A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

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.


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.


September 16, 2008

Fall Feels Like Fiber (Arts that is)


I don’t know what it is about the fall but it always brings to me the urge to do more with fiber arts.  Perhaps it is the cooler temperatures and the thought of colder weather to come, but the last few days have found my mind drifting to thoughts of spinning, knitting and crochet.  I also think about weaving but Ric has put an embargo on any more fiber arts toys and as yet I don’t own a loom – one day though…


Fall in New Mexico is a golden time, the temperatures are a little cooler, the air is still (no Spring winds to contend with) and if we are lucky more moisture comes into the area.  Yesterday morning as I walked the dogs our winter wheat was glistening with dewdrops, one clear bead of dew on the tip of each wheat blade reflecting the rising sun.


By the evening the full moon was large and present, a Harvest Moon starting off as a huge red-tinged globe on the horizon and ending up as a bright, luminous, silver disc in the sky.  If you have never witnessed a full moon in clear, unlit skies you are definitely missing out on one of life’s treasures.  Perhaps it is the subtle light and colors of fall that also stir the desire for fiber arts.


I already have a commission order for a black cable knit hat, so that will satisfy some of the fiber art itch, and bring a little income too.  There are so many other projects that I can choose to work on after that but I think some spinning is going to take priority, and perhaps I will venture to do some blending of other fibers with the alpaca fiber this time, after all I still have a beautiful ball of silk in my fiber stash that is wasted just sitting in the closet.


As an alpaca breeder it’s not obligatory to enjoy the fiber arts but it sure does help.  While I have knitted and crocheted for years, I did not learn to spin until after we started our alpaca business.  Hand spinning has it’s differences from commercial spinning but I felt that it would be helpful for me to learn how it felt to spin alpaca, and the qualities of alpaca fleece that make it desirable.  Over time as you spin you start to appreciate how the different characteristics of the fleece such as fineness, consistency, crimp and cleanliness make a difference to the finished yarn.  Fiber is a tactile thing and you can learn so much from getting your hands on and working with different fleeces.


In the pasture the alpacas fleece is now getting some length to it, with most of them having a couple of inches or more of fleece length.  Periodically when one of the alpacas is feeling obliging I take a peek at how their fleece is looking and enjoy feeling the softness of their fiber on my fingers.  Yes, it’s definitely time to get that spinning wheel going, so on that note that’s what I’m off to do now!



September 6, 2008

It’s Looking Like An Early Fall


According to our calendar the first day of fall is September 22 this year, according to the happenings around the farm fall is going to arrive earlier than the allocated calendar date.


The temperature has already dropped in particular the nighttime temperatures that are most definitely fall like.  I have seen geese flying over the property, something that usually happens a little later during the month of September. and a true sign of fall around here is the first sighting of a migrating tarantula!  Last year it was the third week or so of September when the tarantulas made their appearance so this recent sighting is an indication to me that fall is early.


The tarantula I saw was strolling across the road in front of the girls pasture.  Good job he didn’t venture into the girls pasture as I am sure the alpaca girls or the llamas would have got him.  We have seen the llamas chase and kill a salamander before, found dead moles in the pasture that have been stomped and also witnessed the girls relentlessly pursuing a rabbit (although no stomping was involved, just good old alpaca entertainment at the rabbits expense).  I have recently heard of a couple who purchased alpacas and then noticed that the prairie dog colony in their pasture disappeared, not a prairie dog one was left – now there’s a new use for alpacas, prairie dog control!


Our Open Farm Day is today and the fall temperatures will be a welcome change from the hot summer heat that was around on our last Open Farm Day.  It will be little more comfortable for people to be out on the farm and perhaps the cooler temperatures will make them start to think about Christmas shopping and the unique, warm alpaca gifts they can buy!


The cool temperatures might encourage the crias to play a little more too.  When the heat is sweltering the alpacas tend to sunbathe and nap, when the temperatures are a little cooler the herd is more active and the crias more inclined to play.


Checking my calendar I can see that we are only four weeks away from Cinnamon’s due date.  This will be Cinnamons first cria and so we need to be watching her carefully as she may surprise as with an early cria.  Hmmm early fall, early cria I am sure that combination will inspire a neat name for Cinnamon’s little one once he or she arrives!



October 13, 2007

Friday Fog

Foggy DawnAs we get further into fall there are signs of change appearing all around us, the light is softer, the leaves are starting to fall from the trees and of course the days are getting shorter.  This fall has been dry and warmer than usual, yesterday evening at 5:30 pm it was still 88 degrees Fahrenheit and rain has not been seen around here for a while.

On Friday morning though we woke up to fog, so there was moisture somewhere in the air.  As I looked out at the girls pasture to check on Chai, our girl who is due to have her cria, I was taken with the sight of the sun rising behind the fog.  It really was a striking sight and I tried to capture it with my camera, the photo in this blog is the best I could do but hopefully it will give you an idea of how beautiful the dawn looked.  If you look really hard you can see the girls sitting around in the pasture, they all had a good coating of dew and looked as if they were wearing special sparkling blankets.

Chai has been a little more mobile the last few days.  She is still stiff in her joints and we had a consultation with our vet as to what we should do about her.  Our vet has advised us to draw some blood for a CBC (Complete Blood Count) and also a Chemistry Panel.  He is a little concerned that she may have a pulmonary condition that causes traveling joint pain, but of course without blood work or an examination it is hard for him to diagnose Chai correctly.  Usually I would take Chai in to the vets for examination but as she is so close to having her cria I don’t want to put her under any undue stress.  Chai is not really a hands on alpaca and I feel that the stress of a trip to the vets and any subsequent action would be too much stress for her and cause her to go into labor early.  Our vet feels that as Chai is not getting any worse we can safely wait a few days until she has her cria and then draw blood from her.  As we have him come out to draw blood from the cria for IgG testing at 24 hours post birth it will be an ideal opportunity for him to examine Chai at the same time.

I am a little encouraged that Chai has been more mobile, but still feel that there is something going on with her that we need to get to the bottom of.  Chai’s cria is certainly lively enough and we see a lot of cria movement particularly at night.  We check on Chai about once an hour until we go to bed.  When Ric did the “Chai check” late on Thursday evening he could see Chai’s cria kicking hard and could hear poor Chai grunt every time the cria kicked.  I am sure Chai is more than ready for the cria to be born and be kicking around the pasture rather than kicking her!

Today a cold front is due to roll into the area, bringing the temperatures down to the 70’s, sometimes a front can also trigger births as the air pressure changes so maybe Chai’s cria will decide it is time to make an appearance into the world.  We’ll just have to wait and see.


October 6, 2007

Is it really Fall?

I am beginning to wonder what has happened to our seasons, after a relatively wet summer with cooler than average temperatures we are now experiencing a warm, dry fall.    Yesterday the temperature reached 90 degrees with high humidity as well, high for us that is.

The alpacas didn’t seem too bothered by the heat; they did a fair bit of sunning but moved around the pasture well so I was not too concerned about them.  Having turned the fans off earlier in the week we had to turn them back on to provide some breeze, I guess when the first snow hits the ground it will be time to clean off the fans and put them up for the winter.

Chai was the only alpaca that seemed to be taking it easier than normal, but considering that she is only two weeks out from her due date her behavior was not unusual.  Of course we kept a close eye on her throughout the day to make sure that she was not going into labor.  Chai loves to sit on the bed of hay in the big shelter, I suspect it provides nice cushioning for her ever growing “bump”, but it means that we have to walk out to physically check on her rather than just looking out of the window.  Throughout the course of the day Chai looked good and was definitely enjoying lying on the hay and nibbling what is left of the big bale that was in the big shelter, she has developed wax caps on her udder now and so we are probably not too far off from her giving birth.

On the Zeus report there is exciting news, he had his biggest gain yet yesterday 0.6 lbs!  We were so excited that we phoned his owners and told them that we were going to have a party.  What will be really exciting is if he can show the same gain today, you can bet we will be holding our breath again as we step on the scales with him this morning.

We finally have a weekend we are both home so are planning on sorting through some fiber to send it off for processing into socks and also sorting out which fleeces to send to the Alpaca Fiber Coop of North America (AFCNA).  We have a lot of fleece to sort through and the process will take a little while but once we get into the routine of sorting some fleece every day the job will soon be done.  We also have several show fleeces to skirt so I need to work on those too as there are some good shows coming up which I would like to enter.

It will be nice to have a weekend without dashing here and there, that is of course unless we end up dashing out to deliver Chai’s cria!


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