Sweet Harmony Farm blog

See what we're up to!
Posted 6/30/2011 8:46am by Mona.

In the front part of our pasture, right by the tack room end of the barn, there is growing a rather odd looking weed.  The soil is very poor there, pretty much all clay, so not too much grass has grown, and there are always plenty of small rocks.  The alpacas come up here occasionally and do find something to eat, but they've never touched this weed.  So I'm guessing they know it's either bitter tasting and/or poisonous to them.  Guesses anyone?

Name that weed!

Yes, folks, I realize the picture is sideways!  It was the best way to get the entire plant in the picture.  It's about to flower some little yellow flowers.  This plant really is pretty but I need to pull it out soon before it goes to seed, just in case it really shouldn't be in an alpaca pasture.  And yes, that's grass you see around it.  This is right near an area that the alpacas have designated a(nother) poop pile.  Now that I think of it, perhaps it was some sort of seed in their hay; maybe that's how it's gotten here.  It's the only  one we've seen around our entire property.

If you know what it could be, please comment to let me know!  I'll be very grateful!  Thanks everyone!

Posted 6/28/2011 12:44pm by Mona.

On Sunday we went over to Val's to visit our female alpacas, Alana and Dreamer, and our newest little cria, Copper Moon.  The female herd was mostly in the barn or just outside, cushed amongst the shade of the trees.  Alana is a very attentive and protective momma, and will not allow the humans near her little one.  When she saw us, she didn't run away, but very deliberately walked Copper to the next pasture.

Alana and Copper, 1 month old

Tags: alpacas
Posted 6/20/2011 1:11pm by Mona.

Yesterday our little alpaca herd grew again, as 2 more alpaca boys joined us here on our farm.  Val came by and dropped off Cavalier and Eragon.  Both are considered modern gray in color, with Cavalier being a dark silver grey and Eragon a dark rose grey.  At quick glance, well, they look black!  But we fiber people get carried away with now what exactly is that color?  It’ll be nice colors to blend with the other colors we already have.  Cavalier is clearly taller than Eragon, and luckily for Dan, Eragon has a very telltale white spot on the front of his neck.

 

Eragon and Cavalier, the meet and greet

The meet and greet inspired a lot of expected sniffing over the paddock fence.  No spitting, no drama.  Val took off the harnesses and we let them into the barn and paddock area.  There was more sniffing and checking each other out, and still no spitting nor drama.  They didn’t do a pasture pronk, which I’m guessing is because it’s a little warm outside.  Instead they just milled around, picking at the hay and occasionally sniffing each other again, while the 3 of us humans stood talking, waiting for something to happen.  Nothing, just quietness.  The boys all cushed after we left.

Julio was being rather aloof, but he did give me that ‘what did you do’ look again.

Later in the darkness, we could see the shadows of the entire herd out in the pasture, quietly grazing together under the stars.  All except for Bo, who was cushed up in the barn, watching the herd contently while he chewed his cud.  From the house, we heard absolutely no noises at all.  It was a very simple integration of new alpacas into our herd.

Posted 6/9/2011 11:52am by Mona.

And already our little cria weighs 30 pounds!  Look at that smile on his little face!

Copper Moon at 12 days old

p.s. thanks to Val for this fabulous picture!

Tags: alpacas
Posted 5/28/2011 5:11pm by Mona.

This morning the Universe shined on us.  Just as if she’d read the manual, our beautiful Alana once again had a textbook perfect delivery.  And once again, that healthy little cria is a very strong baby boy cria!  Yeah, another boy! 

Val called us this morning to tell us that Alana was looking oddly uncomfortable, and that we’d probably have a cria today.  When Val went back out to check on Alana, already there was 'nose and toes'!  Minutes later our little boy cria was here on Earth and very alert.  And within 15 minutes of his birth, this strong little boy was standing up and nursing!  By the time we arrived, he had walked with his momma out into the back pasture.  Oh my, what long legs this teeny creature has!  His fleece was still damp in places, and we were having quite a time figuring out what color that soft fleece is.   But even though it wasn’t sunny, that fleece was shining.  His fleece is shiny, with an almost reddish tone, like a new copper penny...............

Welcome, Copper Moon!    

Sweet Harmony's Copper Moon, 2 hours old

Copper Moon, smiling

Alana with new cria, Copper Moon

Copper Moon's long legs

a sleepy Copper Moon with momma Alana

Posted 5/24/2011 11:45am by Mona.

Camera snaffu is finally corrected!  [aka, I'm not all that fast at figuring out computer stuff]

Here's a small pictorial from our Spring Cleaning Day.

Dan digging out the alpacas' poo pile area

Adding limestone to reduce odors

Adding fresh stonedust

Dan, raking and leveling fresh stonedust

how to distract alpacas (fresh hay of course!)

Poo Pile composting in progress [yes that's actually snow in there on May 8th!]:

poo pile composting in progress

And a year's worth of alpaca poo transforms to this fabulous dirt pile:

finished poo pile

Posted 5/9/2011 8:07am by Mona.

(slight camera snaffu ~ pictures to follow)

Spring cleaning on an alpaca farm is when we clean out the barn and paddock areas in preparation for shearing day.  We want the barn as clean as possible (well, it is a barn after all) so that the alpacas’ fleece stay as clean as possible.  Shearing Day is a fiber farmer’s Harvest Day, and it’s very important to us to get the most out of our harvest. 

Dan has spent the previous week or so raking out each pen of the straw bedding that has accumulated over the winter.  This used bedding is added to the ever-growing-poop-pile to compost down into lovely dirt.  Eventually we will be spreading out this compost onto the pastures, fertilizing our heavy clay soil, creating rich, nutrient-filled soil, and then beautiful grass will grow.   

It’s great to dream.

Our first priority was to get the alpacas OUT of the barn and out of the way.  So we dragged the 2 hay bale feeders out and stuffed them with fresh hay.  I made a point of parading through the barn with a fresh bale and the boys all followed me outside like I was the pied piper. 

We’ve spent this afternoon digging out the poop areas in the barn.  The alpacas have 3 defined, communal poop spots in their barn.  After we dug out the area, we’d sprinkle quite a bit of limestone down which helps to neutralize the smell.  Then Dan brought in a tractor-bucket full of fresh stonedust to fill in the spot.  We’d rake it out till it was somewhat level, I’d step all over to mush it down, and then we’d dump some more stonedust and rake again, until the spot was firm and all the limestone was well covered.

Of course just bringing the tractor into the paddock excites the alpacas to no end!  We had to work around them carefully.  They all followed Dan riding in on the tractor and when the tractor stopped, they rolled and rolled in front of and all around the tractor.  We were trying to work quickly because the sunny sky had clouded over.  The last thing we need are wet, muddy alpacas on shearing day.  Whether it’s snow, dirt, stonedust, or mud, alpacas just love to roll when they’re happy, and they get really happy when the tractor arrives.  So we just paused to watch and enjoy them. 

Watching happy alpacas rolling is a simply joy.

It had started to rain softly so as soon as we were done we had to hustle them back into the barn, this time with Dan shaking a bowl of pellets.  That was quick!  I closed all the gates behind our fleece-y friends.  Dan made sure each eager nose got a few mouthfuls and then got back on the tractor.  I took down one more of the tarps; just one is left.  I emptied and refilled the water buckets and the alpacas just stood there staring at me, and mindlessly stared outside the gates at Dan working in the paddock.  They hummed and hummed, loudly, not too happy with us to be locked into the barn.  Sorry boys!  All your fleeces need to be dry, dry, dry for shearing day. 

Dan then raked out the paddock of the rest of the mashed down, wet straw with the york rake on the tractor.  He filled up the bucket and dumped it all into The Big Poop Pile.

He figured he’d turn the poop piles while he was there.  The older pile is now looking like the glorious dirt we’re hoping for.  It’s a deep dark brown and full of earth worms.  Yeah!

The newer pile was steaming off heat on one side!  Hoorah!  And the other side ........... the other side still had some snow in it! 

Posted 4/23/2011 11:27am by Mona.

We woke up this morning to the Winter That Just Won’t End.

April 23 snow

Good thing I didn’t plant anything yesterday on Earth Day.

Posted 4/22/2011 10:28am by Mona.

I would say my life’s mission is to leave the world a better place than I found it.  Our farm’s simple mission statement reflects that.  A friend of mine from college used to say, ‘Of course I want to take care of the planet.  It’s the only one we’ve got.’  It was true then and true now. 

The celebration of Earth Day inspires me to continually ask myself, What else can I do to help the Earth?

Spaceship Earth is just a teeny speck of a planet in our giant Universe.  In the here and now, and the foreseeable future, it’s probably the only place that we humans can live.  And such a beautiful planet our Earth is!  Why trash it?

 Oh Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain,
For strip-mined mountain's majesty above the asphalt plain.
America, America, man sheds his waste on thee,
And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.
~George Carlin

I’m not sure when George Carlin said that, but it continues to hold true today, doesn’t it?  So sad that our beautiful living space of planet Earth is slowly being transformed into a huge dumping ground.  Sadder still is when humans refuse and then cease to acknowledge that.  Waste is an inevitable by-product of life, but please, there’s got to be a better way to keep our planet clean and healthy.

George Carlin’s satire of our popular American song, America the Beautiful, is a reminder to me to do something, everyday, to help regain and retain the health of the Earth, which in turn helps all the living beings that inhabit it.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day than by just spending time outdoors and breathing fresh air.  Fortunately, I get that opportunity daily by just caring for the alpacas’ daily needs and by walking Stella.  I’ll probably spend some time in the garden, pulling up debris from last year’s plantings and throwing that into the compost pile.  Maybe I’ll do some Sun Salutations in between the raised beds!

How are you all celebrating Earth Day?

Posted 4/18/2011 11:02am by Mona.

The snow is finally all melted and spring has arrived!  We've taken down most of the tarps and dragged the stand up hay feeder outside.  It's great to see the alpacas outside in the sunshine, grazing on the new growth, running, or cushed around the feeder.  It's great to be able to wear less layers.  It's great to see the early flowers popping up here and there and blooming.

 

Purple crocus blooming

Yellow crocus blooming

first daffodil blooming

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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