Alpaca food

Alpaca’s are not picky eaters.  Give them water, good pasture grass (we have brome with mixed natives), and hay, with some additional pellet feed once a day, and they are happy campers.  I use Stillwater minerals to give them some additional nutrients.  It is in a dry powdered form and I just throw a small handful on their pellet feed each evening and keep some extra in a spare feed trough for free access as needed.  We were lucky because the ranch owners before us raised Texas Bison and so all the pastures have been fairly well maintained and easy to resurrect even after they moved out a year before we bought this place.  The 104 acres was fenced and cross fenced into 11 pastures.  We have a neighbor grazing his cattle and maintaining  60 acres for us.  The 4 acres the alpacas are on have been easy enough to get into grazing shape by mowing to keep the weeds from going to seed.  With all the rain we have been drenched in so far this year, the pastures have rallied nicely and the alpacas graze all day.

Food is important to us all and we are lucky to have what we need.  Others who are not so lucky must rely on others to contribute to a food bank or similar resource.  I have found a few websites that do not cost you anything to contribute food.  Please put the links on your desktop and whenever you sign in, just take a moment to donate.  I have added the links below, and if you Google “donate food” you  may find other similar links.

The Hunger Site has additional links for other causes when you open it.  http://www.thehungersite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=1

Free Rice donates through the UN World Hunger program.  I read that some schools use this site to help teach children language skills and they see immediately their reward by their donation of rice.

http://freerice.com/

 

Alpaca fleece uses

I have fleece from our six alpacas for the past three years sitting in the garage.  I hope to get it sold to local knitters, weavers, felters,etc. But for now it is separated and identified as to which alpaca it came from and what year, and also whether it is the prime blanket or the seconds from legs,neck, etc.   I sent some off to a friend who plans to try some felting. 

I did find some good info out on YouTube on felting and in particular felting a purse by a fiber artist that was most interesting to watch.  It’s helpful actually seeing someone doing it their way and see what inspires them.  Here is that  link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBtpamYG0Lo  It has lots of rather loud background music, so be ready.

The Alpaca Registry has 16 official “show” colors.  Of course there are many shades and variations, also multi-color that have white spots intermingled with the fleece color.

I think I may just send some out to close-by fiber stores and have them use it in their classes and if that can generate some business then that is great.

I will be joining the AFCNA (Alpaca Fiber Cooperative of North America) http://www.afcna.com/ and any fleece I might have can be sent to them and they will process and turn into products that members can buy and re-sell.

The fleece is lighter than wool and very insulating, and not scratchy.  I cannot wear wool, but alpaca is so soft.  The fleece is made into socks, shawls, sweaters, hats, gloves, evening dresses, coats, etc.  You name it and it can probably be made.  The fleece is graded and sorted to be used for the appropriate product.  Lots of stores are now stocking alpaca garments. I have seen sweaters at Gap where my daughter worked, and at other similar stores I’ve shopped at. VivaTerra has some wonderful alpaca products.  http://www.vivaterra.com/pls/enetrixp/!stmenu_template.main

Do some alpaca shopping and make someone happy.

 

Being “Green”

Everywhere you turn, someone is mentioning that we need to “green” up.  It’s very easy to do. You don’t have to change your entire way of life to make a difference.  Choose one thing to change to a greener way of living.  Once you have changed one thing, then choose your next green project.  Here is a link to green yellow pages to shop for products.  A very easy change I made last week was buy five of the $1 each, “green” shopping bags at Brookshires grocery store.  I didn’t have any plastic bags to stuff in the cabinet and I keep the empty green bags in the car to have with me whenever  I choose to shop.  You don’t have to use the green grocery bags just at the grocery store.  Take them into any store you may shop in.

Link to “green” yellow pages; while you are here, read about Co-op America.

 http://www.coopamerica.org/pubs/greenpages/

Alpaca air conditioning

new alpaca barnThe alpaca barnIn the hot and often humid northeast Texas, the alpacas need a way to cool off.  They do like water and for many a pond is ideal.  However, those can be  less than ideal as they may tend to just lay in the water which will rot their fiber and I have read that a female actually chose to birth in the water and her newborn drowned.  So we limit their water accessibility to either just a shallow wading type pool or wet down sand pit area, although sand may tend to clog their fleece. 

I have seen some owners hook up a hose to a faucet and hose their undersides (getting their back wet will trap in their heat in the fleece and create a sauna effect and not cool them) or hooking up a sprinkler set on a low to the ground spray.  I decided to try an idea of buying one of those tank sprayers (I found one at Big Lots for eight dollars) and fill it with water and walk to them.  It eliminates the puddling of water and creating a mud hole, and I can move around with it easily.  I also use it to spray down the barn floor; they like that and come in to cush in the cool.  I turn on the industrial ceiling fans to downdraft and it is pretty much as good as it gets for them.  

We designed the 30 x 50 barn so that it is segmented into three equal width areas the 50′ length of the barn.  The middle width is my work area and has tall kennel fencing on each side, front to back of barn, with a walk through gate in each side.  One gate enters into the girls area and the other opens into the boys section. As you look at the pictures above, the girls are on the left and the boys on the right end of barn.  Each end has access to two pastures that can be closed off as needed.  You enter the barn through the center person-door into the center work area.  Each alpaca section has access to two different pastures through roll up doors, which can be further fenced off into additional smaller pastures with gate access when we are ready to do that.  Each alpaca barn section has two 10′ wide x 9 foot tall roll up doors, one door in the barn front wall and one in the back wall of the barn, mostly for security if needed, or bad weather.  Either one, or both roll up doors, can be closed.  The barn is a 12 foot gable roof with low ridge vents, so plenty of room for air movement and we put in two industrial fans (they look like airplane propellers) that are on a switch and can choose whether they will updraft  or downdraft  and choose what speed.  We designed the barn and Mueller did the rest.  We situated it so that sun does not enter in the summer, except for just a little in evening and morning through the roll up doors that we keep open and they face east and west.  In the winter, the low sun warms the interior and in the cold mornings our alpacas are cushed in the warm space.  Other than that, the interior is shaded in summer and creates additional shade outside opposite the side the sun is on. In the winter, it is protected from the north wind because the south and north barn ends are solid with no doors or windows. 

Inside, and outside in pastures, we have tall above ground water faucets to keep water buckets full and irrigate as needed.  We had a great husband/wife team install all the fencing and they did a great job.  We will have more fencing added as we need it.  We had a great electrician who advised on lighting placement and fan placement.

 

Alpaca treats and vintage recipes

I have read that alpacas like various fruit or certain kinds of horse treats, but i have yet to find anything they won’t turn away from.  They don’t like the horse oat and carrot treats, broken into small pieces so they could easily chew, and they didn’t like the carrots or fruits. I did run across a recipe to make your own alpaca treats, so I will try that too.   So, I am still working on getting them to tell me what they do like here in Texas.

In the meantime, I found that by Googling “vintage recipes” you can find all kinds of people recipes, some dating back into the 1800’s (very simplified ingredients lists and many times there are no measurements), but it is fun to read through them and see how the cooks were dealing with seasonal, local produce in their area.  Take a look and see if you find anything new to try, or a cookbook to buy.

 

 

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