments on my blog.  I really do appreciate it.

As I am writing this, I am waiting for our hay producer to call giving us the go-ahead to leave to pick up the first of four loads of hay.  The trailer has been on the truck since Thursday.  It's always a waiting game for the hay-drying weather.  We've had great weather for 4 days and then last night, at our house was a major downpour.  Thankfully, the hay farm, which is about a 30 drive south only got a sprinkling.  The hay wasn't lost but needed a bit more time to dry today.  So, it will be 5:00pm by the time we load our first bale on the trailer.  Gatorade and chocolate bars are our friends today.

We sheared our herd of alpaca in between the rainy days at the beginning of June.  I can't let this go without posting a before and after shot.
This is Lily.  If you've been reading this blog, you will remember Lily, the cria that was rejected by her dam.  Her first start was with dried colostrum, then milk with yogurt, then goat kid milk replacer.  She likely wouldn't have survived except that she was soon adopted by a maiden alpaca who miraculously started lactating to feed her.  It was a happy story.  She's now a saucy yearling with great conformation and lovely fleece.
Well, I guess she doesn't have her fleece anymore!  I do! It's in a couple bags waiting for processing into yarn.

People often ask me if the alpacas mind being sheared.  Well, alpacas seem to have their own personalities and therefore, their own opinions about being sheared.  Giving up control to a group of people, with one of them holding some power shears, is undoubtably not an alpaca's idea of a good time.  However, the majority of ours seem to actually relax on the table to the point of appearing to be snoozing.  No doubt many appreciate the instant cool sensation from being released from those pounds of fibre growth.

Every year, though, there is one winner in "The Most Annoying Alpaca on the Table" award.  This year was Vivaldi.  Vivaldi is normally a very calm, cool 2 year old.  The whole time on the table though, he screamed a very high pitch, deafening squeal and had very vile smelling green spit bubbling out of his mouth.  Of course, since he was laying on his side on the shearing table, his head was rubbing in the green slime.  The person covering the head also came in contact with the smelly green slime.  (That would be my freaked out teenage daughter :) hehehe)

So, without further ado, I present "Vivaldi the Slime-Faced".  Shame on you Vivaldi, you smelly boy.
Maybe next year, he will remember that we are helping him by removing his warm fleece, not trying to harm him.
I found a new book at my public library that every handspinner that I know will want to rush to get their hands on.  It's called "The Fleece and Fibre Sourcebook"  by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius.
It is literally packed with valuable facts about animal fibres used in spinning and interest tidbits of information about the history of our relationship with these animals around the world.  For each breed or species, there is a summary of the animal, pictures of both the animal, and their fibre, facts about the fibre that includes staple length, fleece weight, fiber diameters, lock characteristics and natural colours.  It's just beautiful.
Although I have the library's copy currently, this is one of those books that I should have on my bookshelf.
So far, I've planted lettuce, purple beans, squash and 3 types of tomatoes in my little garden.  I still have room for a couple plants.  This is going to be my most successful garden yet.
I'm not sure how many hours until the actual calendar start of summer is here.  But with any luck, I'll have a loft full of sweet smelling hay.


Wooly Knits n Bits said...

That books looks really interesting. That little garden will soon give you lots!

Azure Islands Designs said...

Love the alpaca shearing stories Norma...isn't it amazing how small they look once sheared?

Sounds as though you've been busy...

Bug's Mommy said...

Funny, it takes 8 1/2 hours to drive to your place from ours, and we are still having the same wacky weather. I love the pictures of the sheared alpacas. We always think they look like furry lollipops with their furry heads and sheared necks.

Val at Newland Ranch said...

What a great shearing story! Thanks for the info on the book!
Best wishes for your new crias.

Val said...

Lily is beautiful Norma