Sweet Harmony Farm blog
Thank you all for your kind notes, comments, and emails regarding the unfortunate loss of our lovely Alana. I am very grateful to all of you. :)
Spring has arrived. The snow has melted, melted, melted, and the mud, mud, mud arrived too. A wonderful week of sunny weather with actual springtime temperatures significantly dried up the mud. Grass is growing and turning green. We're slowly removing the winter tarps off the front of the barn and have opened up 'the big doors' on the sides of the awning, letting in spring's very welcome warm sunshine. Songbirds have returned, singing their beautiful songs of love. A cute little flycatcher is nesting above the light in the barn. Dan has put the birdhouses back up along the fence line for the bluebirds.
Over the winter, the freezing cold heaves up the ground which heaves up the fenceposts which mis-aligns the gates. Now that it has warmed up, the ground recedes back and once again the gates are mis-aligned. Dan's winter and springtime chore is to move the latches up or down, usually more than once, so that the gates will shut easily.
The alpacas are all in "full fleece" now and are looking their cutest!
A few weeks ago, Candy from Eye Candy Alpacas/Wit's End Alpacas came by for a visit and to bring the pacas a gift ....... a bale of Chaffhaye. Chaffhaye is basically chopped and fermented alfalfa hay. It is excellent for ruminant animals and horses too. The bale is in a thick plastic, somewhat shrink-wrapped, 50 pound bag.I opened the bag in our little tack room. Our tack room now smells like sauerkraut. :). Good thing I like sauerkraut.
The alpacas’ reaction to the chaffhaye was priceless. I put a handful in Trixie's bowl and she wanted nothing to do with it. She just sniffed once and walked away.
I stuffed an empty container of electrolytes to offer it to the boys. Alpacas are curious yet cautious creatures especially when it comes to new food. North was the first to approach me and check it out. He stood just far enough away to stretch out his neck and give a good long sniff and..... instantly JUMPED back, all 4 feet off the ground, sneezing and wide-eyed. He gave me this look of 'what the hell is that?'. One after another they slowly came over to me and they all reacted like North had. I wish I'd had a video camera filming their reaction because it was absolutely hysterical to watch. :). They really made me laugh. I really need to laugh again.
I cleaned out the catch tray on their stand up feeder and spread out the chaffhaye, then stood back and watched. A few curious noses slowly walked up, long necks outstretched, in total sniff mode. The first to sample the chaffhaye and deem it yummy to eat? Desi, of course. I spread some more out along both shelves of that feeder and along the top of the hay in the bale feeder in the barn. Yes the barn now smells like sauerkraut.
When I returned in the evening, Trixie's bowl and the boy's feeders were licked clean. Yup, they love the stuff! Now to find more .......
Happy Earth Day Everyone!! And don't forget to say Happy Birthday to our little Earth Wind & Fire, whom we call 'Earthling' or just Earth. He was born on Earth Day in 2009. :)
Today, today we buried my beautiful, sweet Alana. We placed her right by Dreamer whom I'm sure she missed, and now they are running together in the green pastures on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.
My heart is broken in a million pieces. When I first saw Alana as a cria, I knew I had to have her; she was my reason for having alpacas. Her rosey-grey fleece shined pink in the sun. She was only here on Earth for 8 years, and never once been sick. Alpacas are so very stoic creatures, hiding their illness and pain very well. By the time we human caretakers are aware, it's become very serious and oftentimes too late. And oftentimes, there isn't anything we humans can do. I certainly did not see this coming. I certainly was not prepared for her to leave.
She was so calm and patient while we worked with her, giving injections of pain reliever and antibiotic, syringing water, and trying to get her to eat and drink from the water bucket we placed in front of her. Our vet was not hopeful, but Alana kept showing me she had the will to live.
What I wouldn't give for one more chance to hug her.
Goodbye my sweet Alana. Rest in peace girl, knowing you were loved. Whenever I see pink I'll think of you. :)
I think our blog could use some happy thoughts!
Today I thought I'd write randomly about our alpacas' many different personalities.We are sure having a very snowy February! Hope you all are staying safe while clearing snow and ice from your driveways and barns.
The two girls we have left, Alana and 'Trixie', are totally bonded and inseparable. Trixie definitely is more dominant, although both alarm when needed. Their new trick is to watch me clean the barn and to get my attention, they'll start rolling. They alternately roll and then stare at me, pleased with themselves. This continues until I laugh, stop what I'm doing, and give them pellets as a treat. :). Sometimes, they'll stand at their hay bin and stare at me with their most pathetic face until I give in. Sometimes Trixie will follow me right into the tack room.
Alana is our shyest alpaca but she will now eat from my hand. She is very tall and can easily 'gazelle' right over the hay bin from a standing still position. Her beautiful rose-grey fleece looks pink in the sun. When I first saw her, I knew I had to have her.
Dan was scratching Trixie's neck and she sniffed his hand. When she realized he did not have any pellets, she spit in his face.
Henry..... oh Henry ......I wheel over the poo barrow after I finish up on the girls' side and Henry comes right over, sticks his head in there, and takes a good long sniff. Eeewwwww! I have to chase him out several times before he finally stops. When I have to catch him, he rests his head along my shoulder.
Henry is our Barn Clown and is usually up to something. :)
Sol loves to watch me and follow me in the barn. While I'm bent over fluffing hay in the bin or checking to see how much water is in the buckets, he'll put his head on my shoulder. Julio used to do this also. Sol has earned a special place in my heart. He came here with some sort of injury to his hips (?) and has trouble walking and is still quite thin, so we're always checking in on him. He is dominant towards the others regarding hay and feed yet very well mannered around we humans. He lets me hug him too.
Arlo has the sweetest alpaca face, like he's always smiling. When he chews his cud, his little round face looks like a cherub singing. He is sweet, sweet, sweet. To me, he will always look like a cria. I often call him my Little Man. He really does not like his feet touched at all and will cush quickly when we try to trim toenails. Arlo and Bo's toenails seem to grow the fastest.
Daji is so shy still that when I put out hay, he comes to me first, I'll pull out a handful from the feeder, and I hold out the handful for him to munch on. Then he'll step in closer and try to eat from the feeder with the others. He is easily pushed out by the others. He is also very sweet. He does not like to be caught by us humans and whimpers.
Desi will usually let both Dan and I give him a hug and does not mind humans at all. Desi will alarm when he senses danger, so we've deemed him our Guard Alpaca. He is a big alpaca and super strong. When he eats pellets from our hands, he is so enthusiastic he almost bites our hands.
After 5 years of living here, Coty will finally eat from our hands, sometimes. Coty is our tallest alpaca, very calm yet shy like his momma Alana, and struts beautifully when he walks. His fleece is my favorite.
Copper loves to talk in an adorable high-pitch squeal, often. He talks quite a bit while at the hay feeders. Copper is also quite the clown, much like his big brother Henry. Copper and Henry are quite the pair together, instigating humorous trouble.
Earth also loves to talk and is still our most talkative alpaca. Sometimes it is a loud squeal, but usually it's a long, drawn out, deep humming. I tell him he sounds like a sheep. He is very sweet and gives me kisses every day. He will also tug at my jacket when trying to get my attention. He chews hay very slowly and I love to watch his little mouth.
Bo loves the barn so much that he is almost always the last to leave and the first to return. Bo is allergic to the many flying insects. He looks pathetic during the summer since he scratches the fleece right off his face around his eyes. Poor Bo. This summer I will try something homeopathic for him. And Bo loves to have his picture taken! When he sees me with the camera, he stands still and poses. I love spinning his fleece.
Falcon is a very quiet alpaca. He is always observing whatever is going on, quietly, and bothers no one. He prefers to cush in the back corners of the barn where the straw is. But when we bring out pellets,watch out! He is right there, nosing his way in, making sure he gets some.
North is another big, calm alpaca, with lots of lovely, maroonish fleece. The fleece on his neck is almost as long as the fleece on his back. He loves to be scratched behind the ears and down his neck. He eats hay from my arms as I load it into the outside feeder. He follows Dan around on the tractor while he's moving snow in the paddock, jumping and pronking.
Speaking of moving snow, we really miss Guinness right now in the depths of winter. He used to get so excited when Dan brought in the tractor. He'd lay down in front of the bucket and roll and roll and roll. None of the other pacas will do that. He seemed to prefer us humans to his alpaca friends. lol. I also really miss his momma Dreamer and all her sass and spunk. She'd spit on a moment's notice in her alpha way, but also welcomed my neck scratches and hugs.
Bear came to us with a bit of a shoulder injury. With our fairly flat pasture, much different than the farm he was living on, he was running within a week. He tries hard to be Alpha, head of the herd. He has a dominant personality and isn't afraid to let the others know it. He has lovely silvery-black fleece. His voice has a growling sound to it, which is how we nicknamed him Bear.
Cowboy is a very sweet little guy with lots of thick, soft, medium fawn-brownish fleece so we call him Peanut. He's very quiet and bothers no one like his papa Falcon. He doesn't mind us scratching and touching him, but is surprisingly strong if we try to catch him for shots or shearing, etc.
Eragon, aaahh Eragon. He is a nice boy and likes to pal around with Henry. He sometimes joins Henry in his sniffing the poo barrow shenanigans. His face and curly topknot even look a lot like Henry's. You'd think they were brothers but they are not related at all. He is usually quiet but will shyly eat from my hand. Dan kind of refers to him as 'the forgotten alpaca' since he doesn't have any paca personality traits that stand out nor is he ever sick. He's a good boy! His very dark rose-grey fleece looks fabulous in the sun.
I hope you all enjoyed the tour of our pacas' personalities! Next time I'll talk fleece colors. :)
Blessings to all of you on New Year’s Eve.
Our farm has had a very rough 2014. Our year did not start well, and it certainly did not end well.
In late October, we lost our wonderful Guinness, suddenly. And then a few weeks later we lost his beautiful mother, Dreamer, to pneumonia brought on by her age. I owe them a tribute, but am still too devastated to type up their stories.
The rest of our alpacas have all adapted well to their sudden loss of herdmates. I continue to hug them all each and every day, finding solace in their beautiful eyes and souls.
I am sending you all wishes for a wonderful and fabulous 2015.
It's that time of year again to sing a happy tune. Merry Christmas Everyone!!!
The Fiber Twelve Days of Christmas
On the twelfth day of Stitch-mas, my true love gave to me:
Twelve knitters knitting
Eleven cones a’ winding
Ten orders shipping
Nine rugs a’ hooking
Eight yarns a’ dying
Seven needles felting
Six sample cards
Five spinning wheels!!!
Four pounds of fiber
Three nuno scarves
Two socks on one needle
And a yarn store that understands me!
Originally posted 7/22/14 .....................
As you may already know, last December we had alpaca ladies join our farm.
We had spent months trying to figure out how we could inexpensively build a new barn and pasture area for them. We talked to other farms who house both males and females for tips on how to keep them separated, the hardest task of all. Knowing well that farming is much more difficult during the winter, we devised a plan of how to get them shoveled out relatively easily so that we’d be able to get them water and hay.
In the end, the quickest, easiest, and most efficient method was just to divvy up the barn by moving one of the gates to block off the pens next to the tack room, run a line of fencing from the back corner of the barn to the back pasture fenceline, and then run fencing down the paddock with 2 handmade gates on either end. Done.
The girls, or rather The Ladies as Dan calls them, have the smaller side next to the tack room. The boys have the rest of the barn, the bigger side. It’s not that much bigger! I swear it was much cozier this winter for them. With a smaller space and a few more alpacas, all that extra body heat must have helped.
As it turns out, after the initial Meet and Greet, the boys just couldn’t care less about having girls on the other side! They are always, always, much more interested in me bringing them hay than who’s on ‘the other side.’
Wow!! It's so good to be back! I was having some computer problems with my ole computer ~ yes, yes, ahem, it's running XP ~ and was unable to do admin functions here on my own website! But thanks to my brother, who convinced me and helped me to do some updates for another reason, voila!!! I'm here!! Thanks Mark!!
All has been well here over the summer and I plan to be back soon with fun stories from our little alpaca farm. :)