Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Visitors to the farm

I'm big on "trading" and barter. I recently traded a beautiful, black, male suri alpaca for a female llama and gelded suri alpaca.
Good trade. Just So Perfect (what sort of name is that?) is the new llama. You can see her in the photo by our gate (with the letter 'W'). She's a tall, stretchy girl with, I hope, nice fleece. It's hard to tell with her fiber all shorn -- but I can hope.
Yesterday Amy, Ashley and Andrew were at the farm -- and helpers, Jayden and Rebecca. We were surprised with a visit from Harry and Millie, John and Mary -- from Gillespie, IL. They belong to a senior citizen group that is scheduling a farm visit in September or October.
We took them out on the golf car -- and they got to meet some of the llamas and alpacas -- and also saw our newest arrival, Baxter.
The kids and I had a delicious lunch of turkey, mac n cheese, applesauce, garden tomatoes, strawberries and chocolate chip cookies. It was yummy.
Such a great way to spend a summer day.

Friday, July 23, 2010

106-degree heat index

So -- it's hot, right? Does that mean us farm-types get to sip iced tea in the shade? I don't think so.

This dangerous heat means we still have to deal with our farm chores, and believe you me -- it's not fun.

Today my summer helpers and I spent lots of time hosing off the animals. They loved standing under the sprinkler spray and getting soaked. Becca and Jayden took turns and the water was flying.

We still had to clean out the barn. We still caught and haltered animals going to shows this summer. We dealt with a cria that is newly born -- and one who recently lost his mama.
Today is supposed to be even worse. Yuck!
Fall can't come soon enough for me.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

All on Saturday

Well, Saturday, July 17th was an exciting day.

Ben and I took 5 animals over to Washington Park for their "back to school" event. It's where kids who otherwise might not have school supplies receive donated paper, pencils, backpacks and such. Plus there were free hot dogs and lemonade.

The weather did not cooperate. It was 106 heat index. Yet my wonderful animals allowed themselves to be brushed, spritzed with Groom n Show and handled by perfect strangers. That's Amanda (the tuxedo gal). She looks good for 20, doesn't she? And there's Jimmy, serenading the llamas by playing the flute he got in his backpack of goodies.

I took Amanda, age 20, Sophie and her gal Naomi, Punchau and Vision. A wonderful group of public relations animals.

Then Ben and I came home and were surprised by a new cria in the field. Our Chloe had a little boy, small but mighty.

Jack Dean, our youngest grandson, came over to meet the new baby and hang out at the farm. That's him with Ben meeting our newest cria.

At midnight Denise rolled in with 5 llamas that had just spent the day at the Moultrie-Douglas County Fair llama show. Five went. Five brought home ribbons.

Denise's animals took first (Don Tomas), second (Joao) and third (Spotted Fever) respectively in their classes.

My Pebbles took second and Annika took 4th. Wow. What a day!

Friday, July 16, 2010

A new family is born

Our newest future farmhand arrived at 4:03 a.m. today. Her name is Avary Julieanne Nuckolls and her proud parents are Amanda and Travis.

I've known Amanda since she was around 9 years old. She took a clown class that I was teaching at the community college.
The next semester she was in the class again.
And she signed up for the next class, too. That's when I knew she was serious about clowning (is that an oxymoron?).
We clowned together all the way up into her college years. Then I retired from clowning -- and she continued to do volunteer work and some "birthday party gigs" -- the hardest clowning of all.

We have remained friends over the years -- this odd duo of a 20-something and a 60-something. We have much in common -- a love of the outdoors, animals, farming, "going green," fiber activities (spinning), a love of reading and words -- and marketing. Not to mention the fun times we share with tractors, llamas, alpacas, Bobcats, clowning, good food and interesting people -- oh, so much.

Today she and Travis and Avary became a family. There were tears on my pillow when she called to tell me Avary's name (a guarded secret during the entire pregnancy).
She had to work hard during the pregnancy to tone down her active "Amanda-ness" and go into mommy mode. She just re-directed her energy -- developing new websites: , making MY website the rockin' -est llama and alpaca site EVER.
She took a spinning class and was a natural -- spinning like a champ. She bought some hat looms and is OUTTA control with making hats, scarves, purses. It's amazing.
But after all, SHE'S amazing. And today she began her career as a mom.
Look out world. There will be inventions, time saving devices, and good ideas that she will discover and share.
I visited the new family at the hospital this morning. And they let me snap the photo that graces this page. Just look at them. How exciting the future will be! Congratulations, and Avary, there's a farm world waiting for you.

". . . and they're cousins" (from the Patty Duke Show

Drew, age 4, and Brianna, age 3, came to the farm this week. The cousins got to experience the fun and high heat/humidty (106 heat index) at Grammy's farm.
Drew started out by picking tomatoes from Grammy's garden. I have one tomato plant and I am excited that my "llama poo" has fertilized such awesome tomatoes.
Brianna tried on one of Grammy's many hats -- made from alpaca fiber and acrylic.
She and Drew climbed trees (the mulberry tree is the "bestest" climbing tree!). She fed the chickens and looked closely at their feed.
Drew climbed on hay bales and found my first chicken egg -- but promptly threw it onto the ground. Grammy wasn't happy about that.
It is such fun to have the grandkids at the farm -- and they get to be outside, take an honest bath after it's over , and make memories to last their whole lives.
What a blessing.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dominic's band gig

Our son, Dominic, is working in Nashville in the music business. He is trying his darndest to be a singer/songwriter. He's written some awesome music - fun and thoughtful stuff. He was in town last week and he played at the local park in Troy, IL.
Some of his siblings, and nieces and nephews came out to have fun, run around, and listen to Uncle Dom. His brother, Jack, played drums for the gig.
He did a great job and everyone had such a good time.
In the pix: The gazebo where they set up. Baby Jack Dean sports the cowboy hat (he's a little bit country, a little bit rock n roll) and his dad is on the drums.
Dom rocks the tambourine for a song (he also played guitar and harmonica).
And there's Dom during a song. Want to book Dominic?

Baby alpacas and "the herd" and summer

Summer is tough on these camelids. They come from the world (Andes Mountain region) of 50 degrees to the scorching, humid St. Louis summer.

They don't like it. They DO like drinking from the sprinkler each day -- standing under it until they are soaking wet -- and venturing out into the pasture at dusk -- grazing in the slightly cooler evening.

My crop of babies this year are especially playful and darling. My Naomi, that black/white tuxedo girl is so regal looking. And Dorothy (multi) and Shima (med. fawn) are best buds.

They play in the pasture, bothering all of the adult llamas and alpacas with their silliness. It's a delight and a privilege to watch it happen -- something I never take for granted. I DO love owning these animals. Can't wait to see what they might do today.

Friday, July 2, 2010

cute babies

Yzma and her daughter, Shima, lounged in the pasture today. The humidity was low and the sun was bright and the two female alpacas enjoyed the temporary break in the heat wave we've experienced during June 2010.
My summer helpers spent some time halter training Rudolph and Ralphie. Both young alpaca males are already very good on lead and easily handled.
I try to make certain that any future "saleable" alpacas or llamas are easy to work with -- for myself and the possible new owners.
Rudolph would be a great public relations boy and so would Ralphie. They are good with people and have pleasant personalities.
It's a joy to help prepare these animals for their new owners. If you're looking for some nifty alpacas as "pets" -- Ralphie and Rudolph are right up your alley.