We are finally caught up with the farm stuff. We are now awaiting the contractor, which will be doing the drainage job around the barn. In the meantime, we are taking advantage of doing regular chores, like feeding, watering, mowing, etc., etc. We can jump in the car and go to do something anytime we take a fancy...or something comes up.....Just like REGULAR PEOPLE!
We finally got into the pool last night at 10:30 PM and boy...was the water ever warm. We swam around with the dogs circling the pool as we swam, with Casey Mae coming in one time; just to let us know she could still swim.
We finished the fencing around the brooding house and turned the birds loose; both the meat birds and the Araucanas which will be our laying birds. They will not have to be separated until we start feeding the high protein meat bird feed, but it will then be time to introduce the new layers into the big barn population anyway. They will be young pullets, just learning chicken culture for another several months before starting to produce eggs for us in late January sometime. Until then, they will simply be an eating...pooping machine.
The fence turned out quite nicely...with a perimeter of approximately 75 to 100 linear feet, around the outside...more than enough for them to range around and eat ants, bugs and greens to grow healthy before processing, making them superior table fare for our customers.
Yesterday, our friend Isabelle, whom we asked to watch or preferably find another Suri for us, came over to visit. She brought an idea for a table-top, yarn swift for me to look at and measure up. I will be making some type of a yarn swift, fiber combs and possibly other fiber/spinning appliances to be sold in our farm store, at the farmers market and on-line. Before looking at the yarn swift model she brought, she wanted to talk to us about our alpacas and inform us that she found not one, but two beautiful Suri’s that a friend wanted to get rid of in an effort to reduce his large herd to a more manageable size.
We were elated to see the paperwork & pictures of a redhead and a pure white pair of males that will be delivered soon! Isabelle is such a great friend...going with us almost every Friday to Vermont and northern New York, when we go for product...sharing the day talking and laughing as we go. She understands our love of the farm and the alpacas...not as a money making entity, but for the love of caring for them and having them close to us...mooing...softly as the browse grass in the back yard, contentedly knowing they are safe with us, as we care for them. Isabelle is not only helping us to achieve this peaceful solitude for ourselves, but for herself every time she visits us and she also finds satisfaction in helping us to expand the farm...as she remembers doing the same herself, years ago. Our reward...as care takers for these inquisitive, docile creatures is the rich fiber they render to us each year at shearing time. If we can endure the cost of feeding throughout the winter, shearing costs, cleaning and processing of the fiber and the cost of dying, spinning and producing a finished yarn or piece of clothing as a finished product...then it was all worth it! It is an expensive endeavor, unlike the peek through the rose colored glasses of many alpaca breeders. There was a pyramid effect which gripped the industry early on....setting higher than normal prices for these previously mentioned exotics, recently renamed as livestock by the 2008 Federal Farm Bill. Now the bottom has all but fallen out of that market and breeders are no longer selling animals...getting anything for their fiber and cannot afford to process fiber from massive herds of...usually over 45 animals. They are being swallowed up by rising costs and no income. Only the oldest of breeders made their killing in the big money market...selling animals at the high prices with promises to buyers that alpaca breeding was the way to go. Now, they are finally trying desperately, to create and expand a fiber market to get rid of the product of their animals.
Alpaca fiber will be a major market someday soon, but until then, we must learn to survive.
040867 Cluckin' "A" Critter Farm, LLC