Saturday, March 26, 2011

They call this "spring?"

Are you kidding me?

Really? Really? It is March 26th people! What is UP with this weather? I am so bummin' it's ridiculous.

Jack and I are seriously considering moving to Florida -- or Georgia -- or someplace ELSE. Of course we would take our herd with us.

If you would like to make a wonderful bed and breakfast or retreat center out of our fabulous 100-plus-year-old farm home -- huge garage and big barn -- please contact us.

We're not kidding. This winter has done us in.

Here's my e-mail address -- for folks who would like to buy our property and move in to a working llama/alpaca farm:

Only people with money need to apply.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday on the farm

It was Tuesday. Every Tuesday I have 4 homeschool kids who come to the farm to learn about agribusiness. Today's bonus was that Steve and Diane came to the farm, too.

We accomplished a wide variety of farm stuff today. Trimming toenails, giving injections, cleaning the barn, working on catching/haltering activities, doing lots of fence repair, feeding grain and hay -- the list was long.

I've been allowing local youth and adult volunteers to come to the farm for over 10 years. I teach them all about the care and feeding of camelids. They are ready to have their own farms someday after they leave my apprentice program. It's been a wonderful experience for me and for those privileged few who get to hang out here.

Just today, for example, Michelle learned how to give injections and trim toenails. Diane worked on her halter training skills and "command voice" and "praise voice" -- to let the animal know the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Steve repaired fences and taught the homeschool kids the proper way to use wire to secure t-posts and fencing.

I would like to continue this work. I would need a grant to help me do so. Any ideas?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Students visit the farm

Yesterday was the first official "school farm tour" of 2011. Students from Belleville East High School came to the farm to learn about jobs that are available in "agri-business." They also came to feed carrots to the llamas and alpacas and to meet our son, Ben.

Ben was home from his day program to share his love of the farm, and his knowledge of the hard work involved in living on a farm.

These students are in a program for kids with developmental disabilities at the high school, and they are looking ahead to graduation -- and life skills that will help them have productive and happy lives.

It was our privilege to talk to them about the harvesting of the fleece, shearing the animals, feeding and caring for them.

The students also watched Hannah spin raw fleece into yarn -- and constructed Native American Walking sticks with beadwork and feathers and alpaca/llama fleece.

Mrs. Lewis's class was made up of inquisitive students who asked wonderful questions about the animals.

At the end of their visit, they gathered for a photo in front of our Native American tipi and even went out to the barn to meet the "boy herd" that likes to hang out near the hay feeders.

We certainly enjoyed the farm visit and the students are welcome to come back any time!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Creep feeder creeping

Okay. I have a half dozen baby alpacas and a herd of over 60 animals in their area. The competition is fierce at grain time, and only Naomi, offspring of my Sophie, manages to squeeze in on the end of the gutter feeder for grain goodies.
So my friend, Tammy, talked about her construction of a creep feeder for her crias. It's a smaller, penned area that has a "munchkin opening" for only crias to get into. Once inside they can munch grain and hay to their heart's content -- without the big boys and girls stealing all of the food.
Great idea. Last Wednesday the homeschool kids and I went about the business of building a creep feeder.
It involved cattle panels, a corner feeder, t-posts and such. Not terribly complicated.
We promptly caught Hadley, one of the fall crias and put him inside so he could see what wonders awaited him. He totally figured it out and, as a matter of fact, goes in there daily now to eat peacefully alone.
Here's the problem. Llamas are crazy smart. Within the first hour, my Cherokee, original female llama on my farm from 1993 -- was INSIDE the creep feeder. Honestly people. I could barely fit through the opening when I crawled through. How the heck did a gi-normous llama get IN there? How? I ask you?
We had to dismantle the thing to get her out. Geesh.
So we made the opening even smaller with the use of yellow baling rope. I still have Piper going in there (smallish adult female alpaca) but at least no more llamas have gone in. Yet.
The best laid plans of mice and women . . . I suppose.