Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Show Tickers

Best of the Midwest Alpaca Show and Auction

Indiana Alpaca Invitational

We had to drop the show in Madison, Wisconsin, because it sold out before we could register. We are plenty busy with the two we are signed up for.

Show String

We are bringing 4 of our alpacas to show. We are also bringing Ashton Stone's Jolly Roger. Ashton Stone only has the one to show this spring, so we are taking him along with us. In return, they are watching the alpacas we have to leave at home. Next year Ashton Stone will be full of new cria and they will have a show string of their own.

Our senior and only experienced show animal is KSF Midnight Masquerade AKA: Maddie. Maddie went to a couple shows last fall. Unfortunately, because she was shorn so late in the spring, she was only able to show as "shorn". This spring will be her first showing in full fleece (which I prefer, see my rant on that with my blogging on last fall's shows). These 2 shows this spring will be the end of her show career. We are looking to bred her this summer.

Maddie's fiber (note the crimp and shine, very good, especially for a black where it's been harder to get good crimp):

Sancha's White Lightning AKA: "Bugs" is our oldest Cria to show this spring. And he's our only boy. His father won quite a bit in the show ring, and his mother won a first place halter. We are eager to see how he does!

Bug's fiber:

Victoria's Shelby:

Shelby's fiber has a very different crimp than I have seen. Her mother, Victoria did not show as well because she had no crimp. Shelby has crimp, and we've always said a Victoria with crimp would be awesome! I love it, it feels silky and I'm eager to see how it spins. We'll see how this particular style of crimp shows.

Our youngest (by less than an hour - she was born less than an hour after Shelby) is Kateri's Tehya:

Tehya's fiber:

We still are not sure what color Tehya is. We have a color chart, but her color is not on there. She has a pink hue to her, which she has had since birth. We thought it might lead to her being a rose gray, but she doesn't quite match that. She could be a fading fawn, with medium fawn at the top of her back to light fawn to even beige at her chest. Or maybe they will classify her as an indefinite light. We listed her as a light fawn, but we will see what the color check decides.

And this is Ashton Stone's Jolly Roger:

Jolly Roger's fiber:

halter training

our first show is on March 13-15th - less than a month away!!! So, I got halters on the little ones this weekend. I had high hopes, which I should not have put such great expectations on them. They are sweet babies, but halters just seem to freak out even the best alpaca.

Lightning "Bugs" did great. I had wanted to led him around the pasture but that was way more than he was willing to give. I got him to follow me around the paddock just fine. I'm sure he did not want to leave him friends and go out into the pasture. But he did great in the paddock with his buddies right there (the older boys kept a close eye on me, they are so funny how protective of Bugs they are). We learned from last time that once at the show, they lead so much better anyway (too many scary things that suddenly our familiar faces are welcome).

With the girls I had the idea to get Maddie on halter, than one of the little girls on halter next to Maddie and Maddie can show them how it's done. Maddie did great, but the girls were not ready for this at all. In the end I was happy to get the halter on Shelby, then on Tehya, and got them to take a few steps. That's good enough for day 1.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Next Project

I am now spinning fiber from Tucker:

I first put it on our skirting table (where you lay the fiber out to pick out all the debre, such as hay). Then the fiber was washed (we used the washer, just made sure it did not spin, aggitation will create felt and ruin any chance at yarn). We laid it out on the skirting table again to dry (note the cool skirting table J built):

Then J used a flicker to make it into a "cloud". I've been spinning it from this cloud (similar to rovings but not as tight). So far I like the cloud method. I think in some ways it's easier than rovings because rovings you have to pull to draft (sometimes I got thick yarn because I didn't draft enough). But the cloud is harder to keep consistent (if anything it gets really thin) because you are sort of making a roving as you go, it's hard to keep it the same thickness. Though in some ways that gives it character.

Here is the yarn that I have created so far:

That picture is really hard to see the color. Tucker is a light silver gray, which in his case is a mix of white and black. The yarn looks like white with black flecks it it. Mixed, it does look gray and from a distance it is almost gray, but up close it's white with a thin black streak in it.

The Bunnies

The two bunny cages in the "fiber" room in the basement:

I decided I needed some angora to go with my alpaca, so J found us 2 bunnies. Emma has taken over responsibility for them, so they are "her's" (though I will be brushing them as that's too much for someone her age).

First we got Snickers. She's a German/Giant mixed with Satin. Here Emma is trying to lure Snickers out of Lilly's cage. Snickers likes to steal Lilly's food (Snickers is a hungry young lady):

What a cute face Snickers has:

Then we got Lilly, a satin. Lilly is lilac color. Lilly was just born in December, she's only 2 months old. She won't be as big as Snickers (the German in Snickers makes her bigger). But Lilly is pretty small yet as she is so young.

Can you tell Emma loves this "baby"?

The bunnies most love evening time when we go down into the basement and let them out of their cages to run around (the dogs aren't too fond of this time, they seem to think being locked out of the basement means something bad is going on).

My first project

After I spun the roving into yarn, J took it and plied it. We decided to ply two different colors together, I thought that looked neat! This is the creame plied with the dark brown:

After plying he used the niddy noddy to get it into a skein (I don't have a picture of that). Then he washed it and hung it to dry.

We hung it to dry outside, it happened to be a warm day that day:

Lastly, he used the ball winder to make balls of yarn:

Then I knit it into slipper socks:

These slipper socks are very warm and cozy!!

The spinning wheel

I found using the spindle to be great for getting the basic idea of spinning down. But I prefer the spinning wheel. On the wheel, you only have to draft the roving with your hand, your foot petals to spin it (on the spindle you have to draft and spin all with your hands - I get overwhelmed easy).

A wonderful lady at spinning guilde let me use her spinning wheel to try it out. It is a Louet S17, one on my top 3 list. I really like it. Another on the list, the Mazurka, I didn't like when I tried it (it felt like it was tipping over on me). Here's the Louet:

And when not in use I keep it on top of our tv LOL with a puppy in the house who chews everything, I'm not taking any chances. Thankfully the dog is small so he can't get near it up here (where I keep not only the spinning wheel but also the fiber and other spinning tools so the dog can't get near them either, I can just see him spreading the fiber all over the house):

Spinning has taken over our house, I guess not everyone has a swift, a niddy noddy and ball winder in their living room:


Here is the spindle I used. The white ball of yarn is the one I spun already. The brown is in progress.

Here you can see the brown a bit better. It is in what is called a roving. A roving is made by a mill (less costly than making yarn though there is some cost). Spinners often spin from a roving.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

a thaw

While I am very happy to have warmer temps, it sure it making a mess of our barn and paddock. I decided this year to leave the frozen poop rather than chip away at it. Last year I chipped and dug at it with a shovel and that made for some craters in the ground come spring time.

I couldn't help myself and did chip just a bit in the boy's paddock. Now that area is a crater of poop soup - gross! Hopefully remembering the sight of it will stop any further attempts at digging and chipping the frozen stuff.

With this thaw, now I am able to rake and scoop the poop. Monday I took out 2 wheel barrows full. Tuesday I took out 3! I expect by the time I get there tonight it will be so wet from rain that I won't be able to scoop much of anything. Oh I bet they will all look like drowned rats. Their fiber keeps them warm enough that these temps will have them wandering out into the rain to cool off.

Slipper socks

My first knit pair of slipper socks from yarn I spun are complete. If I could connect my camera and show you a picture of them I would :( (I need to work on this!)

Of course we have a February thaw going on so I haven't needed to wear them yet. But I'm sure more cold weather is on the way.

I am now working on spinning Tucker's fiber from the raw cloud. It's looking really neat. He's a light silver gray, with a mix of white and black fibers. Not sure what I might knit out of this fiber.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Spinning and Knitting

This weekend I finished spinning my first rovings of wool. I started knitting it into slipper socks. I debated whether to make a purse/bag or slipper socks. The benefit of a purse/bag is that I could take it everywhere with me and see how many comments I get on it ;) but I really needed slipper socks. The ones I had (store bought no less) had a huge hole and had to be thrown out. My feet have been cold. I thought how wonderfully warm this newly spun wool would be for my feet. So slipper socks it is. I have them about 3/4 of the way done. I hope to finish knitting them tonight. I'm excited because I tweaked the pattern to work with the different color wool yarn I created. I have a creamy color, dark brown and medium brown. We plyed cream with dark brown and plyed dark and medium brown, then had just some dark brown left (there was a lot more of the dark brown than the other colors). So for the main part of the slipper socks I used the dark and medium brown plyed yarn. For the top cuff I used the cream plyed with dark brown, and for the toe I used just dark brown. I had to change the pattern to add the cuff (the pattern was for 1 color and no cuff).

J started sorting and washing more of our alpaca fiber. He has been sorting what we can send to the mill this spring. We plan to have some made into yarn, and some made into rovings.

He flicked the fiber of Tucker's that I had washed previously. He made it into what is sometimes called a Cloud (similar to a roving but not tight into a long row, instead more of a billowy fluff of fiber). We wondered if we could spin from this, as in spinning from raw (rather than rovings). Being new to spinning I didn't expect this to go over too well. I was very surprised to see that I could do it! Tucker's fiber is making some really neat yarn :)

Small Alpaca World

We were sad when in December we heard South Haven Alpacas was leaving the alpaca business. We bought our first alpacas from them: Kateri, Victoria and Snowstorm. They are such wonderful people. Due to Ken's health they were not longer able to remain in the business.

But we learned this weekend that Full Tilt Alpacas bought almost all of South Haven's alpacas. What makes the alpaca community seem so small is that we got Tucker from Full Tilt. I remember when J came back with Tucker he commented on how nice their farm was. I'm sure all the alpacas will find a nice and happy home at Full Tilt.

Alpaca Friends

I find the alpaca herd dynamics quite interesting. It must be the sociologist in me.

We noticed last fall at the shows that Maddie is very attached to Sommerfield. If Maddie was separated from Sommer, she would cry and whine. It makes sense. Maddie was taken (by us) from her mom, and the only alpaca who has been with her the entire time since being away from her mom is Sommer. Though I wonder if one of the other girls were there, she may have shown her attachment to them as well. Sommer just happened to be the only other girl there.

When doing herd health on Saturday was noticed how tight Apollo and Tucker are. When J was trying to trim Apollo's nails, Tucker went out of his way to try to push between J and Apollo. They are true buddies. We still haven't figured out why they don't fight. We hear stories of how boys will fight, and in fact, Tucker was in so many fights at the farm he came from, that is why they wanted to get rid of him. No fights at our farm (knock on wood). We've wondered if Snowstorm keeps the peace. I have seen him put an alpaca in their place. Even if he is gelded, he still seems like the leader on the boys side.

I find the cria fun too. When J was trimming an adults nails, one of the cria would come up to him and sniff at his hat. They are such curious little creatures.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Herd Health Day

Saturday was herd heath day, the day we trim nails, weigh them and give any necessary shots. We've found that the older ones who we have a weight on, we trim their nails in the field rather than put them in the chut. The Chut seems to freak out the older ones. The little ones we need to monitor their weight (to make sure they are growing and to know how much shot to give them). All our littles ones are growing nicely. Sommerfield is now 124 pounds, perfect for her to be bred this spring. Maddie is 103 pounds (finally over that 100 mark). Bugs (Lightning) and Tehya were both in the 70's (75 and 73). Tehya is a big girl given she's two months young then Bugs but only a couple pounds less. Shelby is our little one at 60 pounds, but she also gained the most in the last two months. She's cathing up just fine.

We had a bit of a thaw too, so spent some time getting up the poop. It's been a debate of mine when it's cold out whether to chip up and dig up the frozen poop, or let it lay until it thaws. There was one spot in the boy's paddock where I did chip and dig and that spot ended up in a pond :( I had similar things happen last winter when I did the chip and dig thing. In the girls paddock I just scrapped up what poop would come up. Now on a day when it thaws a bit, I could scrap up a lot more. This seems to have worked the best.

One concern for the day is that when we went to feed them in the evening, Kateri was limping. We aren't sure what could have happened to her front leg. The most likely is that she pulled a muscle when we were trimming nails and giving shots. She is a fiesty girl and fought us a lot (Tucker pushed me into the snow and I couldn't get up, and Sancha spit at us, but Kateri was bucking and fighting quite a bit that way). We will have to see how she is today. I hope it heals quickly.


A wonderful lady at spinning guilde let me borrow her spinning wheel. I used it to spin the rest of the wool rovings I got with my spindle. There is definitely a learnign curve with this, but I don't think I did too bad.

J took 2 different colors of the wool I spun and plyed them together. One set is the darkest color brown mixed with medium brown, the other is white plyed with the darkest brown. Both look really neat. He then washed it to set the twist. They were hung to dry overnight. Now J is going to use the ball winder to create a ball of yarn.

I was going to make a purse/bag from this first spun wool. Then I thought what warm slipper socks it would make. And now I can't decide. I will start knitting something from it today.

We cannot wait to get our alpaca fiber into rovings to start making our own product. I think I will try spinning from raw (though that may be too hard an endeaver for a new spinner, we'll see).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sancha's last trimester

If you have been watching the due date calculators at the bottom of the page you will notice Sancha has just over 3 months to go. With an 11.5 month gestation, she is nearing the end. And that due date is average. She could go weeks before (or after, like she did with Lightning).

Given our experience last year with Sancha getting so thin, this year we are going to be proactive. We have switched her to the SGL grain (the one with extra calories, instead of the maintenance grain). We have upped her Equine Senior (which she has been on since the vet recommended it last summer). Sancha is ten years old, and like many older females, has a really hard time keeping on weight. In expectation of the impending birth and her needing to feed the new cria, we want her nice a healthy, not thin.

I'm starting to think about boy vs girl and what color this new one might be. I love the surprise of a baby cria :)

Zack's big joke is that he wants the new baby named: Sanchafield (a mix of Sancha and her daughter Sommerfield). Zack thinks this is the funniest thing he has ever heard of. Well, let's just say he makes me laugh when he says it because he's laughing, but that's not on our list of names ;) Come to think of it, we should start a list of names. I'm thinking of sticking with our "nature" theme for Sancha's offspring (Sommerfield, then Lightning). That's very broad though, so much falls under nature. I guess for me some of it depends on if the cria is white, or if it's fawn. There's a 50% chance either way. Any ideas?

site counter

I added a site counter just before the beginning of February. I wasn't going to even mention it, but then I thought maybe someone would think it was there from the start. Given this blog has been going for over a year, that's a long time without counting. Plus, someday I might want a reference point from when it started. So February 2009 is the start of this site counter.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Here are some angora rabbit pictures

Snickers is a mix, German and Satin mix. This makes her bigger due to the German in her.

German (or giant) angora rabbit (how ironic this picture is bigger too):

A Satin Angora, the color on this is called "Broken"

A French Angora

The English Angora

This picture actually looks a lot like Snickers, but Snickers is a different color:

Emma has been doing a great job caring for Snickers. She even set her alarm early this morning to get up and feed Snickers :)
Pin It button on image hover