Sunday, August 29, 2004

Property update...

We did close escrow on the property in North Fork. Woo Hoo!!! At some point in the future, Humming Hearts Ranch will reside within 11.3 acres just off Road 221. Here is a BEFORE picture of the house.

We plan on doing some serious changes to the house before we move in ourselves. To the exterior for example, the roof will be replaced. The house will be painted white with green trim. We'll add a proper porch to the entire front that you see in the picture. You can't really see the front door because it is directly behind the tree. For now, the house is being rented out to a very nice local family.

Anyone want to come and help put in fencing? :-)



Bad News: West Nile Virus is a very real threat to alpacas.
Good news: Camelids can be protected by a series of vaccinations.

Ohio State University and Oregon State University have both done extensive studies with an equine WNV vaccination and found it to be effective in camelids. Their studies showed a series of three shots will provide protection against WNV infected mosquitoes. The study results can be read here:

Something worth noting: Several WNV vaccination serums are on the market. If your animals are vaccinated using one serum, all booster shots must be given using that same one. If for some reason you have to switch to a different vaccination serum, all animals must start from ground zero and begin inoculations all over. Make careful notes in your vaccination documentation which vaccination you or your vet is using.

Today we spent time giving the young boys and the young girls their second WNV vaccination. It's days like today when you really appreciate a well designed ranch. The girls and boys are in the front of the ranch. The boys are at the end. The girls are next to the boys but there's a catch pen in between the two with gates from both paddocks leading into the catch pen. We had to first round up the boys into the catch pen. Easy. Just open their gate and they run right in. Could it be that they know they'll be closer to the girls? :-) Close the catch pen gate. Next, we caught a boy, haltered him, I held him while Wayne vaccinated him, and finally I released him back into his own paddock. Same routine for the girls.

Sometimes they are less eager to go into the catch pen so I use a long PVC pole (probably 12 feet long) held at waist height to guide them where I want them to go. We have also on occasion used a long flat woven rope with one person holding each end. I prefer the pole because I can do it myself. Alpacas rarely challenge barriers (they'd rather flee to an open space like through an open gate), so they never come in contact with the pole or rope.

Halters aren't always necessary for these vaccinations. We used them today because most everyone was a bit on the feisty side. It is simply safer for them if they are haltered and tied up even though you have one person holding the animal while the other innoculates. For the truly feisty ones, we can walk them back to the barn and use the chute. It contains them very well. Thankfully, we didn't need to do that for anyone today.


Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Weaving: making something from nothing

A few weeks ago I drove to Southern California to pick up a LeClerc floor loom I bought through eBay. Thankfully, we have friends who live in Porterville, a town about halfway between where we live and where the loom was located. Our friends kindly offered to be a waypoint for me and the kids on this excursion. Here's my new treasure! I've even got a bit of my own weaving showing on it.

Here's a close-up of the weaving. I unrolled it off the front beam so that you could see more of it than is pictured above.

Now, lest you think I've been rather industrious since the arrival of the loom, let me say that the loom came warped with some-once-white cotton string. The previous owner had started a project but never finished it. I rolled the old project onto the front beam and started my own project using some of my icky* handwoven yarn. For yarn I considered garbage, it worked up quite nicely. Maybe if I full it (felt the fibers with soap and gentle agitation) the remaining paint flecks will come out and it'll make a nice placemat.

*"icky" because I dyed a wool roving using dyes that mostly sat on top of the fiber. It was an experiment gone bad. When I spun the roving, I got tons of paint flakes all over me. But could I throw away the yarn or roving? Of course not. Now I'm glad I didn't.

Location Update
As you know, we don't have a ranch of our own yet. We have been taking time this year to scout out various locations. To make a long story short (and I'll elaborate on it in a later post), we're in escrow on a nice 11 acre property in North Fork, California. We're supposed to close escrow tomorrow. I'm a firm believer in "nothing is yours until the deal is done" and there is one glitch that cropped up on Monday so who knows what will happen in the next 48 hours. Cross your fingers for us. I'll post more as soon as the title is (or isn't) in our hands. For now, I'm going back to weaving - it's been a huge stess reliever for me this week.