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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Weather

Blustery describes it best at this point. After the initial fourteen inches we received another four inches on the weekend. Then on Tuesday morning we had a few hours of freezing rain which was quite treacherous. That turned to rain for the rest of the day, which turned into snow last evening and most of today giving us another six sodden (and sodding) inches and it is still snowing and blowing. Glad to be inside with my family and my spinning wheel. The animals are snugged up in the barn and a wee nip of B&B is calling.

This is what was hanging off the roof outside of the back door at my office...ready to jump the unsuspecting civil servant on their way home...I was boldly tempting fate by taking its photograph. Sometimes it has great big icicles on it too which makes you feel like you are stepping into a great big gaping maw....


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Shoveling Out and Shoveling In

Fourteen inches of white fluff fell yesterday in the space of Twelve hours.

The Barn view from the road.

I like the droopy wreaths.

 Fence post art.

The very productive bluebird house at the head of the driveway; we typically get 2-3 broods of bluebirds out of this box in a given summer.

I had to shovel the ducks out of their house! 

They appreciated the pathways so they could get some exercise too.

Those hearty sheep from the Shetland Isles were out plowing paths to the outside hay feeders.

Where are the alpacas, you might ask....
Cozying up in the barn of course!

"We are so happy to be inside this beautiful barn!"

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


It was six below zero (F) this morning when I crawled out of bed at 5:00am.
The plans this morning were for me to be gone at 7:00 to head downstate, and for Will and the kids to be at school at 7:45.  This meant getting out to the barn early and doing the chores before sub zero temps.  However, it was not to be, for the phone rang at 6:00 with a call from the school saying it was cancelled.  6:30 brought a call from my dear friend I was riding downstate with saying it sounded like the roads were bad (lake effect snow) and all the schools in the UP and Northern Lower Peninsula (NLP) were closed, so we bailed on the trip until friday.

Chores were much more leisurely than expected! 
Cold, but not rushed.

Probably the biggest pain in the bum doing winter chores is bunny water.  
You can't use the bunny water bottles because the steel ball freezes right quick. We switch to water crocks when they start freezing up.  This means you have to take a big pan full of hot water outside with you to submerge the water crocks in, and then watch the cakes of ice bob up to the surface (this is have to take your pleasures where you can), then fill up the crocks with water from the gallon jugs you have taken outside with you.  Everyone also gets some food and hay and extra treats in cold weather to keep them warm.  We have recently brought one old girl in the house; Mocha Delight who is five years old.  She is starting to get a bit on the thin side so needs some extra pampering.  She is to the left of me as I type.
Extra straw in the boxes too for those bunnies outside.  

The ducks, even in sub zero temps, or maybe because of them, delight in splashing about in their improvised small puddle of water.  This three gallon fortiflex pan gets its solid ice dumped out every morning and then filled with fresh water for some drinking and paddling (mostly paddling).  They amaze me at how joyful they are with a bit of fresh water and a handful of chopped greens.  I'm so glad they came to us.

Around four I went out to refresh the frozen waters  with some liquid water and peeked into the barn.  All of the woolies were inside trying to keep warm.  Will and I this morning took the last few bales of hay out of the back of the barn (the loft is still full) to open up that space for the bodies to spread out. They all seemed pleased with this and everyone decided to hang out there this afternoon.  I gave them more water and another bale of hay to ward off the cold we are expecting this evening.  

Caught a few pictures while I was out there giving Fancy Pants chest scritches and snorgles that she said she deperately needed....

 Tea, posing. The Goats are ALWAYS posing!

 Elle, eyes aglow!

 It is hard to get good pictures of camelids. 
 They are either too close to the camera, or will not look at you at all!

 Elle and Gaia (mother and daugher)

 Creme de la Creme and Soliel

Creme with Igraine the nosy llama in the background.
(oooh, and a glowing eyed sheep I hadn't noticed!  Looks like Liz)


007's Fiona Volpe
(if anyone knows what that means, let me know!)
-I Googled it:  Fiona Volpe was an assassin for SPECTRE in Thunderball.

 Pearls 2011 Cria
(She needs a name!)
Giraffe Girl -GiGi's golden fleece is in the background

 Crowd shots- shooting over the back of the annoying llama (who shall go unnamed),
 who wouldn't leave me alone!

You may have noticed that many of the new alpacas have some hair missing off of their noses.  They had been eating out of a round bale of hay; sticking their faces into the bale looking for the good bits, and in doing so repeatedly wore the hair off their noses.  It looks a little strange I think!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bringing Single Breed Wool Yarns to Market & a cool documentary about Seed

An interesting part of our Kickstarter experience launching our own project, was the discovery of other peoples very interesting projects.  

Two of my favorites are "Seeds", a documentary about the genetic diversity of seeds around the planet and the very real danger threatening this diversity (namely GMO's and three large chemical corporations who "own" the vast majority of our seeds and heritage).  Check out their very cool video HERE:  it gives you a preview of the movie and I cannot wait to see it! 

Ever wonder when you pick up a skein of wool at your yarn shop what breed of sheep it came from? 
There are very few brands of yarn that are from single breeds of sheep.  Many wool breeds are combined, or are of the ubiquitous (though no less lovely) Merino.  Wouldn't it be interesting to knit something precious from a rare breed of sheep?  Something uncommon like Masham, Soay, Gotland or Polwarth?

Karia from Kouture Crochet, a fellow Etsian, has a Kickstarter project where she is hoping to raise enough funds to do just that.  Please stop by her project page and check it out.  She has some fun rewards too!
Check out her project HERE.

Peace to all of you on MLK day (and every day).

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Dorothy's Cow

My first chore of the day, if I wanted cream in my tea (which being a civilized human I certainly did (I would have passed muster with Will's Nana Witt on that score at least)) was to skim the cream off the top of the fresh, raw milk I picked up yesterday from my friend Dorothy.

See the cream line? There is a pint plus of fresh cream up there!

Of course, I can't tell you Dorothy's last name, because in Michigan it is illegal to sell fresh unpasturized milk. There was even a court case in Wisconsin where the judge ruled it wasn't legal for someone who had a family dairy cow to consume the milk from their own cow!

Now I wouldn't drink raw milk from just anyone's cow....I've been to a few shoddily run dairy farms where I have wanted to be pasturized myself after leaving. And I have also been to some pristine setups where you could eat off of the barn floor. Dorothy's cow is treated like the royalty she is.

Dorothy's cow (a big Holstein named Bossie), produces anywhere between four and eight gallons of this nectar a day. We don't buy milk from her (since that too would be illegal). So we trade eggs from our hens, jam from our pantry, or fresh baked goods for milk. It all works out just fine.

The milk comes in gallon glass jars that have a sticker on them that says "for animal consumption only". Fortunately, under the scientific classification system, humans are classed under the kingdom Animalia so I am going to play naive if ever I have to address our illicit milk consumption with the authorities.
Meanwhile, I am enjoying my cuppa green tea with local honey and fresh cream.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Coming Home

Folks may have noticed that our Kickstarter project has exceeded the goal we set!
A big shout of "Thanks" to Suzanne at Chickens In the Road for posting our project on her blog....her readers to date have contributed 68% to our project.

I continue to be amazed at the kindness and generosity this project has inspired.

So, without further ado.....

Say Hello to Creme de la Creme!

Fiona's 2012 Cria

Peggy Sue, Riverbelle and Fiona in the foreground

Double the Dazzle's 2012 Cria

 Star, Creme, Pearl, Ladybelle & Fiona 

There were 14 Suri alpacas in total that we brought home from the alpaca farm.  Five cria's (one who turned out to be a boy who will be neutered) and nine adults.  Of the nine adults, six of them are bred to a beautiful black suri stud. It is going to be a busy summer here!

The alpaca producer was happy with a down payment from us, and since we knew the Kickstarter project was going to be a go we decided to go pick them up.

There are still 17 days to go on our Kickstarter project.  

We have had questions about what we will do with the extra funds so I'm going for full disclosure. 
We had the option to buy some of the alpacas for $500 each, or the whole group for $5000.  It would have been very hard to choose who to take and who to leave, so we decided to take everyone because our neighbors less than a mile down the road said we could fence however much we wanted of their 60 acre pasture and bring the girls down there to graze and fertilize during the growing season.  This dealt with the pasture space limitations here, at least for the majority of the year.  The alpacas will live here under our constant gaze from October-March/April.  During the summer months they will be just a walk down the road with a companion guard Llama, and with daily visits from their humans of course.

Any extra funds from the project will go toward fencing new pasture and building a summer shelter for the alpacas down the road. Thank you so much for the support you all continue to give us, both financially and in encouragement.  We cannot thank you enough.


p.s. Suki and Zeus, the Great Pyr's went to a wonderful home yesterday so all the animals from the alpaca farm found good homes...just in the nick of time!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A wee bit of Spring

Well it may have been six degrees F this morning, but it was oh so sunny and this beauty from my nieces is blooming on my messy kitchen table.

Thank you Olivia, Charlotte and Marilyn!


Friday, January 11, 2013

Our Kickstarter Project Was Accepted!

I am very pleased to say that our Kickstarter Project was accepted and is now live!  
If you have an interest in the project it can be seen at:

We will be using the funds from this project to bring home Suri Alpacas who are in urgent need of a new home due to their farm going out of business.

Here is a short video clip of my recent visit to the farm (sorry for the quality):

We will bring as many home as we can afford to, as we have permission to build a five acre enclosure and construct a shelter on a farm just down the road!  Yay for green pasture!

The good news is....I think I have found a more suitable home for the Great Pyreenes Suki and Zeus!
 We were afraid they would get hit by car on our somewhat busy road since they were perimeter dogs. 
 I have met them twice now and have grown quite fond of them so this makes me very happy!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bringing Home Suri Alpaca's in Need

There is a wonderful man who owns an alpaca farm a couple of hours away from us.  Unfortunately, life circumstances are forcing him out of business and he needs to quickly rehome his remaining Suri Alpacas.  He has four crias (baby alpacas) and nine adult females some of whom are bred.  He needs to recoup at least a partial investment in his animals so he cannot just give them away.  He is asking very little money compared to their actual monetary worth.  Unfortunately, there are very few folks seeking to add these animals to their farms at this point in time in our area so he is left with animals that need a home within just a couple of weeks.  He isn't sure what will happen to them if he isn't able to sell them. 

We will be able to provide some of them a home at our farm but given the short time frame we are unable to raise enough funding on our own, so we are going to be launching a kickstarter project asap.  I will post those details if and when the project is approved.

Here are a few photos I took of a visit:

 Does she have food in that little black box?

 Almost the whole group of girls (plus one boy we found out!).

 Eric the alpaca wrangler and one of this years Cria's.  
Yes, that is a lasso!

 Creme (I think), Fiona, and an unnamed black 2 year old (she is coming home for sure!)

 I went to the farm to feel all of their fiber thinking that would make it easier to decide.
It didn't.  It was all fairly nice.

It's their faces.  They do me in every time!

I took a little video clip also; it is on the farm Facebook page
Come by and say hello if you'd like!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My Favorite Present

Made by my 12 year old Girl Scout at a gift making event this holiday season.

It says:

Things I Really Need To Do:

1. Spin

2. Knit and Sew

3. Spin some more

4. Get more animals (maybe a Yak!) editorial- I don't know where she gets these outlandish ideas....

5. Explain to the kids one more time why they cannot get a boa constrictor

6. Buy and make more wool. (I like where this is going!)

7. Think about spinning wool

8. Read and read and read some more! (Finally...permission!)

9. Spinning club- once a month



Isn't she perceptive? :)


Tuesday, January 1, 2013


We have the opportunity to adopt two trained and experienced Great Pyrenees guard dogs from the same folks that we received the alpacas from. They are siblings (a male and female both "fixed") that are six years old and would be outside/barn dogs. Our conundrum is wondering if they would be able to get along with our own dogs...Grace the dufus Newf in particular. They are living among three or four rat terriers at their current home.

Any advice from Great Pyr owners would be welcome! Or, if you generally think we are nuts considering adopting two more large breed dogs those comments are welcome as well...

All is quiet, on New Year's Day

One of my all time favorite songs.

Today is the last day of holiday vacation for the kids so it has a bittersweet feel to it for them. Last eve, they all stayed up until midnight for the first time...I was reading "The Long Earth" by Terry Pratchett and Steven Baxter and intermittently resting my eyes. Duncan came in about 11:45 and told me he couldn't hear Sponge Bob over his Father's snoring so he was going to bed! Sam shouted out a Happy New Year at midnight though so he didn't miss it.

Today will be spent playing with our respective toys and perhaps putting some of them away in preparation for the tree being taken down. I have another day off or so to organize things and relax; spending some cold quality time with the woolies!
Here is BoB's breeding group....that is his little bum in the foreground looking for treats. I'm not sure if everyone is bred, not having witnessed a lot of, um, "action", but we shall see come May.