Monday, June 18, 2012

Spring "Bus-e-ness"

It's almost summer, and we're not sure here in  Troy, ID, that spring really came. We've had more than enough rain. But the daffodils did bloom!

And we got ready for shearing. Fortunately, it did not rain on shearing day. Lots of folks came to watch, to sit and spin or knit, or to help (those who helped get my grateful THANKS!).

Cathy D. spins alpaca
We got 28 animals sheared, 15 of mine, some alpacas belonging to others and three llamas. A friend of mine took some great pictures that she's put on flickr. If you want to see the process, which shows my wonderful shearer and his exceptional shearing table, take a look at
(While you are there, take a look at some of her yarns and batts! She does some beautiful dying!)

Someone looked at the pictures and asked "why is there a sock on the black alpacas nose?" The answer is also the answer to another question: do alpacas spit? The answer is: "In their 11th month of pregnancy, especially when getting sheared!"  Leyla, as of today, is three days overdue. But we're having another cold, windy, cloudy day, so she won't give birth. You see, alpacas (generally--I'm sure there are exceptions) give birth on sunny days between 10 am and 2 pm!  Very convenient for the owners.

And shearing day was a good tryout for my new dog--Sam I Am. I don't (or didn't) think of myself as a dog person, but I keep chickens on the farm--not only because I enjoy free-range eggs and sell them, but because the chickens keep the bug population down! Early this spring, I had at least 18 chickens and one rooster. As the coyotes came and went, I ended up with one rooster! Rosebud (as his former owner named him for his tight comb), as gentle as he had been with the "girls," must know how to fend for himself. So, it came down to this: chickens and dog, or no chickens.
Sam I Am
Fortunately, an acquaintance of mine who had sheep and chickens was preparing to move permanently to New Zealand and had a dog she needed to rehome. I reluctantly called her, knowing the dog was a Great Pyrenees but not knowing gender or age, but I knew Pyrs were known for roaming. Sam turned out to be a one-year old male that had lived with sheep.

So I brought him home. And I'm now a dog person. He has adjusted so well! The alpacas were frightened at first--most of them had never been around a dog. But Sam pays them barely any attention and he calmly lay in the yard while we were shearing, with traffic and animals coming in and out of the place (he was on a chain).

Now, is he going to help me keep chickens. Well, I know he will chase coyote. One of my crew heard the alpacas give a warning call and saw a coyote--he then watched Sam chase after it!! But, I have a funny chicken story. The mother of Madi (my animal manager) brought four chickens out for me and they were put in the coop while I was otherwise busy. Later that evening, I went up to look at them. One panicked and flew out the coop window and starting running around the area that we have penned in, just to keep new chickens in place until they know their home. Well, she just ran around cackling; Sam kept watching with great interest, tail up high--I kept saying, NO!!! But the hen found a place to get out under the fence and ran cackling down into a highly wooded area. Sam followed in pursuit. No way for me to follow. I heard silence, then cackling, more than once.

Very disappointed, I assumed that Sam would end up eating her, and since I got Sam to help me keep chickens, I went into the house, sat at the computer and tried to find information about what to do. Then I heard, outside my window, cackling!! Went outside! Sam had caught and brought back the hen! She was a bit beat up, feathers missing, but no bleeding. Supposedly, he's purebred Pyr, so I wouldn't expect him to be a herder! But apparently, that's what he thought he was doing--returning the chicken to me.

So I need to find out how to stop chickens from panicking and running away!!

So enough for now. But here's a before and after shearing picture of one of my alpacas, Lexy.
Lexy with and without fiber.

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