Monday, December 28, 2009

My baby boy, Dominic

The holidays were awesome, as usual in our family. Two new babies shared their "first Christmas" at the farm. Jack Dean and Isabella dressed in snowsuits, literally.

My baby boy, Dominic, was home from Nashville, TN for Christmas. He moved to Nashville several years ago, and is working hard at his craft: writing and producing and performing original music.

He played at Friday's South in Belleville, IL while here. He's really, really talented and his music is wonderful to hear. Check him out on If you're in Nashville, check out one of his local shows.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

St. Nicholas parade

One of my favorite parades for walking llamas

and alpacas is the annual St. Nicholas Parade in Millstadt. It is about 6 blocks long -- the weather is cold and crisp -- it's nearly perfect.

This year I was ambitious and loaded up 9 animals to walk in the parade. After all -- I had lined up plenty of help. Yeah, right.

Due to circumstances, most of the folks who said they would lend a hand, were unable to be there.

So here we are at the parade -- Amanda, Rebecca, Ben and I -- with NINE llamas and alpacas to walk. Yikes! What to do? No worries. There was a lovely Girl Scout Troop (Millstadt Troop 299) standing ready to lend a hand.

I asked for their assistance and they jumped right in. So all was well.

I'm including some more pix of the scouts w/critters. Thank you to the Girl Scouts.

Cotton crocheted caps

Sunday we celebrated the arrival of Santa Claus at Clinton Manor Living Center, New Baden. Our daughter, Coreen lives there.

They had a ladies quartet to entertain us; delicious appetizers for all; and good company. My 88-year-old mom is there temporarily -- recuperating from a fall -- and a broken arm.

I purchased these wonderful cotton crocheted caps from Patty Bearth of Bearkamp Farm. Patty did a super duper job of crocheting them in a variety of colors. And they look so "Romeo and Juliette-esque" on such beautiful young girls (with their perfect skin and unwrinkled faces).

At far right are three of my nieces -- Sophia, Mariah and Natalie.

And then there's Sophia with our granddaughter, Brianna.

Could they BE any cuter? I don't think so. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A team holiday photo

I have several "metal alpacas" in the yard. They came from Joe Stock, of PTL Manufacturing. In the summer they stand in front of a cart or surrey-type contraption.

But it's Christmas time.

So now they are pulling a sleigh over the grass. The A-team: Alex, Ashley, Amy, Andrew (our grandkids) posed yelling "yeeeeeeee - hawwwwww!"

What fun to pretend to be raising across the sky with Santa's reindeer. Oh to be a kid again.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

St. Nicholas parade

Today was the Millstadt St. Nicholas Parade. What fun!

I took 9 llamas and alpacas to the parade -- but there were only four of us -- so we had a problem. Luckily Millstadt Girl Scout Troop 299 came to the rescue.

The girls were more than willing to pass out candy and out fiber bags -- plus some of them even walked an animal. Very, very helpful.

Ben was a big helper, as usual, walking his favorite llama, Amanda. She is a treasure on our farm -- and will be 20 later in 2010. What a great girl.
And a big thanks to Rebecca and Amanda -- my "standard" volunteers -- who are anything but "standard."

Here are a few more pix from the event.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bella's alpaca blanket

Isabella Garrity Riesing came into the world on Nov. 28th at 5:01 a.m. at St. John's Mercy Hospital in St. Louis.

I have been working on an alpaca throw since February 2009. I finally finished it and took it off of the tri-loom yesterday. A little slow, wouldn't you say?

Nevertheless -- Bella was wrapped in the alpaca blanket and slept "like a baby." It is a lovely grey and white creation -- courtesy of our Tonka, a silver grey male alpaca; and Maggie O'Brien, a white female alpaca. Both "donated" their fiber for the throw.

I say "thanks" to the folks who spun the fiber into yarn for me in exchange for free fiber of their own. Great job.

Friday, November 20, 2009

New alpaca arrives

Seems that I drive to Bloomington each and every week now. One week it was to pick up some llamas. Next week it was to pick up two "rescue" llamas. This week it was to visit a lovely alpaca farm, Stars and Stripes Alpacas.

The Nichols' were very accommodating and their animals are stunners. Tammy and I "browsed" in their herd to observe what they had for sale. Some wonderful mamas and babies, some beautiful females. We weren't looking for males.

We mulled it over during a lunch break -- and then drove back and came home with an alpaca each.

She got Sara -- what a wonderful show girl. Bay black with great lines.

I got Chloe, Sara's mama. She looks a lot like my Eileen -- mottled black and grey. She is due in June. Can't wait to see the results of her breeding to Irish Meadows MacGraw.

Hold on to your hat for this show boy or girl to hit the ground.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Quirky llama

Statler is knock down gorgeous. He is one of the herdsires on our farm and he has a wonderful personality, great lines and beautiful fiber.

There's one problem. He can jump a five-foot fence from a dead standstill. Yup. He does it just to do it.

He jumps the gate and grazes in the front yard (which he did yesterday). I can call his name, say, "Statler! Get back where you belong!" and he will follow me right back into the barn.

He jumps from his herd to get to the other boy herd.

He jumps. Anyone wanna buy a beautiful llama?

ILLA Fall Conference

Saturday's ILLA conference was really, really fun.
It was held in Springfield, IL, the heart and soul of the Land of Lincoln.
There was a brief meeting, some wonderful food, great friends and tours of both Isles House (Abraham Lincoln served under General Isles during the Blackhawk Wars), and the Lincoln Museum.
As a native Illinoisan, I'm ashamed to say that I had not been to the Lincoln Museum. I plan to go back -- and take our grandchildren. They would learn so much and enjoy the gift shop, too!
Thank you to Kathy White and her crew for putting together a very special ILLA gathering.
One tip: if you own llamas in MO, IL, IN, KY -- PLEASE consider showing at this year's IL State Fair. This is a "make or break" year for the llama show. The numbers HAVE to be up or we risk losing this wonderful event. So start getting ready now!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Chuckwagon

Took Brianna and Jack Dean to the Chuckwagon today. It's a wonderful eatery here in Fairview Heights with delicious Mexican food -- and unbelievable cherry cokes.

One of the highlights there is the "CLAW" machine. It's filled with candy and little trinkets and "you play until you win." Brianna is pretty good at the game already. Jack was learning the ropes today. He waited his turn and then it was time to "drop the claw" into the candy.
What fun!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mouse Hunting with brave Brianna

One of the joys of having llamas and alpacas is introducing our little grandchildren to the wonders of animal husbandry.
They help "feed" the animals -- giving them grain and carrots. They put arms around their necks and walk them on lead. It's all good.
Brianna came over last week. She paused long enough from her barn adventures to sit with Clover, a gorgeous little alpaca girl.
She also fed the ducks (we have two) and Rocky the rooster. When she opened the tin containing the cracked corn, she very nonchalantly said, "Oh Grammy, look. There's a mouse in there."
Well, folks, my only fear in life is a mouse. They leap unexpectedly and I can't even dispose of one that has passed on when we "capture" them in our old 105-year-old farmhouse.
I squeal like a preschooler and would stand up on a chair if one were available.
Not Brianna. She reached right into the container and took out the scoop -- much to my horror.
"STAND BACK" I told her. "Grammy will tilt the can and hopefully the mouse will jump out."
And that's exactly what happened. It scurried under the feeder -- and then over to the straw bales. Wow -- that was close!
I hope to grow up to be as brave as Brianna.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Beautiful day

The temperatures were awesome today. Glorious sunshine and a gentle breeze. After the week-long rains, this was a pleasant departure.

Zydeco came back home to live. So did Eileen. I sold them to another farm several years ago. Well -- life happens -- and I bought them back.

That's Zydeco at right -- and she is a lovely girl, isn't she?

Had a darling high schooler get her senior pictures taken at the farm today. She posed on the tractor, by straw bales, under the weeping willow tree.

But her favorite poses were with the llamas and alpacas. I'm sure her photographer got some awesome shots. Can't wait to see them. Guess we're a destination for lots of different reasons.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Here's the video

Fox2News story

Our family, specifically my husband, was featured on the local affiliate of Fox2 News last evening. The story was beautifully photographed, beautifully written. Please take time to give it a listen. Here's the link:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Honeymoon heads to the Rainbow Bridge

Our oldest llama passed away yesterday. She was nearly 25 years old. Honeymoon Suite was a classic North American llama -- little leg fiber, a mane like a horse. She was tall and athletic.

She was a pleasant, reasonable animal.

She started having difficulty getting up from a kushed (sitting) position in late September. She would sometimes sunbathe in the pasture -- only to discover that she couldnt right herself.

Ben and I would roll her over and prop her up with a straw bale -- and eventually she would stand up and go about her life.

Last Tuesday she was too "tired" to come to the barn and she spent the overnight hours in the pasture. I didn't want that to happen -- as she was easily a victim to coyotes and such -- so I got her up -- walked behind her -- herding her into the barn.

She never came back out. She was kushed, with the help of straw bales for several days -- and I put hay and water within reach. Thank goodness she wasn't outside during the monsoon weather last week.

Her slow, deliberate breathing finally stopped yesterday. She is now running across "the Rainbow Bridge," that place where our animal companions wait to be reunited with us.

She will be sadly missed at our farm, but will be remembered. To many, she was "just another llama." Not to me.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New home for alpaca, farm visit

It was a great day in the animal world -- that despite the fact that it poured, sprinkled, rained, pitter pattered, monsooned, deluged -- it was wet today.

Took Rotanev, the alpaca, to Columbia to be a buddy to Roscoe, the alpaca. Charles and Shirley were excellent hosts and Charles is one amazing gentleman.

I've broken my old record of selling a llama to a person who was 84-years-old. I've now sold an alpaca to a person who is 92 years old -- and still going strong!

Roto will have a wonderful new home, protecting swans and waterfowl.

Then it was a visit to the Peach's farm to see their wonderful animals. Beautiful -- even in the rain. Warm and dry in their barn. They are great stewards of their herd.

A good day.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Getting things done in the rain

It keeps raining. It's mushy, muddy, somewhat miserable.

But today -- in the pouring rain -- my animals were out enjoying the lush green-ness of the hay field. They are eating for a living in that hay field. Happily.

Will deliver an alpaca to his new home on Thursday -- barring another monsoon.

It makes me appreciate sunny days -- sunny days will return. It's bound to happen.

In the meantime, the llamas and alpacas are enjoying the damp, cooler weather and their delicious green fields.

And I'm looking forward to the return of the sun -- eventually.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Alpacas spread their wings

Sold 6 alpacas yesterday. Everett A. bought some of my most fabulous babies and a few established males.
Little Nigel (a fan favorite here - at right) will be going to his new home, as will Clover (far right), Bonita, Nellie Knee Sox, Johnny B. Good and Captain Picard.
They will have a good home and hopefully will be seen at some Alpaca Shows next spring.
It is always hard to see my "babies" go -- but I keep the mamas and let the babies spread their wings at new farms. It's so rewarding to mentor new owners and help them develop their own herds, and their connection to these wonderful animals. Yippee! It's a win/win.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fencing is done!

Jack, Ben and I stretched and attached 1300 plus feet of fencing in the back acres today and yesterday.

Now the animals can eat the luscious hay before we get our first heavy frost.

It was hard work -- sweating work -- power lifting work. But in the end, it's all good.

Farming is difficult, dangerous work -- nearly every day. There is an opportunity for corral panels to tip over and land on you in the barn (right, Amanda?); for fall off of stacked high round bales while re-attaching the tarps; possibility of being pinched or poked by wire/fencing; and then there's the Bobcat and all of the havoc it can wreak. And, of course, the tractor and it's ability to die in the middle of the pasture -- and gasoline cans to be carried hundreds of feet.

Wow. It's amazing that we're all still alive and walking, isn't it?

I'll take pix in the back acres with llamas munching mouth-fuls of grass. Look for them!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fencing is hard ranch work

Fifty t-posts went into the ground today. I'm going to be opening up our hay field for the winter to my animals. The hay is rich, green, luscious. It will build strong mamas and babies.

It's only the 150 posts and miles of fence to attach that stand between the girl herd and their munching.
Without the posts and fencing I could have animals prancing around St. Clair Square -- llamas on the loose!

I thought of the show "The Biggest Loser" today as I was pounding post after post into the ground, sweat dripping into my eyes. And I was thankful for the excellent health and strong arms that I am blessed to possess. Skinnier would be good -- but would I sacrifice the power and strength?

Shoulders might be creaking and squeaking tonight -- but not bad for a 60-year-0ld.
I'm grateful for the healthy lifestyle that has contributed to my wellness. And thankful to God for the opportunity to share my life with these beautiful animals.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

finished tipi

A beautiful morning dawns on our Native American tipi. I love the "prayer ties" on the tips of the poles -- and the rich colors.
Handprints are courtesy of my grandkids. Footprints courtesy of my dear friend, Amanda.
The tipi is up due to the efforts of many hands. I thank them for the gift of their time and energy.

Tipi at sunset

What a beautiful image -- this was when our tipi was being raised. That's Tom in the hat -- and Michael walking around the tipi with the rope to secure the poles.
The poles came from Yellowstone. Glen and Misty Thomas, both Native Americans, went to cut two sets of poles. They live in Niobrara, NE.
They advertised one set on and I connected with them there.
I drove to Kansas City, MO -- they came from NE -- and we met.

I love the tipi that we've put up -- the colors, the handprints -- it's all good. But I especially like this photo. How lovely. Thank you to all who helped raise the tipi.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Such precious jewels, these grandkids are. Our A-team: Alex, Ashley, Amy, Andrew. Then Brianna (and her soon-to-be sister) and Jack Dean.
Fun picking pumpkins, fun putting up a tipi, fun at Red Robin, fun at the drum circle. Even their clothes are fun -- Steelers outfits, hats, North Face jackets, Disney Princess outfits.
We are very, very blessed to have healthy, happy grandkids who love to come to the farm.
Maybe THEY will continue the llama and alpaca tradition -- or not -- but it's great to enjoy them now.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Blessing the pit

Today's Native American Pit firing was awesome.
At top, Chad, Jessica and Freda examine the sage bundle.
At top right: Is that the spirit dancing into the trees following the lighting of the pit?

Bonnie Brave, potter, is shown loading the pit with wood.

Medo was kind enough to offer a blessing of the pots in both English and the Navajo language. It was like listening to music in the spoken word. Thank you to Medo for sharing this gift with all of us.

We had great, delicious, warm, beautiful soups to share following the lighting of the fire. Good bread, good food, good friends. A delightful combination.

Then it was time for the tipi to go up. Tom is so wonderful to have taken the lead in setting up the poles and attaching the tipi. Thank you, thank you.

Tomorrow we will remove the pots from the pit at 3:30 - followed by more soup and then a Native American Drum Circle. A memorable, wonderful weekend.

Friday, October 16, 2009

tipi poles and footprints

Met Misty and Glenn Thomas in Kansas City, MO yesterday. They are from the Santee and Crow Native American Tribes.
They went to Yellowstone and cut their own tipi poles and sold them on

I brought them home sticking out at least 10 feet from my llama trailer. Wow! And it rained the whole way.

BUT -- it'll all be worth it tomorrow when my tipi goes up!

Then Amanda came and "walked the walk" around the tipi. The footprints turned out great.

This weekend is our huge event -- so please come if you're in the neighborhood.

A donation to llama rescue is requested -- and bring snacks/water.

Pit firing at NOON -- with a blessing of the pots by my friend, Ramiro Pacheco, of Navajo heritage. It will be wonderful.

LOVIN' the pix of the yellow feet! Thanks 'manda (and for barn cleaning assistance, too.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin farm fun

All 6 of our grandkids were on hand today to put their handprints on our newest Native American tipi.

Then it was off to the pumpkin farm to pick out pumpkins, slide down the straw bale slide, ride the ponies, get pictures taken and laugh and giggle.

Then we caught "Hawk" the llama -- as he goes to his new home this week.

That's Baby Jack Dean in the photo with his doting mama, Trina. His pumpkin cap added to the fun of the day.

Great day to be a grammy, it was.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

FARMFEST '09 -- Next Weekend!

Pit FireThe weekend of October 17-18 will be a wonderful educational learning experience at Wier World Farm. We will kick off with the Native American Pit Firing by talented potter Bonnie Brave. She will offer the opportunity for potters to immerse themselves in the ancient Native art of the firepit. Bonnie has several years of "hands-on pit firing" experience. Also, we are offering a "blessing of the pots" before the fire is lit. Saturday, 12-4:30pm and Sunday, 3:30-5:30pm. Contact Bonnie for more info!

TipiRaising of the Native American Tipi
It's been over a year since we've had a tipi in our midst. It's ordered and the hand hewn poles are being prepared by Bruce Volpert. At 4:30pm we will gather in the pasture to "raise the tipi". If you've always wondered how it's done, please join us for an awesome event.

Native American Drum Circle
Sunday, following the unearthing of the pots (available for sale), we will host a Native American "Drum Circle". Bring your own drum (a limited number will be provided) to this "in-the-round" gathering. Join lea drummer Patrick Kennett as we follow the "heartbeat of Mother Earth" and celebrate.

There will be a donation box to go towards the rescue work at our farm ($5 suggested). Please bring your own snacks and bottled water.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Halter training on a rainy day

Great morning with some of my favorite people. Amanda came by to begin halter training with Clementine. She is the loveliest little cria -- but gosh is she spunky.
It was Kate's first day on the job. She's a biology major with a love of animals and a desire to learn about large animal care. We can do that here! She pitched right in and I LOVE a self-starter!
My girl Friday, Rebecca, was here today. Working her usual magic with the animals. They really, really adore her -- and know she's a "llama whisperer."
Even in the off and on rain -- it was a great, sunny morning at the farm.
I'm so lucky.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Yoki - welcome to the world

Yoki (Native American for rain) was born today on our farm. After an exciting morning of tipi painting, and an afternoon checking on the herd, I was greeted by little Yoki in the barn, with her mama right beside her.

I put them in my small paddock so they could bond -- and Yoki was nursing well from her mama, Piper, in short order.

This is 4 girls in a row for me. How sweet is that?


tipi painting day

Amanda came over and we painted the tipi today. It's a luscious blue on top, with cranberry all around the bottom. Next will be yellow footprints walking across the bottom -- and then my grandkids' handprints.

Perhaps we'll add the "four directions" symbol -- or feathers hanging down from the beautiful blue. Plus Rebecca P. will paint Amanda the llama's portrait on the tipi whenever she comes home from college in WI for Thanksgiving. Fabulous.

Tipi painting is good for soul -- not so hot for the back and knees, though.