It was a beautiful scene outside the French doors yesterday morning. I had just filled the bird feeders the eve before and the commotion at dawn was enough to bring the cats to the window. Out by the lilac bushes, not twenty feet away, stood the most magnificent deer. Graceful in her movements, her towering frame was gentle and regal. Mourning doves hopped by. I love how they’d rather hop than fly! Hundreds of sparrows and finches filled the quince bush singing their praises and no doubt sharing the latest gossip as they reconvened, chatting and hooting with laughter. What a wonderful little mini-farm!
I hope to have these same views on our next homestead along with a few others. Those of alpacas! We are vegetarian homesteaders. Having a lot of cows or pigs would just be silly, as they would become spoiled pets who ate more than any teenager! And Doug draws the line at having cows in the living room. We do hope to get a few goats for milk, more chickens for eggs and entertainment, and alpacas. Fiber animals earn their keep by donating to us their haircut every year. They feel better, less hot, and we have lots of wonderful fiber to spin into glorious yarn.
Now mind you, I don’t know how to spin yet…or how to dye yarn, or really how to knit….or how to take care of alpacas! But this year we are learning. I did do a spinning lesson, one, and was quite horrid at it. It is a smooth repetition, one that requires your foot and hand to move simultaneously while spinning the fleece into a beautiful length of yarn. I am taking lessons this year and getting a spinning wheel. I hope the cats don’t like it too much. It is hard to do fiber arts with cats!
Many of the herbs that we use for medicine would also be great to make natural dyes out of. I am anxious to try. Black Walnut would be a lush brown, Goldenrod for yellow…would beet juice turn the yarn pink? Oh, I do hope so. So much to find out! What fun in the process!
We go to every Alpaca fair that comes through. This is an active community of alpaca farmers. We visit with everyone so that when we are ready to get our boys, we will have established a relationship with people who can help us get a few. They teach us a lot in the meantime and we are trying to be as prepared as possible. It would seem silly to have alpacas in town in our backyard so we will have to wait until we get our homestead. (“No officer, that is a dog. An odd type of Afghan hound…”)
Doug even came up with a fabulous, sure to be a hit product (now don’t steal the idea!), PacyWoo. That’s right, alpaca and sheep fleece spun together to make a wonderful, warm, and sturdy yarn that is soft and unique. We sit around day dreaming quite a lot in case you didn’t notice.
We went to visit our friends at Falkor Ranch who have seventy five alpacas. It was a bitter cold morning but we trudged out to their farm for our visit. We want to see as many farms as we can before we get our own. Two beautiful white dogs came to greet us, tails wagging. Their parents were surprised as the dogs are often aloof. They must have sensed our childlike wonder and mistook us for seven year olds. We snuggled with them before heading over to the alpacas.
Alpacas are sweet, gentle animals. Buck teeth, soft fleece, and the unmistakable appearance of those marionette puppets they sell at fairs. They hum. A gentle hmmm, hmmm, as if they are thinking and are nervous. We were surrounded by an overload of cuteness and our hearts warmed our extremities. As Doug was scrunching Noah’s thick fleece, Diane said nonchalantly, “When you get your own animals you will have to be careful not to mat their coat!” We both jumped back looking as if we just got caught stealing. She showed us how to properly look at their coat and taught us a bit about fleece grades and textures. We went home with a Marans chocolate egg and a pair of alpaca socks. What a treat!
We learned a few things while visiting her farm. We saw a great design of a greenhouse, her dome filled with delicious vegetables even this time of year. We learned that in order to be a self sufficient farm we have to grow our own feed for our animals. One cannot do this in Colorado. We learned that roosters can fertilize any breed of egg. We learned about Marans. We learned that goats are eternally naughty. I mentioned to Diane casually as we were leaving, “Is that goat supposed to be eating that tree?” She shot off fast chasing the culprits away from the sleeping fruit trees. We learned that Akbash dogs are a strong possibility as a farm dog for us. We learned that alpacas are some of the cutest creatures God made up and we are excited to share our journey with them. Snuggling live puppets while making fantastic yarn. Someday…..