It’s a girl

Our alpaca girl, Dash, had a new cria a week ago today, Tuesday. She was in the pasture as the sun rose that Tuesday morning. She was just over 14 lbs and quite the cutie.   Dash’s last cria was a female born June 2009, and named her Summer Surprise.  The father of both is our herdsire Hershey Surprise.  Summer had a touch of jealousy, and to be safe I like to close up mom and baby in the catch pen and in the barn away from the others so they can bond and baby won’t get accidentally trampled.  The nice weather the past week allowed the others to enjoy being outside.  After a few days, we let Dash and baby out with the others full time.    Thinking of naming her Ziva, or something Peruvian/Quechan/South American.  Here are some pictures.I just love it here Click on a picture to enlarge.in the barn with mom

So, I’ve had computer issues and have not posted for awhile. Since then, we have also had the hens hatch 10 new chicks in April, and so they have all grown and are starting to lay. Of those 12, it appears we have about 4 roosters from the bunch.  We already had 2 roosters from a previous hatch, but everyone seems to be getting along and with 3 coops spaced apart in different pastures, they have spread themselves out so there are not a lot of conflicts that I can see. Each coop has developed it’s own flock  dynamics of hens to roosters and everyone goes in their designated spots at night.

We also had all the alpacas sheared in early  May. A nearby farm contracts their shearing and he had a few spare days until his next job out of state and so we booked him to do ours.  We submitted fleece samples for testing to Yocom-McColl and were pleased with results from Summer.  The shearer commented on her fleece being a very fine baby alpaca that would test well.

I will post more pics and more regular  entries now that I am back online.

Another snowstorm….and it’s officially Spring

Well, we were expecting a little snow, but this is just too much.  It started snowing yesterday, Saturday, evening and has been constant since then with wind speeds up to 35 mph.  We are really stunned to see this.  This is the 3rd major snow for us this winter, and it is highly unusual to get any snowfall during a winter.   We are northeast of Dallas.  The El Nino phenomenon has kicked in big time. 

I got everyone tucked in  Friday  night.  The alpacas got plenty of hay; the chickens got their feeders filled and water topped off.  I cleaned up the barn and everyone had clean places to lounge.  The wind has been straight out of the west and right into the barn and out the other east doors.  We left the roll up doors open in case they wanted to go out, but so far they have not.  They all have a coating of snow on them but are warm enough cushing in the barn.

The chickens filed out of the coops when their little door was opened and milled around.  They don’t mind the weather, and the barn is a space they like to hang out in and they are protected there.

We just stayed in the house and watched it snow.  Monday it is supposed to be in the 60′s so this will all melt soon enough, but we will be back into the wet and mucky ground once again.  More rain is expected this week.  We can’t seem to dry out more than two days before we have more wet weather.

We just were not expecting all this white; it’s about 3 inches on the ground and we are supposed to get another 3 or more today.  Unbelievable North Texas weather.

Country Life for the weekend

Weekend Living in the country is such a nice change from driving to work during the week.  The weekend means we can sleep till 7 instead of 6; we can take a little more time giving everyone their morning feed and even notice and enjoy the sunrise  a little longer.  Nothing feels like work when you enjoy what you do, so the weekend chores are not really chores. I look at them as making a nicer area for the alpacas to lounge in the barn and  cleaner nests in the coops for the chickens to  lay their eggs.

When the barn is clean and freshened up it is a great feeling.  I eliminate hiding places for little mice or a wayward skunk or rabbit.    The chickens plop into their nest boxes and we know we will have more eggs to collect that evening. 

We have had lots of rain so the few days in between that have the sun shining we enjoy the most.  The truck or car get washed of the mud and grime to enjoy for a day or two before the next rain and muddy road. 

The puddles in the pasture dry out enough that we don’t have to wear our Wellies outside.  The alpacas venture out into the pasture to enjoy the new sprigs of spring grass before they are relegated into the barn when the rain starts up again.  They stretch out on the ground to soak up the warm sunshine. I wander over just to make sure they are breathing.   The chickens spread out in the pasture in the warm sunshine to find any new bugs hiding out.

So this weekend the sun is shining until Sunday afternoon, so we are cleaning up around here.  I am looking at the raised beds to get ready for the vegetables I will plant soon.  Green peppers were fabulous last year.  The tomatoes not so much, but this year I will plant them in a different bed and not so close together.   Some  of that alpaca poo and chicken poo will be turned into the soil to add some nutrients before this year’s planting begins.  The trees need a boost of fertilizer.

The robins and cardinals are here now.  I saw a little bird I had never seen before so I am trying to figure out what it is.  The mockingbird is here but not singing yet.  I will clean the hummingbird feeders and hang them out although the migration map shows they are just arriving at the west coast and the storms may interrupt their progress.  The  Monarchs will soon be taking off from Mexico and headed our way.

AgriTourism

I am sure you have heard of this term, AgriTourism.   If not, a lot of the agricultural community is turning their farmplace into a learning place.  Whatever they raise or grow they are willing to teach others about. Sometimes it’s free, sometimes not.  It may be a weekend event or an ongoing opportunity that just requires a phone call and a visit for a personal tour.  Questions will be asked and answered, maybe some free literature and contact information for more info.

This might be your chance to find a great new business for yourself or expand on what you have.  Google the term for your state and find out where to go for help in finding farms with information for you.  Also, check out the livestock networks of owner/breeders who might be able to guide you with help.  Check out the farmer’s markets and various animal show events for people to help you find your way.  They are glad to pass along what they have learned.

I researched heavily the alpaca and llama farms and ranches in the area and also their websites online to see who I wanted to visit or had info for me.  I read alot about chickens before I bought.  Those in AgriTourism are really wanting to help promote what they do.  They may have a guest house you can stay in for the weekend.  Some places have permanent cabins they rent as a restful vacation retreat for you.  One place nearby has expanded to include a chef who teaches cooking classes that include the seasonal foods they grow. 

 If you are looking for property it’s a great way to network to find out who might have a bit of land they have not put on the market but would be interested in selling.  I have found out a lot of land is sold among people who don’t even use a realtor.  Word of mouth among friends and neighbors travels far and can be successful.

AgriTourism is  becoming more popular and states are setting up new agencies to deal with this new business.  Find a place to visit and enjoy what you find.

Clever ideas

Happy Valentine’s Day………

http://activerain.com/blogsview/1296041/clever-household-ideas-worth-knowing

Please take a look at the link above for some helpful household and food related tips I am sure you can even enjoy today. Pass this along to everyone you know.

Our weather today is very foggy and cold too. The foot of snow has almost melted but the ground has been so saturated from all the previous rains that it really is not going anywhere; just making more puddles and lakes in the pastures and yard.  We are supposed to get more rain later this week. 

I can’t wait for some sunshine to dry us out.

Are you watching the Olympics?  Such talented athletes.

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