Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 10 for 2012

This is the first year I am having a hard time thinking about what all we did this year. We have entered our 6th year as alpaca farmers, and I have to admit, it's starting to all blend together (in a good way!).

Top 10 for 2011 can be found here.

Looking back at that list, it's hard to remember that all those alpacas came to our farm that year!  We added 10 alpacas in 2011, plus had one cria added to our herd.  We also received our first color championship - that was exciting!!

2012 might better be known as the year of getting our herd in order.  While we have had cria every year, and we've added to our herd through sales and purchases, the focus this year has been at having fewer alpacas, but making them the best that we can.

1.  In 2012 we had six cria, the most we've ever had!  (links provided to their birth story)

 6/6/12 ~ OHVNA Raspberry Coolatta (Latte x Tucker)

6/7/12 OHVNA Storm Warning (AKA: Stormy) (Sancha x Greyt)

6/16/12 OHVNA Ruby (Jewel x Tucker)

8/4/12 OHVNA el Diablo (Victoria x Tucker) 

8/18/12 OHVNA Cornelia Marie (Bay x Alchemy) 

8/19/12 Night of Greyt Exxpectations AKA: Night  (Maddie x Greyt)

2.  This is the first year we haven't kept all of our cria.  

Despite six cria being born on our farm, only 1 of those six remains with us.   Usually we keep all our cria, at least until we have a chance to get them to an alpaca show.  But this year, we decided to be open to other options.

Raspberry is going to Ohio in February to be with her new farm.
Stormy is leaving in the next week to his new farm just a few miles north of us.
Diablo already went to a farm in Ohio.
Marie left on Christmas Eve to her new farm just north of us.
Night will be leaving in February.

That leaves us with Ruby.  And she sure is cute!!

3.  Looking over those birth stories reminds me that in 2012 I assisted with my first difficult birth.  In the past J has always been home to help and he's much more calm about it all than I am.  This year Zack and I were in a position to help and we did.  el Diablo was born healthy and strong.  (Link to the birth story is above with his picture in #1).


4.  We sponsored two alpacas shows - a first for us! 

We sponsored The Best of the US Alpaca Show in Columbus, Ohio in March of 2012.
We sponsored the Buckeye Alpaca Show in Columbus, Ohio in May of 2012.

5.  We donated two alpacas to a zoo so that others can learn and enjoy these wonderful creatures also.  Link to that story here.

6.  More alpacas left our farm this year than joined us.  This was done on purpose by us to lower our herd numbers.  We love alpacas, but we are in this for a business and sales are the whole point!

We have a few more leaving yet this month and more next month.
At that point we should be at 17 alpacas total:

Breeding boys ~ Greyt, Gabe (black), Gabe (beige), Vamil
Breeding girls ~ Cherry, Tehya, Jewel, Miss Kitty

Maidens (bred) ~ Rose, Mysteria, Cocoa
Maidens (not bred) ~ Gigi, Twilight, Lady Bing, Princess, Ruby, Patty

7.  We have girls bred for 2013.

When their pregnancy lasts on average 11.5 months, you have to plan it all out a year ahead of time.  Right now we believe we have 6 bred for 2013 (there are another 2 that are possibly bred). 

8.  This year is the first year Zack was able to help with hay.  In a family like ours where our kids are growing up on a farm, carrying hay is a big deal!  Up to this point he was too small and not strong enough.  Well, this year that changed!  He helped with his first hauling of hay.   I dream of the day he is stronger than me and I can give over more of my chores :)

9.   We added suris to our herd!

I know J said he would never do so, but something hit him this year and he wanted to do it.  So, we added Cherry and her cria Patty to our herd.  They are both suris.

For those that do not know, there are two types of alpacas - huacaya and suri.  We have always had all huacaya, until 2012.

Link to that blog post here.

10.  Zack was on TV!   (link to story here and link to the video can be found here).

When we attended the Great Midwest Alpaca Festival in Madison, Wisconsin, several people were taken in by Zack.  Before we knew it he was being interviewed by a TV crew.  His video has been on-line too.  

I can't help but think of all the changes that will be coming in 2013 ~ stay tuned!! Our adventures continue, that is for sure.

If you want to look back into our adventure further ~  a look in review:

+ Top 10 for 2009
+ Top 10 for 2010  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Herd at OHVNA

Over the last few months we have had some significant changes in our alpaca herd.  We have sold several alpacas (some have already left, some are leaving soon). We have done some trades, and we have added some suris to our herd.
For those who don't know, there are two types of alpacas, huacaya alpacas and suri alpacas. Prior to this year, we have had only huacaya. This past year we decided to branch out and add in some suris. This is still a leaning experience, so stay tuned for more updates on that!

I created this page (link here but also listed next in this post) to help keep track of our alpacas:

In an effort to organize our farm animals, I put together these lists of our alpacas, with their birth year behind their names, and their color (abbreviated). Links are provided when possible to see their official page with all their information.

Breeding Female

+ Cherry Bomb! (1999 DB)

+ Dodge City Miss Kitty (2004 MF)

+ Kateri’s Tehya (2008 LF)

+ MPAF Jewel (2006 DF)


+ WP Mysteria Lane (2008 W)

+ RAL Peruvian Cocoa Latte (2010 MB)

+ ATA Peruvian Gigi (2010 W)

Smokey’s Twilight (2010 DSG)

+ Enlightenment’s Rocky Rose (2010 CMRG)

+ ATA Peruvian Lady Bing (2011 LB)

+ Rainbow Mountain's Duchess (AKA: Princess) (2011 DB)

+ WP Take Five by Montoya (2011 MF)

+ BFSA Precious Patty (2012 B)

+ OHVNA Ruby (2012 LF)


+ SA Peruvian Greyt Exxpectations(2007 MMRG)

+ TCS Gabriel (2009 B)

+ WP Verticase's Vamil (2010 W)

+ Gabriel Star of RobAsia (2010 TB)

Yearling and Juvenile Males:

+ OHVNA Storm Warning (2012 MB)

italics = suri alpaca
regular font = huacaya

Color Chart:
W = white
B = beige
LF = light fawn
MF = medium fawn
DF = dark fawn
LB = light brown
MB = medium brown
DB = dark brown
BB = bay black
TB = true black
LSG = light silver grey
MSG = medium silver grey
DSG = dark silver grey
LRG = light rose grey
MRG = medium rose grey
DRG = dark rose grey
C ~ before any grey means classic grey (tuxedo grey)
M ~ before any grey means modern grey (roan grey)
IL = indefinite light
ID = indefinite dark

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


If I haven't already mentioned I love these headbands :)

For the two featured above, I picked the colors: fading fawn (from our female, Tehya), and dark silver grey (from our female Twilight).  The button is not only cute, but is a decorative feature that can either go in front of the headband, or behind your head, depending on what you prefer.

The two below include another fading fawn headband, then a white one:

I took on the role of model for this, a front view:

And the back:

These were so fun to make!  I found them to be very comfortable and quite warm over my ears.  I hope the recipients enjoy them also.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Blessed Holidays

Happy holidays to you!  At our house we celebrate Christmas but after awhile it seems Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years and the whole season sort of blends together.  I like to call it all "the holidays" or Festivus :)  Whatever you celebrate I hope it is happy and well blessed.

This year three of our girls were lucky enough to go to a new farm for Christmas.

One of our original girls, Sancha:

Along with Butterscotch Bay:

And Bay's 2012 cria, Cornelia Marie (also pictured at the top):

These three girls were purchased by a new alpaca farm, just getting started.  They are excited to have cria for their grand kids to halter train and enter into 4H :)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Travels

The best part about traveling the weekend before Christmas for a knitter, is the time available to knit on projects for Christmas :)

Here is what I finished on our car ride to and from the Chicago area:

A couple of headbands for our holiday celebration on Christmas Eve.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The weather is frightful

We've had a mix of snow, rain, and snow and rain.

The snow looks pretty:

The cria (babies) aren't too sure:

And the cats, I'm not sure why he felt the need to drink from behind the fence:

I couldn't bare to take pictures of the rain soaked ground.  It's a swampy muddy mess!  It makes me shiver just looking out there.  I think the alpacas would appreciate a hard freeze, at least then they wouldn't be wet with cold winds.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fiber fun

I have been doing some fiber stuff, but most of it this time of year is for other people, so no explicit pictures today.

Here is some fiber I need to spin:

A strand of yarn:

And some knit stuff:

I know, a bit of a disguise :)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tucker Sweater

So most of my knitting is now under wraps for Christmas. But something inspired me to wear my Tucker Sweater:

Monday, December 17, 2012


It's not magic though it sort of looks that way from here:

From fiber to yarn just like that!

Actually a lot of work went into getting it from the one to the other.

First there are the alpacas who grow the fiber on their backs.  We care for them, twice a day feedings and once a day barn yard cleanup.

Each spring we shear the fiber off of them.

From there the fiber is skirted (we pick out the little pieces of hay etc.).

Then I weigh out small sections of the fiber from their blanket, so that I have a batch of fiber.

I tumble it in our fiber tumbler.

We flick it into a cloud and then we get to this step, from cloud to strand of yarn :)

All in a days work here at our farm.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


My dad grew up on a farm, so I have always had a strong appreciation for knowing what the weather report is.  He always watched the weather and was a constant source of weather information.  If I wanted to know what to wear the next day, I just asked dad what the weather was going to be.

I learned fun sayings like "rain before 7 a.m. quit by 11 a.m."  Meaning if it's raining before 7 a.m. it will usually stop by 11 a.m. (it's amazing how often this saying is right!).

I have watched the weather was earnest along with my dad all my life.  After I became a mom I found how good it was to make sure my kids were dressed right for the weather (oh how terrible I feel when there is snow and they don't have their boots, or they wear shorts and the temps never rise).   I love being prepared for them.

Now with our farm, it's amazing how very essential it is to know the weather.  It's amazing how we will be at home and catch something on the weather radar and Emma will jump up and say "I'm going to feed the boys" (her chore is to feed our male alpacas).  If she sees rain on the way she will get her chore done as soon as possible.

This weekend we were watching the weather on Saturday morning and heard about the prediction of rain all weekend.  It was reported the rain would start about noontime on Saturday.  I told the kids this was our chance to get all the main farm chores out of the way before the rains fall.  We all know what a lot of rain means this time of year - poop soup!  And trust me, it is as nasty as it sounds.  The ground has been frozen somewhat, so it doesn't drain as well as it does after a thaw in the spring.  So this means as the rain is falling, it sits on the ground, doesn't drain deep down like it does all summer.  This time of year it sit there, especially in the spots the alpacas poop and makes what we can only describe as "poop soup".

I cleaned up our entire farm area this morning, then headed over to the other farm we care for.  There I cleaned up the paddock area of all the poop, so as the rain starts to fall the poop soup is less poop than soup :)

I decided not to take pictures of poop soup.  My farmer friends know exactly what I am talking about without pictures and my non-farmer friends really don't want to see.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Fiber Fun

I have been spinning yarn.  

From this:

To this:

My favorite place is to spin in front of a nice fire:


Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Even though I am not a morning person, I find mornings on the farm to = tranquility.

It's quiet and dark, and all the alpacas do is walk and eat. 

J and I both have regular day jobs in addition to our farm business.  This works very well for us, but does mean I need to be organized to make sure everything gets done.  Since J has to be at work early and has a longer commute than I do, I am on duty for the morning farm chores (even with doing that I still get an extra 45 minutes of sleep than what he gets).

I get up at 6:30 a.m. and throw on my farm gear over my pj's.  It's still dark out but the cats are always there to greet me.  I feed them first (otherwise they are underfoot when I try to dish out the alpaca's grain).  Cats are fed, then I move onto alpaca grain.

We separate out our alpacas at grain time so that we can tailor their grain to their needs (some get more grain, some get beet pulp in addition to grain, and some get a very small grain portion, all based on their body score and individual need).

After grain I move onto hay. I get a bale of hay out of our hay tent, and put it on the wagon.  Some of the eager beavers start chowing then:

It's not just the young ones that rush over for hay, all the alpacas think the hay from the hay tent is much better than the hay in their bins - funny since it's all the same hay, but they are convinced new from the hay tent is better :)

Here are a couple of the maidens gathering around their hay bin:

and some of our older moms:

In the background in those pictures you can see our poop scoop and rake. I do clean up poop daily, but not in the morning. For one, it's too dark (I can't see what I'm raking up). Also, I have less time in the morning (have to get the kids to school on time), and I find this time of year it's more frozen in the morning so harder to clean up. Every afternoon I scoop it up. This makes for a clean area for them, and also reduces the risk of parasites.

I have never been one to exercise in the morning, but with doing farm chores, I can see how that early morning activity is healthy.  I hate getting out of bed, but once I'm out there doing the chores, it feels like the perfect start to each day.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Busy! Busy!!

I have been busy on our farm, but not busy on our blog. I apologize for not posting in over a week.

My time has been taken up between regular farm stuff, more fiber arts working (I have been spinning and knitting - but can't post pictures since some of it is Christmas presents), add in my regular day job, my own need to exercise, the kids and the fact we are helping out on another farm, it seems the thing that got pushed aside is the blog.  I will get out and get some pictures and post some this week.  I know a post without pictures isn't the same, so here are some pictures of my life outside of the farm:

Emma learning to use a sewing machine for the first time (this is my grandmother's sewing machine a true family heirloom)

Last weekend we picked out our Christmas tree:

Zack would have you believe he cut it down :)

This weekend our holiday festivities included making gingerbread cookie cut outs (I decided to cheat on the frosting and go with plain white with sprinkles, in years past I have used different colors but I couldn't find out food dye so this is what it is):

Emma announced she does not like gingerbread cookies and didn't want to help (they grow up so fast!!) so Zack and I had all the fun:

Let me say, they taste great!! :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Our kittens have been growing!


And Phantom:

They aren't too sure about the snow:

The last pictures shows the best how they are bulking up for the winter.  I can't believe how big they are getting!  Healthy, happy kitties :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Grain Routine

In addition to hay, we also feed our alpacas grain.  We do this to make sure they get all the nutrients they need to keep them healthy.   Some farms have wonderful pastures that have the right nutrition and they don't need to add grain, but for us we feel it's the right thing for our alpacas.

We have our alpacas separated into four groups:

- big boys up in the "boys' barn" (right now there are 2 up there)
- young boys in the yearling pen (we have 5 in this pen now)
- dams and cria (moms and babies - we have 13 in this area right now)
- yearling and maiden girls (7 in this pen)

Some of these have already been sold, but I counted who we have here right now.

Now with grain, we do separate them out further.  This way we can give more grain to those who are skinny and less to those who aren't.

For the yearling and maiden girls, we separate them into two pens for grain (one group gets 1/2 cup of grain, the other 1 cup):

For the moms and babies we have several pens.  Here is Miss Kitty, our full figured gal, in her own pen (she gets a very small amount of grain):

These others are separated more so to keep competition down, since they actually do get almost the same amount of grain:

Alpacas are very routine animals.  They not only seem to know what time it is and when grain time is, but they also know where they are supposed to go for their own grain bowl.  However, if I do anything different with the routine, they are a complete mess!  They can't handle that.  I have had to start over with grain time if anything messes up the usual routine.  Routine is everything to them.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Hay is a big thing on our farm.  A couple weekends ago we all worked hard to haul 200 bales of hay from the hay farm to our alpaca farm.  Our truck and trailer only carried 50 bales at a time so this meant 4 trips back and forth.  My kids are the best to help out with minimal complaints (I have to admit I had a complaint or two myself).  It's a long afternoon and busy one that wears you out!  But our hay tent is full again.

Alpacas can be picky eaters and if they have a chance will dig to the bottom of the hay bin and dump hay on the ground.  Often times this hay is stomped on and wasted.  To minimize waste, we use grates on top of the hay bins.  We had several of these metal ones:

And J made this wooden one:

This has helped a lot!!

You can see my handy hay wagon in these photos.  A full bale of hay fits in there, so I can easily haul hay to each of our alpaca's hay bins.  I'm all for making things as easy as possible.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


We have hit on another cold snap in our neck of the woods.   This means it's more than time for the heated buckets:

I sometimes put off this chore and just kick the frozen water in the morning so they can drink.  But the fact is the alpacas prefer to drink warm water in the cold weather so they drink less when it's icy water.  Now I have both available, icy water in their regular buckets and warm water in their heated buckets.  Let's see which they drink up first :)
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