Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Alpacas are Here

After more than 2 years of thinking, hoping, planning and doing... the alpacas are here.  Hubba and I have our very own farm in Northern Colorado and we are officially full-time alpaca breeders.

The pictures are a bit dark, but here are some from their arrival tonight.

Dick Hegeman's Rig.

Our grey herdsire, Bandit.

Our first, Charlie Brown.

Dick with our first cria, Augustus, and me in the background with Yoda.

My Sweet Jane with Captain Jack exiting the trailer.

My teacher, Keyla.

Kocoa Moon and Frieda in the background.

Our light fawn herdsire, Flamenco, or Phil as he's commonly known.

Many thanks to Dick Hegeman of Alpacas in the Forest for the expert and safe transport from Santa Fe today.  And of course, thank you to Bob and Louise Hazen of Blue Mesa Alpacas for taking such great care of our herd over the last year.

The Alpacas are Coming - part 2

With the alpacas on their way today, I've been reflecting on the last couple of years...

We bought our first alpaca in September 2007.  His name is Charlie Brown and I was in love.  He was 2 weeks old and oh so cute.  I had intended to name all of our cria after other Peanuts characters because I have loved them since I can remember. 

Of course, two years and five cria later, not a single one has been named after anyone in the Peanuts gang.

We named our first Augustus.  He was a strapping boy, screaming white and born in August 2008.

Then came Daisy, named for my mom's favorite flower.

Frieda was our first 2009 cria.  My husband named her after a favorite artist of his sister.

Eduardo was born during Senator Ted Kennedy's funeral.

Our most recent cria is Captain Jack who's name was chosen as the winning entry in our Name the Alpaca contest.

We have two cria due in 2010.  One maiden will be coming of age in the spring.  We also have an older dam who we are slowing down to be bred or nursing, but not both.

Our herd is now a baker's dozen at 13 alpacas.  They will be here in a couple of hours.  We are ready to receive them. 

Things that Work - ATV

With the need to feed and clean-up after alpacas coupled with a little more snow than we're used to, we had to get Hubba a tool to help with the ranch chores when I am out of town.  I learned that you can get attachments for ATV's such as snow blowers and plows. 

We weren't really sure how much these things would cost, but figured an ATV would be a better investment than a snow blower... at least with the ATV we could haul things and use it to get around the farm in all seasons.

We found a used ATV in town that already had a winch and plow installed.  Hubba's been practicing with it the last couple of days and now has zero issue reaching the corrals.

Looking for Bunnies

Last week I took our dog out to the pasture for some "first tracks."

He loves playing in the snow almost as much as he loves Hubba and chasing bunnies. 

He found a scent.  We have a lot of Cotton-tails on our place.

The scent must be really strong here, he stuck his entire head in the snow and rooted around for quite a while.

To my knowledge he has never caught a rabbit, but that does not interfere with his love of the chase.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Loafing Sheds and Corrals are Complete

Finally, we are ready to receive the alpacas.  All that remains is paint, which may not happen prior to the alpacas arrival next week.

Corrals and Sheds for the Big Boys and Little Boys.

Corral and Loafing Shed for the Moms and Crias.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Spinning Again

With everything that's been going on this year, I haven't spun since the Alpaca-Bunny Smackdown last summer.  So, last weekend I decided it was time to bring out my wheel and spin a little.

I have nearly one pound of wool-mohair roving that I purchased at the 2008 Taos Wool Festival.  I bought this roving because I love the winter white color and the mohair gives it a soft luster. 

See more Fibery posts on the Fiber Arts Friday Blog Carnival over at Alpaca Farm Girl here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Adaptive Ski Program

While returning home from a meeting in Albuquerque last week, I sat next to a couple of Adaptive Ski Program colleagues on the plane.  It was great to catch up and of course our conversation brought back many happy memories for me.

I had the priviledge of volunteering with ASP for eight years. I primarily taught students with congitive injuries at the Santa Fe Ski Basin.

Using Edgie-Wedgie and Reins

It's called adaptive, because we could adapt to the needs of our students.  We had all kinds of great tools to help students experience the freedom of skiing and grow their skills.

Early on I helped out with bi- and mono-ski lessons, did a few cognitive-only seasons then settled into 3- and 4-track.   In the picture above, my student is able to stand and balance on his own, but not able to control his skis, so we used edgie-wedgies to tie the tips of his skis together and reins to guide him down the mountain.

The Adaptive Ski Program provides private ski lessons to people with all kinds of physical and congnitive disabilities and is staffed with over 200 volunteer instructors, equipment managers and coordinators.  The Adaptive Ski Program teaches at Santa Fe Ski Basin and Sandia Peak Ski Area and is celebrating it's 25th anniversary this year.

Ski Instructors, in the US are certified through the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Alpacas are Coming

The health certificates and transport are scheduled.  The loafing sheds and fencing are nearly complete.

We have been dreaming and working toward this day for more than 2 years.

The alpacas are coming home the week after Christmas.

Some of our girls at their current home: Blue Mesa Alpacas, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Loafing Sheds - Almost Done

Mom and Cria Shed

We broke ground for our initial corrals and loafing sheds in early November.  Progress is reported here and here.

The sides and roof are installed, which means only the shingles and paint remain.

Front View

Big and Little Boy Sheds

Once the shingles are complete, we will install the fencing.

View from House

It's 12 degrees F, snowing with about 4 inches on the ground as I write this.  Fortunately the weather forecast is great for next weekend and alpacas aren't coming until early January.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fiber Arts Friday - Black Friday Edition

Check out the Fiber Arts Friday Posts over at Alpaca Farm Girl today.  If you're interested in hand-spun or home-made gifts or supplies, this is a great place to start.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


On January 1st of this year I posted about Resolutions

I've never really been a New Year's Resolutions kind of girl.  I am however, very goal oriented and am happy to see that my current aspirations are in line with what I stated earlier this year.

I also find it interesting that the only goal I wrote will be achieved before this year is finished.  It was first on my list.

The others are more of a process.  A continual stride for improvment.  Things I always feel a need to work on.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Thank a Farmer this Thanksgiving.  I think it's a great idea.

You can participate on Twitter and Facebook.  Here's how.

Hat tip to Katy Spears for filling me in.

Things that Work - Rubber Pants

It's mud season in Northern Colorado.

Mud and wheelchairs do not go together very well.

Since Hubba uses a chair to get around and we are on the verge of being full-time alpaca ranchers, we needed to find a solution.  STAT.

Hubba set up one of his old chairs to be the outdoor chair. The outdoor chair keeps the mud and snow from being tracked into the house, but does not keep it off his clothes.

So when we were at a feed store this past weekend looking for fencing supplies, I found a rack of rubber pants. At $20 a pair, we decided to give it a try.

I am happy to say that after 6 hours of fence repair on Sunday, the pants work.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Dog We Should Have Named Houdini

We have a dog who is an escape artist. 

He can get out of almost anything.  He prefers to dig under the fence and take our other dog out for an adventure.  Fortunately, he loves Hubba more than anything on earth so he is happy to come home and hasn't gotten into any real trouble (so far). 

Hubba leashed him to a fence post.  Houdini ate the leash.

Hubba changed the leash to a cable.  Houdini found a way out of his collar.

Hubba changed the collar to a harness, tied the collar to the harness and even put two harnesses on his dog at the same time.  Houdini found a way out of all of them.

Sometimes Houdini would get out of the harness or collar and stay in the yard.  I think just to make a point. 

This dog has been able to get out of every collar and harness hubba tried, save one.

When he could no longer go on his unsupervised adventure by going under the fence and losing his collar, he went through the fence.

We don't like the idea of leashing our dog when he's in our yard, so this weekend we improved the fence on the dog corral.

We took fencing and layed it on the ground against the vertical fencing.  Lashed it together and secured with landscape pins.  Houdini wasn't very excited about the work we were doing.

We will bring in some fill dirt to bury the horizontal fencing and straw to make it comfortable.

Hopefully this battle of wills is over.  But only time will tell.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Alpaca Loafing Sheds - 50% complete

Today, the alpaca loafing sheds are just over half way done. 

Our most recent snow has not melted very quickly which is making the pasture and corral area extremely muddy.  Our carpenter's truck got stuck in the mud, so we will have to re-seed some in the spring.

Boys' sheds framed out.

Our carpenter used hurricane ties as part of the contstruction. 
I think is a good idea since we can have 90 mile per hour gusts here sometimes.

Mom and cria shed with the roof installed.

All three sheds have the roof and tar paper installed and the shingles and sides should be complete in a couple of weeks.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I saw an Eclipse

I spent close to eight years working on a dream. It was Vern Raburn's dream and I bought it hook, line and sinker.

Our mission was to change the way people travel. Many said it couldn't be done. However, a lot of us spent most of our waking hours making it happen.

Eclipse Aviation's Type Certificate and Production Certificate were history making.  The 500 is the quietest and most fuel-efficient jet ever produced.  Even with the final price being more than twice the original, at $2.7M it is still the least expensive new jet on the market.

In the end, Eclipse Aviation filed for CH7 Bankruptcy and was sold to a group of customers for a small fortune. The new company is called Eclipse Aerospace. They are servicing the existing 500 fleet and have plans to restart production in the future.

I write this post because I saw an Eclipse 500 as I was leaving the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport yesterday.

It was the first time I had seen one since I left Eclipse and Albuquerque earlier this year. I couldn't help but smile. I loved the plane and the company, I learned much while there and I greatly admire the drive and belief of my fellow Eclipsers.

The pictures below are of production #13. It was my first and only ride on the aircraft I dedicated 8 years to. It was an honor to work on this product and it will always have a special place in my heart.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Legos and Alpacas

Well actually, Nano Blocks and Alpacas; but to me, Legos are like Band-Aids and Kleenex... way more than a brand. 

As a kid I loved legos.  As an adult, I still love putting things together and of course, I love alpacas.  So this is two loves coming together, from a country that I also love.

A friend from work took a trip to Japan recently and brought home an Alpaca Nano Block kit.

Aside from the name, everything is in Japanese, which I am unable to read.

Fortunately, the instructions also came with pictures.

Yes, I'm a recovering engineer.  All of my pieces must be sorted before I can start.

My prized lego alpaca on the shelf of honor.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

We are Blessed

Twelve years ago we said, "I do."

Today?  We still do.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Loafing Sheds - In Progress

Last week we finally started work on our loafing sheds and corrals.  This week, the sheds are nearly framed out.

For the moms and crias.

Two seperate corrals and sheds for the big boys and little boys.

Since one of our herd sires can be aggressive when there are open females around, we decided to seperate the boys and girls with the hay barn.

The girl's corral is also closest to the house so we can keep an eye on any near term mothers when the time is right.  Though, our next cria aren't due in September 2010.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Broken Ground

We have (finally) started work on our alpaca loafing sheds and corrals.

Before we started.

Our neighbor has a bobcat with an auger.

22 holes in one hour.

Setting the posts.

Installing gates.

Two gates and all posts set by afternoon.

The framing of the loafing sheds will begin this week.