Monday, May 30, 2011

Summer Weather

After a few cool and rainy days we have some wonderful sunny and warm weather today. Alpacas don't always handle the heat so well (they do better with the cold). So on these hot days, we haul out the hose and spray them down. They love this! After they are hosed down, they usually roll in the sunshine. Then they lay and soak up the sun. Often this strikes up their appetite and they head over to the hay bucket.

I sometimes call their sunbathing stance a "death lay" because they could be mistaken for being seriously sick or even dead:

Sancha is due anyday now with her cria (she's on day 345, right in the midst of when most female alpacas deliver, day 335 to 370+). Sancha has had 3 cria on hour farm (this is her 4th). She typically delivers on day 350 - 356 and has a 20+ pound cria (average size cria is closer to 15 pounds). She grows them nice and big!

Sancha is the white alpaca on the far left of this picture, note the huge hanging cria belly on her:

We are very eager to see this cria. And I know Cheyenne would love a playmate. She tries to play with the other moms but they give her the cold shoulder. The excitement of seeing the new cria is so much fun: male or female, what color? But I also love seeing the cria play together. They form a cria gang and will have lots of fun together. I can't wait to see our 2011 cria gang.


I haven't posted about working with fiber because to be honest, I haven't done much with it lately. Between the farm and work and family and training to run in a 10K, the thing that got dropped was spinning up yarn. And I did this horrible thing of starting to spin up some fiber I hate to spin. (I don't like very fine fiber because it's hard for me to spin, I end up over spinning it so it's no longer soft which is the benefit of fine fiber. And, this batch is an older bag that had lots of second cuts in it). Between not having much time and not really wanting to spin the fiber, I really got side tracked!!

Now that I have bags and bags of freshly shorn wonderful fiber to spin, I can't wait to get my hands on it! This is what motivated me to finish spinning up this white fiber over the last few days.

I flicked (my flicker in the box along with the second cuts I came across):

Here is the flicked fiber:


And plying two strands:

I decided I just wanted to get this yarn done, so I spun up a thicker chunky and at times lumpy yarn (those second cuts will come out as lumps if you don't skirt them all out). I figured a funky yarn would be fun (and would be quicker for me to spin up given the way this fiber is).

Today I am getting my hands all over some new fiber!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Why did I do this to myself?

Here I have all this wonderful freshly shorn fiber that I would love to spin up into yarn. I have great plans to spin up some of Bo's fiber. Yet, on my spinning wheel I have one strand of white, awaiting a second strand to ply to it. It has been in this state for far too many weeks to count. This white fiber, I don't enjoy spinning one bit. I only started it because I thought it would be nice for making an infant hat. And I certainly thought it would be completed way before shearing time.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Shearing the boys

This year we have four males on our farm to use as herdsires:

They were the first to be shorn this past Saturday morning. (It takes me a bit to crop all my pictures and get them up on the blog. We only have dial-up internet at home so loading pictures can be a day long undertaking. But, I know this blog without pictures just isn't the same).

The before pictures are previous pictures I had on hand of each of the boys. At their age, they don't change that much.

Our oldest breeding age male is ~ ARF Our Peruvian Tucker:

I think his face especially looks like a Dr. Seuss character:

Here Tucker is the center of the boys paddock:

The next oldest is SA Peruvian Greyt Exxpectations:

ATA Peruvian Boppana:

Bo's top knot had so many burrs and was starting to matt so we had to really trim it back. I know it will fill in again, and next time we won't let it get so bad so we won't have to trim it so much.

ATA Peruvian Harley:

While only Tucker has a cria on the ground (our own OHVNA Challenger), Greyt's first cria is due any day now (by our own Sancha). We hope both Bo and Harley are ready to breed this year. We have quite a few girls we will need to breed.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Shearing of the Juv's

On Saturday we set out to shear our male herdsires and then our juveniles. I think the transformation they go through with shearing is so dramatic, I wanted to capture the change in each of them.

For the juv's I did some group shots, and some individual pictures. It's hard to get a good picture of Rose, so she's the main one I couldn't get a good individual shot of.

Twilight, Rose and Chaska:

Gabe, Chaska, Rose, and Challenger:

Smokey's Twilight in full fleece:


OHVNA Chaska in full fleece:


OHVNA Challenger in full fleece:


Gabriel Star of RobAsia in full fleece:


And some group shorn pictures

Twilight, Rose and Chaska:

Chaska, Challenger and Rose:

Chaska, Challenger, Twilight:

I think these juvi's are so cute when shorn! But I might be biased, because I am also drooling over the bags of fiber that came off these wonderful creatures. The juvi's have the nicest fiber. I can't wait to start spinning some of it!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Shearing of the dams

We started shearing on Monday, and finished up today, Saturday. I love the before and after pictures because I think the transformation is so dramatic. They change so much! They go from these very furry creatures, to creatures that look very thin with incredibly long necks. This year we did all our shearing ourselves, so keep in mind when viewing these pictures that this was our first ever attempt at shearing ourselves.

We decided to start shearing with our open breeding age females. They are past the age at what point we'd take them to a show. So no worries if they doesn't look great after shearing. Pregnant girls have the additional risk during shearing of the cria in utero, so we didn't want to start with them. The boys we want to look nice so that we can advertise them for breeding. And, of course we want our show string to look their best, since they will be going to shows again this fall.

We have 8 breeding age females, of which three are open this year. Maddie, Latte and Miss Kitty are our open girls (though they have had cria in the past). Victoria, Kateri, Sancha, Tehya, and Snickers are all pregnant.

We started shearing with Latte. This was the first alpaca we have ever shorn on our own. Keeping this in mind, I don't think she looks half bad.

Latte Full Fleece:

Latte Shorn:

Maddie Full Fleece:

Maddie Shorn:

Miss Kitty Full Fleece:

Miss Kitty Shorn:

We knew when we brought Miss Kitty home that she was overweight and needed extensive work in order to be ready to breed. When we got her on the scale on shearing day, she weighed in at 251 pounds! The average weight for an alpaca is 160 pounds. The biggest alpaca I had seen prior to this was 230 pounds, and I thought he was big.

After we finished shearing the open females, we decided to start shearing the pregnant girls. Our concern was that the heat was causing them to be very uncomfortable, and we wanted their fiber off them to help cool them down. We started with Tehya. She was due any day (and actually had her cria the day after she was shorn). We knew she was very hot and uncomfortable, so we wanted to get that fiber off of her. There are times shearing a female can make her go into labor. Most of the time this will happen only if she is ready anyway. Rarely does shearing cause a premature labor (though it could). Our experience has been that typically a female due near shearing day will give birth in the day or two after shearing.

Tehya Full Fleece:

Tehya shorn - we did not finish her head and top knot because we were concerned that she was very agitated being shorn and we were worried labor had started. In fact I do think labor had started since she had that cria the next morning. But, we could have finished her head after all. We will trim her up with a scissors so we don't have to fully restrain her again this year.

By the time I got a shorn picture of her, her baby, Cheyenne, had been born. Cheyenne is next to Tehya here, and Tehya's mother, Kateri is behind them:

Snickers Full Fleece:

Snickers Shorn (I had a terrible time getting her to cooperate with the picture, this is the best I could do):

Kateri Full Fleece:

Kateri Shorn (she didn't want to pose for the picture so I have two sort of decent pictures):

Now that Snickers and Kateri are shorn, I really have a hard time telling them apart! I had a hard enough time when they were in full fleece, shorn is much worse. I know Kateri is a shade darker (she is brown when Snickers is fawn), but that can be hard to see if they aren't next to each other. The kids don't agree with me, but I even think their faces look quite a bit alike (of course they would not cooperate with a face shot, maybe another day):

The other thing about these two, now that they are shorn, we have concerns if they really are pregnant. Neither of them have what I could call a baby belly. And the past two years Kateri has had a huge cria belly (Snickers is new to our farm so we don't know how she's looked in the past). It could be that the cria is up in their ribs. Sancha is clearly pregnant, as is Victoria (and so was Tehya, who has since delivered). But Kateri and Snickers, I'm not 100% sure. Snickers was ultra sounded last fall, and was confirmed pregnant, but they can lose or absorb a pregnancy. For now, we will keep peeking at them, trying to see an obvious cria leg jut out their sides.

Sancha Full Fleece:

Sancha Shorn:

Victoria Full Fleece:

Victoria Shorn:

My favorite part of Victoria is her very woolly face, and her very dark eye lashes, that show up even more when she shorn:

Victoria has been acting strange lately. We've found her laying around a lot. She sometimes leans to one side. We believe she is just very uncomfortable with her pregnancy. We do not know why. During shearing she was very upset. Victoria is one who typically will run and make us catch her, but once we do, she surrenders. Lately she has been feisty like I've never seen her. She was very upset during shearing and screamed the entire time. I don't know if she really was hurting or if she was upset or what. We felt her belly after her shearing and the cria was moving around. We know she's pregnant and we know the cria is active, those are both good signs. Come to think of it, since she was shorn on Monday, I haven't noticed Victoria acting strange anymore. Maybe she was just that hot.
Pin It button on image hover