Thursday, March 31, 2011

How Many Layers are Necessary?

We bought prepared guacamole at the grocery store today.

This brand is new to us, but I'm quite certain we won't be purchasing it again.

A plastic tub of guacamole
with a plastic seal over a plastic pouch
What is the purpose of 3 layers of plastic?

One Small Change: Clothes Mending and Staples from Scratch

My One Small Change for March was to learn a few clothes mending techniques...
Darning Socks:

These socks weren't very far gone but I love them and want them to be around for a long time.  So I thought they would be a good place to start with learning how to darn.

I used a spent incandescent light bulb as a darning egg, a straight needle and thread from my stash that matched surprisingly well.

Essentially darning is weaving, so I absolutely enjoyed doing it.  However next time I think better light, an actual darning needle (the one with the bent tip) and some serious magnification so I can see what I'm doing would be very helpful.

I didn't do a great job, but I can now say that I have darned a pair of socks.  :-)

Mending scissor holes in a Sweater:

I have no idea how these holes got there.  This is a new wool t-shirt and one of my favorites, so I wanted to keep the holes from getting bigger.

I just stitched the hole together.  Again, not great execution on my part.  The aforementioned bright light and magnification would have been of great help in this case as well.  :-)

Zipper Replacement:

When I wrote my post last month I thought Hubba's zipper was completely demolished.  But it turns out the zipper tape and teeth are in good shape and only the slider needs replacing.  I've found that many different sizes of replacement sliders can be purchased but I have not been able to figure out what size I need.  So now that I realize there are intact zippers on Hubba's vest, I plan to take it to a local sewing shop to determine what size to buy.

I like being able to mend clothes.  I'm definitely not a good enough seamstress to allow my worn out clothes a longer life at the office.  But now that we have a farm, a lot of clothes can have an extended life as farm and gardening clothes.

Perhaps one day my One Small Change will be to improve my sewing skills so that I can wear home made clothes to the office.

For the Summer:  Making Beans and Broth from Scratch

I have started a new project with my client that will have me travelling a bit more than usual.  So I've decided to focus on a couple of things that I want to do better.  I am making it a goal for the summer rather than by month.

We use canned beans and boxed chicken broth a lot.  My versions of these items leaves a lot to be desired.  Being able to make beans and broth from scratch should save us a lot on packaging waste and cost.

Beans: I've tried to make beans from scratch a few times over the years, but my results have always been dismal... hard, mushy and/or flavorless.  Blech.  It drives me crazy because I think I'm a pretty good cook otherwise. In fact, I make awesome baked beans when starting with canned beans.

So, since there's nothing quite like a good batch of beans and I would love to have them at the ready without having to resort to the can.  My goal is to learn how to make good beans from scratch.

Broth:  My chicken and turkey broth is also just not right.  I dream of making a clear, flavorful broth that is worthy of matzo-ball soup.

So since we roast a whole turkey every 4-6 weeks, I think I should be able to make a flavorful broth.  It shouldn't really cost anything extra and could save us a lot in boxed broth packaging.

If you're interested in seeing what others are doing to improve their affect on our environment or would like to participate, please head over to the One Small Change blog, new folks are always welcome.

One Small Change

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

LGD: Poop

Much like new parents of human children, the topics of Hubba's and my conversations include a lot of poop.

Did the puppies poop?  Who's pooped and who still needs to poop.  Where the poop is located.  How big the poop is.  Yep, we've been talking a lot of poop around here lately.

I remember talking about it a lot when the crias were born last fall as well.  I suppose it's one of those things you pay attention to when new little ones join the family.  It's a key indicator.  It tells you if things are functioning correctly or something needs attention.

You'll be happy to know that everything is working just as it should be here on the Alpacamundo farm.  :-)

I also asked our vet about why dogs eat poop.  His answer was that it's just one of those things that dogs do.  As long as they're not eating their own poop and only eating herbivore's poop (alpaca, cattle, horse) it's probably not a big deal other than we think it's gross.

So that means the puppies have been sampling the alpacas poop and Hubba and I aren't getting mad about it.  :-/  It also means that the puppies have found the composting manure pile and discovered that a dried out clump of alpaca poop is perfectly awesome for playing keep-away with.

Noodle and Wonton sharing a drink of water

Of course I can't leave you without sharing a photo of the girls, but it's not a picture with poop because that would be gross.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Introducing: KayaKyi Bala

It's no secret that I am head-over-heals-in-love with our LGD Puppy, Wonton.

She has been so easy.  Honestly, she's been the easiest puppy Hubba and I have ever had.  Ever!  A big part I'm sure is the fact that she was 12 weeks old when she came home with us.  The litter-mates and momma teach them a lot between 6 and 12 weeks of age.

Anyway, the intention has always been that The Alpaca Dog would return to his throne in the house once Wonton moved in with the alpacas.  Also that Wonton would eventually have a partner to work with when guarding the alpacas.

Hubba and I have decided to move the partnership up and have brought in Wonton's half-sister.

KayaKyi Bala is one week younger than Wonton.

She came from the same breeder, KayaKyi Tibetan Mastiffs.  Her parents are CH Ayyangadoo Guyuk Khan (aka Bentley) and Kesang Camp's China Doll.

Her fancy name is KayaKyi Bala but we will be calling her Noodle.  Yes, it's true.  We like to name our animals after food.  :-)

Noodle on the left and Wonton on the right

Noodle and Wonton became fast friends and have been chasing and wrestling ever since.

Noodle leads Wonton in a race around the yard

Wonton has Noodle pinned in one of many wrestling matches

As with Wonton, we will take time to introduce Noodle to the alpacas to make sure everyone is comfortable with each other, but the alpacas don't seem too concerned about her at this time.

It hasn't even been 24 hours yet, but Noodle is settling in just fine.  :-)

Our Breeder has a few more puppies available, most of which are suitable for pets and show.  So if you just can't stand the cuteness and need a TM for yourself, give them a call.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: I Haz a Carder!

I have been wanting a drum carder for quite some time.

My desire would pique every time I'd read about other bloggers' drum carders... for example Hellchick and Wonder Why Gal come to mind.

I coveted them at the Estes Park Wool Festival and I dream about them as I read Fiber Arts Friday every week.  You know those FAF Fiberistas are always making beautiful batts with their drum carders.  :-)

So I would periodically go online and price them.  Then I would de-prioritize it because there are a lot of other things we need for the farm and house.

Finally the lust was strong and I put a drum carder on my Christmas list.  I didn't expect anyone to make the splurge for me.  It just felt good to verbalize my desire.  Much like when my sister would put a Ferrari on her list.  ;-)

Anyway, right around the same time I learned about Ravelry's Used Tool and Equipment Classifieds.  I put it on RSS and watched carefully for a used drum carder.

I must not be the only one lusting after drum carders because every time I'd inquire about one it was already sold.  Those babies move so fast.  So I decided to be patient and believe the appropriate carder would be mine... eventually.

Now I can say I am no longer longing.  I have a beautiful, slightly used Louet Junior Drum Carder.  She needs to be cleaned up and I need to wash some fiber, but I'm excited to give a shot at making my own batts... finally.  :-)

Today is Fiber Arts Friday and I'm certain you will see the results of some drum carder action if you head over to Wisdom Begins in Wonder.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Have you noticed that people modify their behavior to meet your expectations?
  • If I smile first the other person, whether I know them or not, almost always smiles back.
  • If I'm friendly with a clerk, they are almost always friendly back.
  • If I wave to another driver, they almost always wave back.
  • If I treat someone with kindness and respect, they almost always reciprocate.
  • The converse is also true.
What if we always expected the people we know and meet to be good, honest and exceptional? What if we not only expected it but treated them as if they were always good, honest and exceptional?

I think the world would be a pretty good and happy place.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

LGD: Week Two

I wasn't really planning on making this a weekly post, but I got some great shots this week.

Wonton has been in the alpaca corrals quite a lot and has started to socialize with the alpacas.

We've been practicing on a leash and took her for her first walk in the neighborhood.  But first she decided to take the Alpaca Dog for his own walk.

On our walk we saw our neighbor's horses.  She had seen them from our pasture but has refused to get close to them so far.

She spends a lot of time watching, listening and generally being guardian dog-like.

And she reminded us that playing in dried leaves is super fun no matter who you are.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Apparently I'm an Artist

When I was contemplating what to do about the second skein of Aspen in my Quasi-Commissioned Project, it occurred to me that I may have crossed over into actual artist-dom.

I've been doing fiber arts for a while now, but the truth is I have only considered myself an aspiring artist and not an actual artist.  I have been so focused on learning new skills that it literally just occurred to me that I have started developing against my own ideas.

Also if I wasn't an artist, the difference between the two skeins of yarn in the same project wouldn't bother me so much.  Because the color transition, while not perfect, worked well and the stitch pattern was executed correctly. 

On top of that, I have also missed every deadline I've given myself. To put that statement into context you need to understand that I am a project manager by day and engineer by trade. I am very good at my job and don't miss deadlines or requirements very often.  Fortunately my friend who asked for this project has been very understanding and wants to make sure I am having fun.

So I have frogged the project and started over because I can't deal with the gauge difference and I can not give him something I am not proud of.

Don't be sad though.  The skeins are perfect as individuals.

The second skein will be perfect as the Quasi-Commissioned project and the first skein will be de-kinked and turned into something equally as perfect.

Quasi-Commissioned Project, take 2

So grab a cup of your favorite beverage and take some time to see what all of the other artists have been up to.  The Wonder Why Gal has it all neatly organized for us because it is Fiber Arts Friday.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I'm a Certified Alpaca Color Checker

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of taking my very first Color Compliance Class.

Every year the Alpaca Breeders of the Rockies (ABR) hosts this class.  It  is taught by a Certified AOBA Judge with classroom, test and practical portions.

We reviewed the many colors, solids, patterns vs pintos, fancy vs. appaloosa and greys.  We also reviewed all of the data to be verified at Color Check during a show and the process for escalating disagreements between the Color Checker and Owner.

All color checkers for the local shows are required to have passed this class each year.

The Great Western Alpaca Show (GWAS) will be held in Denver on April 29 through May 1st and has been the largest alpaca show in the US for the last couple of years.  This will be my first time attending and my second time helping out with a fiber show.

The Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association's (AOBA) National Show is also in Denver this year on May 19 - 22nd.  This will be my first opportunity to attend Nationals.  I've heard this is a great event.

ABR also hosts the Fall Festival and Harvest Fleece Show every year in Loveland, Colorado.  This year it will be held on November 5th and 6th.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

LGD: Puppy's First Week

She also met our veterinarian and got scheduled for her next round of shots.  We've been working on basic commands and walking on a leash as well.

Loud noises don't seem to bother her, with the exception of our ATV.

I can tell the instincts that make her a Livestock Guardian are there.  She sits, watches and listens very intently and has started exploring a bit on her own.

She has been in the alpaca corrals several times, but only supervised so far.

And since I am a fiber farmer, it would be remiss of me to not point out the little bit of crimp in her fiber.  ;-)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Some Progress

With getting our puppy last weekend I didn't expect to have much fiber time this week, however I did managed to squeeze in a little.

I wound the second skein of Aspen and promptly started knitting with it.  In my sleep-deprived state, I forgot to take a photo of the finished skein.  So here's a photo of the little bit of knitting I accomplished this week.

The bit to the left of the blue marker is the second skein which I spun thinner than the first.  It's much closer to the gauge I intended for the first skein.  :-/

I look forward to the day where I can spin what I want when I want.  I know that will come with practice, but geez, it's frustrating sometimes. 

Anyway, I might be fooling myself here, but I don't think the transition between the two skeins is visually apparent in the pattern.  But I can feel the difference and the color seems more blue to the right and green to the left.  So I am having thoughts of starting over and using only the second skein.

With the smaller gauge, the second skein is more than long enough to cover the complete pattern.  However, as I mentioned I have been a bit sleep deprived so I may hold off on making that decision.

In the meantime, it's Fiber Arts Friday so please join me and head over to Wisdom Begins in Wonder to see what all of the fabulous fiber artist have been up to.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Alpaca Wrestling

It was such a beautiful day at home in Colorado today.  So The LGD Puppy, The Alpaca Dog and I decided to sit in the yard outside the girls' corral and soak up a bit of sunshine.

The puppy has been saying hello to the alpacas for the last several days and so I was hoping I would be able to capture that with my camera.

Instead, Daisy was feeling feisty and got Frieda to wrestle with her.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Introducing: KayaKyi Annapurna

Hubba and I picked up our Livestock Guardian Puppy yesterday.  She is a 12-week old Tibetan Mastiff.

She's a big girl and quite a lot bigger than when we saw her about a month ago.

Yesterday was all about making sure she had a safe and uneventful ride home as well as a smooth introduction to The Alpaca Dog.

We had been telling him for weeks that we were going to get him a sister, but it certainly didn't set in until now.

They took a little time getting to know each other and were playing before too long.

We did not formally introduce the puppy and the alpacas.  We decided they should watch the doggie introductions and take some time to get comfortable with the idea of another dog around first.

Our breeder is KayaKyi Tibetan Mastiffs.  Our puppy's fancy name is KayaKyi Annapurna.  We are calling her Wonton.