A Looming Adventure

 

loomY’all know I am always up for a new hobby.  My friend, Lisa (our California vacation host), came to Colorado to clear out her daughter’s storage unit.  Her daughter is in Asia teaching English.  She doesn’t want to give up the loom, Lisa doesn’t want to ship it to China, so guess who is going to hold onto it?

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I have always been interested in looms.  I love the large, elaborate one at Los Golondrinas in New Mexico.  I had sheep, Sven and Olaf, to try my hand at sheering and wool though we lost our rented farm when they were only six months old and had to give them up.  We had two ornery alpacas that kicked.  They are now lawn mowers in Limon.  I bought and sold two spinning wheels that went to friends for between nothing and cheap.  Just the wrong timing for me in the world of fiber arts.  Heck, I can’t even knit.  I can crochet a bit though.  And I have studied the herbs to grow to use as natural dyes.  And I love yarn.  And once I get into our new homestead next Thursday I will try to figure out this lovely loom.

Learning Homesteading Skills (finding teachers)

Our grandparents knew how to do all these things.  Mine laughed when I wanted a farm and wondered why.  Growing up on farms and in the country, in hard times, with so much work, it baffled them that I would run off to the lifestyle that they left willingly.  The skills from that generation and beyond become more and more lost.  No one taught me how to milk a goat when I was a child (which would have been nice since I will be milking in a few short weeks!), no one taught me to garden, or to spin, or to can, or to take care of one day old chicks.  There was no reason to in the middle of Denver!  Over the past years I have tried to accumulate these skills.

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I started with books.  Lots of books.  We are avid readers over here anyway, so I may as well be learning while reading.  And indeed I have picked up many great tips and tried and true ways of doing things from these books.  Many specific skill books though go in one eye and out of my memory faster than a three day old goat can elude me. (Man, they are fast!)

Things like knitting, milking, spinning, I need to see it.  I need to have someone show me step by step then I have it.  Most of the time.

IMG_0526Spinning was not working out for me.  My yarn looked like dreadlocks or clumps of fur.  It did not resemble anything looking like yarn.  My machine would not work.  My friend told me to pour a glass of wine.  I did.  Then I poured three.  Still couldn’t spin.  The spinning wheel anyway.  The teacher I had just kept saying I needed practice.  I could tell there was no more she could teach me.  I called my wine recommending friend.  She came over a week later.

She first noted that my machine was put together backwards.  That the break was on the wrong side.  The tension was all wrong.  She showed me the technique of spinning, which I knew but had been trying without good result.  I sighed and tried the wheel.  And spun.  Yarn.  It looks like yarn!  All I needed was a new teacher.

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In your community you will find people that do what you wish you could do.  Make cheese, spin, can, garden, make herbal medicines, make wine, any number of fabulous homesteading skills.  And most of them are happy to teach you.  You may have to pay a small fee for the lesson.  Or barter.  That is okay because the money you save and the joy you feel while mastering these skills outweighs forty bucks.

I teach canning, crocheting, high altitude baking, gardening, soap making, candle making, soft cheese making, herbal classes, and herbal body product classes.

I need to find a class on how to make hard cheese.  I suppose if I read the cheese making book I bought I can figure it out since I already know how to make soft cheeses.

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I need to learn to milk.  I milked a goat when I worked at an animal shelter some twenty years ago.  I wonder if I will remember.

I want to learn how to knit.  Books and teachers thus far have not been able to help.  Surely there is a patient lady out there with the perfect knitting needles to get me on my way to making socks and sweaters.

We signed up for a bee keeping class.

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I cannot wait to experiment with dying fiber.  I have many plans this year and I hope to teach all of them.  Of course, I could keep all these skills to myself and make money off of the canned goods, the yarn, the farming, the herbal medicines. And I will, because there are folks who would rather I do it.  But for those that want to learn, we must teach what we know.  We must share our knowledge.

And our lessons for the day summed up:

If first you don’t succeed, get another teacher.

Give a man a fish, and you have fed him once. Teach him how to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.

Alpaca Lessons

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They sure are cute.  That is about all I could tell you about alpacas before yesterday morning!  All Doug and I knew is we wanted one, or two, or fifty-five, but we’ll stick with two.  They look like marionettes who have lost their strings.  They hum.  Mmmm.  They are very sweet and timid.  We have been to every alpaca festival in a twenty mile radius for the past two years.

Alpacas

Alpacas

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A lot of people confuse alpacas for llamas.  I cannot tell you how many people have warned us about our upcoming alpacas!  Llamas are bred to be guard animals.  They are the junkyard dog of the barnyard world.  I have met very sweet llamas, but most are aloof and on the job 24/7.

Doug carrying a baby back after dental work.

Doug carrying a baby back after dental work.

Alpacas are skittish prey animals that provide the most luxurious fiber.  Imagine fiber as warm as wool but as soft as fleece.  My spinning wheel is waiting to make plush yarn that I will knit into soft, warm sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves, and socks.  As soon as I master spinning….and knitting…and taking care of alpacas.  They get sheared in the spring.

They can be snuggly though, I just had to learn how to handle them.  My first inclination was to pat their soft heads.  Which they immediately balked against being quite head shy.  We were told to reach out to their necks (this is easiest when they are on a harness) and put our face near theirs (which seemed aggressive, but apparently not) and blow softly into their face.  Softly, mind you, no talking, or excessive blowing.  They return the gesture with a soft kiss.  Delightful.  Thank God they don’t have the bad breath that llamas do.

We practiced cornering the two we are taking home Sunday and getting a harness on them.  Then we learned how to lead them around, then how to take the harness off again, all while keeping the seemingly upper hand.  Gentle does it with alpacas, and they responded well to us.

Introducing Ferdinand!

Introducing Ferdinand!

We clipped nails.  I couldn’t have imagined what the bottoms of their feet looked like.  I assumed a hoof or something.  But there is actually a large pad, much like a dog’s main pad on the bottom of their feet, with two nails that also look like a large dog’s.  We have to clip them with pruners and put a bit of muscle into it (which automatically made that Doug’s job) keeping them even with the pad.  They have a quick like cat’s and dog’s nails so we have to take care not to get overambitious.

Introducing Natali!

Introducing Natali!

We watched Natali, our three year old alpaca that we are getting, get gelded.  Sorry bud.  They were worried that as he gets a little older he will try to overpower the one year old, Ferdinand.  Which would be awkward and inappropriate having an alpaca attempting to ride the other around the back yard.  Snip.  Snip.

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This last week we were busy finishing their shelter.  We have to be pretty creative around here.  Remember, we live in town and cannot just erect full sheds and structures without permits and such.  We also don’t have a lot of money to spend on it.  So we viewed the space between the garage and the chicken coop with new light.  2x4s had been placed there when we moved in to stabilize the chicken coop.  It provided a place to put old metal sheeting on top to make a roof.  We then placed corn stalks from the garden on top to provide cushioning from sound (like hail or hard rain, spookable animals, remember) and then covered everything with a tarp that was securely fastened to the first board.  Another was added that hung down the back. We stacked straw bales along the tarp to create a wall.  A nice, snug, weather proof, wall that the chickens are enjoying nibbling.  We now have a shelter.  We have bowls.  We are so ready for the boys to come home Sunday!

Homesteading School

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“I am not able to can, I live in the city.”  The young lady stood in front of me shifting from one foot to the other in front of my booth.  She looked at our array of canned sweet apples, pickles, beets, zucchini, apricot syrup, just a bit of this and that from our root cellars.  They don’t look like the ones at the other booths at the farmers market.  Ours sport handwritten labels on clean glass canning jars without anything resembling a store shelf.  It makes people wonder while holding the glass orbs in their hands.  “You made this?”  No factory, no helpers, just a housewife in the kitchen putting up food for the winter.  An image that appeals to young and old that come by the booth.  “My grandmother used to can.”  “You are able to can zucchini?”  “This is spaghetti sauce?”

“I can teach you,” I say and their eyes light up.

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They say the economy is getting better but I am not sure how that can be.  I know an awful lot of people trying to hold onto jobs, keep their shops, keep their houses, keep their way of life but we are all being forced to make some decisions and go back in time a bit to a more simpler and, yes, easier time.  I may not know if we have to move or if we can afford to stay here, or what will happen, but I am preparing for slim pickin’s.  We will have food, that I can tell you.  This week I am canning carrots; brown sugar carrots for a delicious side dish and plain for stews.

Doug made me some beautiful brochures that I can distribute at farmers markets and to curious folks.  I am speaking at a few events this summer where I can share these brochures as well.  Besides telling about our apothecary, I am advertising about my homesteading school.  I will set up classes to teach people how to can, how to knit, crochet, spin, take care of chickens, garden in small spaces, make their own bread, make their own medicines, and inspire folks to become more self sufficient.  If we are more self sufficient, we are in a better place to help others and they can help those around them too.  We end up becoming a stronger community if we know these skills.  It takes the worry out of everyday life as well if you know you can make a sweater, pull out fish from the freezer, retrieve eggs from the chicken coop, or pick a lovely salad out of the pots on the front porch.  You worry just a smidge less.

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I keep thinking, ‘If I could just get somewhere that has a well, or that I can stay in for many years, that already has an orchard, that already has a root cellar, that I can afford easily….’  Acquaintances of ours have lost houses, animals, everything.  The fire wiped out over four hundred houses not far from us.  They had everything they wanted in a homestead, and in a second, it was gone.  Perhaps I should stop searching for the perfect because perfect is not guaranteed to last.  Perhaps my faith needs to get a bit stronger.  God has always provided.  And I can do my part by providing just as much for my family as possible.  And help others learn to do the same for theirs.  I have carrots to chop.  Have a blessed day!

Designer Yarn; short and sweet

Look what I learned to do!  This is what every spinner I have spoken to refers to as “designer yarn.”  They are not being smart-allecky.  Truly, this would crochet or knit up into a nice scarf, something very beautiful and unique.  And I have been told that once spinners get really good and have all the even, thin strands of perfect looking yarn they wish that they could still create some of the funky stuff.  It sells well, apparently.  Come to think of it, it is something I would buy!

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I also do not spin like I was taught.  As with everything, I have to trudge through and find my own way.  Instead of smooth, impressive motions of tapping the foot on the petal, spinning seamlessly while stretching the roving and releasing perfectly spun yard onto the bobbin, I step on the petal using my right hand to spin the wheel and get the yarn into the contraption.  Then I stretch the roving.  Stop.  Repeat.  It sounds like it would take a long time but I got this whole bobbin filled during So You Think You Can Dance.  I am ever so proud.

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I took the other three “skeins” (you’ll see why that is in quotes in a minute) and tied four little embroidery floss ties on them, washed them as directed, and stretched them over the back of the chairs to dry.  Basking in the glow of aptitude and success, I started dreaming about how popular my yarns will be.  Our blend of alpaca and wool together being called wittily, Pacywoo, as Doug named it.

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I decided I’d better check how long a skein is.  I stood with my mouth open at the bundles of yarn I bought.  150 yards.  200 yards.  Folks, if I tied all the ends together of the yarn I made I would have 12 yards!  What the…..?  How on earth does one get even 100 yards and still get it to fit in the front seat of the truck?  How do I get the ends together?  The bobbin is full and it is probably only five yards.  Oh, this is makes me anxious. I need to consult an expert!

In the meantime, I am pleased with how the yarn is coming along.  Look at how far I have come! Spinning my Wheel(s) and Alpaca Love .

The Original Homestead Checklist

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First gather your friends and build a fabulous structure out of mud.  The small windows on the outside are so that intruders cannot easily get in.  It keeps children from sneaking in past curfew as well.  The small door is opened so that people can come in and out.  If you open both gates you can let in people with their horses and all their stuff.  Being hospitable is always important when homesteading.

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The front room is where business would be conducted.  You could come and get herbs or herbal medicines from us.  Get your broken arm set, or we could fix a wound, send you home with something for your sick child.  It would also serve as a guest room if anyone doesn’t want to travel home after dinner. (It’s a long horseback ride to Colorado.)

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A watch tower to see how your animals are doing, see the whole compound, see if you are about to be attacked by Indians, or more relevant, by traveling salesmen and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

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The original kitchen.  The fireplace (kiva) is in the corner.  It serves as a cookstove by placing hot embers beneath pots.  The heat rises to the shepherd’s bed above.  We would put grandpa there, a sick child, or a new lamb to keep warm above the fireplace.

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I did barter for a hand grinder for grains so that will make my life a little easier, but one could always get a couple of flat rocks and grind the corn and grains into flour.  It wouldn’t kill me to work out a little anyway.

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This is Maryjane’s swing for when I am watching her while working in the kitchen.  It is covered in sheepskin to keep her nice and toasty.  Here is something I learned, see that black vase in the background?  I can still order olive oil and have it come up from Mexico on the Camino Real.  Or, if I am a little strapped for cash I can always use lard.  It might be hard to be a vegetarian on this homestead!

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These good looking men are standing in front of the hornos, the outdoor ovens.  Simply start a fire in them and close it up.  When it is down to embers, sweep the embers out and put a small piece of wool in there.  If it burns, it is too hot.  When the wool becomes a light cinnamon color it is ready to place bread into.  No heating up the kitchen!  I wonder if Doug will build me one.

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Coming out of my refrigerator.  I am afraid it was rather empty.  I won’t even ask if Doug will build me one of these.

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These are Churro sheep.  They have great, thick wool that makes wonderful blankets, and I will take their word for it, good meat.

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They were exceptionally friendly and Mark had a great time petting them through the fence and speaking softly to them.  It was nice to see him taking a break from video games and out seeing animals and history.

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How fitting that the weavers, carders, and spinners were there.  I learned how to card my future wool and turn it into roving.

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Imagine all the beautiful, natural plant dyes out there at my fingertips!  Many plants we use for medicine can also be used to turn yarn into lively colors.

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Welcome to my future homestead. (or a variation of it.) A gentleman that tagged along with our group was baffled with my absolute awe of everything.  He said, “You wanting to live like this would last one day.”  I answered a bit too quickly, “You don’t know me!”

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Pat and I taking a break from our many chores on the homestead.

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The weather here is so beautiful and the vacation is most appreciated!  If you are in Santa Fe, I recommend that you visit Las Golondrinas.  It is a wonderful place to see how things were a few hundred years ago.  There are many things that we could implement now.  Sometimes I suspect technology has actually made our lives more difficult instead of easier.  We are losing time, are frazzled, and it seems to take longer to do simple tasks.  Getting back to a simpler path is my goal for this year.  To find that homestead.  To live healthier and more free.  To find what I want and live it.  My birthday is tomorrow so this makes me think harder on what I want to do the next year.  I feel like life is short and if we want to live a particular way, we ought to get going on it!

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This is my new favorite saint, San Ysidro.  The patron saint of farmers.  May this year be the year that we get a farm!  Chase your dreams, friends!

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Catching Time…unplugging

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I want to feel satisfied as I fall into bed exhausted.  Complete in what I do.  Comforted in the thought that homesteading improves my lifestyle and mood, that I stay healthy, contribute to the health of animals, grow glorious food for my loved ones, prepare for accidents or Mother Nature or the Zombie Apocalypse, according to my dear friend, Erik, but also live a good life.  I want to lessen my footprint on this fine earth and live fully.  Busyness sneaks up.  Its eager eye on making me feel tired and blue instead of satiated.  It robs me of time to make gourmet dinners and practice all the skills I am learning.  Here I have learned all these much desired skills this winter with scarcely a moment to practice or put into place.

This winter I have learned to make soap, spin (somewhat…I am getting there), knit (crooked albeit), and play the fiddle.  I have designed two new businesses.  I have learned how to keep chickens in the past year and will learn how to keep bees this year.  I will intern with my friend in her greenhouse.  I have my shop in town.  I will be a friend, mom, wife, lover, grandma, and farmer/homesteader extraordinaire…..tomorrow.  Because busyness makes it tomorrow far too quickly.

So, I look around in vain trying to find the cause of my minutes flitting away.  I still wanted to take a cheese class!  I still want to go to college.  I still want to do farmer’s markets with Emily, Maryjane, Nancy, and Faleena.  What is taking so much time?  Granted I do hand wash laundry, try to do things slow, but something else is stealing in the shadows.

Then a revelation!  Lo and behold the thief comes to light.  Do I seriously need to check my email twenty-five times a day?  Check my blog to see if it is still there?  See what’s happening on Facebook?  Would it wait until the next morning?  Could I properly homestead, complete tasks that I desire to do, and have time for a chapter of my book and a glass of wine under the huge Elm tree if I didn’t continually stalk the internet?  What kind of off-gridder wannabe am I?  I thought I had outsmarted technology and all its glitz by not watching television (save for The Voice and So You Can Think You Can Dance…I don’t think it’s too late for me!), but then the internet, in all its Siren glory, tricked me out of a few good moments on the land.

I will turn its face to the wall, turn it off if I must, but I will only view this box into the world once a day…..maybe twice.  And find magic hours to read how to keep goats, play with the baby chicks, plant potatoes, treat animals, teach herbs to children in the inner city, learn to knit straight and spin fabulous yarn and breathe outdoors on this quaint little mini-farm.  And play with Maryjane.  Time found.

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Classy Farmgirl….taking classes that is

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Learning new skills is exciting, like opening a new page in our books.  Expanding what we can do in our life and what we can do for ourselves.  Learning also means teaching.  I read somewhere that we have a responsibility to teach what we know, so the circle continues.  Besides libraries and educational institutions, there are other teachers out there.  We so often put off taking classes in favor of say….doing the dishes.  But, more talents and excitements await and are only a class away!

This year I took a soap class.  So much fun, I am sure you read about it!  And now I can proudly provide myself with clean soap.  Fabulous.  I took a spinning class…..I may need to take one or… fifty more.

An old client of mine sent an email yesterday.  She used to have a goat farm and is now teaching classes on how to make soft and hard goat cheese.  Now generally, I figure I can learn all I can in a book.  And most likely I will read a book and try to just go do it.  There are limits to this type of knowledge without a hands on teacher.  I was scared of lye.  Kathi helped me conquer it.  I do not have the slightest idea how to make fine goat cheese.  I have exhausted my way through restaurants attempting to try every type of goat and sheep’s cheese…ash filled, wine soaked, pasture raised, brie style, herbs de Provence chevre….oh my.  Now that we know what kinds of cheese we would like to make (all of them), beats me how to do it!  So, Julie is going to teach me.  This helps her too.  Farmgirls cannot survive on one income alone off the farm.  Multiple facets must be in place to “make it”.  Besides farm products and craft products, there are always people who want to learn what you know.

There are more classes in my very near future.  Agriculture classes at the college as well as writing classes (gotta get this book published!), Spanish classes, and more dance classes, because it makes my dance school better, all await my “eager for knowledge” mind.

In turn, I will continue teaching Certified and Master Herbalist classes, animal medicine classes, dance classes, and new this year, bread making and canning classes.

I will learn hands on how to tend to bees thanks for my friend, Brett.  I am interning with my friend, Deb, who is a master gardener to learn the ins and outs of gardening before I take the college ag courses.  I will be better suited by the end of this year for my homestead that is forthcoming….perhaps I will go from mini-farm to farm next year.

Goat cheese classes- http://godshowranch.com

Deb’s blog- http://lookingoutfrommybackyard.wordpress.com

My classes- http://gardenfairyherbal.com

Spinning my Wheel(s)

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Yesterday I went and bought some new wheels.  Sleek, rose colored, needs a little wax.  One pedal.  Not a new truck, a spinning wheel!  You all saw it coming.  I have been bit by the fiber bug.  It’s a pity coordination is not my middle name.  I am providing free entertainment if anyone wants to come over and watch me attempt to push a pedal with my foot and use my fingers to pull and push and try not to knot and twist too much beautiful roving into respectable and lush yarn.  Last night I made dreadlocks.  That should make an interesting scarf!  I feel like a small child, tongue sticking out, in deep concentration, temper tantrum in the end.

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I should change the name of this blog to the “Patient Farmgirl” for I have had two lessons now on spinning and should be making skeins of luxurious yarn by now!  Okay, the first lesson I did talk a lot, the second was good though.  Now, it is a matter of practice, and according to spinners and books I have read, it will just hit me and I will all of a sudden be able to spin.  Much like when I learned how to drive a stick shift I imagine (another feat where one must do two things at the same time) only less dangerous.

Spinning wheels cost pretty pennies and I hesitated (for a minute) to give up $600 plus dollars.  It came out of my homesteading fund that I have been religiously putting money into (slow but sure; I think I can afford a wood stove and a chicken coop so far). I figured that this is a homesteading craft.  One that can bring in a little income, allow us to have farm animals without feeling like we have to eat them, make my own yarn (I spend a bit on good yarn), and make that much more of our own things.  I could even learn to weave at some point and make our own fabric.  That is pretty ambitious though, I’d have to say!

I cannot wait to be out at the barn with my alpacas and my sheep.  Right now I have been out with the chickens and the greyhound.  Not much fleece on those guys.  So, I do have a friend that will sell me one of his alpaca’s “blankets” or fleece.  I will have to card it or have it milled to turn it into roving in order to spin it.  That is this week’s task.  Price, find, conquer fleece.  Because once I do master this spinning yarn thing, I want to have my beautiful roving at the ready.  I am going to color it in natural herb dyes of my own making.  Spin some that is natural colored.  You will see them on the table at the farmer’s market and maybe on the website.  If I am worth my apron strings as a farmgirl, I tell you now, I will have luxurious (limited quantity!) yarn ready to share come June.  It won’t be perfect but it will be “artsy” and farmgirl-ready to knit or crochet into something wonderful.

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Alpaca Love

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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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…”)

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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…..