A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

March 31, 2014

Open Farm Day Event on April 12th!

Filed under: Adopt A Paca, Alpaca Fiber, Family, Open Farm Day — Tags: , , — alpacalady @ 9:36 am

Full Fleece-Fluffy Alpacas at Windrush Alpacas Open Farm Day!

Whisper March 2012Windrush Alpacas will host an Open Farm Day Event on Saturday, April 12, 2014 between 10 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Come out to our farm with your family and friends and see how adorable our alpacas look in their full winter coats before they get sheared for the summer.

Tour our Alpaca Farm and learn about alpacas, what they’re really like, and how we care for them. Learn why alpaca fleece is super soft, warmer than wool and highly sought after. We’ll explain the shearing procedure and the process the raw fibers go through to become a usable product to be made into luxurious items for human (and pet) comfort. These interactive tours are open to people of all ages – everyone is welcome!

Then you can browse our Farm Store collection of alpaca products — some items made from our very own alpacas — including alpaca fiber bird-nesting balls which are great for spring birds! And if you’re a crafter, we also offer yarns, roving, batting and needle felting kits. We have toys for children, toys for pets and bedding for pets, too.

Sign up for our Adopt-a-Paca Program – it’s become quite popular! You can sponsor a real, live alpaca for one full year. You’ll receive a glossy photo and other goodies. Pick out your paca while you’re on the tour!

We always offer free admission, free parking and free refreshments. Come join us 1-1/4 miles south of Brady on CRM for a unique and fun day you can enjoy with your whole family.

For more information, call us at 575-683-5177 or visit our website at http://www.windrushalpacas.com. Also, you can Like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/WindrushAlpacas, shop online at http://www.windrushalpacas.net/store/ , and sign up for our newsletter at http://eepurl.com/xhiwn!

December 4, 2012

Of fiber and friends

 

 

Spinning at iIndrush Alpacas

Jessie Dodington and Ruth Randolph spinning at Windrush Alpacas while our commercial is being shot

One of the pleasures of having an alpaca business is that it opens you up to meeting all sorts of fiber addicts – knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, felters, we all share a love of fiber and enjoy getting together and enjoying fiber arts.  Alpacas are a fiber animal so let’s face it we alpaca breeders need fiber fanatics!

Two of the  fiber fanatics I have met along the way are Liby Ball and Jessie Dodington,

Liby, Jessie and I met through a local knitting group.  Liby was living in nearby Portales with her husband Jared who was working in Portales at that time, Jessie came to Portales with her husband to be (now her husband) Elliott who had accepted a job at Eastern New Mexico University.   Knitting groups are a wonderful way to integrate yourself into the local community.  As Jessie puts it

“I’ve moved around a lot and the one trick that never fails me when I arrive in a new town is to go to the local yarn store or library and ask about the existence of any knitting groups. There is nothing nicer than being welcomed into a knitting group. You already have something in common with everyone – you’re a crafter! – the atmosphere is casual and conversation comes easy while you sit and work on your projects.”

Jessie and Liby hit it off immediately and a firm friendship formed over time.  Liby now lives in Indiana but distance cannot keep Liby and Jessie apart and so putting their creative heads together they decided to go on a mission to entertain crafters of all types by starting a pod cast called Multicraftual 

Multicraftual is a fun and addictive pod cast.  Jessie and Liby discuss their current and finished projects interjected with much zany humor and the occasional glass of wine.

Jessie knits, Liby crochets, but both do so much more.  Liby is a very talented seamstress (you can check out her creations on her Facebook page ) and is also a belly dancer extraordinaire   Jessie is a very talented fine artist (you can check out Jessie’s creations on her blog ), knitting pattern designer, spinner and also sings in local choirs. (I guess that makes them an all singing, all dancing duo!)

When talking of Liby, Jessie and Multicraftual I cannot omit Liby and Jessie’s cats who also make brief appearances during the pod casts.  “Pancake”  (Liby’s cat) is a star in his own right and has his own Facebook Page  while “Dragon”  (Jessie’s young kitten) is becoming famous for performing “the kitty plank” during the pod cast.  Watch the pod cast to see what “the kitty plank” is.

So apart from my friendship with Liby and Jessie, how does Multicraftual relate to Windrush Alpacas you might ask?  Well first off Jessie and Liby are yarn customers of ours.  Jessie also knit a beautiful sample shawlette of her own design using our Windrush Alpacas Blue Swirl yarn so that I could display the shawlette in our farm store to show people how our yarn knits up.

Windrush Alpacas Blue Swirl Alpaca/Bamboo Yarn

Windrush Alpacas Blue Swirl Yarn. A sumptuous alpaca/bamboo blend yarn

 

 

Recently Jessie also helped out with our TV commercial.  Those are Jessie’s hands you see spinning away in the foreground during the shot of the spinners.  (The other spinner being our friend and fellow knit group member Ruth Randolph).  Plus in the recent Episode 13 of the Multicraftual pod cast our commercial and our yarn are both mentioned, and there is some bonus footage of Jessie’s time at the farm while we were filming, including a brief guest appearance by Daisy the dog!

So get comfortable, drift on over to Multicraftual and enjoy some light hearted crafting chat with two special ladies.  Be warned though it’s addictive!

Note:  For those of you who use Ravelry you can also find Multicraftual in the groups there

Rosemary

October 7, 2012

Cold Weather And Pumpkins Arrive At The Farm

Brrr!  In typical New Mexico style we have been treated to a sudden change in weather.  From days last week with temperatures in the high eighties and early nineties, today we have dropped to a day time high of around 45 F.  Fall has finally arrived on the high plains!

The cold weather gives the alpacas (and their owners) a hearty appetite.  It also makes for frisky alpacas – young Tiki was doing vertical take off displays this evening, Snow and Betty were running full gallop with the occasional kick of their legs in the air.  With the alpacas now having at least a couple of inches of fleece growth the cool temperatures feel good to them.

Our next Open Farm Day is rapidly approaching.  Fall is a great time to stock up on alpaca products and I have been busy creating things for the store.  Some wearable and others just fun.

Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving all bring to mind pumpkins and even pumpkins can be made from alpaca!  Easy to care for, no mess involved and they will last you for years.  Needle felted alpaca pumpkins are just the thing for your fall decorations.

Needle Felted Alpaca Pumpkins

Hand made and cute as can be these mini needle felted pumpkins could be yours!

Using dyed alpaca roving (roving is fleece that has been processed to align all of the fibers in the same direction) and a needle felting technique.  I have made a selection of pumpkins to be available in the store.  From plain pumpkins to Jack-O-Lanterns, mini pumpkins to larger versions – you can choose the ones that appeal to you the most.

Image

So come on out and join us next Saturday, October 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. pick the pumpkin that appeals to you the most and meet our wonderful alpacas at the same time.

Rosemary

January 6, 2010

Fetching the Feed

Monday I had to make a flying visit to Albuquerque to pick up a load of feed.  It’s about a four hour drive from our house to the feed mill, a drive that might seem excessive to some, but when it comes to getting good quality, fresh feed the drive is worth making.

Our feed is milled by Onate Mills using a pre-mix supplied to them by Dr. Norm Evans.  Dr. Evans is one of the top authorities on alpaca nutrition in the United States and has formulated feed to suit the different nutritional needs of alpacas in different states.  While some might think that one generic feed would be sufficient for all the alpacas in the US that is not the case.  Differing mineral soil content, varying amounts of sunlight, weather conditions and differing water qualities are just a few of the factors that can cause different nutritional requirements in alpacas across the US.

We could purchase the feed under a different brand name from a closer store, but that brand sells the feed in 40 lb bags instead of the 50 lb. bags we get from Onate and the price on the other brand is quite a bit higher.  When you are feeding 60 plus alpacas every day a difference of 10 lb. per bag and a couple of dollars per bag soon adds up.  So when all the factors are taken into consideration it is worth our time to drive to the mill in Albuquerque to pick up feed.  We also know that the feed is fresh as the mill manager can tell us when the feed was milled.  This last load was actually milled on Saturday – pretty fresh feed!

Fortunately my drive was uneventful, with some good CD’s to listen to and some snacks for the trip I was able to sit back and enjoy the New Mexico scenery.  Ric was able to take care of chores for the day and so I was able to get a reasonably early start and was back home before dark – perfect.

With alpacas being a fiber producing animal to us it is of the utmost importance that their nutrition is the best that we can give them.  Over the years we have seen how much difference good nutrition makes not only to the alpacas fleeces but also to their overall health – we are what we eat and that phrase most definitely applies to alpacas too.

Rosemary

November 19, 2009

It’s Almost Time For…..

Open Farm Day!  This Saturday November 21 we will again be opening the farm to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

We try to have an Open Farm Day at least once a quarter but with the holiday season rapidly approaching we will be having Open Farm Days on November 21 and December 19.  In addition to the Open Farm Days we will also be opening the Farm Store from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday in December until Christmas.  So there will be plenty of opportunity for people to come out and do their Christmas shopping and also see the alpacas between now and Christmas.

There is always much preparation for an Open Farm Day, new products to be found, inventory to be priced and put out on display, copies of alpaca coloring pages to be made to help keep the little ones entertained, cookies to be baked and a general tidy up around the farm.

I am excited that we have recently started to offer a few new products, pretty Peruvian alpaca hats, needle felting starter kits in bright colors, handmade soaps covered in a felted alpaca wrap that smell divine and also alpaca bird nesting balls to help the birds build their nests in the spring.  It’s great that we have access to such a diverse selection of alpaca goodies and shows how people in the alpaca industry are becoming very creative in using our versatile alpaca fiber.

 

Alpaca Bird Nesting Ball

Alpaca Bird Nesting Ball (picture courtesy of Alpacas of the Covenant the creators of this neat alpaca product)

Of course we will also have plenty of alpaca socks in stock along with gloves, scarves, ski bands, yarn and rugs.   We feel it is important to have a nice selection of inventory on hand to suit everyone’s budget and so have products ranging in price from $10 to $200.

The alpacas of course always receive a lot of attention during Open Farm Days and hopefully will be on their best behavior.  They usually manage to easily entertain our visitors with their curious stares and cautious sniffs.  I can guarantee that they will have their pictures taken several times during the day and I suspect Theresa’s new cria will be the star of the show.

Hopefully our warm and sunny weather will hold out at least through the weekend, it’s always more pleasant for our visitors if they can stand in a warm, sunny pasture, but of course those colder days make people appreciate the warmth of alpaca fiber more.  Whatever the weather we will enjoy meeting those who come out to the farm and hope that they will enjoy meeting us and spending their time here too.

 

Rosemary

November 16, 2009

Where Does The Time Go To?

Windrush Chandra

Windrush Chandra, February 2009 - she's grown a lot since then!

The past week just seemed to evaporate!  It’s hard to imagine where the time goes or is it?  Of course there was the distraction of Theresa’s new cria to keep us occupied.  Theresa’s cria is a sweet and lively little thing, exploring the pasture, coming up to see what we are doing, giving cria kisses and taking off on cria races around the pasture.  She is now up to 20.8 lbs and she and Theresa are back in with the main herd.  Theresa is a very protective dam and will not take any nonsense from the older crias who might think they are going to play rough with her baby!

Sunday (November 15) saw the end of the early bird discount for stalls at the TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular which will be held February 12- 14, 2010 at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas.  We always try and enter alpacas in the TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular and it’s great to be able to get discounted stalls and so we needed to make our decision this week as to which alpacas will attend the show.  We are lucky to have many alpacas to choose from but show expenses soon mount up and we can’t take them all.  We ended up registering our two new junior herdsires Biscotti and Champ and our Prince Regent daughter Chandra.   Show results from different shows and different judges can do a lot to enhance your Junior Herdsires breeding career, shows also provide an opportunity to showcase your junior herdsire in front of other alpaca breeders who might be interested in booking breedings to him.    With Chandra our motivation in showing her is a little different.  As our one and only Prince Regent daughter on the farm (the others have all sold or belong to our clients) we are curious to see how she places in the competitive white classes.  Our intention is for her to become part of our foundation herd so it will be good to get feedback from a judge as to Chandra’s strengths and weaknesses.  With her dense, fine fleece, correct conformation, graceful presence and her Prince Regent head (her sire has a beautiful head style which Chandra has inherited) we are hopeful that Chandra will walk away with a ribbon.

Of course the TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular also has a fleece show and we will be sending in entries to that too, but I have a little more time to get those entries in the system.  Once entered though I then need to get busy skirting the fleeces in preparation for the show – February will soon come around.

We also had several enquiries during the week from people interested in learning more about alpacas, the alpaca lifestyle and what it takes to start up and run a successful alpaca business.  It’s always great to spend time talking to people interested in alpacas and to share with them some of the knowledge we have gained over the years.  I still remember the excitement Ric and I felt in the days when we were researching the alpaca business and the kindness of the alpaca breeders we spoke to at that time.  It is nice to now be able to “pay it forward” and share our knowledge with those looking into bringing alpacas into their life.

Add to those activities the daily chores, some behavior tests of bred females, some toe nail trimming, work on our websites, preparation for next weekend’s Open Farm Day, and work on a knitting project that someone has asked me to make and I guess it’s hardly surprising that our week disappeared before our eyes.  No complaint here though as it is fun work, a great lifestyle to be living and beats shuffling papers in an office any day!

Rosemary

October 29, 2009

Alpaca For iPod owners?

While in England I came across a short magazine article that mentioned that Apple has issued a warning that some people listening via iPod, iPhone or Mac Computer have received small electrical shocks through their ear buds – ouch!  People using the devices in areas where the air is very dry (such as ours in New Mexico) sometimes build up static electricity and receive a discharge of this static through their ear buds.

To be fair I am sure that the problem is not confined to users of Apple products, but rather is a possibility for anyone using a device of any make with ear buds, but Apple has taken the initiative to the address the problem and has listed on their web site some steps people can take to reduce the problem.  Amongst the steps listed is:

Try wearing different clothes. Try clothes with natural fibers since synthetic fibers are more likely to hold a static charge.”

Whoopee – commercial giant Apple is suggesting the use of natural fibers.

Of course when I read the words natural fibers I think of alpaca.  It would be great to think that we could convert all iPod, iPhone or Mac computer users to wearing alpaca – even better still to hope that we could get all people who use ear buds to wear alpaca.  I am sure the other natural fiber producers would also want a look in at the new market of opportunity, but there should be enough people to share among us.

Natural fibers are a much better option for reducing static in your clothes.  Natural fibers are not entirely static free, but do offer a more static free experience.  Natural fibers tend also to be better for your skin as they allow your skin to breathe and often wick any moisture away from the skin too.  Remember though that garments often have some nylon or elastic blended in with them and to guarantee the best chance of being static free everything you wear would need to be made of natural fiber.  Still the wearing of natural fibers such as alpaca generally makes for a more comfortable experience.

So thank you Apple for encouraging the use of natural fibers – and for all of you out there starting to think of Christmas shopping think alpaca when it comes to a gift for the ear bud users in your life!

*Note – I don’t own an iPod (sorry Apple) but do own an MP3 player and to date I have never experienced a static shock through my ear buds, but of course I wear alpaca!

 

Rosemary

August 25, 2009

A Small Fiber Distraction

Inca's The Llama's Fleece  - Washed

Inca's The Llama's Fleece - Washed

While looking for a document on my computer the other day I came across some instructions for washing alpaca fleece that I had kept from a couple of years ago.  Usually we don’t wash our fleeces before sending them to processing.  Often when I prepare alpaca fleece for hand spinning I don’t wash the fleece until after the yarn is processed, but I tend to use the cleaner fleeces for hand spinning projects.

The article I had kept had piqued my interest when I read it.  I know that prior to preparing sheep’s wool for spinning washing the fleece is a must in order to remove the lanolin from it.  As alpacas don’t have lanolin in their fleece that is not an issue with alpaca fleece.  Still that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t wash alpaca fleece prior to processing for fiber arts projects at home and the article had some points on what to do and (probably more importantly) what not to do.

I have one alpaca fleece in mind to wash, that of our black alpaca Queen, but I thought that before I tried my hand at washing fleece that I really wanted to use for a specific project, perhaps I should find some other fleece to practice on first.

Down in our shearing area are several bags of llama fleece from shearing customers who just didn’t want to take the fleece with them.   I hate to see all of that fleece just thrown away, some admittedly was not the best or is too laden with vegetable matter to be useable, but other llama fleeces had a nice soft hand and were relatively clean.  Those llama fleeces make good candidates for experiment and I will probably get something nice as a result too!

Looking over the llama fleeces I decided to first try one of our own.  Our silver gray llama Inca has a lovely soft fleece in a pretty color (that’s her fleece in the picture) so I pulled out an amount of blanket fleece from her bag and off to the kitchen I went.

Before anyone starts to get concerned about the hygiene of washing fleeces in the kitchen sink I have to explain that our house has two kitchens.  One we use as our food kitchen.  The other is used for our alpaca medical supplies and various craft projects.  This second kitchen is large and has a large center pedestal making it a great work area.  I love having the two kitchens and if we were ever to think of moving I am afraid I would want to kitchens in the next house too!

The llama fleece washing commenced and the first step involved setting the fleece in hot water that had either shampoo or a soap such as Dawn dish soap or Orvus.    I have a lovely soap that I use for washing my fiber arts projects and so I decided to use that.  You should have seen the color of that water!  It was a lovely shade of Clovis orange (courtesy of the fine red sand in our area).  I was amazed at how much dirt came out, so amazed that I decided I had better repeat that step just to make sure all the dirt was removed.

The rest of the process went smoothly; I did find that some of the fiber felted a little.  Perhaps I had a little variation in the water temperature, or perhaps I had too much fleece in the water at one time.  Next time I think I will try the process in cold water just to see how different the results are.

So now I have a nice quantity of washed llama fleece sitting on the work surface in the big kitchen.  I have already decided that I am going to use my five point English combs on the fleece to produce roving.  From there my intention is to make some felted balls that can be used as cat toys, but… if that roving looks really nice when I have finished it then I may just have to spin it into yarn.  On that note excuse me while I go off to the kitchen to play whoops I really meant work on that fleece.

Rosemary

August 21, 2009

It’s That Time of The Year Again

When the temperature starts to cool a little, the sun sets earlier and the spinning wheel starts calling me!

Having knitted several projects recently I think it is time for a change, so the spinning wheel will be getting a workout

Right now my spinning wheel has some alpaca fiber on it that has been spun but that has also been grabbed by puppy Blue and entangled.  I really need to untangle the yarn and ply it then I will be able to move on to a new project.

I have some white roving ready to go and recently have been viewing some pictures of blended fibers (thanks Theresa and Nichol!) which have set my imagination going and are tempting me to try blending something with the alpaca roving I have.  I still have that really pretty lilac colored tussah silk which I think would look nice against the white roving I have on hand; I just need to pluck up the courage to give it a try.

Within a few months I hope to have a large supply of gray roving on hand as I have finally got around to skirting my collection of blanket fleeces from our one and only gray alpaca Ma Cushla.  Cush is not the softest alpaca in the world but her fleece has a beautiful even silver gray color to it.  I am sending Ma Cushla’s fleeces in to be dehaired and put into roving, some of which I will spin into yarn for knitting and crochet projects and some I want to use for felting (a nice nuno felt scarf maybe).   It will be fun to work with Ma Cushla’s fleece during the cooler months and while I am waiting for it to return from the mill I can start to think about some potential fibers to blend with it.  (I can also think some more about the small rigid heddle loom I have my eye on – but don’t tell Ric who claims I already have too many fiber arts toys as it is!)

That’s the thing with fiber there are so many different things to do with it and so much fun to be had trying new techniques.  The real trick is to find the time to do it all, but it’s amazing what even 15 minutes a day will create.

Rosemary

August 11, 2009

We Have Ribbons

Our Latest Ribbons From The AFCNA Continental Fleece Show

Our Latest Ribbons From The AFCNA Continental Fleece Show

 

Last Thursday we received a delivery via FedEx – our fleeces that we had submitted to the AFCNA Continental Fleece Show.

 

We were surprised to see our fleeces back so soon after the show, the show had concluded the Sunday before and sometimes it takes while for fleeces to be shipped back to their owners following a show.

 

It is always an exciting moment when you open your box of fleeces wondering if you have won ribbons and for us the answer was yes!

 

Our Windrush Zindel’s Atlas had placed 1st in his class and our Windrush White Blast placed 6th in his class. Unfortunately there were only four entries in Atlas’s class, Atlas has a gorgeous fleece and while we were happy to receive our blue ribbon it would have been good to see how he would do against more competition.

 

Blast’s fleece definitely had competition as he was 6th out of 15 in the ever competitive white classes. I had not been happy with Blast’s fleece when I sent it in as it had become tangled up prior to my skirting it. I didn’t feel that it looked as good as it could do, so I am happy to know that Blast’s fleece placed in a large class despite the mess it was in!

 

I don’t know if I will show Blast’s fleece again, it will depend on how it looks when I take it out of the bag. Maybe I will have got lucky and the fleece show volunteers were able to do a better job of straightening it out than I did! Atlas’s fleece will definitely be shown again.

 

Blast (Left), Biscotti (Center) and Atlas (Right) enjoy some hay, oblivious to Atlas and Blast's latest accomplishments

Blast (Left), Biscotti (Center) and Atlas (Right) enjoy some hay, oblivious to Atlas and Blast's latest accomplishments

So our two up and coming junior herdsires have some more credentials behind them. Atlas at just over a year old is not ready to breed yet, but we have some good news on Blast. It looks as if Blast has got a female pregnant at his first breeding attempt. We still have to confirm the pregnancy by ultrasound, but Dona is spitting hard and fast at any males that come near her so we are pretty confident she is pregnant. How exciting – now all we have to do is wait the 11 ½ months or so for the cria to be born, but if this year is anything to go by the time will go by in a flash!

 

Rosemary

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