Alpacas in the Fall

Well we had a nice turnout for our National Alpaca Days.  It is interesting that no one actually was from this immediate area; they all drove a distance to see the alpacas, feel the fleece, get some literature and enjoy the country.  We hope to have a holiday farm day sometime in November and additionally have products for sale. We do have one pregnant girl that should have her cria by then. 

The chickens are all doing well and enjoy their coops.  I do have 3 guinea fowl that just don’t care to go in at night; they roost on top of the coop.  I call them The Three Stooges.  Unfortunately, a couple of the other guineas in another coop seem to be learning their bad behavior.  I have a feeling that will all change when the winter winds start to blow.  For now they are enjoying the crisp fall evenings.  I hear the owls hooting in the tree lined edge of our 104 acres when I am out closing up the coops and always fear they will be owl dinner, but so far they have avoided that fate.

The chickens are getting close to laying age and my calendar has a note to switch to layer feed in a couple weeks.  I have to get them fixed up with nesting boxes.  I found dishpans at the $1 store and will try them out.  Since they are plastic they will clean out easily and be lightweight and indestructible.

I am starting to think about Christmas gifts; with the economy we will scale back our spending this year;  I am also looking at making some cute soaps and sewing some hanging kitchen hand towels.  I subscribe to a blog, Tipnut, that I found to be fun and helpful, try it and see if you don’t find some info to help you out in some way

The only veggies I planted this year were tomatoes and they really didn’t take off until after the hot summer ended.  They are now loaded with blooms and I have already taken a dozen large ripe tomatoes with plenty more growing.   My favorite flower Impatiens have also revived after the hot weather; I thought they were gonners.  But they revived into large bushy plants that are exquisite in the shade.

My September/October shady garden

My September/October shady garden



Hurricane Ike

Well, Ike was a huge  storm that impacted several states.  It was a huge storm that stayed together and traveled up from the Gulf and north through Texas then northeast from Texas into Arkansas, Missouri,  and into Illinois and Ohio.  The devastation is massive.

The state of Texas did a great job of coordinating evacuations and all went smoothly.  They are rescuing those who stayed behind as well as rescuing the livestock that are stranded.  Those who stayed behind say they will never stay behind again when an evacuation order is given.  One neighborhood had 14 houses on fire.  Sometimes it’s what the storm triggers that creates destruction as well, like fallen trees killing people, electric lines down all around, gas leaks, etc. 

Here is info from an e-mail alert I am on for livestock and animal rescue, to report dead or stranded animals or to call for hay or shelter.  Several states are giving assistance in the rescue and shelter.  Please call the numbers below for assistance. Dialing 2-1-1 will find you help also.

Texas Animal Health Commission
Box l2966 * Austin, Texas 78711 * (800) 550-8242 * FAX (512) 719-0719
Bob Hillman, DVM * Executive Director
For info, contact Carla Everett, information officer, at 1-800-550-8242, ext. 710, or
Hurricane Ike– September 15, 2008
Animal response to Hurricane Ike continues to be a team effort, as the issues are much larger than the resources of any one agency or association.  The TAHC statewide has worked with the livestock industry to establish sites for emergency shelters, and with local governments, agencies and associations to develop animal issues committees.
+ The Texas Animal Health Commission continues is supporting the disaster district committees in the affected area with persons who have animal and livestock expertise.  The agency has established a small area command in the Austin headquarters, and is one 30+ agencies in the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management.
The TAHC’s Area Command can be reached at 800-550-8242, ext 296.
+ At the request of the TAHC, members of a National Veterinary Response Team (NVRT) are now being deployed by the federal government to assist in Texas recovery operations.  Animal response teams from both Florida and New Mexico have volunteered to provide assistance to Texas via the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) system and are awaiting final authorization.
+ A joint TAHC and USDA Veterinary Services team is working in the Beaumont area, assessing large animal issues from the air and ground.  The scope of livestock death loss is not yet known.  Another team will be assessing the western side of the storm area, when re-entry is allowed.
+ The Texas State Animal Resource Team (TXSART), supported by the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, is working in the area with credentialed animal care groups. 
A TXSART hotline for Orange and Jefferson County has been set up at:  409-980-7280 and 409-838-2510.
+ In several storm-ravaged counties, large numbers of cattle and horses caught in the storm surge either died or fences are down, and animals are loose or stranded.  The TAHC is coordinating carcass disposal with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  Reports of dead livestock should be made to the TAHC’s Area Command Center  at 800-550-8242, ext 296. Callers will be asked to provide the location, species of animal, approximate number, and if, possible, the GPS coordinates of the site.
+ The Texas Agrilife Extension, Texas Department of Agriculture and livestock industry groups which have established “Operation No Fences: Hurricane Ike Horse and Cattle Relief” to collect feed,  hay and water troughs to provide the livestock with safe feed and water. 
For more information or to make a donation, call the Texas 4H Foundation at 979-845-1213.
+ Producers who wish to donate hay or are in need of hay are encouraged to call the
Texas Department of Agriculture’s Hay Hotline at 1-877-429-1998.
Visit for more information.
+ Many of the emergency animal shelters for large and small animals remain operational, and livestock producers continue to generously volunteer their pastures and barns for evacuees. 
Evacuees who need to locate sheltering space should call 2-1-1.

Early information from shelters providing reports indicate that more 550 livestock and about 1,200 small animals were provided refuge.  This does not include persons sheltering their pets in their temporary housing, or individuals providing sheltering space.  The TAHC has sourced pet cages from Louisiana to augment the local sheltering capacity.

Charitable giving, many ways

A few blogs back I was talking about “going green” and put out some websites to get you interested in the concept, as well as some products that are affordable the average family can start with.

Today some newsletters I subscribe to have popped up and so I though about putting out there the links to maybe get you thinking about ways you might be able to participate.

The first one is fairly easy, can be worked on in your own home at your pace, and very little interaction is necessary in order to accomplish a worthy goal. It is Project Linus.  A National organization with many state/city chapters. The more rural areas may not have a close chapter, and if not, you can contact them to try and start your own.  Here is the website:

I like to sew and it is a great one for me to work with.  Some chapters may be lucky enough to get products donated, but generally you are on your own in rounding up the materials needed to sew a blanket.  

Please read through all the tabs and sign up for the newsletter.  Many of the local chapters issue their own newsletter, as well.  If you don’t want to work through Project Linus, then think about calling a local hospital or children’s service organization and make and donate blankets locally. You could start your own informal blanket giving group.  Note that Project Linus has some strict size and condition requirements given on their website for making blankets to donate; you might want to follow their requirements in making and donating locally on your own.

Another cause is one of orphaned children in Africa my uncle and his family in Baltimore are involved with through their church.  He was a Peace Corps worker/teacher in Brazil for many years when he was younger and has some knowledge of hard times these countries face.  Many churches have donated money, materials and time on this and it is all coming together although the red tape in some ways makes it slow going.  Nevertheless, spirits are not daunted and the children they are helping are responding positively.  Here is the website:  He spent two months last year in Africa donating his time and energy in getting the village built.  They only recently got water piped in.   And here is their blogspot you can subscribe to also

And of course, Habitat for Humanity, is well known with lots of opportunities.

Volunteering locally is always needed.  No matter how small, all acts of kindness will be remembered and hopefully passed forward.

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.

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