Saturday, September 25, 2010

Strange Folk Festival fun

The Artisan Guild of Southern Illinois encampment at the Strange Folk Festival was a rousing success.

We had a pottery tent, a soap/weaving tent, a spinning demo tent, a leatherworks tent; a woodworking tent; an alpaca tent -- we were quite the presence at the O'Fallon City Park today.
The photos tell only part of the story -- Eunice showing off her "Indie inspired" dress -- completed with bare feet; Tom helping Ben make a bracelet for his mom (me); Patty looking stylish in her scarf - with felting in full force; Chad's hands during a pottery demonstration; and the posed photo of Dr. Freeman and wife -- one of the St. Louis University trauma surgeons -- who saved my husband's life five years ago, when Jack was impaled by a tree in our back pasture.
The weather was fabulous -- nearly perfect for a fall day. Tomorrow is another day -- with the high expected at 58 -- so it will be quite different, temperature wise.
Each year the Strange Folk Festival is a chance to show off animals, hand-made items and art with wonderful music added to the mix.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Three days -- three alpaca babies

Saturday is the day it all began. Eileen had all the signs. She was lying in the pasture with her legs to the side. She was up -- and then she was down. Then she was up again. She kushed in front of the fans -- and then went out to the pasture -- and kushed again.
When I got back from Alpaca Farm Days in Coulterville -- there was a baby -- and Eileen was the mama. He is medium fawn in color -- and I named him Whitman -- after Walt Whitman -- and "Leaves of Grass" -- one of my favorite poems from high school.
Then it was Sunday. I drove out to the pasture on a golf car -- and noticed something was different. Sure enough -- Paulie had a new baby -- a little brown boy -- that I named Hadley -- after a dear friend from high school -- who left us too soon.
And then this morning I went out to the pasture before it was time to head to the office.
A beautiful, little girl this time -- Glimmer is her name. Reba is her mama.
These babies are so very exquisite -- and all three are already running in the pasture. Such a gift - it is to own them.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rescue isn't for sissies

Okay. I understand when folks can't keep their llamas any longer. Believe you me -- after 15 plus years in the "rescue world" I've heard it all:

"We just don't have the time to give them any more."
"We're getting a divorce and selling the farm."
"My husband (or wife) died and I can't take care of them by myself."
"My kids are grown and we're done with the llamas now."
"I have health issues." -- join the crowd, by the way.
"We're getting miniature donkeys/ponies instead."
"This llama just came with the farm when we bought it and we really don't want him."
"This llama was boarded at the stable and the people never came back for him."

No one EVER says:

"I want to get rid of them."
"I'm sick of taking care of them."
"I'm looking for a place to dump them that won't make me feel guilty."
"It's too much work and I'm just done."
"I want you to pay for their care for the rest of their lives."

People DO say:

"I want to keep my herd together." -- Sure mister -- I'm going to take and feed your 10 llamas -- and keep them all together the rest of their lives -- no cost to you."

"I want to make sure they are going to a good home." Well, lady -- maybe YOU weren't the best home. So how dare you question someone who is willing to take in your herd about care giving?"

I've taken in one-eyed llamas, AND one-eyed alpacas.
I've taken in an alpaca with a steel plate in her hip -- and blind in one eye.
I've taken in grossly overweight animals -- and skeletel, next-to-death animals. (BOTH are very bad.)
I've taken in rowdy intact males that tried to bite me everytime I fed them.
I've taken in many, many blue-eyed animals -- both llamas and alpacas.
I've taken in geldings with front legs so crooked they look like the "letter X."
I've taken in animals that have residual effects from meningeal worm.
I've taken in llamas that have never seen a halter until I put it on them to get them into the trailer.
I've taken in spitters and kickers and even "chest bumpers."
I've taken in deaf animals and parasite-ridden animals.
And sadly, I've taken in animals that came to my farm to spend their last remaining days on earth.

And I've taken in some awesome animals that will live at my farm the rest of their natural lives (some of which are already in their 20s).
When they come to my farm I probably spend $$$ per animal right off the bat "vetting" them myself. Deworming, checking toenails, sometimes shearing them, treating for mites, pasty eyes, abscesses. That's PER animal and that's if no vet is involved.
Over the years I've taken in some awesome animals -- and some dangerous animals -- and some ridiculously amusing animals.

Has it evened out? Heck no. I'm crazy in the hole financially from doing this. And yet -- I seem to always have room for that "one more."
Just so you know -- all the animals pictured would be in the "rescue" category. All but Rebano, the handsome grey male with ear tufts, have died.
Some new ones are coming in the next week or so. I'll regret it. I already do. But they need a new home. And it doesn't make any difference to me if their PEOPLE have trouble. The llamas don't deserve that. I'm just waiting for the day when someone gifts me with a show quality, ARI registered alapca or ILR registered llama. Or even better -- with a grant to keep on doing this. I'm waitin'.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Disney World!

Peter Pan and Wendy, Handy Manny, Ariel, Pocohontas, Chip 'n Dale, Belle, Mickey and Minnie, Daisy and Donald, Buzz and Woody, the Little Einsteins -- wow! These are just a few of the characters we hung out with at Walt Disney World last week. It was so much fun.

It's so cool to spend time at such a magical place -- especially when it includes grandkids. We rode the Magical Express to our home resort at Old Key West. Ate in Germany in Epcot, at the Whispering Canyon at the Wilderness Lodge, had Tonga Toast (it's legendary -- just google it) at Kona at the Polynesian Resort -- and much more. Even had a hot dog at Casey's on Main Street U.S.A. at the Magic Kingdom.

We visited the Hall of Presidents on 9/11 -- and people broke into spontaneous applause as the 43 presidents were introduced, during Lincoln's Gettysburg address, when George W. Bush stood with the firefighters in NYC after the bombing -- it was so very patriotic. Flags at Disney World were at half mast that day -- as they should be.

The farm and my animals were in the capable hands of Denise and Gary and company -- and all was good when we got back.

If there was ANY drawback to the trip it would be the WEATHER in FL. It was 94 -- with 84% humidity one of the days we were there. That is a heat index of 134 in the SHADE -- adding 15 degrees for the sun. I almost "went down" like a llama with meningeal worm. It was awful. But I lived to fight another day.

It's nice to take a break sometimes, isn't it? The pix tell just a touch of the story of fun. Could those grandkids BE any cuter?

Monday, September 6, 2010

I'm a winner!

Okay -- so yesterday we had our 22nd annual "Stupid of the Year" party at the farm. For 22 years now Jack's family has been handing out an annual award for the family member who did the "stupidest" thing during the previous 12 months. Seems that I won yesterday! My accomplishment? I drove the tractor through the gate -- it started to roll forward once I jumped off -- and in order to stop it I stood in front of it! Made sense at the time, if I remember correctly. haha I did hear the theme from "Superman" playing in my head whenever I stood in front of the tractor.
So for the next year the "stupid plaque" will hang in our home in a place of (dis)honor. Bummer.
Lots of family and friends joined us for the kickin' party. We had our homegrown deejay, Jack Aaron and his butter churnin' baby, Jack Dean; Yida and Sandy from China (SLU students) were here; llama and alpaca friends Gary, Denise, Rob and Toni; matriarchs Aunt Pat and my mama, Virginia; sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles and especially grandkids -- what a day.
The photos show just SOME of the fun. Kids riding on the "train" behind the lawn mower; folks relaxing; karioke -- it was all good. And then there's that telling photo of me in the mushroom hat -- and Suzy and Tim as runners up. Sigh -- hopefully I won't be so stupid next year.

The hawk and the statue

We had a hawk in the barn this week. It flew back and forth -- keeping all the other birds away. I believe in signs and symbols. I believe that the hawk was watching over me -- and view it as a blessing.
A reporter and photographer from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch were at the farm this week. They did a story on me -- an update really -- of something that happened over 25 years ago. I entered a contest when the St. Louis Centre opened in downtown St. Louis and won. Got to fly to Nantucket Island and a bronze statue was caste in my image. Pretty cool, right?
Well - I outlasted the St. Louis Centre -- and the statue is now in Chesterfield at the St. Louis County Library.
When Doug, the reporter, was here -- he and Laurie, the photographer saw the hawk gliding effortlessly back and forth across the barn. We commented on it and talked about the "blessing aspect" briefly.
Guess what? When Doug went to see the statue in Chesterfield, MO -- the maintenance guy told him that there had been an "event" earlier -- seems that a HAWK was seen flying/maybe circling my statue there. Hmmm? Coincidence? I think not.
At any rate -- the photos are of grandkids. Drew spent a few days at the farm and helped with hay bales, putting up the totem pole in front of our tipi, and pedalling the trike with his cousin, Brianna, in the back.
It's been a good week. Here's the link to the Post article:
A statue returns to life
FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS • The chance at immortality came to Julie Wier when she was grappling with death.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Broken hearted

If you want your heart broken -- the llama/alpaca business is a good business to get into.

This really long and difficult summer has brought much sadness to our herd. Several of my animals succumbed to the heat. Our wonderful, fabulous, glorious Bolivian guardian llama, Little Moon, was one of them. She died in front of the big fan in the barn.

Moon came to me over 10 years ago -- as a rescue. Her front legs were so very crooked -- we heard from rickets after she was imported from South America. She couldn't run -- but her amazing grey/black color -- deep, wise eyes and huge face got you right away. She ambled along -- but yet she worked for awhile as a guardian for sheep -- in tandem with a llama that could run.

Moon would alarm and warn the herd -- and her buddy did the chasing of predators. She was cherished as a guardian. And when she came home she was welcomed back into the herd. We had missed her!

She was never for sale. She was much too wonderful to sell.

Now Little Moon can run over the Rainbow Bridge -- and she will not be forgotten. A piece of my heart went with her. Goodbye, Moon!