Monday, September 05, 2005

Major Update

Life has been quite demanding these past 6+ months. Here's a quick synopsis:

North Fork House and Land
Right around my last post we started having trouble with the tenants/former owners of the North Fork house. They stopped paying rent and by mid-March, I had to start eviction proceedings. We finally got possession of the house in late May. But oh my, what a mess! Nine trips to the dump later (the trailer we used was 10' by 5' by 6' and we piled it higher than the 6' walls) and we have a house we can start remodeling. Anyone know of a way to clean 30 years of smoker's soot from a pine tongue-in-grove 21 foot high vaulted ceiling?

On the herd front...
We were expecting two crias this summer - one from our own female Melody, and one from a female we don't own but chose the stud for breeding. Melody graced us with a beautiful white female cria on June 26th. We named her Aria to start us off with our alphabetical naming tradition. Sadly, Aria only lived 28 days. The necropsy showed her intestines were just not working and any hay she ingested sat in C1 (the first stomach) fermenting to the point it released toxins which shut her system down. So $2908.00 later we are back to square one. The second female, Halley, slipped her pregnancy at some point because a blood test taken a month before her due date came back negative (she's now months beyond her due date). The stud we chose to use with Halley died about 2 weeks ago so we can't try that match again.

After all that's happened this summer, if I was in this business for breeding, I'd have thrown in the towel. As much as I love the animals, this was just a heartbreaking summer. Thankfully, I also love alpaca fiber and thoroughly enjoy spinning, weaving, and felting. Running a fiber ranch of males is looking more and more appealing. But we're not quitters, so it's off to Derwydd Alpacas to breed Melody and get ready for Round 2 next summer.

Fiber Arts Competitions
My daughter and I both entered things in competitions the last few months and Dana even competed on several Sheep to Shawl teams.

The first judged event was in April at Monterey Pronk. My woven suri scarf won a first place! Every yarn I entered also got a ribbon. Dana entered a knitted pencil holder necklace and got first place. Hers was the only entry in the kids category and she said she wishes more kids would enter so it would feel like a real win. Her lace weight suri yarn competed with the adults and she got second, only because she didn't set the twist. (DH chided me for not doing it for her.) The judge was very impressed that a 10 year old spun such fine yarn.

The second competition was the Alameda County Fair. The same woven suri scarf got third - and when I saw what got first and second, I understood why. First and second were very complicated weaves that must have been woven on 16+ heddle looms. They were very pretty and very well done. Dana's pencil holder necklace got second - we never did find first place (They display entries by themes, not by category.) Her yarn got third - again competing against adults. Pretty awesome!

The Alameda County Fair is where one of the sheep to shawl competitions Dana participated in was held. She was on a kid's team against four adult teams. They placed third!! Dana will get to keep the shawl they made - for now all of the shawls are making the rounds of the guilds.

Dixon Lambtown (July 30th) was Dana's second sheep to shawl competition this summer. The same kids from Alameda participated along with two adult teams. This time they came in second!! The organizers of this event solicit prize donations from the vendors. All of the kids were awed with the prize table and took home oodles of goodies.