Phew! Life certainly has been busy on the farm. Time for writing has been scarce even though the desire is there.
I am beginning to think that 2011 should be renamed “The Year of Unexpected Events” – February brought record setting cold temperatures in the midst of a dry winter, March brought a houseful of unexpected guests when Ric surprised me for my birthday by flying in friends and family from across the world (which also solved the mystery of why Ric had taken a sudden interest in tidying and decluttering!), April brought us an unexpected large vet bill when our miniature Australian shepherd dog Blue decided to try and herd our horses and had to have a toe amputated as a result of her escapades (the vet said the horse did a good job of a surgical amputation and he just had to tidy everything up).
Blue with her bandaged foot and her cone collar
The unexpected events continued in April when a nearby large grass fire propelled by the high winds that have plagued us this spring caused us to evacuate all of the alpacas from the farm. We were fortunate in that the wind changed direction before the fire reached our property, but with 70 alpacas at the farm we knew an evacuation would take time and so decided to act sooner than later. How fortunate we are to have many friends and acquaintances who showed up to help with the evacuation without being asked. Having heard of the fire they made their way to our farm, some with trucks and trailers to help as they could.
Smoke from the nearby grass fire rolls over our house - photo courtesy of our friend Barb McKenzie
May sees us in one of the worst drought periods in history, one of our hay suppliers has had his total crop of wheat fail and will not have hay for sale this year – a blow to us but an even bigger blow to him as his hay sales are a big part of his livelihood. Thankfully another of our suppliers was more fortunate and has now delivered us 1450 bales of good looking wheat hay – good fortune has smiled on us again even in tough times. What a year and we are not even half way through it!
Shearing is now well underway; we still have 25 alpacas left to shear but should be completely finished following another couple of shearing sessions. Ric shears our alpacas and not being a professional shearer he cannot compete with the 7 minutes per alpaca that some of the professional shearers achieve. There is something to be said though for our slower pace, our alpacas are calm and relaxed during the process and we can take the time to try and ensure that our fleeces are evenly sheared with few second cuts and gathered without contamination from short fibers from other areas of the alpaca. We have a team of loyal friends who have shown up time after time to help us with shearing – to Joe, Becca, Kayleen, Keenan, Bethany, Terri L., Terri F., Darlene, Jeff, Don and Barb however can we thank you enough.
Our monthly Open Farm Days have been a great success, people love to come to visit the alpacas and learn about them during Ric’s circular tour of the farm. We too have enjoyed sharing the farm with the community, it’s so much fun to watch the delight on people’s faces as they get to see or feel an alpaca for the first time. For all who have come out to the farm on Open Farm Days we heartily thank you and hope you will continue to come out and visit us. There is always something new going on at the farm and each month we hope to add a little something to make your Open Farm Day experience even better.
Ric Shows Off Roadrunner to Open Farm Day Visitors
And talking of new – crias will be here soon! Yes we are watching and waiting for the first new cria to make his or her arrival. Queen and Rosie are now both overdue, perhaps in part to the fire evacuation and the drought conditions – alpacas can and will put their pregnancies on hold if they feel conditions are not right for their survival or the survival of their cria. Keeva too is getting close to her delivery date and TeQueely, Willow, Snow, Cinnamon and Gen are not far behind. That will be quite the group of crias once they arrive – and with the way things have been going this year I would not be surprised if there isn’t something unexpected within the bunch too. Let’s hope whatever that unexpected is it is something pleasant and delightful!
Hope to be back soon with more of our news – and there is more news to share so keep checking back for more posts and updates!