Thursday, September 24, 2009

What are you doing for NAFD?

National Alpaca Farm Days is upon us. I've spent the last month or so getting the open house on various community calendars and sending out flyers to everyone I can think of. We're having the farm open both Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm - 4 pm.

Some of my friends couldn't make it out this weekend so we started National Alpaca Farm Days just a wee bit early for them. Griffin and Ulysses helped train some new alpaca wranglers.

These are felted alpaca cat toys. They're my newest project. I haven't quite perfected the process just yet. The cats enjoy them. Once the cats have had their fun, the dog enjoys ripping off the felted fleece for some multi-species entertainment. I will have these for sale at the open house this weekend.

I invite all of you to come out and see the alpacas rain or shine this weekend.

Here's the info:

Dates: Saturday September 26 & Sunday September 27, 2009

Time: Noon - 4 pm

Big River Alpacas - Bob and Lisa Fererro
7820 Riverview Rd.
Dittmer, MO 63023
House phone. (636) 452-3436

Driving Directions:

Take Highway 30/Gravois Road West from 270.
Go Approximately 20 miles to Missouri Hwy B and turn Left
Go 5.2 miles and turn RIGHT on Missouri Hwy C
Hwy C dead ends into Missouri Hwy Y after 4.7 miles
Turn Right on Hwy Y.
Go 0.2 miles and turn left on Browns Ford Road
Go 2 miles and bear left on Ware Lake Road
Go 0.5 miles and turn left on Riverview Rd - there's a big sign that says 'Riverview'
House will be on the right.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Copy Cat

I work for a corporation. And sometimes when you work for a corporation someone else will steal/copy your work, ideas, and/or writing. We're having an open house for National Alpaca Farm Days. I wrote the advert. This was difficult for me as most of my writing experience is technical. I thought it was decent and apparently another alpaca owner did as well. Imagine my surprise when I saw my very own words used to advertise another farm's open house!

Here's what I wrote (if you double click on the image will open up a larger version that's easier to read):

"In honor of National Alpaca Farm Days, Big River Alpacas along with Mariposa Farms will be holding an open house. You'll be able to get up close and personal with our alpacas. You'll be able to pet and feed the alpacas, and we'll have answers to all of your burning alpaca questions. Fleece & alpaca products will be available for sale as well. There will be a spinning demo and free alpaca beans if you need compost for your garden this fall. (please bring a container if you'd like to take some with you)"

And here's what Copy Cat Alpaca Farm wrote:

"In honor of National Alpaca Farm Days, (Xxxxx Xxxxx) Farm will be holding an open house on Saturday, September 26th from 9am-4pm. Get up close and personal with our alpacas. You'll be able to pet and feed the alpacas, and we'll have answers to all of your burning alpaca questions. There will be a spinning demo and free alpaca beans if you need compost for your garden this fall. Please bring a container if you'd like to take some with you. "

What interesting is that Copy Cat Alpaca Farm has a copyright protection notice on their website so I'm pretty sure that they know plagiarism is a no-no. I've emailed this farm as well as left messages on their voicemail and I haven't received a response as to why they thought this was okay. According to the Copyright Website (notice how I give credit to the source as well as provide a link to the website) "almost everything on the Net is protected by copyright law."

I have to say that I am highly disappointed as this farm is located in Missouri and I will likely see them at seminars and shows.

PS. If you like the advert and need one of you own, I'd be happy to write one for you.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On Hiatus

Readers and Alpaca Fans,

I'm going to be on hiatus for a bit. I recently slipped, fell and broke my right radius. Overall it's healing well but it will be some time before I'm back up to full speed.

I board my alpacas and they are in good hands so that's one less thing to worry about. For now my focus is on getting well.

Should anything overly exciting happen, I'll let you know. Otherwise, I'll be back once I'm healed.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Update on Autumm (and the rest of the herd)

Things are progressing slowly with solving Autumm's mystery. An ultrasound revealed that she is not pregnant, even though her behavior indicates otherwise. She wants absolutely nothing to do with any of the boys. I am currently waiting for some feedback on the ultrasound. At this point it's getting too late for a spring breeding so I'm resigned to leaving her open until next fall. That should give us plenty of time to get her body back to normal.

Mariposa's Rose Marie has been successfully bred to BRA Bocephus. And my girl, Liberty, gave us yet another alpaca surprise. I had chosen to breed Liberty to Doc Holiday. Doc was quite excited about this and was absolutely enthralled with Liberty. However, Doc apparently is NOT Liberty's type and she had no interest in him whatsoever. But she did find BRA Jesse James to her liking. Perhaps Liberty knows something I don't?

Griffin and Morrighan are both weaned and eating well on their own. They got a halter lesson today. Both are very good at standing still and being touched. But walking around on the halter.....not so much.
Griffin poses for the camera during halter training while Baroness looks on (photo by Ellen Disseler).
Halter training Morrighan. Sometimes it helps to get on their level. Photo by Ellen Disseler.

Glass Paperweight

As much as I enjoy the alpacas and working with fiber. I'm always up for trying new things. The third Friday of every month, the Third Degree Glass Factory has an open house. I attended with a singles activities group I belong to and thought I'd try my hand at making a paperweight. It was really cool. The molten glass had a very interesting consistency both fluid and stiff at the same time. I was absolutely enthralled. The instructors were quite knowledgeable and patient. They let you work with the glass quite a bit. If you're reading this before the third Friday in June 2009, then you can see a picture of me in their slideshow making the paperweight pictured above. And if you live in the St. Louis Area, I highly recommend you attend one of their 3rd Friday open houses. They're free and family friendly.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mysterious Autumm

As is often the case, things rarely go as planned. I purchased Autumm Spring 2008 so she's my newest purchase. Autumm is confusing me right now. Her behavior says she's pregnant. Her progesterone says she isn't. My first instinct is to have an ultrasound done, but our vet doesn't have an ultrasound machine.

What to do? What to do?

Possibilities include a retained CL (retained corpus luteum), ovarian cyst, uterine infection. Or she could really be pregnant. Her previous owners did not perform progesterone testing so I have no idea if her levels are 'normal' or not.

Here's the data so far:

DOB 10/19/1995
10/19/2008 – Full term, still born female cria
11/15/2008 – Bred to Cisco, 25 minutes
11/22/2008 – Half-hearted spit off
11/29/2008 - Bred to Cisco
12/5/2008 – Spit off
12/22/2008 - Progesterone = 0.08
May 2009 – Spits off every male
5/12/2009 – Progesterone = 1.01

I'm in the process of trying to find a vet with an ultrasound machine. In the meantime, I'd welcome any comments and thoughts you might have.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Name that Sheep Contest

Alpacas are not the only animals that get sheared. Like alpacas, sheep look quite different after being sheared. Homestead Wool is having a Name That Sheep Contest. Go on over and take a look. There's lots of great pictures and a bio on each and every animal.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Shearing Day 2009

We sheared the alpacas this week. 31 animals from four different farms. We had lots of helpers. So many that we had two shearing stations set up and even a photographer. We also trimmed nails and I was the Queen of the Tooth-a-Matic

Since we had a photographer there are lots of actions shots - way too many for a blog post so I made you a little slide show. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

MOPACA Invitational Alpaca Show 2009

The MOPACA show was March 28 – 29. Before I get to the details, I’d like to say thank you to my coworker, Robyn, who very kindly let me borrow her Explorer Sport. Normally, I borrow it to haul alpacas, but this time I used it to transport the sponsor gifts to the show (It was like Christmas!) and spin off samples back to another farm on the way home.

Big River Alpacas ensured that Marie (and Ulysses) made it safely to the show.

I’d also like to thank my friend, Ellen, without whom the weekend would have been very stressful. Ellen came along to learn about alpacas, help out a little and just get away for the weekend. She ended up learning how to color check, show animals, gate steward, and process the spin-off samples. She contributed a lot to the show and they can’t wait for her to come back and volunteer in 2010. In fact, Ellen got to show more animals than I did and her first time in the ring she took first place!

I’d also like to thank my family for taking time to stop by - especially with the icy, snowy weather. Sharp Bros. Seed, my dad’s business, sponsored our Meet & Greet and hopefully picked up a few new customers. My cousins brought my Grandma V down to the American Royal Sunday afternoon to see the animals. Janae, my second cousin, enjoyed leading the alpacas around so much she asked me if it was okay for her to ‘borrow’ one.

Marie, being the photogenic alpaca that she is, made Friday's Kansas City Star before the show even started. She's the one in the middle and this is the 2nd time she's made the paper in less than a year.

Marie took 1st place in her halter class (hooray!). However, it was a class of one. This does not necessarily mean that you’ll get first place, though. If the alpaca doesn’t meet the correct conformational and fleece standards, they’ll award a 2nd place ribbon instead. In one case, there was a class of one and the alpaca was so unruly that she and her owner were dismissed from the ring with no ribbon whatsoever. The judge was very pleased with Marie’s conformation and especially the density of her fleece. She said it was a shame that I didn’t have any competition in the class.

Marie and Ulysses were both entered in the spin-off competition. This is where 2 ounces of fiber is sent in ahead of time. It is then handspun into yarn and judged. This is a great way to get feed back on the fleece and to see how well it converts into yarn. Both of them received 4th place ribbons and I’m very happy with my little handspun yarn samples.

I picked up these little alpaca pins for my store and these wonderful pastel alpaca socks from Alpacas Midwest for myself. The socks come in assortment of Easter Egg shades just in time for spring.

We returned home late Sunday and I was quite happy to see the kitties, Magic (thank you Amber & Kate) and sleep in my own bed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

March Bit and Pieces

Several of my readers have asked how my hat knitting is going. I finished it about a week ago. I found making the brim a little difficult but overall I think it turned out well. My dog, Magic, was happy to model it for a treat ~_*

I've started a new scarf. This yarn is 60% alpaca, 40% wool. The goal is to make a skinny, lacy looking scarf and so far, so good. I find the color pattern interesting.

And in other knitting news, I've joined Ravelry.
In alpaca news, my friend, Ellen, and I will be heading to Kansas City, MO for the MOPACA Invitational Alpaca Show on Friday. Mariposa's Rose Marie will be competing as well as Mariposa's Birch Ulysses (who now belongs to Big River Alpacas and Blue Feather Farm). They will be competing individually and together in a class called Produce of Dam which will give recognition to their dam (mom), Calliope's Isis.

If you can't make the show in KC, I'll have a post about it sometime next week.

Here's Ellen giving Griffin a halter training lesson. He's too young for the show but he's getting better at walking on the lead. Notice the bachelor herd watching in the background.

Shearing Day will be Tuesday, April 14th at the farm. If you're in the area, have the day off and would like to observe or help out, let me know. Extra hands are always welcome.
My shipment of socks finally arrived and they are now available for sale. I've also added this purple scarf and some other items to the store.

I think that's all the tidbits I have for now. In the future there'll be posts about the show next weekend, shearing day, and perhaps a surprise.

I'll end with this photo that has nothing to do with alpacas. But it is a mariposa or butterfly. It was taken at the Butterfly house where it's March Morpho Mania.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Kreative Blogger Award

I was pleasantly surprised to get this award from fellow St. Louisan, Lenox Knits. I especially admire her pledge to live handmade. She also has all sorts of wonderful knitted things in her Etsy shop. I encourage you to take a look.

The rules for this award are straightforward. List 7 things I'm thankful for then pass the award on to 7 other bloggers.

7 Things for Which I'm Thankful

1. Indoor Plumbing
2. Electricity
3. My wonderful friends
4. Gainful employment
5. Books, books & more books
6. Flowers
7. My pets

My picks for the Kreative Blogger award are diverse group. Each one brightens my day and inspires me.

In no particular order.

Am...musings - my college roommate and long time friend, who's incredibly creative
Phat Fiber - promotes independent fiber artists. Who knew yarn could be so addictive?
Fluffington Farms - Fiber Friend, Spinner, Raiser of Cute Bunnies
On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess - Isis the Scientist balances Life and The Lab in smokin' hot shoes.
Zen Habits - The Power of Less
Alpaca Love - The goings on at the Wisseler farm. Christa's writing makes you feel like you're there.
Alpaca Farm Girl - I think that Wordless Wednesdays are my favorite.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Phat Fiber Sample Box: Desert Garden and *Giveaway*

Phat Fiber has become one of my favorite blogs. They showcase independent fiber and yarn artisans. I don't know how to spin but when I look at this blog I want to learn.

Phat Fiber also does giveaways. There's one every day this week. Today's giveaway is from Desert Garden.
Here's the link: Phat Fiber Sample Box: Desert Garden and *Giveaway*

I'm intrigued by the Sea Witch Coilspun Wool Yarn. I love the colors and find the texture especially appealing.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Guest Author

As many of you know I've been working hard on various ways of marketing the alpacas and myself. In doing so, I was asked to be a guest author on Alpaca Farm Girl's blog. Most of my writing is quite technical so this gave me a chance to be a little more creative. Give it a read and let Katy know what you think.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Hey Look, I Can Knit!

About 7 years ago I took a knitting class which eventually led to me owning alpacas. I haven't done any knitting since. I found it difficult and then I had surgery on my dominant hand. Holding the knitting needles became painful.

About a month back I saw a post on peg weaving. Then I saw someone at a MOPACA meeting weaving with this circular thing. I thought, 'hey, I could do that.'

So I found myself a loom at Michael's and gave it a try. It was simple enough that I could teach myself how to weave/knit plus it didn't hurt my hands. In two weeks I'd made this scarf while watching The Daily Show and LOST. The yarn is 75% acrylic, 25% wool (I'm saving my hand dyed yarns and alpaca yarns until I'm better). I used almost a 200 yard skein of each color.

I did have some 'help' with the scarf. My cat Cleo insists on sitting on my lap and she was not thrilled about having to share with the loom. My other cat, Spock is not quite three and he found the yarn quite tempting.

Here's how it looks while still on the loom.

Since Spock was so intrigued by the knitting process, I let him model the finished scarf.

Some day this will be a matching hat.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Lose the Winter Blues Contest

Fellow St. Louisan and blog follower, Lenox Knits, is having a giveaway.

Prizes include:

1. A lace knitted scarf in a blue hemp/cotton blend yarn with clay beads, worth $18.

2. A knitted pouch in the blue hemp/cotton yarn with the same beads. It has a draw string closing with a long paper bead, worth $12.

3. A matching headband in lace, worth, $7.

4. A knitted wire wrist cuff with matching clay beads and some fun paper mache beads in matching colors, worth $11.

Entering is easy. Just click here.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Say Cheese!

Today I had my first experience using the Tooth-a-Matic. Marie will be competing at the MOPACA show the end of this month and her teeth needed to be trimmed. Trimming alpaca teeth is regular part of alpaca husbandry and until now I had only observed or held the alpaca's mouth open. But, since Marie is my alpaca, today I had the honors.
Here is Marie in the chute and ready to go. She was less than pleased at this point and I was prepared to be covered in spit.

I'm using the Tooth-a-Matic in this photo - my photographer wasn't willing to get too close and I'm left handed so it's hard to see. It was much easier to use than expected. Also there were other alpaca owners visiting the farm so I had quite the audience for my first attempt at alpaca dentistry.

Now I'm just smoothing her teeth out a bit with the Dremel.

Here we both are afterwards, none the worse for wear. Marie was actually quite calm during the whole thing and there was no spitting. Yay!

By the way, I'm told that I'll be doing teeth on Shearing Day, April yay?

We also did a couple of more halter training lessons with the crias: Griffin & Morrighan

Here I am working with Morrighan.

Griffin went outside the pasture on the halter for the first time today. At first he wasn't very sure about it but then he saw Samantha and became quite curious. Even at a young age he LOVES the ladies.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Alpaca Photo Contest

The annual MOPACA Invitational Show is coming up the end of March. So dig out your best photos because this year there are cash prizes to go along with those ribbons!

You can enter two photos in each of these categories (if you like):

1. Cria—an individual cria caught at a special moment.

2. Alpacas interacting—shows action between alpaca and alpaca, alpaca and other animal or alpaca and person.

3. Farm scene—includes at least one alpaca.

4. Black and white—these shots should show an alpaca, and have artistic merit.

5. Computer enhanced—be creative—include one or more alpacas and artistically enhance the image of the alpaca.

6. Junior class—any type of alpaca photo taken by a young person, age 15 or younger

Entry form is here.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cute, Fluffy Valentine Goodness

On Valentine's Day, I made a visit out to see the alpacas. Morrighan had her first halter lesson and Griffin chose to do his 'dead alpaca' imitation during his halter lesson.

I also delivered some fleece and met the bunnies of Fluffington Farms. Talk about some cute, fluffy goodness! I learned about the different types of Angora rabbits - English, French & Satin.

I also purchased some of Jordan's home made fabric softener. It smells divine and I'm almost excited about doing laundry!
Griffin, 4 months old with his dam, Isis.

Morrighan Noir, 2 1/2 months old

Cute Fluffy Goodness All for You!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

An experiment of sorts - the RESULTS

On January 31st, I posted some of Autumm's fleece on my Alpacanation site, Craiglist, Missouri Wools Yahoo Group, and Local Harvest thinking I'd be lucky to sell it. After all, it wasn't even prime fiber. I had an immediate response from the Missouri Wools group. And I was very surprised to get a response from Craiglist. All in all I sold SEVEN pounds of fleece from four different animals when I had only listed 13 ounces for sale.

Much thanks to my co-worker Robyn who suggested Craiglist. And thank you to my buyers: Debbie who is going to use the fleece for doll hair and Fluffington Farms who will combine the alpaca fleece with fur from their angora rabbits.

So, how & where do you sell your fleece?

Ride the Manta at Sea World Contest

Julia Roy's blog has a contest to ride the new Manta roller coaster at Sea World. Looks like something my niece and I would enjoy.

Who would you take?

Click HERE to enter.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Alpaca figures and scarves now available.

These very cute alpaca figures have been added to the store website. There are two sizes: 6 and 12 inches.
These soft, fringed scarves have been added, too.