A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

January 4, 2010

Blogging again in 2010

Filed under: alpaca, alpaca products, alpaca socks, Alpacas, camelids, General, warm socks, yarn — Tags: , , — alpacalady @ 7:20 am

Well I took a longer than expected break from blogging over the Christmas period.  That was not my intention but dealing with cold snowy, weather, Christmas preparations and having the farm store open for some reason seemed to eat into my blogging time.  Can’t think why!

It was nice having the farm store open for December, we had some great customers and hope to see them back again during the year.  Hats off to those customers who drove out here in the snow and freezing cold to do their Christmas shopping.  We are now trying to decide how to manage the farm store for the coming year, we would love to open it on a regular basis but we need to decide what we would do if we were away at a show at a time when the store is scheduled to be open.   It’s quite the puzzle but we will keep working at it.  In the meantime I have created an online gallery of our products using a website called Smugmug.  The gallery has worked out well for our long distance customers, allowing them to see some of the products we have available without having large picture files clog up their email boxes.  I haven’t loaded our rugs to the gallery yet but if you want to take a look you can access the gallery at:

http://alpacalady.smugmug.com/Alpaca-Products/Scarves/10615965_CWzyW/1/741844596_ePiYb

or if you prefer to view the pictures as a slideshow you can go to

http://alpacalady.smugmug.com/photos/swfpopup.mg?AlbumID=10615965&AlbumKey=CWzyW

I really love my Smugmug account, it’s a great place to load up alpaca pictures for prospective purchases too and of course you can load up personal pictures if you want to.  Having the pictures loaded to Smugmug provides reasonably priced safe storage for your photos and you can also create greetings cards using your photos if you want to.  If you want to try out Smugmug you can go to www.smugmug.com and sign up for a free 14 day trial, if you decide you really like Smugmug you can purchase access to the site at different levels.  When you sign up be sure to add our email address windrush@plateautel.net in the Email/Coupon box to receive a little discount 🙂

Having had such a break away from blogging there is lots of news to catch up on and so I will get back to more regular updates to the blog.

Happy New Year to all and hope you will be back to catch up with us soon!

Rosemary

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December 8, 2009

Can It Get Any Colder!

The alpaca boys watch the snow

The alpaca boys stay on their warm spots and watch the snow

The last week has seen our weather change from the balmy temperatures of an early New Mexico fall to the bone chilling cold that can occur during late fall and winter.

Part of farming is accepting that you are at the mercy of the elements – you can’t control the weather and have to be prepared to work in whatever weather comes your way.  As the cold arrives the insulated coveralls are brought out of the closet, the alpacas socks become a permanent fixture on our feet, the fleece lined jeans are the dress choice of the day and our snow boots start to prove their worth.  Water bucket heaters are installed and the alpacas and horses are treated to extra hay on those super cold days.

Last Thursday we were initially forecast for a fairly cold dry day, but during the night the cold front that was coming into the area headed just a little further south than the weather man had predicted and by Thursday morning our ground was covered with snow.  Initial predictions of accumulation of an inch soon went out the window as by 9 a.m. two inches were already on the ground.

With the snow starting during the night the alpacas were already bedded down for the evening and having been cushed for a while each one had developed a warm spot where they were sitting.  When the snow started to fall it settled on the top of their fleeces but they were nice and warm – and were not moving!

We're not moving

Cosmo and friends stay out in the weather

Some of the alpacas were in their shelters, Theresa had moved her cria into the shelter and the little one was dry, warm and more than ready to show off her repertoire of bucks and kicks.  Ana Lynnette too had headed inside the shelter with her cria Roadrunner and the pair were contentedly watching the snow fall.

Box Car Alpaca Boys

Homer and Tobiano decided the shelter of the box car was a better place to be

It seems as if that snow fall opened the doors for an arctic blast because since then it has been cold – very cold.  Someone told us that Thursday night was reported as being record cold and since then it has only got colder.    By Monday our night time low was 18 (- 7.7 Celsius) and our daytime high was 26 (-3.3 Celsius)– and that’s without figuring in any wind chill.  But despite the cold the chores still need to be done – the animals fed, the poop piles raked, the dogs walked.  We still opened the store on Saturday and met some lovely (and hardy!) customers who came out to stock up on warm alpaca socks and Christmas gifts for the family.

The good news is that we can take our time getting the chores done and then head into the warmth of the house for some hot tea and warm food.  Then we can get on with some inside tasks and take a few minutes here and there to enjoy watching the alpacas whether they are rooting around in the hay, sitting out chewing their cud or wrestling, pronging and playing in the late afternoon as they start to build up their body heat for the night.

Our temperatures are supposed to warm up starting today, I say supposed to because already the forecast has changed a little and the word snow has now reappeared in the forecast as well as the mention of 60 mph wind – sounds like it’s going to be an interesting day, I don’t think I will be packing away the insulated coveralls, snow boots and alpaca socks anytime soon!

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

January 27, 2009

Winter Pays a Visit

Guess what's under here

Guess what's under here

Well we knew the warm sunny weather had to end at some time and yesterday it did.  From having temperatures close to 70 degree Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius for those of you in areas where Celsius is used) on Sunday we plunged down to 18 F (-7 C) overnight and then achieved daytime high of (-2 C).  Brrrr!!!

 

(You might be asking what relevance the picture of the upturned trash can has to do with all of this – keep reading and you will find out!)

 

The cold weather made the animals a little frisky.  The adult girls were pronging around the pasture on Monday morning as I carried over their feed.  They certainly were not lacking in energy and were more than ready to eat.  Maya one of our llamas was a little shivery as I fed her, cushing in the straw as she ate.  At 11 years of age Maya is starting to feel the cold more in winter, but she is smart and on colder days she stays in the big blue shelter where she is protected from the wind and can cush in deep straw if she needs to.  I made sure I let Maya out of her pen as soon as she had finished eating so that she could return to the comfort of the shelter.

 

The cold also makes the boys frisky, they are apt to wrestle and chase each other more, a natural way of turning up their internal temperature.

 

Today is forecast to be even colder with a chance of freezing fog, freezing rain and even snow.  The weatherman is not promising a lot of moisture, but it is moisture all the same and so we will take it in whatever form it comes.  I might have a slippery time doing chores in the morning, but at least I don’t have to drive anywhere and it always feels so good to come into the warm house when it is cold outside.

 

No doubt my thermal coveralls and fleece-lined jeans will be making an appearance today, along with my alpaca socks and alpaca headband to keep my ears warm.  Chores tend to take a little longer in the cold and so it is best to be prepared to stay outside for a while.

 

Of course our preparations for the cold start as soon as we hear it is coming.  We make sure that the alpacas have a good layer of straw in their shelters, we turn on the heater for the boys’ large water tub and we plan to feed the herd extra warm soaked beet shreds and some extra hay including a little alfalfa.

 

So with regards to the trash can.  Look carefully at the picture and you will see a glow coming from the bottom of the trashcan.  It’s a simple way to keep our outside faucets from freezing!

 

Our outside faucets are supposed to be frost free, but some are quite old and the faucet heads tend to freeze up when the temperature gets really cold.  To make life easier we hang a worklight with a 40-Watt bulb on the faucet, turn the light on, cover with a trash can to keep the heat in and the alpacas and llamas out and voila – a working faucet in the morning.  The things we will do to keep from carrying water buckets!

A simple faucet head defroster (I turned the light off to take the picture, usually it would be on)

A simple faucet head defroster (I turned the light off to take the picture, usually it would be on)

 

Rosemary

January 8, 2009

New Year, New Web Site

Windrush Alpacas New Web Site Home Page

Windrush Alpacas New Web Site Home Page

 

 

After many months of threatening to launch our new web site, I finally found the time to do so on Friday afternoon.  It still needs some additional work, I want to load the alpacas we have for sale, add some more testimonials, perhaps add a photo gallery or slide show page and also add an online store for our alpaca products.  All in good time I suppose! 

 

The new web site has a fresher cleaner look to it; I hope it will be well received.  Most importantly I am able to update it, something that was not possible with the old website as the software I used to create the old site with was no longer supported by the manufacturer and was no longer functional.

 

This blog can still be accessed through the website either through the “Read Our Blog” tab at the top of the site or through the link on the Home Page.

 

It is always a juggling act trying to fit in something like a web site upgrade along with caring for the alpacas, updating herd records and paying bills, but the web site change was a necessary one.  So much business is conducted through the Internet these days that a good web presence is a necessity.

 

I am looking forward to being able to work with my new site, it feels so good to know that I can add things to it and update it.    The site is quite simple but serves its purpose.   I am sure that I will come up with other things to add to it, but for now I feel it is off to a good start. 

 

Take a look at the new site at http://www.windrushalpacas.com/ and let me know what you think!

 

Rosemary

December 8, 2008

Putting Our Fleece On Our Feet

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Fiber, alpaca socks, Alpacas, camelids, General, warm socks — Tags: , , — alpacalady @ 7:22 am

Our new socks made from our own Windrush Alpaca fleece

Our new socks made from our own Windrush Alpaca fleece

 

Just before I left for England our shipment of alpaca socks made from our own alpaca fleece arrived.  I just had time to open the boxes and take a quick look, check that none had gone missing in transit (it can happen sometimes, so always insure your processed products) and select two pair for me to take with me on my journey (I am wearing the white pair as I write this entry, except for when I took them off for the above photo).

 

I always joke with Ric that it’s necessary for me to try any product we produce, I think he feels it is an excuse for me to wear lovely alpaca all of the time, but there is an element of necessity in wearing and trying our products.  When you sell any kind of product you really need to know that product’s strengths and weaknesses in order to be able to answer customer questions.   It is impossible to tell someone how a particular pair of alpaca socks feel on your feet if you have never actually worn them yourself.  Likewise are products are subject to various laundry experiments so that we can make our customers aware of how those products will react in certain conditions.  For instance the first alpaca socks we had made from our fleece did not withstand the cavalier washing and drying of Ric’s son Paul.  Once Paul had tossed the socks in with his regular laundry and put them in the dryer he discovered that they reduced to a size suitable to fit the paws of his dog!

 

So having learned the faults of previous socks we had made we tried to rectify those problems in this latest batch.

 

While these latest socks still have the washing instructions of “hand wash, dry flat”, they should be able to withstand machine washing on a cool cycle and maybe even tumble drying on low, but I have not had time to experiment with the dryer yet.

 

Another improvement we have made to out latest line of socks is to have a tough, nylon thread added to the yarn that is used for the reinforced area on the toes and the heels of the sock to help prevent wear and tear in those areas.  The nylon does take away a little from the soft handle on the outside of the sock, but inside the sock we have a soft terry alpaca lining to provide the warm, softness of alpaca next to the bare skin of the foot.  Knowing that I am hard on the heels of my socks, the lady at the mill where we had these socks produced has now challenged me to wear them out!  She is very confident that she will win that challenge.

 

The new socks are a lighter weight than our previous socks, making them more suitable for daily year round wear and have been produced in two colors, traditional white with a grey reinforced toe, instep and heel, and also a nice dark fawn with a brown reinforced toe, instep and heel.   The socks have a small amount of fine wool blended with them for increased elasticity and durability too.

 

We still have to band the socks with our own sock band (a job to do when I return) and then take the necessary steps to market them.   We will be selling them for $20 a pair plus tax.  With my sudden trip to England the launch of our online store has been delayed, so if you would like to try a pair and cannot wait for the online store, give Ric a call at 575-683-5177 and I am sure he will be glad to get some on their way to you!

 

Rosemary

December 5, 2008

Staying Warm In Record Lows

 

Sometimes life doesn’t cooperate the way we would like it to.  While I made it safely to England for the funeral services for my father, Ric has had a more challenging time at home.

 

When Ric returned from his trip to England, he apparently brought an unwanted gift with him – a nasty virus which has left him with a sore throat, cough, low energy and which has stolen his voice.  Not really what you want when you are running the farm on your own, but so far he has been managing. 

 

If that was not enough to deal with the weather has turned really cold with Wednesday night/Thursday morning bringing record lows.  (I think Ric said minus 15, but with his lack of voice it is difficult to understand him sometimes).

 

Cold weather always brings more work with it, the alpacas need extra bedding and we also increase their hay to help them keep good energy during the cold temperatures.  Extra beet pulp shreds soaked in warm water are always welcomed by the herd, who love to slurp up the warm sweet water that the shreds are in.  We also like to put out buckets of warm water for the alpacas to drink.  Ric contends that the warm water freezes more quickly, but often the alpacas drink most of it before it gets a chance to freeze.  The first couple of warm water buckets may show less consumption but usually once word gets around (and it is amazing how quickly alpacas spread the word of something good to eat or drink) the warm water is the first to go.  It makes sense really; I know I prefer to drink warm drinks over iced drinks on a cold day.

 

The youngest of the crias have been practising their warm up routine, galloping at high speed around the pasture at dusk, and Ric reports that on Thursday morning the cria group had figured out that if they all cushed close together they could all be pretty comfortable.  Usually crias tend to sit with their dams at night or when it is cold, but I have noticed in the past that this fall cria group will often sit in a group together and sometimes even lie across each other.  They are a happy, friendly (and now in the cold weather comfortable) little group.

 

To keep us humans warm in such cold times the solution is lots of layers of clothing and I can be pretty certain that Ric is using his insulated coveralls, fleece lined jeans and of course alpaca socks (a post on our newly arrived line of alpaca socks will be following in the next day or two!).

 

The forecast says that the temperatures in New Mexico are due to start to warm back up again, so hopefully that will be the case.   I am sure not only Ric but all of the animals will appreciate some warmer weather.

 

Here in England I am doing my best to stay away from anyone who has the slightest hint of a cold or sickness, the only thing I plan on bringing back are my suitcases and some goodies from the grocery stores that I cannot buy in the United States (and with my trip coming so close to Christmas there are lots of goodies to choose from!)

 

Rosemary

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