A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

April 3, 2009

North To Colorado


This morning I will be headed north to La Veta, Colorado.  There I will spend the weekend with Judy and Will Sims-Barlow of Spanish Peaks Alpacas and receive lessons from Judy in how to make an alpaca felt hat and a silk and alpaca felt scarf.


Judy is extremely talented with her felting, I saw some of her hats a couple of years ago when I delivered one of our girls to their farm for a breeding to one of their males.  The hats Judy makes are beautiful with such a lovely smooth finish.


Ever since I saw Judy’s hats I have been asking her to show me how to felt alpaca, and now we finally have a weekend when we are both available!


I am taking two fleeces with me – Chamberino’s (a dark brown/maroon fleece) and Ma Cushla’s (a pretty medium silver grey) plus some fawn roving from one of our boys, Homer, and some white roving that is a combination of several white fleeces from the herd.


When Judy sent me information on the type of fleeces to use for felting she mentioned that the micron count of the fleece for the hats should be around 27 micron.  That made me happy as we still have Chamberino’s blanket fleece from 2008 and dear Chamberino is a consistent 30 microns across his fleece.  For an alpaca 30 microns is not a desirable figure.


Chamberino’s fleece still spins up to a soft yarn and has a lovely handle to the yarn partly due to the consistency of his fleece.  It will be great to have something different to use that fleece for and I am looking forward to seeing the end product.


While I am away learning how to felt alpaca, Ric will be home looking after the herd.  We don’t have any cria due yet and all that needs to be done is routine chores so it shouldn’t be too much for Ric to handle – except of course for the 75 mph wind gusts we are expected to get in Clovis on Saturday which might just make chores a little bit challenging.



April 10, 2008

Rain, Rugs and Au Revoir

Yesterday we woke up to a rumbling noise which at first we thought was the sound of rail cars being moved around on the nearby rail road track, but then there was a bright flash followed by more rumbling – it was thunder and lightning.  Listening to the sound of the thunder and lightning we started to hope to hear the sound of raindrops, and after a few minutes our wish for rain was realized.  The rain was light and fell slowly at first but then it picked up intensity and for a short while we had a good rain, something we were desperate to hear and see.  While we had a little snow at Easter it has been well over six weeks since we last saw any measurable precipitation, so yesterday’s rain was nothing but good.


As the rain grew heavier the alpacas took shelter in their various barns but even some of them chose to sit out in the rain to enjoy the moisture.  The rain soon stopped and there was just the occasional light shower throughout the day.  The additional moisture in the air made our alpaca’s fleeces feel softer than ever, what a shame we cannot have some moisture in the weather every day, but then no doubt we would complain about things being too wet all the time.


Following chores it was off to the bank to make some deposits and then a quick stop to show off our latest shipment of alpaca rugs that had arrived on Tuesday.  The alpaca rugs and energy mats are selling well and since the arrival of the shipment two of the rugs have already sold as well as one of the energy mats.  The energy mat I sold to the FedEx driver who delivered our shipment, as someone who sits all day he was interested in the energy mats and wanted to try one out to see if it will make his long days of driving any more comfortable – I bet it will.


The rest of the day had been set aside to help our friends Justus and MJ pack up their removal van in preparation for their move to Colorado.   Between us we managed to get everything packed except for those few items that just would not fit in either the removal van, their vehicles, their trailer or their travel trailer.  It looks as if Justus and MJ will need to make one trip back to collect those final things.


We will miss Justus and MJ; they have been a part of our lives now for several years since they first arrived at Clovis when Justus was still in the Air Force.  We were their sponsors and soon grew to love them for their great sense of humor and their love of life.  Over the years they have helped us shear, helped with one of the crias who got an infection and was very sick (including a heart stopping moment of anaphylactic shock following a dose of penicillin) and have even ranch sit for us on occasion.  Since they announced their move to Colorado I have been joking with them that perhaps they should advertise as ranch sitters in their new community as there are a lot of alpaca farms in the area they are moving too.  It may turn out that my joke becomes a valid suggestion, you never know!


We hope from time to time we will be able still see Justus and MJ, they will be on our route to the Great Western Alpaca Show which takes place in May every year, and being only seven hours away they are relatively close in a Southwestern terms.  So rather than say goodbye to them yesterday we bid them Au Revior as we are sure that we will be seeing them again.  Good luck in your new home Justus and MJ, we all (alpacas included) will miss you being so close but know that you will always be a part of our lives.



February 22, 2008

Now Girls That’s Just Not Nice!

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpacas, camelids, Crias, General — Tags: , , , , , , , — alpacalady @ 7:52 am

On Tuesday I had to take Ric to the hospital.  He had been ill since before the TxOLAN show and when we tried to get him in to see the doctor they did not have any appointments available.  After hearing his symptoms the nurse who called me said I needed to take him in to the Quick Care Clinic at the hospital.  Ric wasn’t able to drive himself in and I had not even started chores yet.  Our friend Justus had called earlier to check on us and had offered to help if needed and so I called Justus and recruited him in to do the chores that morning.

The wait at the hospital was a long one; fortunately I took my knitting with me to pass the time.  We had just been taken back to one of the examination rooms when Justus called. 

On answering the phone Justus asked me if I wanted the good news or the bad.  I told him that I really didn’t mind which I received and asked him if there was a problem.  Justus then told me that he had carried over a bucket of hay to the girls pasture and set it down outside the gate.  He then went to get another bucket of hay and when he came back the gate was open and there wasn’t an alpaca or llama in sight!  Poor Justus, I can just imagine how he must have felt! 

So that was the bad news, the good news was he had found all of the girls and they were still on our property.  He had managed to get some of them back in the pasture but there were about nine of them and the three llamas that had found the haystack and were not willing to go back to their pasture.  I had to chuckle as I know how the llamas are when they don’t want to go back to their pasture, they are quite happy to lead you a merry dance around the property until they decide they have had enough fun for the day and then walk back into the pasture.

I called Bob Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas and fortunately he was able to drive over to our place to help Justus with the girls.  Not so fortunate was Bob’s wife Regina who had also come down with the flu.

Within a short time of Bob’s arrival all of the alpacas were back in their pasture.  By the time Bob arrived Justus had looked out some halters and had figured out that the sight of the halters alone was enough to get the girls moving away from the hay.

So how had the girls got out from their pasture?  I am pretty sure I know how and who the culprit was – Willow!  You see Willow is our escapologist alpaca, since the day she was born she has always loved to squeeze through small spaces (so much so that she had to be delivered by C-Section).  I always have to watch Willow in the mornings as she will be standing on the right hand side of the gate ready to make her break for freedom as soon as the gate is opened.  There have been a couple of times that she has nearly managed to get past me and I have ended up hanging on to her for dear life.  On one occasion I almost ended up riding Willow as she tried to duck between my legs as I walked into the pasture.  She is both fast and determined.

The gate was most definitely shut when we left, and it was still shut when Justus arrived.  I have seen Willow playing with the gate latch before and now know she has figured out how to flip the latch up so that she can open the gate.  I am sure Anya would have been Willow’s accomplice as she is always right beside Willow first thing in the morning.  Once the gate was open the girls would have had no hesitation in leaving their pastures to explore the farm as they do in the summer when we allow them out to graze.

I explained to Justus that Willow and Anya were the most likely culprits in opening the gate, and that I felt that the girls were just taking advantage of his being a new helper, much like children at school will take advantage of a substitute teacher.

The good thing about alpacas is that being such herd animals they are going to stick together and not wander too far.  Our girls know exactly where our haystack is kept and I can just see them kicking up their heels with glee as they ran over to the “forbidden fruit”.   If alpacas could giggle I would bet they were doing that too as they realized they had just outwitted the “new guy”.

I had a talk with the girls later that day when I returned home.  They just looked at me as if butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths and went back to the business of eating hay and chewing cud.

We now have a pin inserted in the gate latch so that Willow cannot perform her little trick again.  And Justus  – well I hope he will feel comfortable helping us out again, but the last time I spoke to him he mentioned something about moving to Colorado!


January 11, 2008

It’s Off to Colorado We Don’t Go

Today I was supposed to be leaving on a trip to Westcliffe, Colorado where Allie Neas of Eye Dazzler Alpacas is putting on a class on Knitting Machine How-To’s.  Unfortunately the promise of some snow along my route to Westcliffe and Ric’s nasty virus has made me change my plans and so now I will be staying home.

I am naturally disappointed that I will be missing the class.  I have had a knitting machine for a several years now and it just loves to test my patience.  I bought the knitting machine with the hopes of being able to churn out all sorts of lovely pieces using alpaca yarn.  I still remember how my mother laughed and ask me if I was looking to lose my sanity when I told her of my knitting machine purchase.  Apparently my mother had a knitting machine when my brothers and I were small children and she says that between it dropping stitches and the needles on the machine constantly breaking it nearly drove her to distraction.

Not put off by my mother’s comments I persevered with my knitting machine.  It came with a handy project book and the suggestion that all the projects be completed before branching out into freestyle knitting.  Well I made it to project four but along the way started to understand what my mother had been trying to tell me. 

I would be merrily working the machine when boom without any warning all the stitches would come off and the piece I was working on would fall to the floor.  I then had to spend time reattaching the unfinished piece to the knitting machine.  At other times the carriage would jam and despite following the instructions for clearing a jam I usually ended up having to rip out a row of knitting and reattaching the carriage.  I started to wonder if using a knitting machine really was any quicker than hand knitting.

With progress being so disrupted on the knitting machine I lost the urge to spend so much time on it and turned to other projects instead.  Then one day one of our alpaca clients mentioned that in the two years she had been coming to see us I had the same project on the knitting machine without making any progress.  I was busted!

When I heard that Allie was having a Knitting Machine Class I was thrilled.  It is a bit of a drive from Clovis to Westcliffe (about 8 hours) but to me it was worth it if there was any chance I would learn how to have a better relationship with my knitting machine.  I was so motivated by the thought of the class that I actually finished the project that had been on the machine for 2 years.  I still encountered the same problems with my knitting machine as before, but I was determined to get that project off the machine so I could take it with me to Colorado.  Sadly though circumstances dictate that I need to stay home this weekend

For a little while now Allie has been developing her Dazzler’s Fiber School and offers interesting classes in Fiber Arts.  I receive Allie’s emails announcing the various classes and it’s a good job I don’t live nearer or I would be spending all my money having fun at Dazzler’s Fiber School.  I am sure that she will have another knitting machine class in the future or a different class that I will be able to attend.

Now I get to spend the weekend at home and I think as compensation for missing my class I will spend some time knitting.  I am currently making a hat using my circular knitting needles and if I am brave I will take the next step in making the projects using the knitting machine.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress!


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