Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Shearing In Seattle

What a great week we had in Seattle! My husband and me decided it was time to learn to shear our own alpacas. We wanted to learn from the 'shearing guru' himself, Matt Best. It just so happened that Matt was teaching a 2-day seminar in Seattle at the above farm, Casa De Arboles, owned by Maggie DiUlio and Jim Klassen. 
I like to call Matt, "the alpaca whisperer' because he has such a was with them! I guess if you've been shearing alpacas for over 25 years, you must really love them. And he does. He is also a very patient and experienced teacher. We learned so much in 2 days!
Matt and Darrell hit it off right away and Darrell took to shearing quickly. We are looking forward to  sharing the knowledge we learned.
Maggie and Jim were gracious hosts and we felt very at home at their farm. By the end of each day we were totally exhausted but had smiles on our faces! We couldn't have dreamed of a better seminar. We feel very lucky to have been able to attend. And thanks goes out to our son for staying home and taking great care of our animals while we were gone. We couldn't have went to Seattle without his help.

This is a picture of me with the first alpaca I ever sheared!! Its unfortunately the only picture of me as I was usually the one holding the camera. lol I plan to get better with more practice, but I didn't do too bad on my first one and the second one was better. I have some more pictures of shearing class I will be sticking in here and there. It is fun going on vacation but it is good coming back home. So much to catch up on....

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Successful Beginning Spinning Class

Last Saturday I taught a Beginning Spinning Class with 3 Sisters' Workshop at Julie Wier's Farm in Fairview Hts, IL. It was a great day filled with good food, good company, new friends and lots of witty remarks! The ladies in class are Debbie, Kelly, Jeri and Mary and they are naturals when it comes to spinning. Each of them had spun a hank of yarn by the end of class! Success! There are now four more spinners in the world.

And thank you to our hostess, Julie and her lovely assistant, Amanda!

 After the class we took a tour of Julie's farm. I got to get 'hands-on' with her newest cria, Zapato. His daddy is my Laredo. I think that me and Zapato look good together, don't you?

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Little John's First Field Trip

  WHOOO-HOOO!!!!          ITS A FIELD TRIP!!!

Little John and his brothers and sisters went on their first field trip yesterday outside of the barn. They had quite a fun time!  You could feel their excitement in the air as they lined up.

The biggest one, which I'm pretty sure is a rooster, took the lead in the line. Notice that even at about two weeks old, they are starting to get their wing feathers. I've seen the fly up at least 10 inches in the air already. The babies are growing up so fast!
Here is a good picture of Little John getting ready to go.
 They made their way outside to where the 'big' chickens eat their cracked corn and grains and had their first taste of big chicken food. As you can see, they stayed pretty close to mom while out there!
 And as is true of all field trips: its thirsty work! When they came back in the barn, I gave them some fresh water and they gathered around my recycled ice cream tub-turned waterer for a well deserved drink. They drink by dipping their beaks into the water and scooping some up and then tilting their heads back to swallow.

Yesterday, Atilla the Hen (who was setting on the cloud of alpaca fiber) started hatching out her chicks. I took these pics when I gave them their first water and feed. More babies for me! 

 Talk to you soon,  Tammy  
ps.  I'm looking into starting a chicken adoption group. If interested in joining please let me know.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Good, The Bad, The Mulberries

I have been a connoisseur of mulberries since I was a child at my grandparent's house. Every summer, the mulberries would start to ripen and I was told not to eat them because they would give me a belly ache and I ate them anyway. Being a life long eater of them as I am, I feel I am a pretty good judge of a good mulberry. I must have a dozen or more trees on the farm. Some of them aren't any good, I will admit. But--there are a couple of trees that have the best mulberries on them that I have ever eaten! Look at the tree on the right. It looks more like a blackberry than a standard mulberry. And it tastes as good as it looks, too! I eat them by the handfuls everyday.
      And you do not have to take just my word about how tasty mulberries are. Ask Vidalia. She follows me around the tree and as I pick berries, she gets a tasty leaf snack. We stand in the pasture and eat them together each day. It has become quite a bonding time for us, as if she wasn't one of my favorites before, she certainly is now! And she is passing on the love to the next generation, too. Below is Vienna catchin on to what its all about.                                                                                                                                                           
    Many people have a prejudice against mulberry trees. True, the wild birds eat them and poop on your car. But the birds need to eat, too! A mulberry tree is a very green tree and good for the environment and good for the alpaca farm. First, they grow rapidly to give shade to a hot sunny pasture. Faster than any other tree I have ever seen. That was the first reason I planted them. They are cheap to buy, actually free. In the fall, there are no leaves to rake up because the alpacas stand under them waiting for a leaf to fall so they can eat it.
         In fact, the birds do not get alot of the berries at my house either because the alpacas have decided they are a delicious treat and eat the berries as they fall on the ground. Above is a picture of Roadie and Vienna eating berries off the ground in the morning. You won't find a berry on the ground under the 5 trees that are growing in the girls pasture! The mulberry tree the girls are under in the above picture is 6 years old. Look how big it is! It has been giving shade for years. I hope I have changed some of your minds about mulberry trees not be trash trees. And remember, one man 's trash is another man's treasure.
                                                                                      And just to show you I really do eat the berries like crazy every day, check out my fingers! lol  I've added a picture from yesterday of Little John. Still doing well. 
Talk to you soon,  Tammy    

Friday, June 3, 2011

It Started With A Button....

And a very fine pair of buttons, even if I do say so myself! They are a little darker purple than the picture shows. You see, I love, love, LOVE! vintage buttons. These two appear to me to be from the 70's. (my favorite ones are bakelite) I sometimes, when I'm feeling stressed, go to my button drawer and sort buttons. I know it sounds odd to some people, but it is relaxing to me. Sort of like working on a puzzle for some people. I buy a pound of vintage buttons here and then there and then look to see if there any are matches. Its like a puzzle for me. And then my clemites vine started blooming.
And it got me all hooked into purple again! Purples were my mom's favorite colors. So I'm looking at this vine and wanting to do something with purple in it. It seems that every year I do something with purple in it at this time of year because of this flower! Flowers can be very inspiring. I found some silk throwsters in that shade of purple and I started adding it to Emmee's brown fleece and start spinning.

While I was spinning, I started thinking of a little girls vest pattern. Girls love purple, don't they! I found a pattern on Ravelry in their database called 'Alise'. It called for
2 buttons! I like to buy patterns that have been published because I believe you need to respect their work. I had no problem paying the $4 for the pattern. However, I tried to buy it on two consecutive days and it wouldn't go through. Maybe the pattern was old? I don't know. But now I was vested (no pun intended) in making this. So...I made up a pattern myself.  Here are my notes
as I went along. I only ripped it out once to start over. I will keep
this paper and put it in my project folder with others I have.
I spun the yarn and as you can see, I only had maybe 6 inches of yarn left! Boy! did that work out well for me! lol

Here is a picture of the back of the vest and the lovely Ava, modeling it. She likes to wear it! Yeah!! It is very gratifying for me when I get a 'wild hair' about a project and it comes together as nicely as this one did. Being creative feeds my soul. Does it yours, too?

And now for an update on the bluebirds. The babies have flown the coop! The best picture I could get was of two together out of the three that were raised. The babies are already almost the size of the parents and they still sit around waiting for mom and dad to bring them food. They have some speckles on their breasts to help tell them apart from the adults. I loaded them up with mealworms this past week trying to use up the last of the 3,000 I had for them. Another successful bluebird season!

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gotttta Blog!

Its now official! I am copyrighted!! How exciting is that? The website and blog are copyrighted--I just can't say it enough. My next step is to start tweeting and facebooking and stuff. But first I need to get a 4G phone and a carrier that has signal at my house.

An update on Little John:

Here he is with mom and brothers and sisters.
He seems to be thriving and I bought chick starter for them to eat.

 Mom brought them out of the next for the first time yesterday. They are just cute as cute can be!
There is a chick that I will lay money on that is a rooster for sure. I can tell by his behavior already. He is the leader of the pack. It will be fun to watch them grow up this summer.

Talk to you soon,  Tammy