The Latest Scoop
2 January 2014 – New Year’s Greetings to all! We didn't have a white Christmas - snow came a day later. No white New Year's Day either - again, snow is coming a day late.
This time of year, people frequently ask me “how do your alpacas like this weather?” And I always reply “they love it”. Today, with a winter storm approaching, the alpacas are heading down from their pastures to the barn , but some of the girls can’t resist stopping in the lane to nibble on the remains of their morning hay which had been left there earlier.
Alpacas will sometimes graze or eat hay while kushed – a little snow does not stop Bixa from settling down to take her time with her snack.
We got the windbreaks up to close in the girls’ porch just in time – they will have a cozy spot to wait out the storm.
17 December 2013 – During bad weather, especially when it is after dark when we get the animals in, I always debate whether or not to have the “big boys”, Alder and Acer, sleep in the barn with the other animals. During the day, they are at pasture with Cosmos, Petey, Jack, and Prince the horse.
They are separated at night. When I make bedtime barn rounds, I can predict exactly where each boy will be kushed down for the night. The concern is that adding Acer and Alder to the mix will not only upset their “regular order” but also that one of the younger boys will be forced out onto the porch – they prefer to sleep inside their stall. And as much as Petey and Jack would like to sleep in Prince’s stall with him, I am not about to allow that.
So Alder and Acer go up the hill – usually quite willingly – to spend the night in their cozy little hut. And it is quite cozy – it is partially insulated and has an elevated floor which is padded with heavy rubber mats.
Here is Alder emerging from his cozy little abode, having spent a comfortable night there.
20 November 2013 - This weekend I will be a vendor at the SAFONA Fiber Festival. SAFONA stands for Small Alpaca Farms of the Northeast Association. There will be vendors offering raw fleece and rovings for spinning or felting, lots of yarn choices for knitting and crocheting those special gifts, many finished products – most made of alpaca fiber of course but all fibers featured at the festival are natural fibers ranging from alpaca to llama; angora to wool, and silk to cotton. There is also a great food vendor which will be serving throughout the day.
Where – Garden Spot Fire & Rescue Co. (formally Liberty Fire Company) ~ 339 E. Main Street ~ New Holland, PA
When - Saturday 9 AM – 5 PM ~ Sunday 9 AM – 4 PM
This is one of my favorite shows as almost all of the shoppers have an interest in some aspect of fiber arts and the conversation is all about these interests. With the wonderful food and plenty of seating to enjoy it, Christmas music playing overhead, and a room full of fiber enthusiasts there is no surprise that shoppers hang around for hours.
Admission is free with plenty of parking and the facility is handicap accessible.
I just finished felting this hat which I will be taking to the show. This hat is made from a mix of Belle's and Petey's fiber which has been dyed, knit, then wet felted.
I’m looking forward to seeing many of my fiber fanatic friends there!
8 November 2013 – Setting up my online store with Etsy has long been – and still is – a work in progress. The main hurdle for me has been the photos and descriptions. As a first step, I have uploaded some photos to my Farm Store Page so check it out.
Looking over this page I realize that I have not posted many items made from the fiber of my herd. At this point, this is what I am focusing on so additional product photos will follow.
Since I’ve started with alpacas, I have taken up a new skill each year: first knitting, then weaving, spinning, crocheting, dyeing – this year will be devoted to tech stuff – learning how to best photograph my items and work with the online photo enhancement sites.
The alpacas are all fine – Ella will be 22 this winter and while she is slowing down she continues to show an active interest in her daily life. We’ll be keeping a close watch on her as cold weather sets in.
September 7-8 – Pennsylvania Endless Mountains Fiber Festival
Harford Fairgrounds ~ Harford, PA
September 14 ~Hummelstown Arts Festival
Main Street ~ Hummelstown, PA
September 28 ~ Fall Harvest of the Arts
Carlisle, PA ~ Downtown area
October 12-13 ~ Pumpkinfest
Adams-Ricci Park ~ 100 East Penn Drive ~ Enola, PA
October 26 ~ Willow Mill Fall Festival
Stony Ridge Park ~ Mechanicsburg, PA (new location this year)
November 16 ~ Ashcombe's Farm and Greenhouse Holiday Open House
906 W. Grantham Rd., Mechanicsburg, PA
November 23-24 ~ SAFONA Fiber Festival
Liberty Fire Hall ~ New Holland, PA
November 30~ Holiday Artisans Craft Show
Carlisle Expo Center ~ 100 K Street, Carlisle PA
December 7 – Christkindlesmarkt – Holiday Crafts Bazaar
Armory on Cavelry Rd. ~ Carlisle, PA (new location this year)
December 14~ Gettysburg High School Holiday Market
1130 Old Harrisburg Rd. ~ Gettysburg, PA
19 August 2013 - I needed a handlebar bag for my new bike. My old bag was pretty much beat up and the new ones that I was able to find did not fit well. I decided that what I needed was a soft-sided one and I was unable to find anything remotely near what I had in mind.
So, I decided to make a felted bag. I had some yarn in my stash which matched my bike so I began crocheting, winging it as I went. I have always read that crochet does not felt as well as knitting but I as I am a slow knitter and a fast crocheter this bag would be a crochet-felted bag.
I was very pleased with how it turned out – I even had enough yarn left to make a flower for the front.
Seeing how well my crochet handlebar bag turned out inspired me to begin crocheting my felted purses instead of knitting. I made this one with some other yarn in my stash as a trial.
Then I made this one. This is yarn from my white alpacas Belle and Petey – this yarn is from the “seconds” - that part of the fleece not fine enough to wear next to the skin but just fine for felting. I first dyed it my favorite shade of red.
Sometimes combining two dissimilar interests works out just fine.
1 August 2013 - Several recent visitors have commented on the alpacas’ “hairdos”, asking how they’re styled. I explained that their topknots are not styled, that each one is slightly different from the others, and that is part of what gives each alpaca an individual look.
Now that the alpacas have been shorn, their sleek necks show off their topknots in a way that a full fleece look does not.
Calla has my favorite look. I love her spiky, blond-tipped “do”.
I do attempt to style M-O-Lee’s do so that she can see where she’s going but it grows out fast. Visitors will ask “who’s the one with the crazy hairdo?”
Daughter Bixa has inherited her mom’s “bad hair”.
China has somewhat of a mullet look. Hard to see in this photo as part of the long back has blown over.
A visitor commented that Cosmo looked like a punk rocker.
He inherited his look from his mom Barbi.
Sister Briza has this look also. Briza came close to winning Reserve Champion in a show. The judge went back and forth, finally stating “I don’t like her head style”. Poor Briza – she has wonderful fiber but not a good “head style”.
I sell photos of my alpacas at the craft and fiber shows I go to. While I am partial to pasture scenes – alpacas grazing in a green field – what sells is head shots so it will be interesting to see which of these portraits sell at the fall and winter shows.
19 May 2013 – We have 7 different areas through which we rotate our group of female animals. Most of the girls do not care which field they are in but Ella, our llama, has strong preferences. There are some pastures that she is very unhappy in and will pace the fence line continuously until I let her out to graze alone in a different area.
Yesterday, Ella really wanted to go to the pasture at the far back end of the property. As rain was forecast, and the girls were newly-shorn, I wanted to keep them closer to the barn so when I went to turn them out, I opened up two areas in front of the barn – one area with excellent grass and another with very good grass.
Ella was not having any part of this – and to my surprise neither were the alpaca girls. They remained kushed in their dry lot area. Occasionally one or two of them would wander into the pasture and graze for a few minutes before returning to the “sit-down protest”. Ella continued to hang out at the gate closest to where she wanted to go.
This went on for over 3 hours. The girls would not go into the pasture to graze and remained kushed together in their dry lot area. I finally opened the lane - the girls all ran up the hill to the back pasture. Ella is old and unable to run very well but she appeared pleased with herself as she slowly made her way up the hill. She has learned the value of collective action – or should I say “inaction” - and I can't help but wonder what is next on her agenda.
21 April 2013 – This weekend is the Taos Fiber Marketplace. I would love to be there but the next best thing --- a number of my handmade products are there.
A big thank you to the great folks at Winter’s Hope Alpaca Ranch in Arroyo Seco, NM arranging for members of CIABA (Cottage Industry Alpaca Breeders Association) to take part in this.
25 March 2013 -Scenes from around the farm on this 6th day of spring.
The view from my back steps this morning.
Alder has had enough of winter and heads back into his cozy little hut.
Ella ventures out into the elements to eat her grain. She appears to have recovered from her SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) – she was spending long hours cushed in her stall, eating poorly, and just moping around in general on days when it has been overcast and cold. I think she is just sick of winter like the rest of us.
Jack watches it all from a safe distance.
M-O-Lee and Cynara enjoy breakfast on their cozy paneled porch.
Then later, M-O-Lee
find some sort of weird pleasure in eating snow off the fence. I never see them eat it from the ground.
We each enjoy the snow in our own individual ways ---I can appreciate the beauty of the day as surely this is our last snow of the season.