Alpacas in Texas

Alpacas are becoming a little more well known in the U.S. I think. With some events and shows, alpacas can be seen and observed and hopefully you will want a couple for yourself. 

They are easy keepers; don’t require a whole lot of maintenance (once a year shearing, occasional nail trims, and vaccinations), and are small enough to be “user friendly”.  I have two gelded guard llamas (one for boy pasture; one for girl pasture).  Our fencing is very secure so far.  We put up a barn, with water lines also, for their comfort in bad weather or hot weather, and to keep the feed dry and have a dry area I can feed and water them and keep extra bales of hay.  It has worked out perfectly.

I have read about some getting so smitten with them that they buy them and bring them home before fully planning out their care and housing.  Most farms can board your alpacas for a short while  until you are ready for them.  This will give you time to set up your fencing (no barbed wire) and get their pastures and housing ready.

We worked out our pasture design over and over, trying to devise the most efficient use of gates and alleys to get them to go where we want them.  Once you have tried herding a group of alpacas in a pasture without any lanes or alleys, you will see why it is important to have them.  To get the most efficient plan, imagine you are all by yourself and there is some kind of emergency requiring you to move the animals from one spot to another.  How would you do it by yourself?  Thinking about it in this way makes you design a most efficient plan.  Your interior fencing can be less fortress like in most cases. However, make sure you have enforced fencing separating the boys from the girls. Make it tall enough they can’t jump it or push it down. The boys tend to rub against the fencing with their body weight several times a week, if not daily. 

Please visit the TXOLAN show in February in Fort Worth and enjoy these beautiful animals.  Any of us would love to have you visit our ranch. Just find us at the link below and give us a call and visit the show in February. 

http://www.txolan.org/

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Alpacas in the United States

Alpacas arrived in the U.S. in a “short” window of time between  1984-1998.  They were carefully selected from the South American herds.  After that the U.S. shut down any more importation. Each animal was issued a pedigree registration number and certification,  and DNA blood testing is performed to ensure accuracy of lineage in each newly born alpaca.

They are a camelid and two kinds of alpacas: huacaya (fluffy teddy bear look) and the suri (long penciled “dreadlocks”). Some close relatives of the alpaca are the vicuna, guanacos, llamas and huarizo (offspring of a male llama, female alpaca).

Camelids can be found throughout the world. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Asia are examples.   Alpacas are a modified/pseudoruminant with a three compartment stomach instead of four (i.e,cattle, goats, sheep, deer).

In the United States the fiber industry is being developed and several mills have been started to process the camelid fibers into yarns or clothing.  All fiber can be used, but the identified coarseness determines how the product is used (fine clothing, socks, mittens, or  rugs, etc.)  Breeding for improved fiber is a goal of most alpaca owners and breeders.

Farmers at risk

I signed up for several agriculture related newsletters.  Some are better than others; some arrive more frequently than others. Some have contests and recipes also.

Today I received one from my Women In Ag Sampler, a related site of Agriculture Online and  Successful Farming. You have several choices of newsletters if you go here to sign up at Agriculture Online  http://email.agriculture.com/cgi-bin17/DM/y/jBoWj0RwuGf0BJx0QV0Gz 

and here for Successful Farming Online http://www.agriculture.com/ag/sfonline/index.jhtml?_requestid=172706&_requestid=172796&_requestid=172799

Today they had an article on farmer’s healthcare. In particular, hearing loss, was the focus today.  Go here to read the article and there are some free clinics in some states. AGRISAFE is the name. For more info click here http://email.agriculture.com/cgi-bin17/DM/y/jBoWj0RwuGf0BJx0H1oB0GC

or here for AGRISAFE links

http://agrisafe.org/links/

Take a look and see if there are any newsletters that may interest you.  I am new to this way of life and so any info I can find is a great education for me.

44th Presidential Inauguration, Barack Obama

For up to date events tomorrow, Tuesday January 20, 2009, I have attached a link below.

http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/ny-usschedule0120,0,7629977.story

A Handmade Christmas: Success

We got a very nice thank you from my husband-the-architect’s boss and wife, who appreciated very much the “food basket” we gave them for Christmas.  We decided to be very observant of the economy and focus on gifting from local suppliers. 

We found (accidentally stumbled upon) a little country store in Farmersville, TX,  that actually has rented  space in a storage facility. The facility is not fenced so it is easy to enter, and their space faces out to the fairly busy Highway 78.  They have made nice signs and the big roll-up door is open all the way where they have set up simple tables and shelves inside to display the  many wares.  They have a commercial refrigerator like the stores, with clear doors and have some fresh produce and milk,locally supplied  eggs,  etc., to choose from.  But mostly it is jams, jellies,  honey, salsas, nuts,  that is supplied from area farmers, and fruits like oranges and apples that are much larger and nicer than the stores. 

We endorsed and supported our area farmers this Christmas with our purchases.  Then to get such raving appreciation was a good feeling.   Plus, they like the products so much they are going to get some products by the case to gift to their friends.  How about that?  You never know how one action will affect someone, and in this case, it was several people: the boss and their friends, the store, and the farmers.

We packaged up the products in a very nice sturdy basket with a strong handle to adequately support all the jars. The baskets were unused in our attic, so we recycled them. I made some very nice hanging kitchen handtowels 

My handmade Christmas themed hanging kitchen towel

My handmade Christmas themed hanging kitchen towel

 to include in the gift as a cover over all, kind of like Little Red Riding Hood’s basket of goodies for grandma.

It was nice of them to let us know how much they loved the gift and we will be sure to do more of the same gifting in the future. 

Be sure to look up products for sale in your area under Local Harvest, the link is in the left column.  When inside, enter your zip or city,state, etc. You can see all the products categorized and sign up for regular updates too.

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