Sweet Harmony Farm blog

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Posted 8/2/2013 10:22am by Mona.

The camera is working again!  Definitely operator error folks, so we'll just leave it at that.  :)

In honor of the camera finally working, the first picture is for you, Lisa!  Here in front is Desi in full fleece, just before shearing this year:

Desi full fleece May2013 

And the second picture is for you Val!  This is adorable little EarthWind&Fire, whom Dan and I call Earthling, in full fleece:

Earthling May 2013

And for all of you, here are all of our fiber friends!  The first picture is missing Guinness; he was probably just out of camera range.  The second picture is missing Bo.  Bo was probably in the barn.  Bo loves his barn.  Yes, our beloved Julio is in both pictures.  Enjoy everyone!

Alpaca friends full fleece May 2013

alpacas in full fleece 2013

 

Posted 7/26/2013 9:15am by Mona.

Things are still strangely quiet on our little farm.  I just can’t explain it but it all seems so oddly quiet.  The alpacas have their occasional moments of rough housing and it’s odd not to see Julio step up.  Sometimes Guinness intervenes.  He’s a little guy though so this doesn’t always happen.  I tell him he’s a very good boy and give him a hug.    

There is still no clear alpha but I think it’s Cavalier.  He obviously doesn’t mind the rough housing ruckus.  He’ll just stand there and watch while he eats hay or grazes, if he even watches at all.   If he’s cushed he’ll just continue to chew his cud and ignore what’s happening.  Maybe it isn’t such a big deal to him or any of the alpacas.  Maybe I’m just overreacting.  Most of the time it’s as it’s always been, very quiet out there. 

I’ve been asking Cav, whom I often call Big Bear, if he’s the alpha now.  He doesn’t respond.  But when I say ‘hey A-Man!’ he looks me right in the eye in surprise as if to ask ‘What, Who, Me??’  His expression makes me smile and laugh.  Finally I’m laughing again.

The other night we heard the strangest noise outside.   Were raccoons fighting?  We had no idea.  We heard the strange noise again and tried listening for other noises.  Nothing.   Dan said ‘I think the alpacas are alarming!’  Alpacas make a loud, high pitched noise when they feel threatened.  They do not make this noise often.  This could not be good. 

We quickly turned on the outside lights to the barn.  We saw that all the boys were in the paddock, standing perfectly still with their necks straight up.  All of them were staring at the main gate.   They had stopped alarming now that the light was on.  The only alpaca who had ever sounded the alarm was Julio and he hadn’t done that in a very long time.  The hair was standing up on the back of my neck.

We couldn’t see or hear coyotes, nor dogs, nor a bear.  The alpacas will curiously follow wild turkeys along the fence line but turkeys are not out late at night.  When deer or the occasional moose come through the alpacas couldn’t care less.  Dan took the flashlight and cautiously walked out towards the gate.

And there, in front of the gate, waddling by without a care in the world was a porcupine.  Oh geez!  My wimpy alpacas alarmed at a silly little porcupine. 

Who sounded the alarm?  Usually it’s the alpha/guard but we didn’t see who alarmed and we haven’t got a clue.  

Ahhh, the Who’s The New Alpha Game continues on.             

Tags: alpacas, barn
Posted 7/4/2013 8:37am by Mona.

Fourth of July flag

Home of the Free, Because of the Brave

Happy Fourth of July Everyone!!

 

Tags: alpacas
Posted 6/25/2013 8:43am by Mona.

It’s been a long month since Julio left us.  Thank you all for your compassion and kind words.  Dan and I and the alpacas have all been getting into the new routine, the new normal.  

The alpacas have been very quiet.  They’re certainly not loud animals but they have seemed strangely quiet around me.  I’ve watched them to see who the new alpha will be.  Sometimes at night, for the first several days, we would hear fighting out in the pasture as the herd goes about the task to re-organize itself.  With very little fanfare, I’d say it’s Cavalier, who we call Bear, who is the new leader.  He’s the strong, silent type, with a very watchful eye.  Guinness of course will help out.  Nobody ever bothers Cavalier nor Guinness.

I’ve also been quiet.  I quietly go through the daily routines in the barn, scooping poo, re-filling water buckets, fluffing and putting out fresh hay, and opening or closing the big barn door and windows depending on the weather.  The alpacas all quietly mill around me as I work.  Slowly I’m getting back to my usual chit-chat with them.

A few days after Julio’s passing, I was doing a headcount.  I counted and counted, walked around to the back of the barn a few times to double and triple check, re-counted in the barn, and kept coming up with 11 alpacas.  I was almost in a panic when I realized ...... when I remembered why there wasn’t 12.  I collapsed onto the hay bale feeder in tears.  A few paca noses sniffed at my head and face; I wish I knew who it was.

The alpacas mourned too.  I’d often find Guinness cushed in the straw, exactly where his buddy had been cushed.  He’s always let me scratch and hug him and seems to enjoy it more now.  I can generally scratch and hug any of my alpacas, yes some more than others, but lately all of them are letting me scratch them without a fuss.  There’s solace in that.  They would hang out quietly around the barn and paddock and wouldn’t go near the other pasture for at least a week.  All except Guinness.  He’d come over to the spot where the dirt is still fresh and cush for a while near his friend.

My garden is close by to the fence line where Julio rests.  As I’ve been planting and watering seedlings the alpacas have slowly come back to that pasture to see what I’m doing and to keep me company while I work.  The other morning several of them were already grazing nearby.  As I approached the garden, Coty and Henry came right up to the fence and greeted me with upright ears.  Slowly the others did too.  Good morning boys!  After sniffing me, Guinness walked over to the dirt patch and cushed, and rolled.  Coty saw him and joined him, then Henry.  The three of them banged into each other and kept rolling.  Then the others all pig-piled and joined in, cushing and rolling and bumping into each other.  Bo ran over from the barn to cush and roll too.  The alpacas all seemed to be having so much fun.  Huge clouds of dust emerged.  After a few minutes they all jumped up, shook off the dust, and ran off to find some nice grass to eat.  All except Guinness.  He stayed cushed for awhile, near his friend.        

Posted 5/29/2013 1:29pm by Mona.

It is with deep sadness and a very heavy heart that I tell this story.

On Sunday morning, we lost our dear friend, our alpha, Julio.

It wasn’t a complete surprise.  Julio has not felt well for a very long time.  But he was a strong boy, always feisty, spunky, bossy, and definitely had the most personality of any of the alpacas on our farm.  After shearing the weather turned insanely cold, rainy, and windy.  Our poor Julio came down with pneumonia.  He appeared to be responding to the antibiotics. 

But on Sunday morning when we went to the barn, he was clearly in distress.  Coty and Desi ran over to us, gave Julio a quick sniff, and ran off to join the others in the pasture.  I love my animals.  I don’t want to let them go.  But Julio was obviously telling me it was time.  Our wonderful and kind vet, Amy, came right over.  I softly rubbed his ears and reminded him how much we love him.  Julio quietly and gently left us, crossing over the Rainbow Bridge.

Dan dug a hole in the pasture and we placed him in, with lots of straw and a few sticks.  Julio liked to chew on sticks.  While I said a prayer, I saw Earth and Coty watching.  They’d all been respectfully staying their distance this whole time.  I nodded to Earth and he came running, then Coty, and all the others.  The herd cautiously walked around the hole, sniffing into it, and each of them dropped down to roll.  It was as if they were all saying one last goodbye.  They each had a few bites of grass and then ran back to the other pasture. 

All except his lifetime buddy, Guinness.  Guinness stayed cushed after he rolled a few times, watching us, not wanting to leave his buddy.  Animals create bonds with one another.  And animals mourn; yes, they really do.

RIP, my friend.

Julio kisses

 

Tags: alpacas
Posted 5/18/2013 4:33pm by Mona.

It’s springtime!  And with fibered animals that means it’s shearing season. 

Professional shearers do extensive traveling this time of year.  They’re ‘on the road’ for a few months, driving from farm to farm setting up their mats, blades, and equipment, shearing the animals, cleaning up and re-packing their equipment, and off they go to the next farm.  Usually they’ll shear at more than one farm per day, and usually late into the night.  This is hard, grueling, dirty work, certainly not for anyone who is lacking in energy or cannot function on a few hours’ sleep.  There is no time for inefficiency.  The animals must be shorn before the hot weather sets in for their health and safety.  We farmers all stress over setting up for shearing day, the weather conditions prior to and on the day of shearing, getting enough helpers, and having enough supplies and snacks on hand.  In reality though, our job is absolutely nothing compared to what the shearers’ job is. 

Let’s hear it for our shearers!!  Whhoooo  -  hoooooooo!!!  Thank you all so much.    

Our boys were sheared Tuesday.  All went well as it normally does at least as far as we humans are concerned.  Of course the alpacas don’t like shearing day and are stressing more than we are.  For several days before shearing I close them into the barn at night and let them out late morning.  Otherwise they’ll roll in the early morning dew, get wet and grind in wet dirt into their fleeces.  Cannot have wet fleeces for shearing day!   Then on the morning of shearing Dan and I corral them into the 2 corner stalls.  That’s when the incessant fussing begins, their eyes widen and don’t blink, and their ears are folded back in obvious concern, wondering what the heck is going on.  When Jay arrives you can see their concern instantly change to that fearful look of ‘oh no!’   I try to shear them by color which went right as planned this year!  Thankfully I only have one real spitter, Bo, and since he is white, he also goes last.  As each one is sheared we let them out of the barn and yup ~ they run right out to the pasture!!  They’ll run off to meet up with their buddies and spend the next few hours sniffing each other all over, trying to figure out who each other is.  It’s pretty funny to watch.  Besides, they all look like aliens when they’re first sheared!  Their wide alpaca eyes really stand out on their little shorn faces.

That night I was concerned that they would be cold having no fleece and with the temperature dropping down to freezing.   We had returned well after dark from helping out at Val’s and I went right to the barn.  Bo and Desi were cushed in the barn and Julio and Cowboy were cushed in the paddock, all chewing their cud contentedly.  I walked to the corner of the barn and squinted into the dark pasture, trying to see the others and do my usual headcount.  It’s actually harder to see brown alpacas in the dark than black ones.  That’s when I realized the other 8 were running around, chasing each other in the dark, playing.  I sing-songed a ‘hello boys’ greeting and they paused momentarily to watch me.  Then Bo, Desi, Cowboy, and Julio, one by one, got up and sauntered out to the pasture to join their herdmates.  They all started to run together in a large circle, in an oval, in a line, and back to a circle.  Their path widened effortlessly.  They ran non-stop for quite a while.  There was no sound in the clear night sky except for the quiet thump-thump of the alpacas running.  I leaned against the barn watching them, listening to the rhythmic sounds of their little padded feet tapping the ground as they ran by me.  I swear 48 feet were all hitting the ground at the exact same time.  And 48 feet were all in the air at the exact same time.  They weren’t just running and playing.  They were pronking.  That’s what happy alpacas do; they pronk.    Pronking alpacas make me smile.

Posted 4/4/2013 11:01am by Mona.

One thing about alpacas, and usually all animals, is that they make me laugh every day.  You just never know what silly thing they will do, silly to us humans but I’m sure just normal activity for them.

I went out to the barn last night for my usual evening check.  It was dusk and most of the boys were quietly cushed outside in the paddock, relaxed, and chewing their cud.  The snow has been melting, melting, melting in the sun this past week.  It’s been windy here too, so the ground was pretty solid and no longer muddy.  The stars were out.  I’m sure the alpacas appreciate being able to sleep outside under the night sky rather than still being cooped up in the barn as they have been.

I said my usual ‘Hello Boys’ as I came in through the gate, doing a headcount to myself.  10 alpacas.  Hhmmm, the other 2 should be in the barn.

I walked into the barn and turned on the light.  And there they were.  The two best buddies, BFF’s, my 2 geldings, Julio and Guinness were together.  Lately I’ve noticed them cushed together a lot. 

But last night, there they were at the poo pile together, bum to bum, tail to tail, doing their business together, at the exact same time.  What are the odds of that happening?  I laughed and laughed and laughed.  They both looked at me like ‘What’s so funny?’ followed by ‘Where’s the hay?’ 

This morning I’m still amazed they didn’t pee on each other’s legs.

Posted 3/15/2013 10:54am by Mona.

This past winter has been cold and somewhat snowy.  For the past 2 weeks, it’s been snowing every day!  Sometimes just several inches of snow, a couple times an actual snowstorm of 12 +/- inches, and most days just what’s referred to as snow squalls leaving us a good dusting.  The dustings are nice.  It makes all the yuckiness look so clean, like fresh vanilla frosting spread out over a just baked cake.

The alpacas have hardly left the barn.  They don’t really enjoy standing or cushing in cold, wet snow.  Sometimes one or two of them will come out and look around and ponder what to do, what to do, for a few minutes.  Sometimes I’ll see one or two eating snow.  Usually a few are just cushed in the little doorway, the rest cushed behind the tarps.  The northwest corner of the barn has been blown bare of snow by the winds and most mornings Cavalier, aka Big Bear, will be cushed out there on the frozen dirt.  He always seems to enjoy the solitude more than the others do.

Yesterday spring seems to have suddenly arrived!  The sky is perfectly blue, barely a breeze, and the beautiful sun is so warm on my face.  Reflecting off the snow, the sun almost blinds me.  The sun is melting the huge piles snow.  Snow is melting off the roof, pouring down like in a rainstorm, and there are large, deep muddy puddles all up and down our dirt driveway and our little road to the barn. 

I walk down to the barn through mud, standing water, and crunchy snow, carefully pulling the 2-wheeler behind me which holds today’s bale of hay.  I’m trying hard not to splash dirty water onto the bale.  The pacas hear me at the gate.  One by one they file out of the barn,  casually walking up to the fenceline where the snow is still fairly clean, knowing that I’ll lay down the 2-wheeler there.  The fresh bale of hay is an easy distraction.  Without them in the barn, I can clean up in there quickly.

The paddock area is a disgusting mess, as it usually is during mud season.  The snow is melting, melting, melting.  There’s so much snow remaining that there’s no place for it to go as it melts.  The large puddles in the paddock are looking like a small pond.  And this pond is a dark, muddy, poop-filled, poopy-water type pond.  Yuck is not the word for it!  It’s really not a pretty sight.  I’m just so glad that we graded the paddock well enough that the water no longer ends up in the barn.  Apparently we’ll need to do more grading this summer.  Spring is approaching so for now I’ll have to patiently wait as the ground thaws a little bit more each day and absorbs all this water. 

I was standing in the barn today, looking over into the paddock at the poo-pond and listening to the alpacas quietly chewing hay.  I stood there pondering farm life.  Farming really gets you in tune with the changes of the seasons, adapting to the weather cycles, and very much aware of the habits of birds, insects, and wild animals that share your little place on this planet.  Farming really makes you connected to the Earth.  Being connected to the Earth is a good thing, another simple joy. 

So I stood there, looking around at my muddy paddock, listening to melting snow pour off the barn roof, and watched my alpacas with very dirty knees and legs eating hay.  And I thought:  hhmmm, anyone considering starting a farm and saw this type of mess would most likely think twice about it, and run!             

Tags: alpacas, barn
Posted 1/4/2013 8:52am by Mona.

Bright Blessings to all of you for a wonderful 2013!  May all your wishes come true.

Thank you all again for reading our little blog ~ much appreciation for each and every one of you.

~ Mona

Tags: alpacas
Posted 12/24/2012 7:22am by Mona.

 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

 Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

Quote for Today

Never let the odds keep you from doing
what you know in your heart
you were meant to do. 

Coming soon!
Our new fiber store on Local Harvest!

 

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