Friday, January 30, 2009

now I have angora

J picked up a rabbit today. Snickers is a satin & german mix. The main agnora types are: English is the most common, German (or giant), French, and Satin which is supose to be the best for spinning. J liked the satins the best because they don't have a furry face, and he thinks they look most like rabbits. He did the research on it, so I let him pick. I just want hair to spin. Snicker's color is agouti, which appears to mean a mix of brown/grey/blueish hue (is that a color?). I think it will mix well with white alpaca for a neat blue/grey tint to the white (give the white alpaca a blueish hue).

I'd post a picture of Snickers, but we still haven't fix our camera vs computer problem (our computer is too old to match with our camera software).

Emma is on cloud nine about the bunny. We told her since she's been responsible this can be her's. Though I know I will be brushing her, and J is already all over the feeding.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Halter Training

oh the horror....

I must start halter training the 3 cria. We've had them on leads a bit but no formal training yet. Last years training sessions were not fun. I keep reminding myself it will be a bit better this year. The cria are younger (last year is was Sommerfield and Max that were so hard, Maddie wasn't bad). Well, these babies are close in age to what Maddie was, so it should be ok, right?

I'll let you know. I'm starting this weekend.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Updated website

we did update our website but due to technical difficulties it's not up. I'll let you know when it is.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Show Tickers

Best of the Midwest Alpaca Show and Auction

Indiana Alpaca Invitational

The Great Midwest Alpaca Festival

Show Season

Show season is coming on us quick!

Last year our show season was only in the fall. Though we attended the spring show in Fort Wayne IN, and liked how it was run. We decided we not only want to attend that show this year, but want to show in other states too. Weighing many factors, there are the three spring shows we are planning on attending:

1) Best of the Midwest Alpaca Show and Auction (Colombus OH)
March 13-15

2) Indiana Alpaca Invitational (Ft. Wayne, IN)
April 3-5


3) The Great Midwest Alpaca Festival (Madison, WI)
April 24-26

I need to get a ticker going on the countdown to our first show. It's not that far off. And we need to halter train our three cria.

my head is spinning

as I look at all the various spinning wheels.... and dreaming.

My ideal criteria is:

1) 1 Treadle (pedal). I think 2 would confuse me (I never did get how to use more than one pedal when playing the piano). I think 1 has a lot of benefits, such as being able to switch legs when one gets tired.

2) single drive. I think double drive would have a steeper learning curve and could frustrate me.

3) I would like some variation in the ratio ability so that I can make various size yarn, though I do think I will do more with the thick chunky yarn. For this, I need the lower ratios (4:1 rather than 30:1). Though options would be good because one never knows what the future holds.

4) it's portable. I want to take it to shows, and spinning guild and who knows where. Not that it has to be labeled "portable" or even "travel" but something that I could carry with me places. This includes considering the weight of it, and the shape. I call the one style the H shape (looks like an H). It's the typical one people usually think of, like is in the story of Sleeping Beauty. Well, that's not the one I really want. I'd rather have more of an i shape (called a castle style). So portable meaning not terribly heavy and castle shape.

"H shape" spinning wheel:

"i shape" also called the castle style:

5) price... there is alway price. Being one could spend $1k on it if given no limits, I need to limit it.

I'd love the Ashford Joy. It has all the features I want. But it is out of my price range. So :(


I have my short list reduced to 4:

Most other Ashfords I crossed off my list for one reason or another. I do still have the Ashford Kiwi on my short list, though I don't like the fact it has 2 treadles. If it weren't for that, this would be my top choice.


I have 2 Kromski brand models on my short list. The Kromski Prelude is on my list even if it is the H shape. As for portability, it is only 9 pounds so not terrible to transport. It has 1 treadle, various ratios, and otherwise meets my ideal. The Mazurka is also on the short list. I'm confused if it is a double drive, or if that is an option on it. If it is only double drive available then that is off the list. If it has the option of not being double drive, then it would push the Prelude off my list.



The other one on my list is the Louet S17. Initially I didn't like this one because it's not what one would think of as a traditional spinning wheel and I was worried what impression it would give at shows and such. It is also 20 pounds, so not ideal with portability. But, it's supose to be best for the thicker chunky yarns that I am aiming for. And J mentioned white washing the wheel and putting a silloutte of an alpaca and maybe a rabbit on the wheel. That would make a neat personalization.

Louet S17:

At this point I'm most leaning towards the Louet. It's only down side is the portability (20 pounds of it). But at shows we carry much more heavy stuff than that anyway. I'll just have to build up some muscles.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

spinning yarn

Originally I had thought I'd learn to knit, but have a mill make the yarn. Then at a show last fall I spoke with a lady who was spinning and thought that I would like to spin after all. Since then I have been looking more into it, but given the price of spinning wheels I'm taking it one step at a time. I located a local Spinning Guild and grabbed up some courage to go and attend. I learned so much! I came home with a spindle with the start of a strand of yarn on it. Now I am really itching to get a wheel.

This weekend I am going to wash some of the fiber. I bought a book that helps outline exactly how to wash it (it has been explained to me but I am very fearful of making it into felt accidently). We will see how that goes.

Now to decide on a spinning wheel. I know I want one that is portable. I want to be able to take it to shows and spinning guild and so forth. I also know I want a one pedal one (not two). I wish there was an easy way to find a used one.

subzero temps

It has been bitter cold lately. I threatened the kids that the babies are coming in the house and sleeping in their beds. Of course that got the conversation going of which one would sleep in who's bed.

Instead, we put down more straw in the barn, a nice thick layer for them to snuggle into. I fed them more alfalfa hay (the hay gets their rumination going and warms them up some, the alfalfa has more protien than other grass hay). And, I did many of their grain feedings in the barn to keep them out of the wind. Their fiber coat is very warm, but the wind is difficult on them.

The first few nights we worried, and checked on them first thing in the morning. They all made it through the night, though had frost on their backs and in some cases it was hanging on their eye lashes and muzzles. I have some pictures (one of these days we will get pictures back here).

I am glad to see warmed temps in our forcast.

You know you are a farmer when.....

You know you are an alpaca farmer when......

..... when you have a day off of work and spend it at a hay auction. J warned me what it would be like, but still a culture shock for this girl who grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. Am I really a farmer now? I don't know if I can ever get the city girl totally out of me. Growing up, I would have never thought I'd find myself at a hay auction. One advantage we have is that alpacas need hay with more grass in it, hay that isn't good for horses or other livestock. There wasn't a lot of grass hay there, but what was there, there wasn't much competition for. We got some decent hay for under $4 a bale (what it is sold for at a local farmers market).

..... when you determine the temperature outside by the point the poop freezes. I haven't perfected this yet, but I have discovered that there is different freezing points. For example, there is a point where poop on the ground will freeze to the ground. This I remember from last winter. It's a pain because the choice then is to dig it out by chopping up ice and frozen ground with a shovel, or to wait until it thaws but have a soapy mess. We tried both options last year and I didn't like either. The chopping one leaves holes in the ground, the soap option is so messy come thaw time. I have discovered a new freezing point, it has to be at a lower temperature. This is where the poop freezes, but in the round ball shape before freezing to the ground (a round ball of the raisin shape pellets) . This week I have found poop frozen in balls of pellets not attached to the ground. I haven't figured out at what point this happens. I also haven't figured out if it freezes in that shape before it hits the ground, or if the ground is too frozen to let it blend into the ground (it's likely a combination of these two). Things you never needs to know!!
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