Friday, December 31, 2010

"Should old acquaintance be forgot..."

This is the last blog of the year. Here's to all my old friends and to all my new friends. I hope the new year finds you challenging the boundaries. Throwing out what is considered 'normal'. Discovering new loves while keeping the old ones alive. And I dearly love my old ones. And the new ones, too. Pictured above are two of my new ones, Avary and Autumn. As you can see, Ava already has a way with alpacas! So, my friends, reflect on the year gone by today. I'll talk to you soon.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"doot, doot, doo, lookin' out my backdoor..."

"Just got in from Illinois...." (CCR song) and that is what I have been singing this morning. But I'm looking out my kitchen window. Looking at all the snow, the cardinals and the crias rough housing. I enjoy eating my morning Rice Chex and looking out the window to see what is going on out there today and thinking about what project I am going to work on today. Today, I will finish Sarah's scarf. And maybe get some wool washed. Enjoy the day! "doot, doot, doo, lookin' out my backdoor!"
Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Saturday, December 25, 2010

"And so this is Christmas..."

"...and what have you done? Another year older..." What have you done this year? I've tried to hold on to old friendships and make new ones. To keep the bonds with family. In the world we live in, that can be very difficult. Sometimes it gets you down and you feel it just can't be done. But you keep at it and on today it all pays off. Enjoy the day. Hug your loved ones. Start thinking about projects you want to start on the upcoming snowy days. Knit happy.
          Merry Christmas! 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Alpacas In The Snow

Snow on Christmas is a special thing. I'm not sure the alpacas realize the relevance of it though. But I do. It was enjoyable today as I went out to feed. I watched the crias romping in the pasture as the snow was coming down. I took a few pictures to share with you. It is quite a Winter Wonderland today Illini Alpacas! Enjoy the day, my friends!

Talk to you soon,


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Keeping Up At Christmas Time

During the hustle and bustle of Christmas, life can get sort of crazy. It has been around here. I have been working on some presents and I will take pictures of them before I wrap them up and share them with you later. As you can see, the crias are thriving and it is alot of fun watching them romp around in the cooler weather. The other picture is of me and Vienna, who is also pictured in the center in the above picture. It is an artsy, glamour type of picture, don't you think?

Don't forget to take the time this holiday season to look around and hug the ones you love. It can be a joyous season if you let it be. I'm thankful for my family and friends. I'm thankful because I like my life. It gets trying sometimes. I get wore out sometimes. But I still like it. Thank you for sharing some of it with me.

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Friday, December 17, 2010

Annual Cookie Swap

I hope you are having fun getting ready for the holidays! We are around here. We hosted our annual Cookie Swap recently. We had 10 guests bringing 6 dozen of their favorite cookies and we swapped out each other's cookies. As you can see, we had quite a variety of recipes. It is pretty awesome to see 60 dozen cookies on the dining room table! I now need to bake a couple of batches of my other favorite cookie, chocolate chip, to add to the assortment and we will have a plate of cookies to take everywhere we go this holiday season. The iced Santa head cookie in the picture is my husband, Darrell's, signature decorated cookie. And I know its why most
of the people come to the Cookie Swap. They want some Santas for their own! Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

1-2-3 Vest

I finished my grandson, Eagan's, vest and am very pleased with the results. I posted the spun yarn on an earlier post. It is a handspun 3-ply alpaca yarn that I dyed myself. The original pattern came from "Natural Knits for Babies and Moms" by Louisa Harding. The yarn I spun didn't match what the pattern called for. Drats! So I adjusted my gauge and yarn to fit the pattern. Then, the pattern called for knitting pieces and then sewing them together. Drats! I hate that! I guess I have read too many of Elizabeth Zimmerman's books (all of them) and her philosophy of why knit in pieces when you can knit it in the round in one piece much faster. So, I adapted the pattern to knitting it in the round. The only seam I had was the left shoulder seam which I used the three-needle bind off method on. I forgot to purl the first row in time to make the stripe, so instead of ripping it out, I made the stripe rows farther apart than the pattern called for. I call it the 1-2-3 Vest because I made three rows to border the bottom, two rows border the armholes and around the neck and one row is the striping pattern. Definitely not because the was 1-2-3 easy! I did alot of improvising and was lucky because it turned out so well! To all of you, Knit Happy!

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Still Spinning

Yes, since the dreaded feltball injury, I am still spinning fiber into yarns and enjoying myself immensely! At the right is my latest core-spun
yarn made from alpaca, silk and glitz. I've been kicked back in my workshop, watching some TV,
and spinning fiber. In my workshop I have a flat
screen tv on the wall which is hooked up to DirectTV. I like tv. Some people like to listen to
music and work. I like to watch tv and movies and
work. I'm from the television generation, I watch alot
of tv, and I'm not going to apologize about it or try
to hide it. TV is what I do. I do listen to music some
times. In my car. At karaoke.  But while working on projects in my workshop, I have the tv on. And I get stuff
done. Enough about that. The other picture is one of the
newest additions to my cat ranching. I've been calling her
Princess as she is an only child and quite spoiled. She is
very friendly and available for adoption. She is about 6
weeks old. Well, I'm headed out to my workshop where
I'm going to turn on a classic old movie, like Predator,
and do some spinning. Talk to you soon,

Sunday, November 28, 2010

So Lately....

...the babies seem to be growing like weeds. I took these pictures this morning. We had some rain this week and the pasture is starting to dry out and the babies are taking advantage of being able to run around again. The first picture is of the youngest in our group, Diesel. I just love the coloring of his head!
And he has spots all over.

Today is a good day to get the water tanks scrubbed out as it is warmer and no wind. Yes, having animals can be alot of work but it is gratifying work as I enjoy it. Having these guys is who I am. Working with their fiber seems to be a part of me. I feel very lucky to be enjoying my life.

The next pic is of Diesel (left), Vienna and Yahtzee hanging out together. Diesel is energetic and likes to pester the girl crias. And the girls in general. Most days he has a green glob of spit on the back of his head because he made one mad at him. lol

Talk to you soon, Tammy

Friday, November 26, 2010

Spinning Yarns

Since my feltball injury, I have been doing some spinning in my workshop and I thought you'd like to see some of the yarn I have been spinning. Each is a three ply alpaca yarn. The black has glitz in it and gives it some extra sparkle. You know, girls like shiny things! The red on the left, is more of a madder red and I plan to knit a vest out of it. Well, I have already started on the vest. And I don't want to hear any more giggling about my feltball injury! It is very real. At least to me. I am working on an alternative method of making feltballs that won't  be so prone to injury. I hear the giggling again! I really like my feltballs and maybe when you stop giggling about my injury I'll show you some of the cool things I've been making out of them.
Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Amaaazing Velcro Alpaca!

I'd like to introduce this wonder of nature called "The Amaaaazing Velcro Alpaca"! This is Allegra and I'm not sure how she does it. Those are whole leaves stuck to her. She is still in her cria coat, her baby fiber. In the womb, the fiber that comes into contact with the fluid develops a sticky quality. In the wild, this trait helps protect the babies from predators by hiding them. For a fiber person like myself, it is a pain in my you-know-what. I'm picking this stuff off her every day. I know some people shear the babies wool off when they are born. I might have to start doing that.  Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Monday, November 15, 2010

Who Knew Houdini

So who knew Houdini's offspring lived at my farm? Our boy, Levi, has got out of the boy pasture and was in the girl's pasture twice in the last two days and last night he was in the backyard! Its a good thing he is such a good looking guy or I would be more upset about his breeding Canela. On a side note, at least she liked him! We are still trying to figure out how this handsome guy is getting out. This picture was taken this summer after hosing him down, that's why he's a little wet. And everything was still green then!  Have a great day, folks, I'm off to the pastures to walk fence and scratch my head.

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Selective Breeding

I don't know if you know it or not, but I do try to use selective breeding practices on the farm. That means, I pick out which male breeds which female (well, usually!). This year, I have females who will only breed to a certain male. And now I see out my kitchen window that 'I don't know what's going on out there'! I don't know,
do you think this breeding will take?  (((giggle)))

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Introducing Diesel!

I'd like to introduce you to the newest addition at Illini Alpacas! His name is Diesel. He was born on Thursday afternoon to Sara. She is proving to be a very loving mother. I named him Diesel because of all the crias born here, he is the loudest. While others have a hum, he has a low pitched, long grunt noise coming out of him. He definitely sounds as if he has more cylinders operating! He was running around the pasture his first day. To get an idea of his size, check out the picture on the right. He is literally half the size of the other crias. But I have a feeling he will catch up fast.
Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Update On Babies

I thought I'd give you an update on the babies here at Illini Alpacas. It is hard to tell that Vienna is grey in the photo of her after she had been rolling in the dust pile. Behind her is Yahtzee in the first photo. They seem to be growing like weeds and are very inquisitive and friendly. It helps that I handle them a little each day. As you can see in the photo to the right, they like to hang out with each other on a regular basis. They have started eating hay with big girls, too. They really are fun to have around! To the left is Autumn. She is growing up to be a beautiful young lady, although I admit I am quite biased! Talk to you soon, 


Feltball Injury

A horrible thing has happened! I have been wounded in the line of duty. I have a feltball injury. In a marathon feltball session, I have bruised my left palm to the point that it hurts to touch or use it. It is unbelievably painful. I wonder if I qualify for worker's comp? I I have had to take a break from feltballs until I figure out what to do. Its tough because I like my feltballs! lol  Last night, I did some spinning. My grandson, Eagan, might need a new sweater. Or I might need a new scarf. Anyway, at least I can still spin. I'll keep you updated on my recovery. Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Friday, October 29, 2010

My Genetic Stick

It has been an interesting week around the farm. I had another post planned for today but after the past couple of days I've had, I had to change my mind and do this one. I've been breeding the alpaca girls. I bred Aztec and Vidalia to Laredo. I felt those were good choices for them. I then decided to try this guy out this year.
He has good conformation and fiber and spots! And Emmee, who has been cushed at the fence for the last two months driving the boys crazy, would have nothing to do with him. She threw an absolute fit. So I brought in Canela. I've never had trouble getting Canela to breed before. She threw a bigger fit than Emmee did! So, out went Griffin to the pasture with my apologies. I went into the bullpen and brought in Laredo for Emmee. He is a more aggressive breeder, full Peruvian like Emmee, a good match. She dropped like a rock for him and bred for a good half hour! Why? Is it because he is a tuxedo grey? Is ZZ Top right and 'women go crazy for a sharp dressed man? (((giggle))) It looks like I won't have too many branches on my genetic tree next year, but I guess a genetic stick is better than a stump! Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Lazy Days Of Fall

Although it has been very dry for us lately, the nights have been cool and taking a nap in the afternoon sun seems to be the norm around here. The babies are doing well and growing like weeds. Although it may be lazy days for them, fall is the time to get the pastures and barn ready for winter. We hauled a load of chip rock in yesterday to fill in some low spots around the barn. That's alot of work to move it around! But well worth it this winter. It isn't near as muddy. And at the end of this week starts breeding season around here.
As you can see, the boys are impatiently waiting and sit around drooling at the girls.  Well, we've got I don't know how many tons of rock to move, so I'll talk to you soon,  Tammy

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


We would like to welcome Yahtzee to the herd at Illini Alpacas. Tabitha gave birth to him with no difficulties and is proving to be an awesome mom. He is named Yahtzee because he is boy #5 out of Sequoia this year. Five makes a Yahtzee! Stayed tuned on how he develops.

Talk to you soon, Tammy

Them old cotton fields...

The cotton bolls are poppin'! Every year I plant cotton, a natural green colored cotton, and this time of year is harvest time. Natural colored cottons are great because when you wash them the color becomes more intensified rather than washed out like dyed white cotton. I save seeds, too. Interested in planting some yourself next year? Send me an email for some seeds.

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Roadie had an adorable little baby boy that I have named Lonestar. He has one fairly large spot on his side with a couple spots on his legs. He is mostly white, a bright, bright white that makes Allegra look beige! A brown mouth, eyeliner and footie socks round out his color. Roadie is an experienced, attentive mom that keeps a watchful eye on him. I'm very pleased with his fleece quality and as you know me, you see a white alpaca and in my mind I am seeing a rainbow of color. The babies are already making their own 'gang' in the pasture spending their time together.I haven't had this many babies at one time before and I must admit I am enjoying them. I think I'll go outside right now and play with them!

Talk to you soon,

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The First Day Of Autumn

I had quite a surprise on Thursday night when I came home from my production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. I went out to the barn to check on the babies I already had and found another one out there! So needless to say, at midnight I was out there doing cria care. She is a little darker than Prince and has awesome fiber. Her mother, Vidalia, is a devoted mom even though she is a light milker. This is a cria I will gladly help bottle feed! Her sire is Laredo (yes, another girl for Laredo! I can't believe it!) Of course Prince keeps pestering her wanting to play and she is too young and Allegra keeps stepping in the middle of them acting like a big sister. Its going to be quite a fun fall around here! I am anxiously awaiting Roadie to have her cria next. Talk to you soon, Tammy

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ta Da! Vienna!!

May I present, after much anticipation, Venus' Vienna! She is a beautiful, dark rose grey female. She is Venus' first cria and she is a super, dutiful mom. Vienna was up and trotting across the barn floor in under an hour. Her sire is Laredo. Laredo is 7 for 8 female crias now. How do I not breed this guy? lol And Laredo is 7 for 8 grey crias. I have had the name Vienna picked out for Venus' first girl for a couple of years now. The name really suits her. Prince is happy to have a buddy out in the pasture although Vienna is not at happy about it yet. I told Price to give her a few days and she would like him more. Georgie, the self-proclaimed guard, is happily keeping a watchful eye on her babies now. It is a good day today. Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Monday, September 20, 2010

From A Frog To A Prince

Last week I helped deliver a breech birth little boy. I have been trying to figure out a good name for a little guy who came into this world ass-backwards! lol As I was in the pasture yesterday I took this picture of him. It seems my little frog has turned into a Prince! And it is fitting as I am currently in a production of 'Beauty and the Beast' and I like to name babies after characters in the play I'm in. I had thought of 'LeFou', but calling this handsome guy 'Fool' just doesn't seem right. I'm still waiting for the four other girls to have their crias. They are still sucking them in. Maybe tomorrow. Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Bellies of Fall

These are our 'Bellies of Fall' on our farm. The grey girl is Venus and is due to cria at the end of the month. The white one is Vidalia and she is due at the end of the month, also. An alpaca's gestation is 11 1/2 months and a term pregnancy can go 3 weeks prior and after that date. I have been anxiously awaiting 'the day'! As you can see, the girls are ready to deliver. They have the usual disposition of a female right before she has her baby. Cranky and hungry. Both have milked up. I just need more        patience to get me through. Talk to you soon , Tammy  

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Surprise Birth

We got home from Bethel late Sunday night. On Monday, I set about catching up on things around the house. I counted heads on everything. When I went out to feed the alpacas I noticed the odd behavior of Canela. She was at the other end of the pasture, away from the other girls. When I opened the barn to let the girls in to eat, no Canela! Now that isn't normal. She came in a few minutes late and was humming at me. She doesn't usually hum, either. She did eat her grain. I told my husband that she was in labor, in the afternoon. Alpacas usually deliver in the morning and afternoon babies usually mean trouble. I stayed out in the pasture for about another hour waiting for her to deliver and deliver she did. I had to break her water and when I did I saw a tail where the head should be! Oh no! A breech birth. Instantly, everything I ever read starting flooding my mind. Rips, vaginal tearing, stitches, c-sections, oh no! "Maybe its an ear", I thought. Then I saw a bump next to her vagina. The buttbone. Luckily for Canela I have small hands. I ran two fingers all the way around the outside of her vagina and put two fingers of each hand in and caught the joint where the leg and the hip meet and with each contraction I pulled. She was contracting every 20 seconds or so and it took three contractions to pull him out. I saw maybe a teaspoon of red blood. Then no more bleeding. Whew! That's good. Canela passed the afterbirth about an hour later with no problems. She is fine. He was a little wobbly the first day and I bottle fed him. I milked out Canela and fed it to him.

I'll keep you posted on his progress. What a day! These are pictures of him a couple of hours old.
Talk to you soon,  Tammy