Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fleece, fleece and more fleece

Four solid days of shearing at the farm last week. Enormous thank yous to the wonderful volunteers who helped things move so smoothly.

Several home school groups came to volunteer. Within a short time some of the older students were preparing syringes for the deworming injections, and a few even gave a shot or two.

It rained nearly every single day, which is never a good idea. But mostly the gang stayed dry in the barn.

Folks brought delicious food to share -- and the lunches were scrumptious.

We also had several school groups visit during shearing. A preschool group from St. Teresa School in Belleville; a "moms of toddlers" group; Mrs. Price's class from Illini School; and the wonderful helpers from Belleville East. They made walking sticks; met the animals and shearer; took pictures in front of the tipi; and ate lunch in the yard.

Shearing is a busy, busy time here. And a special "tip of the hat" to the members of the Artisan Guild of Southern IL. Those folks can WORK. They caught animals, caught fiber, and sorted and weighed volumes of individual fleeces. Way to go!

Every year when shearing is done I say, "I'm never going to do this again."

Until next year, I guess.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I have been discouraged lately. I have had some "animal issues" here on the farm. Big time stuff. A young alpaca cria with a broken leg; some sick animals; dumping is rampant (on me -- animals being "gifted" to me); not to mention a couple of birthing issues.

Seems that I am spending a lot of time at the veterinarian recently. Good thing she's reasonably priced and very compassionate.

I've also been discouraged about the prices of alpacas and llamas.

I send out a monthly newsletter. I have a website. I am out in the community on a regular basis. I have school tours here at the farm.

And yet -- I have few new customers and not much "foot traffic" coming to the farm to purchase animals.

I have found myself discouraged by those in the industry that I consider friends -- people who undercut my prices; sell to my customers; even "steal" my customers.

It's been difficult to remain positive. There has been one "bright spot." My Goodness -- an 8-year-old female alpaca who has never had a baby -- she had a baby! Thanks to my friend, Tammy D., Goodness went over to her place a year ago for breeding. It happened!

Goodness doesn't look anything like her baby. She is light fawn. He is solid black with white "shoes." I named him Zapato.

A silver lining in the dark clouds of rain and storms? I sure hope so.