March 24, 2007

The Beginning

This year holds many firsts for us. This is our first year in our new home & the first year with our alpacas. No matter how many times I see the first budding of a plant for the year it excites me just as if it were the first time. This is a photo of a lilac plant near the house starting to bud. This is probably the only flowering plant on the property worth nurturing and saving. Of course it is located in the worst spot next to the driveway on the side of the house that we never look at except for pulling into the garage. Except for now that it is budding I find myself walking over to it a couple of times a day and marveling at its progress. There is something about watching plants grow, I can never get enough of it.

The Three Amigos

The boys have been living happily away from the ladies. It is the boys club and their real personalities are starting to show. Through out the day you can watch them running up and down their pasture. All three of them like monkey see monkey do. It is wonderful sight to watch them having so much fun.

We have had lots of excitement around here. The Veterinarian came out this week and we had our three pregnant ladies ultra sounded. It is always a good idea to make sure they are still pregnant after being transferred from another farm. All three girls are doing fine and holding babies.

This weekend we also started de-worming. It is a three day treatment where each one of them gets their set dosage in paste form orally three days in a row. We do this twice a year and the best time to start is early spring. Today was the first day and Chris and I are proud to say we managed to give it to all 7 of them and did not drop or loose any of the medication. None of them even spit it out. Just two more days of the same. The photo is of the apparatus you use to give them the solution, it kind of looks like a calking gun with a hook applicator. I wrapped up the end after cleaning it today.

Tea Cozy

I finished my tea cozy. I quilted a thin layer of batting in between the inside lining and front fabric. I thought it would give it more structure and also insulate the tea pot keeping the tea warmer longer. I am happy with the results and am thinking of making a round tea cozy next. Maybe one that looks like a hat box.

New Favorite Knit & Fiber Book

The Natural Knitter-
How to choose, use, & knit natural fibers from Alpacas to Yak
by Barbara Albright

This book is awesome. I can not put it down I have carried it around with me for the last couple of days and is officially my new favorite knit book. This is a big book and it offers so much more than just knitting patterns. For starters it covers all the natural fibers like sheep, goats, rabbits, camels, yak, alpacas, llamas, cotton & plant fibers. In addition to all the wonderful patterns it is chuck full of information & resources, it even has a section on naturally dying fiber and step by step instructions for an easy onion skin dye project.

There is a wide range of patterns all of which using natural fiber yarn. Here are some example patterns from the book:

Arthur’s Field of Dreams Sweater – using an alpaca/wool blend yarn

Bodacious Bunny baby set – using an angora/lambs wool blend yarn

Girl’s Night out Sweater & Hat – using a llama/wool blend yarn

Think Zinnias – using wool yarn

This book is eye candy with the beautiful full page photos. The photography was done by Alexandra Grablewski. I have to give her props she did an amazing job.

I can also thank this book for giving me a new vision of my self for my golden years.

Oh yea baby, I now can picture my self retired living out my happy days on the porch with my spinning wheel and lovely angora bunny resting on my lap as I gently pluck the hairs off the bunnies back and spin it into yarn.

March 14, 2007

Signs of Spring

I could not resist grabbing these daisies when I went grocery shopping. Sometimes it just feels right to have fresh flowers to wake the mind up from winters sleep.

I also spotted my first hummingbird of the year. He was fling around the front porch. I am sure he is back from last year and looking for the hummingbird feeder I had up. I better get that back up on the porch pronto, before he returns with friends.

This is a sure sign of spring, Brandy napping on the front porch soaking in the sunshine. I am hoping to find time to work on the porch this weekend. It could use a good scrubbing. I am lucky enough to have a friend that wants to unload her patio furniture so she can buy a new set. It just is not in the budget for us this year to buy new furniture for the porch so I gladly accepted her offer. I told her I would pay her back with lovely afternoons sipping cool lemonade, comfortably sitting on the porch watching the alpacas in the yard, and of course working on our latest stitching projects.

Cabled Hand Bag

I know it does not look like I have been working on much, but I have. It took me awhile to design and figure out what kind of cabled bag I wanted to make. I looked all through every one of my pattern books and magazines. I finally settled on these two patterns to use in designing my bag.

This is the Lush Cable Pullover from Winter 2004 Interweave Knits

This is the Simple scarf from the book Cables Untangled by Melissa Leapman.

I managed to put it all together and came up with a 24 row repeat pattern. This is as far as I have gotten with the pattern completing just 24 rows. I plan to make one long strip then fold it in half to make the bag. With this height and length of the repeat I think a total of 6 times for the repeat should be long enough. That way it will give three of the repeats on each side of the bag. I know I will probably use fabric for the bottom of the bag, so as not to snag the knit while setting the bag down. Not sure what I will do for handles. I think I will wait and see how it comes along then decide what looks best.

Recommended Alpaca Books

I thought I would answer Nickey’s question. She commented on an earlier post and wanted to know if I had any recommendations on books to learn more about raising alpacas. I think your best resource for that would be going to visit alpaca farms and talking with alpaca owners. I receive lots of emails on the subject of alpacas, and normally I respond directly to the person but I did not have any contact information for Nickey and since this is a popular question I thought I should post about it.

Unfortunately there is not much material available on alpacas compared to other livestock. The good thing is that most of the people in the alpaca business are very friendly and are willing to share their knowledge on the subject.

My first recommendation would be the Alpaca Field Manual by Dr. Norman Evans. We have the second edition. We are constantly referring back to this book for information on raising our alpacas. Just this last weekend we were trying to decide what kind of pasture seed to buy this year to plant for the alpacas, and there is a section on pasture grass and which grasses are best suited for the alpaca’s nutrition needs. The chapters covered in this book are: Basics, Immunization, Parasites, Diagnostics, Drug Dosages, Birthing, Cria related, Nutrition, & Skin & Fiber. This book is an excellent resource with a wide variety of topics to help in raising your alpacas. This book is not the easiest to find, some alpaca supply stores carry it. I found it at

My second recommendation is the Caring for Llamas and Alpacas a Health and Management Guide by Dr. Clare Hoffman & Ingrid Asmus. This is another one of our books that we constantly refer back to. This book also has many illustrations that really help in figuring out what to do in the situation. The topics covered in this book are: Buying a Llama or Alpaca, Concerns of travel, Restraint, Nutrition, Herd Health, Teeth, Eyes, Wounds, Lumps and Bumps, Skin Disorders, Lameness, Heat and cold problems, Respiratory problems, Digestive problems, The down Llama or alpaca, Reproduction, Newborn, Mastitis, Aging, How to give injections, Passing a stomach tube, & taking a temperature. This book is more accessible and can be found at Amazon or most book stores.

I will throw in two more for good measure.

The Camelid Companion by Marty McGee Bennett. This was one of the first books we bought way before we even owned any alpacas. It was recommended by one of the alpaca farms we visited. This book is a good resource to teach you how to relate to the alpaca. It is a handling and training guide. It is a thick book packed with tons of instruction with photos. We have used this book to learn how to properly harness our alpaca and what steps to take to train your alpaca on a lead. This book is a good read to learn how the alpaca thinks and relates to us, and how we can do our best to keep our alpacas happy and healthy through proper herd management.

Lastly I would recommend Llama & Alpaca Neonatal Care. This book is a great resource that covers preparing for the birth, birthing, & newborn care and many other topics. Most likely you will be the only one there when your baby alpaca is born and you must be prepared for whatever may happen. Best case scenario you look out the window and there is already a baby cria nursing with Momma and you did not have to do a thing. In any event you want to be prepared for the worse and this book will help you get ready.

If anyone else has any other Alpaca book recommendations feel free to comment on this post. We are constantly looking for good resources to help us along on this alpaca adventure.

March 08, 2007

The Birthday Boy

We have many birthdays and family events in the month of March, but today it is all about Cosmo. Cosmo turns 4 years old today. He is such a sweet boy and deserves a wonderful birthday.

Birthday Loot
Meow Mix market select, Whisker Lickins tuna flavor, & a 5 pack of mini mice.

The market select with real tuna & whole shrimp in sauce was a big hit.
Good thing we got the mini mice to play and work off those extra calories after the feast.

4 years old and already trying to fill Dad’s jeans

The rest of the day for the birthday boy will consist of watching wild birds at the feeder

Lots of cat naps.
Happy Birthday my little junior mint.