An Alpaca Spirit Ranch Christmas

Well, today is winding down and finds all of our animals healthy and happy.  They all look forward to their evening meal of pellet feed and fresh hay.  They see me coming towards the barn near dusk and start racing through the barn and around the pastures.  I honestly don’t know what keeps them from running into each other or stumbling over the uneven surfaces.  They delight in this race  and the girls pasture is neck and neck with the boys racing in their pasture and through their side of the  barn.  Today was in the 60’s and with some brief sunshine until the clouds rolled in this afternoon.  Some drizzle and maybe light rain tomorrow, Friday and off and on through the weekend.

The chickens delighted in the really nice weather today and were all over the pastures.  I am not sure what they were able to find to eat, but they were sure busy trying to find something good.  They are such fun to watch scampering around. 

I think I may let some of the broody hens raise some chicks in the spring when it is warmer and sell them.  I did look into selling eggs at the local Farmer’s Market and I must get a permit from the city to do so. I will have that in place when the market starts up again in the spring.  I am looking into some other items to make and sell at the market.

Have a nice holiday and a Happy New Year.   Get some tax breaks by purchasing an alpaca by the end of this year.  You don’t have to have a place for him; he can be boarded.  Check with your tax adviser and visit a nearby alpaca ranch before the end of the year to find an alpaca or two to own.

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The week before Christmas

In Texas sometimes it is hard to get into the holiday spirit when there is no snow and it’s warm out.  My husband and I are from Kansas but have lived in Texas since 1982. 

We love Texas but I miss the winter snow sometimes.  What I love about Texas is that when it does get cold, down into the 30’s, it doesn’t stay there long.  This past week we had an ice day and some temps down below 30, but Saturday they are predicting we will hit 70, but Sunday will be in the mid 30’s for a couple or so days again.  It is a challenge keeping the water buckets de-iced and the chickens with water to drink.  I hand carried some warm water from the house out to the barn to help refresh everyone. 

We took advantage of the nice temps on Saturday and after we got back from participating in a 9 a.m. Christmas  parade by the city of Sachse (we rode in the Sachse  Historical Society float; we are still involved with that org. after living in Sachse for several years) we  gathered more firewood back in the trees that line our 100 acre property.  We cut up the fallen trees and stack them out of the way of the cows and load up what we need in our polywagon pulled behind the lawntractor.  We had one or two that had been hit by lightning; others just naturally died and fell and have seasoned.  By Sunday we were ready to throw some of those logs on the fire  and boy did they burn nicely.  We are ready for the next round of bad weather coming Sunday.

,A dose of winter in north Texas

We got hit this week with our first sleet; it came through on Tuesday evening I think.  It didn’t slow down traffic and had stopped by late evening, but the ice in the yard hung around for a day as the temps just stayed bitterly cold with a more bitter wind blowing.  The alpacas didn’t seem too bothered; they usually hang out in the barn to stay out of the wind and munch on hay.  It does freeze their water buckets though and by next morning I was chopping out ice so they could get to unfrozen water to drink.

The chickens maintained nicely; They went into their coops when the winds and cold got too much for them and so I just closed them in and kept them closed in  until the next day when it warmed just a little and the winds were not as strong.  I still had a few eggs to gather.  They stayed comfortable huddled down in the litter and nest boxes. 

They do like their nest boxes.  I went cheap-o and just got dishpans at the Dollar Tree store where everything really is $1.  My hubbie made a framework out of scrap plywood so the pan will drop down and catch by the lip on the framework; he mounted the frame onto an interior stud for stability about 18″ above the floor.  I put 2 in each coop, but they seem to like them so much I think I will add a couple more underneath each set in place.

Now this weekend is supposed to be in high 70’s but then drop again to the 40’s by Tuesday-Weds with a possible wintry mix of rain/sleet.  What I like about Texas is we can get a taste of winter  but it doesn’t hang around long. We are from Kansas (Wichita, Salina, Manhattan, Wamego) and I just really got tired of the winters.  I love north Texas weather, all seasons. 

On the really cold days I give the alpacas a little extra feed to help give them energy to stay warm and keep the hay troughs filled.  The chickens never run out of feed or water; I keep them filled.  They like to sip out of the alpaca water buckets.  I have 5 gal. Tractor Supply buckets I got on sale, and I put an old tire around each so they can’t tip over.  In the winter I like to put 2 tires around each and pack with hay for some insulation to slow the water from any freezing.  The chickens hop on the tire and sip away.  I don’t have to worry really about them running out of water since this provides a backup source to their coop waterers.  I try to get the chicken waterers situated in the sun outside during the day; they seem to drink more plus it’s warm for them.

They have been fantastic egg layers.  I am currently overrun with eggs; I need to hang out my egg selling shingle; we will sell at the Farmers Market and that requires a permit I must get at the city offices first. The Market is not currently active; it will pick up again in the spring when the farmer’s are bringing their veggies and food stuffs to sell.  In the meantime we have lots of eggs to eat and I will give some away to neighbors, as well as put a for sale ad in the paper.

I am busy making some Christmas gifts; a little something extra for the girls in the family; too expensive in the store.  I am making hanging kitchen towels; easy and I just love mine; I use them constantly myself.  I have the pattern to sew up the top and cut a kitchen towel in half and stitch together; add some bias tape ties and you’re done.  I may sell these at the market if I can get an extra stash sewn up. 

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Enjoy your family this season  and remember,  kids don’t remember the gifts they got as kids when they are adults, but they do remember the memories made.  Make some memories with your family.  Special meals, special events (go bowling together, volunteer to help a needy family, make ornaments or cookies together, serve at a community Christmas meal).  And as my grandmother would say, count your blessings.

A belated Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving; our family–son, daughter and their spouses–gathered in Nacogdoches this year so we could all be together for once.  We won’t all be together for Christmas so we will be visiting the kids as they have time off from their jobs over the holidays–retail managers and restaurant managers don’t find themselves with any time off during holidays, so we will go to see them.

Now, since the economy is in the dump this year, I have been finding things I can make since I have more time now to do so. I get the Tipnut newsletter and she had a link to a pattern and a picture of this wonderful purse/tote from Lazy Girl Designs.  Please take a look and go to the Noriko Handbag link below to get the free pattern.  I love the fabric she used and I can’t wait to try my hand.  I have been going online at eBay to find some fabrics for some of my other projects.

http://tipnut.com/noriko-handbag/

I hope this season will find you with friends and/or  family or volunteering in some way to make others happy.