Friday, March 30, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: Blowing their Coat

The Tibetan Mastiffs started shedding a little at the beginning of March,

but then began blowing their coat a couple of weeks later.

If you've never experienced dogs blowing their coat before, it's essentially shedding in over-drive.  The undercoat was coming off in fist-fuls.

The fur just flew off of them when they would shake or run around.  Our yard has looked like a crime scene for the last couple of weeks.

I have been plucking and saving what I can from the dogs.   Noodle rather likes the plucking and will remind me that it's her turn.  Wonton doesn't care much for it... it's almost like she knows she has the good stuff and doesn't want me to have it.

Thankfully, they're pretty much done shedding now.  I have to say, I kind of like this idea of being completely finished with shedding in a few weeks.  It's definitely a benefit of having Tibetan Mastiffs.

I have been able to collect about 1 1/2 lbs of fur from the two dogs.  For the most part this is black fur with a two-inch staple and a gentle crimp.

Noodle and the bag of collected fur

I spun some golden Tibetan Mastiff for our breeder last summer, so I am looking forward to spinning some of our own... perhaps for this year's Tour de Fleece.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Refining My Yoga Practice

Over the last month I have been focused on refining my new yoga practice.

I love the ritual of Bikram Yoga.  It's the same every time, but it's different within that structure.

The order is the same.  The postures are the same but how I am able to perform them is different for each class.  I think this sameness is a useful tool for gauging how I'm improving.

It's dependent upon how I slept, whether I'm properly hydrated or nourished and how well I am able to leave my "stuff at the door."  That being said, I have experienced a lot of improvement in my postures over the last month.

I have seen that some foods (bacon) are not good for yoga day.  Much like when I was a regular runner and learned that something with green chile (one of the world's most divine foods, right behind chocolate) is probably not the best choice for a pre-workout meal either.  ;-)

My pain, strength, flexibility and mental calmness continue to improve and my class days are pretty well set now.  Although, I missed both classes last week.  :-/  That's something to focus on for April, I suppose.  ;-)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: Uninspired

I have been feeling uninspired about fiber over the last several weeks.  So much that I feel I've done more frogging than anything...

You may remember my Challah Socks... they still look like this:

This nearly became a hat:

I played around with this for a couple of days, but didn't like how the colors were knitting up:

And now I have an overwhelming urge to rip out my Surprise Scarf:

My vision of this project was initially to be woven.  However, my loom is still disassembled.  I decided to make it as a knitting project, but it just doesn't feel right.  It's going on the shelf for a while.  Which means I have nothing on the needles right now.  :-/

I am spinning a little Via Verde Alpaca-Silk, which is yummy,

and skirting my own alpaca fleece, which is fun,

but both are going slowly.

It's a good thing I had a great thrifting day last weekend, otherwise I might feel completely uninspired.

Although, I am half-thinking about making a uterus...

Be sure to join me in reading the Fiber Arts Friday blogs linked in over at Wisdom Begins in Wonder.  Certainly there is something inspiring to be found there.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Cria are Coming!

Yep!  We had our vet out today along with a 3rd year veterinary student.  :-)

We gave everyone their annual CDT vaccination and did a few other things.  Then we ultrasounded (that's not a verb, but you know what I mean) our "pregnant" girls.

All of our lady alpacas and a little bit of Wonton's head

They confirmed that three girls are pregnant and the-one-we-thought-probably-wasn't, isn't.

Since I'm not well trained on alpaca anatomy or how to read an ultrasound, I pretty much only saw a bunch of dark and light areas on a screen.  But I did see the heart beat for one of the cria and the complete head of another, which was pretty cool.

Clementine and Kocoa

Confirmed Pregnant:
  • Enchanted Sky's Kocoa Moon and Blue Mesa Yoda (Yoda's first)
  • Qaint Keyla and Enchanted Sky's Charlie Brown (Charlie's first)
  • Alpacamundo's Frieda and Smokey's Bandit at Pastoral Profits (Frieda's first)
Frieda is the first of our farm's offspring to be confirmed pregnant... so will that make me something of an Alpaca Grandmother?  ;-)

Keyla, Apple, Frieda, Daisy

The three cria are due in early October.  Yay!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Last weekend my BFF and I went to a few Consignment and Antique Stores.  We had a general idea of the sort of things we were looking for, but neither of us had been to these stores so we had no idea what we might find.

Normally, I don't enjoy shopping, but there's something about used items that I love and, well... when I find wonderful things that MUST come home with me, then it's a whole lot more fun.  :-D

I'm so excited about these items, that I had to share...

First, a couple of jars and a canister.

The canister is, in fact, called a Fresh-O-lator.  I assumed people put things like lettuce in them to keep it in the refrigerator, like those fresh-keeper bags you can buy today.  But a little research indicates it was intended for storing coffee.  I am using it to store corn meal.

The blue jar is reminiscent of the big green jar that used to belong to my Grandmother and it's few siblings that I found on another thrifting adventure years ago.  Though it is much more fancy.  ;-)

I just went gaga over the red jar.  I hadn't seen anything like it before.

Don't my new jars look happy with my old ones?  They have replaced a couple of uninspired jars that were holding pinto beans and lentils.

My other amazing find is this cedar chest.

The shop owners are converting from a consignment furniture store to a restaurant and will only be open for a couple more weeks, so the price... well, I won't tell you, but I was given a VERY good deal.

According to the original tags, the chest was built prior to January 1957.  It has a little damage to the veneer, but wow it's in amazing shape... and looks awesome in front of my sofa.  :-)

My BFF and I found it to be quite funny that we've been friends for ages, we both enjoy Thrifting but didn't know that about each other until a few weeks ago.  So now we're making plans for our next adventure.  :-)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

LGD: One Year Together

This month marks one year of living with Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGD).

A little more than a year ago, we picked out a pair of Tibetan Mastiff Half-Sisters... Wonton and Noodle.

Noodle (L) and Wonton (R) - April 2011

Our girls turned a year old in December, but like most large breeds, they wont be fully mature until they are closer to 2 years old.  So imagine, if you will, a home with two teenage girls.  ;-)

Noodle (L) and Wonton (R) - February 2012

They are the best of friends.  They love to chase and wrestle with each other... as they have since the very beginning... and I've (apparently) commented on it in each and every post I've made about them.  They occasionally have big disagreements.  They will fiercely protect each other, the alpacas and us... and they both have a big crush on the handsome Rottweiler that lives next door.

They are not on full-time duty yet since there are a few things we are still coaching them on:
  • It's ok for the neighbor and his dogs to be in their own yard
  • People walking down the street on the other side of our neighbor's property are not a threat
  • Hot Air Balloons are not a threat
They have learned a few things on their own though:
  • Rabbits, Cats and Squirrels are not a threat
  • Raccoons are very much a threat
  • Stray dogs and people on our property are a threat
  • People who are introduced by us are friends
  • Dogs and People they meet on a walk are also friends
They have different roles when it comes to protecting the herd.  Noodle is always on the front line.  Wonton is always the one to round up the alpacas.  She then backs up Noodle but continually checks that all of the alpacas are herded up and fully accounted for.

It was actually a little entertaining the first time they did this, because Keyla (our oldest alpaca) did not want to be rounded up.  Wonton gave her quite a scolding until she got up and joined the other alpacas in the loafing shed.

The good thing is that since we got our girls, we have not had any issue with stray people or dogs on our property.  Which means the alpacas are safer.  Which is the point.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: My Awesome Sweater

As Spinster Beth astutely noted several weeks ago, the sweater I was wearing in a photo is awesome.  :-)

It was one of the first gifts that Hubba ever gave to me... back before he was Hubba or even Fiance.

This sweater has been well loved for more than 15 years... and it shows.  As such, Hubba and I have been looking for an appropriate replacement.  But no luck thus far.

So I have been thinking a lot about making it into a new sweater.

It's always been too big.  So I think that if I take it apart I could knit it into a sweater that fits better.  Then it could live on, which would make both of us happy.  :-)

The challenge then is to find a pattern that I want to make.

I like my clothes to be basically simple with an occasional pop or splash of fun.  So I've been thinking about a couple of ideas:
  • A basic crew or v-neck, slim sweater with the colors on the sleeves and maroon as the body
  • Something still simple but with a little fair isle or lopi going on around the neck and/or wrist
The yarn is pretty light weight so it would most likely be knit on a US2 (2.75mm) or US3 (3.25mm) needle.

I have been trying to eek one last winter out of it and figured I would start to disassemble the sweater in the spring... of course with the recent weather, now may count as spring.  ;-)

So I wonder, do you have any suggestions?  Do you have a perfect, simple sweater pattern that you love?

Of course since it's Fiber Arts Friday, be certain to visit everyone linked in over at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. :-)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Napping in the Sun

I've learned not to freak out when I see this...

Seeing an animal sprawled out and not moving is generally not a good sign.  But when it's a beautiful, spring day it's really hard to resist a good nap in the sun.

This morning, our two older girls were napping when I went out to do the chores.  I was able to rouse Kocoa before I got to the gate, but it took the dogs to wake Keyla.

Don't we all look a little dazed after being rudely woken-up from a good nap?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: St. Baldrick's

One of my very favorite friends is tremendously generous.  She is always giving of her time... volunteering and raising money for important causes.  Her most recent effort is for the St. Baldrick's Foundation.

We don't live near each other anymore...  I miss her very much...  She's shaving her head today...  It's still winter...  I think her head might get cold...  I made this hat...

The yarn is merino + silk + baby alpaca.  So yummy, soft and squishy.

It should keep her bald head nice and warm.  :-)

Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Things that Work: Non-Spillable Dog Bowls

It's been such a long time since I've posted about anything that works.  I'm sad to say that it's not because I've been lazy.  :-/  Sometimes it seems that I could write a weekly post about stuff that doesn't work.  But today, I have something that really works.  :-)

Our dogs had been spilling their food.  A lot.  Sometimes I think it was an accident, but usually I think it was out of protest.  They would spill their food, then they wouldn't eat it because it's dirty.  This is frustrating, because they will eat alpaca (or horse or cow) manure, but not dirty kibble.  :-/

We had been using the standard-issue, stainless-steel dog bowls that we've had for years.  Until a few weeks ago.  Hubba decided they HAD to have something better at the pet supply store.

So we went over and started flipping bowls.  A clerk finally came over and asked if he could help us.  :-)

We settled on these wide-bottom stainless-steel bowls...

You can't flip them over unless you pick them up... and since dogs don't have thumbs, they can't pick them up.  ;-)

It's now been about two weeks since we've had to do our daily kibble sweep.  Hubba thinks we'll save money on dog food.  I think he might be right.  ;-)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Amazing Weather

The weather has been amazingly nice.

It will probably become an issue because the lakes never fully froze over this winter and they certainly won't now that winter is waning.  The good news though is that we've had a lot of snow and March is typically our snowiest month.  We even have a little snow in the forecast this week, but in the meantime, it's practically spring.

Sunday had us in the mid 50's by mid-morning and the low-60's by the afternoon.

I had thoughts of wearing shorts out to do the farm chores.  But opted for jeans, summer boots and a short-sleeved t-shirt.

After doing the regular weekend chores, I added a few wheel-barrows of alpaca manure to our young trees

and cleaned the remaining weeds out of the veggie garden.

I don't think you can see in the second photo, but the ground is quite soft and now full of my foot prints.  I may be able to start digging in that huge pile of manure next weekend.

I was also pleased to notice that the Little Maple is preparing to bud.  I was concerned about this little guy, but it seems to be doing ok.  :-)

I got the slightest bit of a sunburn on my neck and was covered in dirt by the time I was finished.  It sure felt good.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Missing Person is Found: Rocky Reynecke

Updated: May 16, 2012.  Rocky has been found.  Post here.

Original Post: March 5, 2012

My friend's son, Rocky Reynecke (aka Roland Louw) went missing on February 4th, 2012.

He is white, male, 27 years old, 6'1", 185 lbs, green eyes and light brown hair.

He is originally from South Africa but most recently has been living near Houston, Texas.

If you know Rocky, ask him to please call his family.  If you think you've seen him, please call the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department... 936-760-5800.


For more information: facebook, blog

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Is There a Restaurant Nearby That You Like?

Hubba and I headed out to one of our favorite restaurants on Friday night... Tasty Harmony in Fort Collins.

We forgot it was Great Plates, so they were slammed and had a line.  We weren't in the mood to wait, so we decided to walk around a little... but as I said, it was Great Plates and it was Friday night and it seemed that everyone was slammed.
Great Plates is a two week festival of sorts, highlighting some of the restaurants in Downtown Fort Collins.  30 restaurants are participating this year. Each puts together special dishes highlighting things about their place and offers it at a significant discount.  It continues for another 10 days, so we will participate... we just weren't in the mood for waiting on Friday.
So we went to the Book Store.  I had heard great things about Old Firehouse Books.  I follow them on Twitter.  I had tried to find the store a few times... it was always cold and I didn't have anything in particular I was looking for, so I hadn't been successful.  But this time, I had their address.  It turns out I was really close, but I kept turning right when I should have been turning left.  doh.

The book store was great.  There's an adjoining tea house.  They have a terrific selection of new and used books and the place is completely accessible.

We found a few books that came home with us...

The clerk was very friendly.  Which honestly is always the case... It seems that people are always friendly where ever we go.  Have I mentioned here how much I love being back in Colorado?

So we asked her, "Is there a restaurant nearby that you like?"

She listed off a few places that we had already tried then said, "Oh if you like Chinese Food, I really like Taipan.  It's in the parking garage."

"In the parking garage?  Yeah, let's go there!"  No, I'm not being sarcastic.  :-)

It was a two-block walk and yes, it's in the parking garage...

It turns out that this is the back door.  They do have a proper store front that is street-facing.

It was delicious, with a nice ambiance and great service.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: Oh, the Heartbreak

Last Friday I showed you my wonderfully fitting sock that was just a tiny bit tight getting over my heel.

I said that I would tink back a few rounds so that I could knit the leg on larger needles to resolve that problem.  Then I realized it would be more like 20 rounds of tinking and therefore decided to rip them out and return the sock to the needles.

There was only one problem...

I couldn't get the sock back on the needles.  :-/

So, in a very short period of time, I went from this...

to this...


Just so you know, this heartbreak could have been avoided had I used a few life lines along the way.  Lesson learned.... again.  Hopefully it sticks this time.  ugh.

I'm certain you'll see much more productive fiber-y goodness if you head over to Wisdom Begins in Wonder for Fiber Arts Friday.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Signs of Spring

It's March 1st.  There are still more than two months of hard-freezes to go, but the signs of spring are showing up all over the place...

Chicks at the feed store.  Sorry, I forgot to take photos, but they were very cute.  :-)

Trees preparing to bud:

Hyacinth poking up through the ground:

Grass turning green:

Dogs beginning to shed:

Charging the battery on the lawn mower:

The requisite broken thing related to said lawn mower:

Yes, that used to be an iPhone.  Hubba dropped it while mowing our field.  Then accidentally ran over it.

Happy Almost Spring!