Sunday, September 30, 2012

Never say never

There are two types of alpacas: huacaya and suri.  Huacaya are often referred to the fluffy teddy bear looking ones.  Suris are sometimes described as having dread locks.   It is recommended that when you begin an alpaca farm, you pick one type, so that you can really get to know that type of alpaca well.  Now not everyone follows this advice, there are some great farms who started out with both.  We started out with huacayas because that is what we were both drawn to at first.  That was over five years ago.  Over the years we have had concerns that suri alpacas with their long locks might not do well on our dry lot.  We also wondered how they would fair in our cold winters.  But the truth is that there are suri alpaca farms who dry lot and there are some suri farms near us who do fine in our climate.

So we welcomed Cherry:

And her cria at side, Patty:

Here is the comparison of suri and huacaya:

Did I mention my camera problems :(  these pictures aren't great but you would never guess all I went through to get them uploaded here.

Technical difficulties

The reason I have not been posting much is due to technical difficulties.  I have been having a really hard time getting pictures on my blog.  Because I feel pictures make the post, this is a big issue.  I am working on it and hope to have many future posts full of nice pictures.  That's my dream anyway.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

National Alpaca Farm Days

This weekend is Nation Alpaca Farm Days, when many alpaca farms hold an open house for the public to get to meet alpacas.

Check out this website for a farm near you:

National Alpaca Farm Days

Our farm  has chosen not to hold an open house.  But we LOVE having farm visitors.  So please do contact us to set up a farm visit.  We'd love to have you!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Alpacas for everyone

In the big picture, Alpacas have not been in the United States for that long.  Imports came here in the early 1980's, not that long ago.  I don't remember even hearing about alpacas until later in the 1990's.  I didn't see an alpaca until about six years ago (that's the first time I remember it anyway).  Now that we have an alpaca farm, I notice alpaca farms when I am driving around. I actually think this is because there are more farms (the national herd has grown), but I also think once you know the signs of a farm you recognize it easier.  In the past I would have driven by and not noticed.

I do think alpacas are more familiar to more people.  But they still aren't a household word for everyone.  For example, at school my son has gotten resistance from other classmates.  It was a few years ago, I think he was in 1st grade, when he was telling classmates about his alpacas and they told him alpacas were imaginary like unicorns :)  My son was quite upset about the entire ordeal, but what it told me is that people still aren't familiar with alpacas.  Most adults don't know what an alpaca baby is called (often kids are taught about baby animals: kittens, puppies, fawns, and so forth, not too many people talk about cria).

Those in the alpaca community do spend a lot of time introducing people to alpacas and educating them on alpacas.  Much of the information makes sense, but you can't know what you have never been told.

I know many alpaca farmers take their alpacas to local community events.  We have done a few of these things, because we believe it's important to get the word out.   Alpacas are interesting and wonderful creatures, we hope everyone will see and learn about them.  We seek out opportunities to get alpacas out to the public.

This past summer while on vacation we were at the zoo.  We went by a pen with one lama all by itself.  On the positive, we noticed that the pen was clean and the lama had been shorn (I have seen them sometimes where they clearly had not been shorn in over a year).  While this lama clearly was receiving good care, we discussed among ourselves that like alpacas, llamas are herd animals.  One by itself isn't a good situation.   It will increase anxiety and cause illnesses for that one lonely animal.  J decided he was going to do something about it.  He went and talked to one of the zoo workers.  This person acknowledged that this lama had not always been alone, and that it isn't ideal.  J then explained that we have an alpaca farm and could donate some alpacas.  The zoo worker was excited about this and gave him the necessary contact information.  After we got home he emailed the right person and they sorted it all out.  We wanted to donate at least two alpacas so they have a friend, even with the lama, we felt one alpaca and one lama is not a herd.  We offered more alpacas but the zoo felt two alpacas with their lama was what they had the right room for.  Then J and I discussed which alpacas we would donate.

Today the zoo came and picked up Bopanna and Tucker:

(Sorry for the terrible picture, I had camera problems this morning and they are gone now so no going back to get more pictures.   I will have to visit them at the zoo to get the right pictures of them.)

We are so excited that these two boys will be at the zoo for many people to see and learn about alpacas!  If you are in the area, they are at Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek, Michigan.  Bopanna is a more typical alpaca and likes to look and watch you, but not as outgoing.  Tucker is quite friendly and I hope he will be watching and following and sniffing people all day everyday.  I hope everyone can see these boys and love alpacas like we do!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Goodbye Dutch and Harley

This weekend we said goodbye to Dutch and Harley.   (Remember I posted a few weeks ago about a bunch of changes going on at our farm, here is another part of that story).

Harley is a 3 year old white male.  We obtained him early in 2011 (story here) in hopes of using him for breedings last year.  Unfortunately he wasn't quite ready, which is understandable given he was just 2 years old.  This year we were able to use him for breeding and were quite excited to do so.  We purposely obtained him because of his fiber:

I love the bright shining bundles of fiber!  What you can't see in this picture is how his fiber feels.  It has an excellent handle.

But then this year we had the opportunity to obtain WP Verticase's Vamil, and TCS Gabriel.  Vamil is white and Gabriel is beige.  These boys had additional fiber attributes that we love.  We found it difficult to balance using all three of these light boys.  So we decided for best use of males we would let Harley go.

Dutch (her formal name is JLFA Frango's Dutch Harbor) came to our farm in September of 2011 as a cria at her dam's side (story here).  We have her mom (Butterscotch Bay), and her younger half sister (one of our newer cria, Cornelia Marie).  While it's great they are all female, we like to have more diversity of genetics on our farm.

Dutch is now a yearling and this is how her fleece is growing in: 

She is growing into a beautiful lady:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Here is a strand of yarn from Tehya's fiber:

Step by step I will get to the headband.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Project

I saw this:

And I fell in love!!!

I found the pattern on pinterest, link here :)

I instantly thought how wonderful this would be made out of alpaca fiber :)  And I knew right away who's fiber I wanted to use: Tehya's fiber would be perfect!! 

Beautiful, huh?  I love it!   I do have Tehya's fiber for sale on our farm ETSY store, so you could have some for yourself too :)

Or you could wait, I *might* sell this cute headband.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The hoarding

I admitted in my last post about my fiber hoarding problem.   Well, I do have to say that I have done something towards this issue.   A few weeks ago I took my favorite fleeces from our 2012 shearing, I skirted them, and I put them into weighed out bags:

They are for sale on our farm's etsy page.  Having them weighed out make sales easier, but it also helps me be able to grab and spin when I want to :)

Right here I am showing my favorite girl's fiber from Tehya, Twilight and Rose.

Remember those fiber shots from a few days ago?  Yep, that's what it these bags.

I only got through 5 of our fleeces, and started with my favorites (they are my favorite because of their color).  These come from from our boy's Gabriel and Challenger:

I don't think I put up their fiber pictures the other day so here they are:

Our true black Color Champion, Gabe (it was hard to get his black fiber to scan well):

And a multiple ribbon winner, Challenger (but he's not actually ours anymore, he's been sold, this is his 2011 fleece):

Sunday, September 9, 2012


When I read fiber artists blogs and browse Ravelry, I sometimes feel out of place.  Yeah I'm a fiber artist: I prepare and spin fiber into yarn, I knit, I have crocheted (though that has been awhile) and I have made many hand made fiber products.  Where I sometimes feel like I don't fit in is that I don't have a stash of yarn.

Here is my stash of yarn:

That's not really a stash.  I've read about storage containers and closets and rooms full of yarn.  My 4 skeins and a few left over skeins isn't really that big of a stash.

I don't have several WIPs (works in progress) sitting around.  This is all the knitting I have going on:

It's an ear flap hat, almost done.

I have no other yarn around my house.  That's it.

I tend to work on one thing, get it done, then move onto the next thing.  And all my yarn is my own creation, so I don't have purchased yarn that sits waiting for inspiration.  But since I do the entire process, I tend to spin what I need to knit, then knit, then start over with a new project to spin.

What I do have is a stash of fiber.... hmm stash might not even be the word.  My kids would say I have a fiber hoarding problem:

Yeah.  I know.  You caught me!   There are bags and containers and boxes and a good chunk of my fiber room.

Since I am almost done with the ear flap hat, it's time for something new.   And I am pretty excited about it!  I spent the weekend spinning the yarn.  I plan to knit it while waiting for the kids at school pick up!  I'm pretty excited about this idea.  Of course, more on that another day :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fiber Shots

We have been working on getting some good pictures of our alpaca's fiber.  We've found scanning them works best, but only recently learned about putting them on a contrasting black and white background.

Here is Enlightenment's Rocky Rose (a two year old light rose grey female):

Here is Our Peruvian Thunder (a one year old dark rose grey / indefinite dark)

Here is Rainbow Mountain Dutchess (AKA Princess) (a one year old dark brown female):

One of our newer additions, Andes' Silverstone (AKA Stoney):

and WP Verticase's Vamil (he's a two year old white male)

There are a lot of things that fiber enthusiast look at when examining fiber.  As a spinner, I want to know how it feels, the handle of the fleece.  But there are other things that go into fiber that you can see: such as color (is there contamination of other colors, such as black fiber in a white fleece), micron (how wide the fibers are) and uniformity.  Uniformity is not only in regards to micron, but also uniformity in crimp and fleece structure.  It's all way too big of a topic for one blog post :)  But I did want to show off our beautiful fiber shots.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The last cria

Our last cria due in 2012 was born early Saturday morning.

It was back on Thursday evening that I said something was different about Miss Kitty and I would not be one bit surprised if she had that baby on Friday.  Friday came and no cria was born.  That evening Miss Kitty seemed so ready to deliver we wondered about a possible night birth (while rare, they do happen and though sometimes it means something is wrong, that's not always the case).  I was up early Saturday morning and peeked out at our girls. Miss Kitty was sitting there cushed like she always is.  I wondered if she'd ever have that baby!  I got busy doing some other work on the computer when J came rushing into the living room stating that there was a baby on the ground!  In that time Miss Kitty had delivered!

We welcomed our first cria from Miss Kitty, a beige male we have name Buffalo Bill.

Here he is at one day old:

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