Sunday, November 30, 2008

New Arrivals

It's been a busy Thanksgiving here. In addition to the normal T'giving cooking frenzy (kudos to the online turkey brine recipe), we were busy planning the last push to finish the fencing and prepare for the arrival of two alpacas.

Here we have the grand arrival. The fawn alpaca is Leah, who we purchased a year ago. The white one is Sonya, who is an alpaca we've admired for awhile and was fortunate enough to be able to purchase. Sonya is expecting her first cria in April.

Here I am with Max just after the girls left the trailer.

What would this momentous occasion be without a "family" photo?

Even better...our hardworking fence guys finished installing over 2000 feet of alpaca fencing. No way we could have even attempted that project and complete it in the span of time these guys did. And it looks great.

We even got the tree up! Earliest we have ever gotten our tree up. Thanks to Mom who spent Thanksgiving with us and recruited the boys to tree-duty.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Fencing Continues

By now our back yard is beginning to look like a religious cult compound, or at the very least the County Prison. All of the internal fencing and exterior containent fencig is done on our new addition, which takes up about 2/3 of our back yard. It will definietely cut down on the mowing time.

Our intrepid fence crew has worked through snow and freezing temperatures to keep the job moving. They definitely came with the right tools and experience to get the job done right. In retrospect, I must have been crazy to think that I could have tackled this kind of job.

Although, I haven't been lying around waiting for it to all come together. I saw this type of wall and feeder during our visits to other farms. The rough oak 2 x 6's were left in the barn from the original construction. By laying down a 4 x 4 on the ground, cut and fitted snug between the post and the wall, I just had to cut small strips and screw them in to the post and wall. The I just cut and stacked the boards to make the divider for the stalls. If I need to, I can take it back down in a matter of minutes.

I had also seen the feeders made from PVC pipe. Just taking 6" pipe and cutting it in half, I had two feeders in a matter of minutes. I still have to make plugs for the end, so the critters won't shove the food out the ends.

Gates, and more gates... I've been putting about 6 new ones in to separate and manage all the new areas. As the fences were going in, it ecame more clear that I needed even more. All the new fences have wire mesh to prevent Crias crawling through the bars. I just need to make sure that they can't get under the gates.

A few days before Thanksgiving, we got our first snow. Around here we got only about an inch, but farther north, they had 4". The crew just kept on working. I hope this isn't a sign of a hard winter coming.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hay there...

Now we're talking "Alpaca Lifestyle" folks...

I never would have thought that a big time on a Monday morning would be standing around with a bunch of Mennonite and Amish farmers in the freezing cold at a hay auction.

With the impending arrival of our new "family", we thought it best to find a good source of hay for the winter. We're still trying to figure out how much, what kind, etc., but this was a good exercise in all of that. It seems farmers from all around bring in a load of various types and sizes of bales and look to get a good buyer, just like any auction. You get to compare the various loads for weight and type of mixture. Jo's much better at this, having been a "horse girl" in her youth, so I was just going along trying to pick something up. So it seems they auction off the hay by the ton, not the bale, since all the bales are different sizes. Very confusing, especially trying to keep up with the auctioneer. But it was entertaining, and set us off to look for someone local now that we have a feeling for the going prices. And then we have to figure how much our hay bin will actually hold. I think there's some math ahead of us on this.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Warm, Rainy, then Cold, Weekend

We've had major rain, so our "real" fence crew will hopefully be coming this week to finish the job. Standing in are the Farmer and Son, who are replacing some post & rail fence for the garden. This will also get wire along the bottom to keep the rabbits out. We may also go to a hay auction to see how that works tomorrow morning. On the animal front it looks like we may be close to finding some friends for our alpaca, Leah, who is boarded at Almosta Ranch. Many discussions going on at "Casa Smith/Griffith"...who's the best fit, what's a fair value, are we crazy, etc., etc. No pics or details yet as the deal is not sealed. You'll have to wait!

Many things for wannabe farmers to learn to navigate!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Day of Rest

Not exactly. Sometimes Sundays are good for catching up, and doing things you kinda wanted to do but could not fit into the foreseeable future. For Dylan and me, it was cleaning up the main living area of the house. Cat hair, dirt, grass, more dirt and more cat hair.

For Max, it was continuing the gardening project. I only wish my dad were still around, because he'd be loving this. The only grandson with a remote interest in gardening. What is interesting is that there are several wannabe "farmers" who attend school with my son. One has convinced his parents to allow him to have chickens. One has "farm envy" of the one with the chickens. And there is my son, future gardener and alpaca wrangler.

For the Farmer, it was running the tractor around the back end of the pasture to sweep up the leaves from several trees bordering the fence line. One is a maple and one has yet to be identified. Several species of trees go through chemical changes in the leaves which can kill an alpaca. We need to figure out which ones they are. In the meantime, we'll just take care of the problem this way.

And for a job well done, there's nothing like artificially colored and flavored vitamin water and cheese sandwiches. When you think about it, one probably shouldn't eat anything that is fluorescent....But they are so good.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Or is that "Holey"... The project began last Saturday. John & Co. came out and started dotting our backyard with fenceposts which eventually will house the beginning of our herd. He didn't hit rock, which is a very good thing. Here is one of the main pasture lines running down the side of the property (leaving room to drive down to the barn).

Here is the magic skid loader drilling holes for the garden fence.

Here the team installs post & rail by the driveway. This is part of the garden fence (has nothing to do with the alpaca pasture.)

Here are the fence posts being installed along the new front pasture.

Before the posts went looked like this.

Our sons, Max and Dylan, did the backfilling. Yesterday, my new favorite store, Tractor Supply, delivered some, but not all, of the fence and gates. We are still short 200 feet of fence and 1 gate. I don't understand why it takes 2 weeks to get fence and gates, but you are pretty much at their mercy.