Friday, November 26, 2010

Fair Trade Market Day

Oh my goodness it was cold today. I took two llamas, Pebbles and Lala; and four alpacas, Eileen and her boy, Whitman, Paris and Eureka out into the community. Our Artisan Guild had been asked to provide demonstrations for the Manchester United Methodist Church annual Fair Trade Market in Ballwin, MO.
I brought animals -- to help support the work of the South American artisans who were selling hats, scarves and such. It was 27 degrees when we arrived. In fact, you can see the remnants of the Thanksgiving snow in the photos.
There were many great questions and much joy in sharing the stories of these wonderful animals. Michelle and Kristie, who volunteer at my farm, came to help. They showed the animals to visitors and talked about llamas and alpacas in general. You can see how much fun they had sharing their knowledge. And little Whitman, with his head lying on his mama's back -- how adorable is that?
My two llamas spent much of the day gazing intently at the cemetary. At first I thought they were seeing a fox or squirrel. Then I wondered if they were seeing the small flags flapping in the breeze. I didn't think it was either of those things, but found it puzzling that they kept looking in that direction -- as though they had seen something.
Now comes the "blessed" moment.
A woman was at the cemetary (that you can see in the background of the pictures) that is on the church property. She placed flowers on a grave there. Then she drove over to where I was with the animals and talked to me for a brief moment. She began telling me that she visits the cemetary every day.
In the course of our conversation I discovered that her 11-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia on March 19, 2010. In September she died from the cancer and the subsequent harsh treatment to try to cure the disease. We stood and cried -- mother-to-mother -- about her loss. I have not seen such palpable grief in a person in a long, long time. She said she put yellow and purple flowers on her daughter's grave -- because her daughter loved purple. The holidays have already been impossible for her.
Jack and I have not lost a child -- but we did lose a grandchild in March 2000. She was a twin to our Ashley, little Jessica. Ashley made it -- Jessica did not. I miss her every day.
This stranger and I spoke quietly for a long, long time. Then she said she was leaving. I told her that I would watch over her daughter since I would be there all day.
Llamas are such compassionate beings. I know they knew about her daughter. They, too, were watching. Rest in peace, little girl.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Kindergarten farm visit

The kindergartners from Albers Elementary came to the farm on Tuesday. They came at lunch time -- with brown bags in hand -- and learned about llamas and alpacas while munching on pb & js and chips. They watched as Hannah plied yarn with her spinning wheel, and Christie and Michelle showed them Minnie, the llama, and Navajo, the alpaca.

Then it was time to trek out to the pasture to feed carrots to interested critters. Dusk and Sanya, two alpacas, cooperated by kushing -- tucking their feet up under them -- and letting kindergartners sit next to them and pet them. It was adorable.

Next it was a Native American Drum Circle -- led by my brother, Patrick. All the kids rattled percussion items and got a chance to beat the "big gathering drum" -- the heatbeat of Mother Earth. It was great.

Then the class stood in front of the tipi for a group photo. It was a really, really good farm visit for them -- and for me, too!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mama's birthday

We celebrated my mama's 89th birthday yesterday. HER mama was 101 1/2 when she passed away -- and had never been a patient in a hospital! Six kids all born at home -- no broken bones -- healthy as can be. I like to think that I got my chutpah (Yiddish word for guts/boldness/sassiness) from her. She was my godmother and always present in my life. Grandma's are like that.
Mom's baby sister, my aunt Lilly, was here with her husband, Uncle Ish and daughter Barbie. All of my siblings and their families came and the food was endless.
The "cousins" played together and all had such a great time. Jack Dean (the up and coming deejay at 21 months) did the: hot foot, pump it up, the sprinkler, lasso, fist pump, explosion -- oodles of dance moves. He's a mini-riot.
The kids ran around and played with toys and had a blast. They got to be kids and make up their own fun.
It was a great celebration. I am blessed to still have my mom.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Grandmother's comfort

Okay. I've decided to call my little hat-making enterprise "Grandmother's comfort." I've made a hat for each of my grandkids (except Alex, I think -- he's 13 and way too cool for that). Some of them have already outgrown the first hat -- and are ready for the next one (Bella).
But all have been delighted by the warmth and "specialness" of the hat that grammy made for them.
My friend, Loyce, gifted me with a wonderful drawing of a Native American grandmother singing to her grandchild. It's beautiful. It is entitled, "Grandmother's comfort" -- and thus the name is borrowed for my soft, warm fuzzy alpaca hats -- and soon-t0-be scarves, I hope.
It is no small thing, the power of these hats -- and the power of a grandmother's comfort.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A day like today

Good grief. Today was some kind of day.

First of all I voted early in the a.m.
Then I headed to another alpaca farm, bringing one of my males for breeding. My dear friend gifted me with a beautiful pair of mittens -- made from the fleece of my favorite Canadian female alpaca, Candi. That brought tears and thank yous.
Then it was back home, doing some work on the Bobcat, letting the big boys into the front yard to munch on the green, green grass.
Next some llama and alpaca friends stopped by for a visit. Loyce, Pat, Lee, Marilyn, Barb and I headed out on the golf car to feed some carrots to my girl herd.
I commented on the fact that the llamas were all "out in the back hay field" eating the good hay.
As we drove out on the golf car -- I realized that NONE of the llamas were in the back hayfield. "Where could they have gone?" I asked out loud.
Well -- apparently one of them had stuck her head through the gate to eat the grass outside the gate -- and lifted the gate off of its pins -- and half of the gate was lying on the ground.
So over 30 of my herd had gone "walkabout" in the neighbor's yards, down the street, down a long lane, just wandering around.
Thank goodness for experienced "llama wranglers." The first six llamas came back to the "call" -- "lllllllllaaaaaaaamas -- alpaaaaaaaacas" and rattling of a bag of carrots. It got harder after that.
The other 20-plus had to be herded, coaxed, cajoled, begged back into the gate -- one-by-one.
When they had all been captured, Pat and I drove our trucks around the neighborhood to "make sure" they were all back.

That's when I locked my keys in the truck. My son used a hanger to snag the keys, that were lying right on the console.

Then everyone left, but Loyce -- who helped me do an inventory of my animals. I got out the herd list and we checked off every animal. All present and accounted for.

Whew! I'm tired.