Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I am so Proud

Really, it goes without saying.  But as they say... it's nice to hear it anyway.

I am so proud of my husband!  Always have been.

He has dedicated himself to achieving a very specific goal.

Today, one step along the way has been achieved.

Hubba was named to the US Para Pan Am Track and Field Team.

It looks like we're going to Mexico in November. :-)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My Garden has Exploded

Holy Cow!  My garden has exploded in the last week or so.  All of my tomato plants have gotten bigger and most have flowers.

The light colored spots on the stalk are scars from the hail storm.

The squash, cucumber and melons all look big and healthy in spite of the remaining hail damage.

There is one lone zucchini and several squash blossoms showing great promise.  I love saying squash blossoms.  Squash Blossoms!  :-)

Beets!  These are beets!  We love beets in this house.  This is my first time trying root vegetables as well as starting with seed, so I am thrilled to see these guys.

There are other plants spouted in my seed row.  I'm just trying to decide if they are weeds or something I actually planted and therefore wanted.  There are supposed to be carrots, corn and butternut squash along with the beets.

I do solemnly swear to label my plants next year!

As I mentioned before, most of the fruit on our trees was lost during a hail storm, but the peach tree is full.

The apple tree actually has a few apples.  Which is a huge surprise because we only had a few blossoms followed buy huge amounts of rain and really, really cold days.

Of course, the crop of weeds has exploded as well.  So I've been spending a little time here and there pulling.

I'm travelling next week, so I hope my small weeding efforts are not in vain.  As you can see, I have a ways to go.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Recycled Wool Nightcap - Not Quite Finished

Woo Hoo, I have finished knitting my Nightcap and most of the zillion ends have been woven in.  :-)  The only thing is...

Hey, Hey, Hey... it's a little big. :-/

Yes, I swatched.  Yes, the swatch met gauge.  No, I did not compare the circumference of the hat pattern to the circumference of my head.  :-/

So, not only is this hat too big for me, it's also too big for Hubba.  (He would not let me take a photo to share with you all.)

So I've been taking suggestions for ways to make the nightcap useful because I am not going to rip it out and start over...
  • felting and subsequently shrinking it in the washer/dryer or a bucket with a plunger
  • adding elastic
  • adding a drawstring
  • finding a larger than 24.5 inch head
  • lining it and adding a strap to make a purse
I haven't done any of these things before, so any advise from the wise Fiberistas out there is greatly appreciated.  Please and Thank you. :-)

Of course, you're sure to see some great projects that may even fit if you head over to Fiber Arts Friday, hosted by The Wonder Why Gal.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Made in the USA

I've been wanting to write a post about buying products that are made in the USA for quite some time, but I've had a hard time finding the media sources I was looking for.

Some of the TV networks have been talking about the benefits of buying domestically produced products.  But the big shift I've noticed recently is that some of my friends, who traditionally only care about price, have started taking up the idea of buying US produced goods.

So finally today, I came across this article via Twitter.  I just love Twitter.  :-)

I'm not fanatical about buying products that are made in the USA, but I am very interested in buying local.  So if you live in Canada (Hi Jaimie!) or anywhere else outside of the USA, please know that I am not opposed to your domestic products.  I am a HUGE fan of coffee, mangos and Belgian chocolate.  I am also currently implementing a Canadian product for a client.

So with my disclaimer stated, let's move on to why I like the idea of buying local.

Buying local reduces demand for petro-chemicals.

People who participate in a pursuit of locally grown food cite reduction in petro-chemicals as a primary reason.  If the food is grown locally, you may only need a truck to get it to the point of sale rather than many trucks, airplanes, trains and boats.

The same is true for durable goods.  If our clothing, plates, furniture and baseballs are manufactured domestically, the cost and pollution of moving them to the point of sale is reduced.

Buying local gives you and your neighbors good jobs.

As an Engineer by trade, this is a huge one for me.  If we don't manufacture and produce in our local communities, eventually we won't get to design those goods.  The people who are doing the building know much more about the products than those who only design them.  The builders know how to build better and therefore know how to improve design for manufacturability and maintainability.

Manufacturing and Design jobs are good paying, interesting jobs.

Buying local improves the economy of your neighborhood.

Community members who have good paying jobs will generally have more money to spend in those communities.

Buying local strengthens your community.

If you are living, working and playing in your own community, then your community grows stronger.  You get to know your neighbors.  You get to know the producers of the food you eat and the products you use.  You take pride in your own town and work to ensure it's safe for and accessible for you and your neighbors.

It's true, sometimes I am an idealist.  However, I do think my reasons are sound.  These things are all true in places that have strong Farmer's Markets or CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture).  So why wouldn't they be true for manufactured goods as well?

As an alpaca farmer and thus, fiber producer, I am thrilled by the response described in the LA Times article.

So I ask you to consider the source of the goods you buy.  Were they produced locally?  If not, is there a suitable option that is produced locally?  If not, go for it and be proud of yourself for thinking about where and how the products you use are produced.

By the way, please do check out Jaimie's blog.  I adore her and the local, sustainable life she is creating with her chicks.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


While Hubba and I were doing our farm chores yesterday, I realized my mantra has become the voice in my head.  :-)

My mantra is a statement of the two biggest goals that I have for this life that Hubba and I are building.

For the longest time it was something that I stopped to meditate about or pray for in the morning, or when the clock struck a certain hour.

Now my mantra has become the internal recording.  It's the thing I am thinking about always.

Monday, June 20, 2011

On the Animal Front

It's been busy.

First and foremost, Noodle had her stitches removed on Friday.

Finally after two weeks of house arrest, she was able to go back to the corral with her sister and the alpacas.  She was allowed to wrestle and jump as much as she wanted to and was kind of surprised that we let her. :-)

Noodle preparing to beat up her sister, Wonton

Babies are coming this summer!

L-R: Kocoa, Keyla, Frieda, Daisy, The Alpaca Dog, Noodle, Wonton
I love how the alpacas don't care that the puppies are wrestling right next to them.

Daisy and Frieda were the first two female alpacas born to Alpacamundo.  They are expecting their first cria in mid-August and have started showing a little baby-belly.  I'm really excited to see how they do.

Bandit is the current big man on campus and therefore is the cria-daddy for both.

Smokey's Bandit, our Silver-Grey Lead Herdsire

Keyla got a good haircut.  She apparently had a bad shearing experience in her early days because she has hated shearing for as long as I've known her.

Most of our alpacas are very calm and relaxed during shearing, but Keyla stresses out.  She stresses out to the point of prolapse.  It's rectal rather than vaginal which is better.  As if one type of prolapse can really be better than another.  So we always do her last and keep a close eye on the back end.  We get the blanket off as quickly as possible and usually have to stop and let her up to walk around in the middle of the process. 

This year, we were able to get all of her fleece off.  It's the best haircut she's had in three years.  Her head is wonky because we left the halter on during shearing to allow for a quick exit when needed.

Back to Front: Kocoa, Keyla, Daisy, Frieda

One year we were able to keep her in a corral overlooking the shearing and she did very well then.  So on my list of things to acquire is a corral's worth of movable panels so we can keep her nearby.

In other Keyla news, her munge is healing very well.  She had a big outbreak right after Apple was born last fall.  We treated her over the winter with a steroid-based cream which meant we couldn't breed her.

She was not at all happy about being open and we were in a do-loop.  Her nose would heal when we used the cream, but it would come back as soon as we stopped.  So this spring we treated the herd for mites.  The courses are finished and her nose, while not fully healed, has stabilized.  Which means we will be able to breed her this year.  Now I just have to decide when.

Last, and certainly not least, we got a cat.  Yes, we are attempting life with a kitten again.  She's bold, beautiful and rambunctious.

In her first 12 hours she killed a moth and several flies and we're hoping she will encourage the mice to move-a-long.  She is a pet cat, as in she has house privileges.  She does seem to enjoy cuddling, so I hope she will want to keep my lap warm in the winter while I'm knitting.

We named her Pancake.  Well, actually Hubba named her Pancake and I agreed.  At four pounds, she sure seems small next to the dogs.  But size is not what matters when it comes to kitties.  It took three people to hold her down for her leukemia test.

Doggie introductions are in progress and so far, so good.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Squash Blossoms!

... or perhaps cucumber blossoms, but I'm pretty sure this is a zucchini.  I didn't label my plants.  :-/

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Estes Park Wool Market - 2011

Last weekend Hubba and I went to the Estes Park Wool Market.  This was my second time visiting, and Hubba wanted to come along.  So of course I let him.  ;-)  I sure love that he appreciates fiber and fiber animals as much as I do and Estes Park is a great place to see it.

I know this is a smaller show, but the only other fiber show I've attended is the Taos Wool Festival.  So if you were at TNNA last weekend, Maryland earlier this year or have attended Rhinebeck before, you may not be so impressed, but I'm gonna tell you about it anyway.  ;-)

The Estes Park Wool Market is one of the few opportunities I have to see Cashmere Goats (my favorite) and lots of woolly sheep up close and personal.

Of course, my knowledge of sheep breeds remains pitifully poor, but I do know the black goat is cashmere and the goat in the bucket is angora.

There was a Paco-Vicuna tent.  I sure do like their faces. :-)

There were llamas, alpacas and bunnies too, but I apparently didn't take any photos of them.  :-/

However, I did get a few shots of the sheepdog demonstration.  I really enjoyed it because I hadn't seen a herding dog in action before.

In my opinion, Estes Park is a fantastically beautiful place and I always enjoy visiting.  It's at the entrance of the Rocky Mountain National Park and home to the Stanley Hotel.  You may have heard of the Stanley Hotel if you know much about The Shining.

Estes Park sees a huge tourist season in the summer.  So I believe the Wool Market is perfectly timed between winter and vacationers.  :-)

Oh, I almost forgot... this is a Fiber Arts Friday post.  ;-)

Clockwise from top-left: llama batt, paco-vicuna roving, paco-vicuna cloud, yak roving,
quiviut (musk ox) roving, baby camel roving, bison down cloud, cashmere cloud, angora roving
I have learned to bring a canvas bag and pocket of cash to things like fiber (and veggie) markets so I don't bring home or spend too much.  With that being said, I still found a lot of fun fibers to spin in the upcoming Tour de Fleece.


I'll tell you my goals in another post, but I thought you should know that I have joined up with the Team of Wonder again.  :-D  Our team feels like it's a lot bigger than last year.  I'm really looking forward to it and there is room for more so join us.  ;-)

Finally, we wrapped up the day with a stop at the Cherry Store, because who doesn't need a gallon of ice-cold cherry juice?

At the end of the day, I sure felt a lot like this guy.  :-)

Be sure to visit the other Fiberistas for today is Fiber Arts Friday.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Point of it All

There has been a lot on my mind lately.  So why has my Brain been so quiet?  Well, I think it's because the lot has been about the why, the point, the bigger meaning and I don't have all the answers yet.

The last few weeks have been especially challenging.  Many, many things have not gone according to plan.  I plan projects for a living, so I know things don't usually go according to the plan, but these last few weeks have been especially challenging.

The interesting thing about all of these set backs and challenges is that the outcomes have been generally positive.
  • Emergency surgery on Noodle saved her life.  She gets her stitches out tomorrow and can go back to being the full-fledged puppy and protector that she wants to be.
  • A hail storm took most of the fruit from our new trees and shredded much of our veggie garden.  There was no property damage, the peach tree still has enough fruit for eating and the veggies seem to have recovered.
  • My combs and cutters were "lost in the mail" on the way back from being sharpened in Oregon.  I was able to replace them with new sets prior to my shearing appointments and found a local resource for sharpening.
  • Equipment failure during shearing, twice. Yes, twice.  The switch on my 4-year old handset failed halfway through shearing an alpaca.  We finished shearing her by hand.  I bought a new handset, which failed on it's second alpaca.  Again, we had to finish shearing by hand.  The second handset is undergoing warranty repairs now, so hopefully I'll be back in business next weekend.  The good news is, that we've been able to reschedule and I may have a new mentee.
  • Compiling the technical requirements for my day job project and the subsequent fit/gap analysis have taken a lot longer than anticipated.  I don't think the overall impact will be significant but it will be nice when we're in the throws of development.
  • A family of raccoons tried to move to the farm yesterday.  The dogs and alpacas were not pleased.  While I went out to see what was going on, The Alpaca Dog pushed by (or maybe over) me, went behind the hay pile and came out with a raccoon.  He killed it and promptly went back for the next.  When it was over, he had killed three raccoons, my neighbor and I killed the fourth and the momma raccoon has not been seen.  The good news is that The Alpaca Dog has no wounds from the incident and is now current on all of his shots.
  • Flight delays.  Ugh.  While not causing a significant impact, they have caused me to miss my shuttle home several times.  This has me looking for a day job that is not only interesting and meaningful, but also allows me to sleep at home every night.
So, what's the point of all of this?  To show you how good I am at seeing the bright side of things?  No.  I think it's to remind me why we're doing what we're doing.

It would be pretty easy to take each of these challenges as a reason not to do what we're doing.  But I've been trying to think of them as hurdles in a foot race.  Hurdles are meant to slow you down and help you focus on what you're doing.  They're not meant to trip you up, even if they do sometimes.

So I've been journaling.  A lot.  Refining the vision.  How it feels.  What it looks like.

Change is never easy and we are changing the way we live our life.  We have big goals and are making progress toward achieving them.  There are gates to navigate and milestones to hit, but the point is to make a difference and achieve a dream... actually the point is to achieve a couple of dreams.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Recycled Wool Nightcap is oh, so close

With tending to Miss Noodle last weekend and a busy week at my client's office in MSP, I only made a small amount of progress on the Recycled Wool Nightcap.  I am getting close though... only 24 rounds to go

The real news is that Noodle is healing well.  She should make a full recovery.  Which is fantastic because she's bored of hanging with us in the house. :-D

I hope you've had a great week and that you top it off with a bit of Fiber Arts Friday.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


I think it's starting to sound cliche, but building a relationship is probably the single most important thing you can do with your customer or really, anyone.

The relationship takes time and dedication.  It takes listening and understanding and compasion.

Good relationships don't happen instantaneously and they don't happen because you have a Facebook page, or blog or tweet or whatever the latest social media/web 2.0 thing is.

Good relationships happen because you invest yourself and you truely care about your customer as an individual.

Today, I am thinking about our veterinarians.  We love them.  All of them.  Our dogs' vets and our alpacas' vet.  The techs and office manager at our dogs' vet office.

The gratitude that I have for these people and the time and energy that they have all put into having a relationship with us...  All of us...  Hubba, me, three dogs and thirteen alpacas... The gratitude is overwhelming.

The people at our vet clinic saved our dog's life yesterday.  They saved her life because we all knew something wasn't right.

I'm not sure I'm ready to put it entirely out there.  So, if we're friends on Facebook, then you can see there essentially what happened.

What you do and who you do it with may not be a life or death situation, but it's important to those you do it with and for.  I urge you to slow down and spend some time.  Get to know your customers and the other important people in your life.  Get to know them in a real and meaningful way.

I can't even begin to describe how grateful I am that we spent the time.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Recycled Wool Nightcap is Progressing

It has been cold and rainy for much of the last few weeks and I have been on the road some, so I've had a lot of knitting time recently.  Which means I have made a lot of progress on my Recycled Wool Nightcap.

If you've been reading my brain for a while, you may remember the bag of a zillion tiny balls of yarn...

Once I made it past the main body of the hat and all of it's yarn overs, I decided the plethora of knit and purl rounds on the peak was the perfect place to use up these tiny yarn balls.  I don't think I'll use them all, but certainly most will be consumed.

I made the big move from circular needles to dpns.  This step always gets me excited because I know I'm getting close to being finished.

However, I'm really slow on the double-pointed needles.  So I decided to try out the two circular method...

I'm definitely faster with the two circulars and since this hat only decreases 4 stitches every 3rd round, I can use all of the speed enhancers I can get.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!  Please be sure to visit the other Fiber Artists because you're sure to see some interesting work.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bolder Boulder - 2011

Monday, Memorial Day was the 33rd Bolder Boulder.  It's one of the largest races in the US and I believe the largest Memorial Day celebration in this country.

It was humid and overcast, but did not rain.

The race starts in waves beginning with the wheelchair race.  Then every 5-10 minutes a wave of runners are started.  The race winds through the city of Boulder, Colorado.  The final athletic event of the day is the International Team Challenge.  Where 3 members from various national teams compete.

The race finishes at Folsom Field, where the CU Buffalos play football.

Since the wheelchair race is first, the stadium is relatively empty but by the time the team challenge starts the stadium is full with people who raced and their families and friends.

Like many other races, there are bands along the course to keep it fun and entertaining for everyone.

Yes, that's a statue of Frank Shorter in a kilt.

Hubba did well.  He finished 3rd. :-)

The Bolder Boulder is a great event.