Friday, August 31, 2012

Our 2012 Cria Update

Because even I am losing track of all our births from this year, I thought I'd put them all in one post.  Our oldest three, Raspberry, Stormy and Ruby have already been shorn.  The younger ones have not (we like to wait until they are a bit older).   Many of them did not want to stand still for a picture, so I got the best I could.  Believe me when I say they all look so much cuter in person!  If you can, we'd love to have you stop by for a farm visit to see them first hand :)

Here are their birth days in order, with a recent picture of them:

July 6, 2012 ~ OHVNA Raspberry Coolatta (Latte x Tucker)

July 7, 2012 ~ OHVNA Storm Warning (AKA Stormy)  (Sancha x Greyt)

July 16, 2012 ~ OHVNA Ruby (Jewel x Tucker)

August 4, 2012 ~ OHVNA El Diablo (Victoria x Tucker)

August 18, 2012 ~ OHVNA Cornelia Marie (Bay x Alchemy)

August 18, 2012 ~ Maddie's Cria  (Maddie x Greyt)

Miss Kitty? She is supposed to have a cria yet this year:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cornelia Marie

We named Bay's new cria Cornelia Marie.  We give each of our breeding females a theme to name their offspring.  The nice thing about this is that it narrows the scope of what we think about in naming (otherwise it would take us forever!) and it helps in that if someone asks which line a certain offspring came from we can quickly figure it out (we know the theme so we know the dam).  Bay's theme is the TV show Deadliest Catch, and the Cornelia Marie is a ship on that show.

Here are a few more pictures of her (since I was rushed on her birthday and it's been busy ever since):

I love this one with her tongue sticking out:

While I wanted her farm nick name to be Coral, that was out voted. Instead her farm name will be Marie.  (But between you and me, I do most of the farm chores and really, who's going to know for sure what I call her out there.)  I think she's a cutie!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hello ~ Gabriel

This weekend we added to our herdsire row TCS Gabriel.

We love this:

Here is a bigger group of bundles:

A smaller group of bundles to see the crimp better:

It feels as buttery creamy as it looks!!

Can you tell I am in love with this fiber?  It came off of a 3 year old beige male, TCS Gabriel:

We can't wait to breed him to some of our girls!  His fiber has brightness you can feel ~ including bundles, crimp and density.  He has the fiber qualities we want to create the next generation of fiber.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sentimental Goodbyes - Victoria

On Saturday we said goodbye to our Matriarch.   Since we started our farm in 2007 our leader has been our first alpaca, Hana's Victoria.

She arrived (link to the story about her arrival) on our farm in November 2007.   Victoria is in the middle, Snowstorm on the left and Kateri on the right:

Just the beginning of our alpaca adventure!

In July of 2008, Victoria gave birth to Victoria's Shelby (birth story here, pictures here):

In July of 2009, Victoria gave us OHVNA The Cavalier (birth story here, pictures here):

Then in July 2010 she gave birth to OHVNA The Challenger.  Challenger was our dream boy:

While clearly a tux grey in that picture above (taken when was a 8 months old), it was harder to see at his birth (picture below) (birth story here):

2011 was rough year for Victoria (and our farm) when at less than two days old her cria passed. Birth story here. Passing story here.  There was something wrong with the placenta causing him too many difficulties.

 RIP little guy:

And this year the arrival of OHVNA El Diablo:

His birth story here.

Both Victoria and her son, El Diablo, left on Saturday morning for their new farm:

I have to say that while Victoria was the matriarch and I'm sure some of the other girls got tired of her bossy ways, I will miss Victoria.  She was always good for snatching up grain and stealing hay from anyone she could, even babies :)  You just knew it was going to happen.  She is one who will run and run and run from you during herd health, but once you get a hold of her, she will stand pretty good for the actual treatment (nail clipping or what have you).  She has the most woolly face, even more impressive since she's 8 years old!  Most alpacas lose their facial coverage as they age.  Just about everyone who visits our farm comments on her cute look.  All of her offspring have had good facial coverage too.

I expect a big shake up of our herd over the next couple of weeks, because their leader is gone.  Each one of these girls as they arrived were shown that Victoria is the leader.  Some fought her (like Miss Kitty) and some just accepted it (like Maddie, she was after all only a few months old when she arrived).  A new leader will emerge, because that's how herds work.   And Victoria will be at another farm, shaking things up there.  I hope they enjoy their adventures with her as much as we have!

Saturday, August 25, 2012


I admit, I'm not good at changes.  In fact, they freak me out.

We are headed into fall which always means some natural changes - seasons change and all.  Plus the kids go back to school, it's a new grade with new rules and expectations, a new routine.  My day job might be the same, but how I manage my home stuff changes dramatically.

We have some natural changes on the farm.  We move from cria birthing season, into fall, when the animals become more active with the cooler temps, and get ready for winter.  Our alpacas actually love the cooler temps. Many of them choose to sleep outside, even on those cold winter nights. It's the heat of summer that slows them down and makes them the most ornery.

We have chosen to make some additional changes on our farm.  While I'm slow to embrace these things, my husband, J, is the one who pushes me.  We make a good team because alone I would never venture out and do anything, and without my offering some helpful hints (I swear they are helpful) who knows what sort of crazy stuff he might do.  Together we create a balance so neither of us gets into trouble.

As I have already hinted to, several of our alpacas will be leaving.  But some will be coming too.

The reason for doing this is that if we have the same alpacas we are going to be creating the same offspring.  We want offspring with incredible fiber.  Not today's fiber, but tomorrow's fiber.  In order to do this we need new and different genetics: through sales, donations and trades.

Sales are a great way to bring your alpaca genetics to another farm.  Especially when that animals is just a continuation of genetics we already have.  Selling off a dam after you have a daughter to replace her makes perfect sense.  Selling a male when you own his sire and dam makes perfect sense.  And really it's a business, so pretty much sales anytime anywhere makes sense :)

The donations are an idea we are working on for animals that can't compete in today's market for superior fiber.  This is especially true for males.  A male with good fiber isn't worth breeding, when we have males with superior fiber.  In the past we have sold these type of boys to fiber farms or as companions for other farms.  We are trying to be even more creative, since the most important thing is a good home for these guys.  They might only have good fiber but they still deserve good quality care.

And trades are a great way for two farms not to have to worry about cash flow, but to instead trade animals so that we each get new genetics into our herd.  Maybe a farm is in a situation where their top male is related to many of their females.  By trading, and changing up their genetics on their farm, they can better work out on the farm breedings.  Maybe we need a male with great fiber stats, but we are willing to part with a female.  Another farm might have extra males that they can't use them all but would love a good breeding female.  A good trade is when each party feels they got a good deal.  We've had many trades over the years and most of them have worked out really well.

I am going to try not to freak out about all these changes, try that is.  I might be a bit sad, as with some of our animals my attachment is emotional rather than logical.  Those are the alpacas that are hard to part with, but necessary in order for our business to grow.  For this reason a goodbye post will help assist me in my emotional goodbyes.

Friday, August 24, 2012


We took a break from breedings because we were worried how very hot it was during the month of July 2012.  In thinking back, it seems the last few years July has been the hottest month for us (even though as a kid I always remember August being the worst, I think July has taken over).  For this reason we've decided not to breed for July births (of course cria can come early or really late and end up being born in July, we still want to do our part not to make that their typical due date).  We did some breedings back in May/June, and with an 11.5 months gestation, they will be due in June.  Now we are starting breeding again. These girls would end up being due in early August 2013.

Here is one mating I caught:

Notice Victoria cushed by the fence line.  Her cria, Diablo, isn't even that old, we wouldn't look to breed her yet, but she sure acts ready (a female ready to breed will often cush for the male).  This is actually a breeding of Tehya by Vamil.

Once we get everyone bred I will put up a post about who is bred to who.

I also want to get a post up with all our 2012 cria.  But we still have one yet to be born, Miss Kitty has not delivered yet.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Still Waiting

We have 1 cria yet to be born.  Miss Kitty is still pregnant, and really just hitting her due date.

Maddie's cria

Here is Maddie a few days before having her cria:

On Saturday Bay had her cria, even though technically Maddie was due next.  I think Maddie felt slighted and made sure to have her cria the next day.

On Sunday the kids and I were talking about going for a walk, when we heard some thunder and decided that wouldn't be a good idea.  Emma was headed out to our back yard and yelled "we have a baby" just I had the day before when Bay was in labor.  Emma also said "it looks just like Maddie."  Then I knew it was Maddie's cria.  I ran out to find a fresh cria on the ground, looks like a mini Maddie, just like her daughter, Twilight.

Once we were outside we could see the cria was breathing fine and seemed ok.  Oh, and it's a boy!  Next to color the sex of the cria is a pretty exciting fact.

Since it was starting to rain and the cria seemed cold, we took him into our garage out of the rain and towel dried him:

I rubbed him good with the towels but he wasn't warming up as fast as I'd like.  So I got out my hair dryer.  I was careful to blow dry with my hand moving between the baby and the blow dryer (as it could be possible to get him too hot and actually burn him).  I just wanted to take the edge off the wet chill:

I made sure mom stayed nearby because I want him to bond to her.  She has the milk he needs.  She wouldn't come into the garage and there wasn't room in the barn for me and all my stuff, so I was in the garage with the cria in the doorway and Maddie standing just outside:

She'd lean over and nuzzle him from time to time. He was calling for her.  And she was giving me a mean mom look quite a bit.  Even as I explained I was trying to help her baby, new moms aren't usually too open to that idea.  I don't blame her.  After all that work she is supposed to be protective of her baby.

No worries about these two.  As soon as the rain cleared I put him on a dry towel in the paddock, and Maddie followed right behind.  She is one protective mom.

He was up walking and nursing in no time.

He weighed in at 16 pounds.  Pretty average for an alpaca baby.  Maddie's other cria was Twilight and I remember her being 17 pounds at birth - but she went 374 days gestation!  This guy went 354 days, a much more average gestation.  But also just like with Twilight, Maddie didn't show any specific signs of being in labor during morning chores.  And just like with Twilight, we found a cria on the ground right around lunch time.  I love those kind of births.   We aren't naming this cria because he and his mom will be going to a new home in the coming future.  We actually have a lot of changes going on around her.  J loves to spice up the genetics on our farm.  Of course, more details will be coming on all of this.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Those 190 bales of hay made our hay tent go from:

to this:

Our trailer can hold just over 50 bales of hay, so this meant we needed to make 4 trips to get all this hay.  We waited to leave on Saturday until we knew Bay's new cria was doing fine (nursing well etc.).  Then we set out to get our first load.  By the time we loaded up, drove home, stacked, and drove back to get more an hour had passed.  So these 4 loads took us about four hours.  This isn't enough hay for all winter for us, since we dry lot we use hay year around (we are using hay now).  But it's a good start on what we will need, and it's what we have room to store.  Our biggest problem becomes storing the hay.  Thankfully the farm we buy our hay from is willing to store it.

This year we are especially thankful to have hay.  Between the drought and economic difficulties of many farmers, hay is scarce, and what there is has been quite expensive.  We are very thankful for what we have.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Birth Day

It seems those days you sit around waiting for a birth you just know is going to happen, well, it doesn't happen then. It's the days you are off to go do something and hey it's a baby!

Today we were all set to go get hay.  There are 190 bales just a few miles away waiting for us to pick up, bring home, and stack for the fall.  Just as J got the trailer hooked up, I peeked out back to check on the ladies before we left and there was a cria's head and two legs sticking out of Bay's back side!!

Bay wasn't due until 9/1/2012 but keep in mind we set those dates on 350 days gestation, birth can happen as early as 335 days and be full term.  In fact there are times a cria is born before 335 days and is fully cooked.  At the same time, there are some at day 350+ that are born and have some prematurity.  They cook at different rates.  So while it feels "early" for this birth, it wasn't.  And the cria was fully cooked: eyes bright, alert, ears erect, and teeth erupted.

This is a cria from our dam, Butterscotch Bay, bred to a male from Ashton Stone Alpacas, Incan Alchemy:

She was sitting up, and trying to nurse in no time at all:

She actually did have to stand before really nursing, but she got that very quick:

Friday, August 17, 2012

My fiber tumbler

I am often asked how we made our own fiber tumbler, so I will repost this blog entry from two years ago.

I have found this fiber tumbler works great.  The only negative comments I have ever gotten was from someone who markets a fiber contraption that they insist works better.  Not only am I skeptical, but there is a huge price different between making this and buying a contraption.  In the end we all do what we feel is best for our farm, and for my fiber processing, this works great!  I still love it 2 years later.

Here is it from August of 2010:

My wonderful husband is always looking for ways to assist in making fiber production easier. Currently we do everything at our home, which makes it truly hand produced. But, it is time consuming. While I love spinning yarn and knitting up items, I'm not as fond of the flicking of fiber and skirting of fiber. J read about a way to make a fiber tumbler from a dryer. You only need the dryer to spin, no heat (heat will make the fiber felt). He found a dryer on Craig's list that was very cheap, because it only heated half of the time. Since we won't hook up the heat, it's perfect for us. Even more neat, it's a fairly new dryer (I was expecting an ancient dinosaur of a thing), so it's light (easy to transport home), and looks nice too. Not that it matters, it's in my fiber room:

We plugged the electric in so the dryer will run (tumble).  We did not vent it outside since it is not hooked up to heat (which for us would be propane), and because it is in a not quite finished part of our basement.  You could vent it outside and then the extra dirt and debris would go outside.  But if you do that, but sure to clean out your vent frequently.  We just let it vent into the room and I sweep it up frequently (that way there is less chance of a clogged vent).  Some of the debris goes into the lint trap, so I make sure to clean that out after every tumbling load.

To make it into a fiber tumbler, Rare Earth Magnets are glued to the end of nails (he used epoxy to attach the nails to the magnets). Nails and epoxy can be found at most home improvement stores.  For Rare Earth Magnets were found on-line and mailed to us (that was the most expensive part of this project).  The magnets stick to the inside of the dryer, and the nails stand out to stab the fiber.

That's it!  We load a batch of fiber in there, and tumble it for about 20 minutes.  Then it's ready to use.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tumbling fiber

After skirting the fiber, I walk the bag over to my fiber tumbler, and give it a spin:

This removes even more debris, and it gets the fiber ready for me to process and spin it into yarn.

Monday, August 13, 2012


I love putting each alpaca's blanket of fiber on the skirting table.  This is where you can really see and feel it.

For skirting I lay out the whole blanket, but then work on a small section of the blanket at a time:

I look it over for big pieces of debris (especially poo and burrs, no one wants that in their fiber!).  I pull the section up and shake it:

Then I flip it over and shake it the other way.  Shaking drops out some of the debris, it also will shake out most of the second cuts.  Second cuts happen when the shearer goes over a spot more than once resulting in shorter pieces that usually are too short for processing.  In my hand here is a regular nice bundle of fiber, and the smaller second cut:

You can also see a bigger piece of hay there, I pull that out.

Once I get the second cuts and the big debris piece out, I put the fiber into a bag.  I weigh the bag:

I have been making either 3 ounce bags or 4 ounce bags, depending on the fiber.  Typically I use two bags to make a skein of yarn (1 bag for each strand of a two ply yarn). This makes it handy to spin up either a 6 ounce skein or an 8 ounce skein.

In case you are wondering, the pictures above feature two different alpaca blankets.  The rose grey is off of our girl, Rose.  The fading fawn if off of our girl, Tehya.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Farm Fresh

Up to this point we have processed all our alpaca's fiber ourselves.  We haven't sent any to a mill - no mill spun yarn, no mill made rovings.  In fact in the last two years we have done our own shearing too (prior to that we did hire someone to shear our alpacas).  This means we do everything from the fiber growing on our alpacas (feeding and caring for the alpacas), to the finished product (spinning the yarn and knitting the item).  I like to call this Farm Fresh.

This weekend I dug through several blankets of fiber:

Rose's 2012 blanket

Tehya's 2012 blanket

Challenger's 2011 blanket

I also worked on Twilight's blanket and Gabe's blanket, but I forgot to get pictures of them.

I put each blanket on my skirting table, sorted it into smaller sections to shake out the second cuts and pick out the big pieces of debris.  Then I bagged them up into weighed out bags for easy sale and use.  I hope to have these up on the farm's Oak Haven Alpacas LLC ESTY store very soon.

Friday, August 10, 2012

alpaca baby food

Isn't she cute:

Unfortunately she isn't growing as much as we'd like.  We know her mom has milk and we see her nursing, and she is growing, but it isn't translating into the growth rate we should be seeing.

I read about alpaca baby food and thought we'd give it a try.

Baby food for alpaca baby

1 cup of alpaca pellets (OSU recommends Mazuri Alapaca Chews)
1 cup of alfafa pellets (regular rabbit pellets are fine!)
1/2 cup of Glucerna (no-sugar energy drink for diabetics)
2 jars of strained carrot baby food
Mix with 2-3 cups of yogurt. The alpaca pellets and alfafa pellets can be soaked in warm water before being mixed to make them softer. Blend (puree) the entire mixture in the blender until it is smooth.
OSU adds the follow instruction:
"When using this diet it is important to watch for the passage of manure. The mixture should be fairly watery to help replace water loss from diarrhea and to prevent obstruction. Use a 60 cc syringe to feed the mixture. Give about 30 ml. 4-6 times a day."

So I set out to make some.   That's grain in the bowl:

I soaked the grain mixture to make it soft enough to blend:

To me this was the worst part, that mush of grain smelled yucky to me:

I put all this into the blender, along with all the other ingredients to make a puree.  We put this in a jar so that we can feed it with the syringe:

I wish I could say she gobbles it up.  She isn't too impressed.  But I am hoping this will give her a bit of a push to grow more.  She's a cutie and we want her to grow very healthy and very strong.
Pin It button on image hover