Sunday, October 31, 2010

End of the day, Boo at the Zoo

I forgot to talk about the costumes! Bree was Captain Hook. Her costume was classic -- with the fabulous hat, complete with feather, and boots and "the hook." Drew was Scooby Doo -- and he surely had fun leaping and running around. Jack Dean was Kermit the Frog -- and spent the entire day with the hat on -- never pulling or tugging at it once. Bella was the "hunny pot" from Winnie the Poo. Her costume was hot -- and she's a hotbox -- so it only lasted for a brief time -- and then she was free to just be a kid. And little Avary was Supergirl -- with her pink costume and cape. How cute was that?
I took a photo of the train, and the engineer even waved at me as he rolled by.
And then there's the classic picture of Drew -- out like a light in his carseat on the way home. Ahhhhh -- the zoo can wear you out!

Boo at the STL Zoo

Yesterday was my first trip to the famous "Boo at the Zoo." That's where thousands and thousands of people head to the St. Louis Zoo (the country's #1 Zoo, BTW -- AND admission is FREE) and bring their kids/grandkids dressed in Halloween costumes. Corporate sponsors give out candy, but the lines were long -- when there was so much else to do!

One of my best investments has been a family membership to the Zoo Association. That gets me free parking, tickets for attractions like the Children's Zoo, Zoo Railroad, Carousel, etc. So worth it.

Our group started out at Chris's Pancakes in STL -- for a breakfast of champions -- toast, bacon, eggs, pancakes and French toast. Yum.

Then it was off to the zoo -- parking on "the moon" as the lots were packed.

We headed straight to stroller rental and got a double stroller for Jack Dean and whichever kids floated in and out - and trekked to the Children's Zoo. There I ran into Jan -- one of my favorite keepers of my alpaca boys at the zoo. (I sold two alpacas to the zoo last year and it's been awesome for them and for me, too!)

Seems that Doc Freeman remembers me -- and that is always a bonus. He comes right up -- and even nuzzled my face. This is NOT good behavior on the farm -- but at the zoo -- where he is handled every day -- loved and cherished by all who meet him -- it seems to work.

Then it was time to play on the slide, the small farmyard, the goat enclosure -- all the fun stuff at the Children's Zoo.

Then off to ride the train -- and time for a sleepy ride home. The zoo has really outdone itself -- with decorations everywhere -- fall festival themed pumpkins and such. Sooooo much fun. I highly recommend a visit to the Children's Zoo at the STL Zoo. And don't forget to say "hi" to the alpacas!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chinese tea ceremony

From outdoor fun to the ancient art of the Chinese Tea Ceremony -- all in one afternoon. Sandy (wearing yellow) is a newfound friend. A freshman student at St. Louis University, majoring in psychology. Her goal is to invent a robot for children to enjoy as a toy. She came to the farm for the pit firing, and brought her roommate, Jei (Jay). Jei is majoring in business. She will be heading to Vancouver to college next year.
They visited with the llamas and alpacas, feeding carrots and taking pictures. They couldn't resist a flashback to "kindergarten" as they hopped onto the teeter-totter and laughed and bounced.
Then it was off to my sister's home, as she has many tea bowls and tea pots. Sandy and Jei brought some authentic Chinese teas -- and quietly and elegantly demonstrated the Chinese tea ceremony.
It was a blessing to be able to experience such a beautiful culture. Thank you to both young women for their grace and charm.
And the tea was very, very good!

Pit Fire results

My oh my. The pots exceed all expectations for beauty and color!

Rising out of the ashes were reds, blues, greys, blacks, oranges, peaches, silvers -- such amazing color.
It was a happy, happy day -- with no rain to mar the completion of the pottery from clay to art.

It was a successful Native American Pit Firing and the participants are already asking, "When is the next pit firing workshop?" Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Today was the Native American Pit Firing workshop at the farm. It was sponsored by the Artisan Guild of Southern IL. The weather was windy and warm -- not at all like a typical fall day at the end of October.
But the company was great - and the pottery went into the pit with high expectations.
The photos give a brief overview of the event. The wild and free spirit of the fire - as it kisses the pots with color. The protecting of the sage bundle, as Medo lights it for the Navajo blessing. Participants and Bonnie Brave, teacher and potter, with the pit loaded with sawdust, wood, paper and other chemicals to give color. Krista and her coil pot -- before it is placed in the pit.
The pit firing is such a spiritual experience. And such a fellowship experience as well. We shared bread and soup -- and it was absolutely delicious! So many varieties and even an apple pie for desert. This group can cook, my friends!
Tomorrow the pots will be unearthed. We will see what has become of the pots. Some will be totally black -- in the style of Maria Martinez. Some will be a variety of colors. Some will not make it out of the pit without a ding here -- or a crack there. But the randomness of the pit firing is what draws the potter to the earth and fire.
Stay tuned for the results photos tomorrow.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Spinning class October 2010

The third spinning class for 2010 was yesterday at the farm. What a day!
Tammy Duensing is the amazing teacher -- and she is patient, knowledgeable and funny. We had a room filled with new spinners -- a husband/wife team, Debbie and Rich; a teenager, Hannah; and Sally -- whose quest to learn spinning was curtailed by a broken foot and a family medical crisis.
The cool thing is that the spinners got to try out different wheels: Ashford traditional; Ashford Travellor; Ashford kiwi; Louet production wheels -- both single and double treadle. Wow. I hope the students realize what a great opportunity they experienced.
And the food was great, too. Strawberry/blueberry salad -- with fresh blueberries from Michigan; meatballs, sauce and mixed veggies; yummy jalapeno jam on cream cheese; BBQ sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches; veggies & dip and apple cobbler.
Thank you to Tammy for sharing the gift of spinning with us all. Thank you to the students -- and ALL of them were spinning yarn when they left the building. See you in intermediate spinning?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Once in a llama lifetime

I have quite a few alpaca babies born on the farm. They are cute, fast and very marketable.

I am super stingy when it comes to breeding for llama babies. The selling price for these glorious animals is very low -- and not at all in line with their beauty, grace and intelligence. As a result -- I don't breed my llamas unless I intend to keep the crias.

I bought a llama last year and she gifted me with the most awesome cria I've ever had born on my farm. A "once in a llama lifetime" baby girl.

She is grey and white -- shimmering in the sunlight. She runs and twirls and plays -- and will be a show stopper in the ring. Such amazing beauty.

For now she is Tiana Grey -- although she may already be sold to a wonderful place that will appreciate her and show her off to the community -- and change her name. She is a suri llama -- with fiber to die for.

She was a week old yesterday.

Today -- Andantino is a week old. His mama is Elody -- a basic white girl with great mothering skills and an even temperament. Seeing this little white alpaca boy dance in the moonlight is something to see. He is very handsome and is likely to be a show boy -- if he stays on our farm.

Two babies, so very different -- yet both will be awesome in the show ring. Wait and see!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

IL Lama Association Fall Conference

Western IL Youth Camp in Jacksonville, IL was the site of the ILLA Fall Conference yesterday.
There were many llama and alpaca farms represented at the event.
It included a Hobo Show for llamas and owners, a meeting and the auction of cool stuff donated by llama owners. Plus there was a delicious lunch, sloppy joes, salads, cookies, cupcakes -- it was all good.
Ben won "King of the Hobos" and got some mardi gras beads to wear. He showed London, our handsome llama. Kaytlynd Thompson was the Queen of the Hobos.
Drew, age 4, showed Vision the llama, age 4. He walked him on the short trail walk that followed the day's events.
The Thompson girls -- all four of them -- walked their boy Ralphie, Dax, Leopold and Chico -- and they were dressed in adorable hobo clothes.
Jack walked Leo, the alpaca, too.
It was a fun event -- even though the temps hit 88 degrees -- one degree short of a record-breaking hot day for mid October. Friends, fun and llamas. What could be better?