Friday, November 30, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: Revised Alpaca Hat Finished!

After all of the Thanksgiving festivities were over last weekend, I found some quiet time on the sofa with my needles and hand-spun alpaca... I only had a few rows to go and some ends to weave in.

I am much happier with this version and have been wearing it most of the week.  :-)

Now I (finally) have my very own alpaca hat... hand-spun (not by me), from one of our very own alpacas. :-)  The other one will most likely be going into a gift box.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Risk Management

Over the long weekend, I spent time thinking about where we are and what we've done to prepare for emergencies.  Mostly this is prompted by Natalie at Remembrance's Three Things on Thursday posts, conversations with a friend that lives in San Francisco and the extreme wildfires we had around here last summer.

There is nothing quite like having a huge wildfire 15 miles from home to highlight how ill prepared we are in the event that we need to evacuate.  It can feel quite overwhelming.  So following Natalie's lead, I have started to put together a plan for our emergency situations and then will work to put them in place a little at a time.

Since you can't make a plan unless you know what you're planning for, I started with listing the things that could happen then started thinking about how likely they are to occur and how big of a deal it would be if it did occur...

Potential Emergency Situations/Events:
  • Wildfire - High Risk.  While we are mostly surrounded by established neighborhoods and only about 2 miles from the nearest Fire Station, last summer showed that wildfire is a big risk for all of us in the Western United States.
  • Tornado - Medium Risk.  We are not far from the edge of "Tornado Alley."  They happen frequently in Colorado.  Most of the time they are much further east than we are.  However, the Windsor Tornado in 2008 was about 20 minutes from here.
  • Blizzard - Medium Risk.  We have several each winter almost always with advanced warning.  Power can go out, pipes can freeze.  The biggest issue is being able to get around outside and leaving the property/neighborhood via car.
  • Extreme Cold - High Risk.  We have several periods each winter, almost always with advanced warning.  Power can go out, pipes can freeze, risk of frostbite.
  • Extreme Heat - High Risk.  Generally our summer temperatures are quite comfortable with usually about one week of temps above 100F.  Last summer we had a record number of days with temps above 100F.  With black dogs and fleeced alpacas the animals can get overheated without enough access to shade and water.
  • Hail - Low Risk.  Hail storms happen frequently here, however the stones are usually pea-sized or smaller.  Small stones do not cause much structural damage.  However, when the stones get larger they can cause roof and vehicle damage and if one is caught in the storm, hail stones can cause bodily harm.
  • Flooding due to Extended Rainfall - Low Risk.  We do get puddles on our property due to the clay soil not being able to soak up large amounts of rain quickly.
  • Flash Flooding - Low Risk.  While the Big Thompson Flood of 1976 happened near here and highlights the devastation that can be caused by a flash flood.  We are not close enough to any rivers for this to be an issue for us in our current location.
  • Power, Gas, Water or Internet Outage - Medium Risk. the Electricity and Internet go out several times a year around here.  In fact there is a planned 3 hour outage for tonight.  Usually they are only for a few minutes to a few hours.  Occasionally they go out several hours to several days.
Certainly there are a lot of other things to consider like personal injury but I think it would be easy to go down a "rat hole."  So I'm starting with the big stuff.

Then, while working on another post about choosing Livestock Guardian Dogs (stay tuned), I spent some time thinking about our predators too...


·         Coyote
·         Neighborhood Dogs
·         Raccoon
·         Fox
·         Eagle
·         Hawk
·         Owl
·         Mountain Lion - unlikely
·         Bear - unlikely

Coyote and Neighborhood Dogs are the only real threat to alpacas on this list, but we have lost three cats to something.  My theory is that the Owls were the culprit, but without evidence, there's no way to know for sure.

We are planning our first litter of puppies for the end of 2013 so the Eagles, Owls and Raccoon are honest threats to puppies.  We have also been back and forth about getting chickens... someday.  So, I think we have a complete list of predators.

At this point, I'm not entirely sure where we are as far as being prepared for these events... Predation of Livestock, Shelter in Place, Evacuation.

With the Tibetan Mastiffs as Livestock Guardian Dogs, we've made progress in the Predation risks, but we still have improvements to make.  In the event of Sheltering in Place, I feel we're in pretty good shape with the exception of water.  But in the event of Evacuation or Pre-Evacuation we have a lot of preparations to make.

Over the next several weeks, I'll be putting together these requirements (wants and needs) and determining what we really have verses what we really need.

Monday, November 26, 2012

On the Holidays and Being an Introvert

I love the Holidays and I come from a large family... as in 25 people were present for Thanksgiving Dinner and 4 were not there.

Then Friday we had dinner with Hubba's extended family.  A dinner party with 14 people... and at least another 5 or 6 were missing... assuming I am counting correctly, which I may not be.

Now a few of these people were counted twice... since they went to both parties, but you get the idea.  Lots of great food and loud, boisterous, happy people.  I love our families.  I love spending time with them, but as an introvert, it can be quite exhausting.

Large groups of people has always been exhausting to me.  Large groups of people I don't know is terrifying to me.

Fortunately I know most of the people we were eating with over the weekend, so it made meeting the few new ones easier.  :-)

Saturday afternoon was for my Boring Time as Hubba calls it.  After more than 16 years together, he knows when I need to decompress and go completely inside.... as in inside my head.

I did some yard work, reading, writing and a little knitting.  I even had a nap.  But I was not much for conversation... even with my very favorite person in the whole world.  Poor Hubba.  I'm glad he appreciates my need for Boring Time.

I feel recovered and ready for the next round of festivities.  There is a baby shower, a birthday, at least a few Christmas celebrations and possibly a little Hanukkah coming up over the next few weeks.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: Alpaca Hat

So the last few weeks have gotten away from me...

Since our first alpaca show (now a few weeks ago) I've gone live with a software tool at my day job, done a lot of testing, training, demoing and begun preparations for the next phase of the project.  I worked thru Hubba's and my Anniversary, gone live with our own Farm Website (, had Thanksgiving dinner and hosted(ing) a few guests.

I have been fibering, but it's been in very small amounts here and there, and honestly not entirely enjoyable.  I don't like it when work makes me so tired that I can't really enjoy the things that I enjoy.  As a result I currently have three simple projects sort of in progress and a few more not in progress.  :-/

It occurred to me last Friday, when I had no idea it was Friday... some how the days are moving at an exceptional rate.  Certainly the shorter daylight hours are contributing to the feeling... But anyway it occurred to me last Friday that it's generally getting pretty cold over night....  Haha, yes.  I do know it is November.  Geez.

Anyway, I thought it might be good to finish off my revised alpaca hat.  After all, it would be nice to have my head warm when I am outside.

So I set the other projects aside and have tried to focus on knitting.  That's right, just knitting all of the rounds until it's done.

I'm not quite there, but I am decreasing now.  Happy Fiber Arts Friday, and if you are state-side, Happy Thanksgiving as well.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Alpacamundo: New Website!

Like most things worth doing, it's been a long, slow road.... but it doesn't matter.  The end result is great!

Our website has been transformed into a professionally developed site.  :-)

Many of the photos were taken by my friend, Kristi.  The site and logo redesign were done by DaGama Webstudio.

Please take a look and let me know what you think.  :-)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


One last photo from last weekend's alpaca show... this girl and her alpaca have worked together so much that he will cush on command and prefers to keep his head in her lap.  :-)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Alpaca Costume Contest

The one event Miss A and Clementine did not sign up for last weekend was the Costume Contest.

With as competitive as she is, I'm glad we didn't.  All of the costumes we were talking about were pretty lame in comparison.  She would have been very disappointed.

That being said, we were stalled next to a couple of the older kids and were impressed with their costumes, so we made a point to watch the event.

Spider Man/Captain America, Bee/Bee Keeper and Flamenco Dancers

Jelly Fish from the Great Barrier Reef, Knight/Ghost, Oompa Loompas

Garden Gnome/Gardener, Hunters, Scarecrow/Dorothy, A couple of Cowboys

The Jelly Fish

A Zebra collecting Monkeys and his Zoo Keeper

Miss A studied them and I think has a great idea for next year.  :-)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Our First Alpaca Show

Miss A has been working with Clementine for most of the summer.

We initially focused on building trust between them, did a little reconnaissance at the county fair and then set up a few of our own obstacles in the pasture.

We practiced most weekends and tried to expose Clementine to as many different "uncomfortable" things as we could think of like changing surface areas, walking under and through things, going into a dark rooms, ramps, stairs and doggie distractions.

Our first show was yesterday where Miss A and Clementine signed up for the three of the Performance Classes... Halter, Obstacle and Public Relations.

Halter is just like the regular Color Classes, except it's more about how well the kids handle their alpaca than  about the conformation and fleece of the alpaca itself.

Since all of the kids in Miss A's age group were signed up for both Obstacle and Public Relations, they ran them at the same time.  The first half was the Obstacle course and the second half was the Public Relations.  As far as I can tell, the PR portion is a little more difficult with one station having a human distraction.

Miss A was in the youngest group and is very competitive, so she was a little disappointed that they were awarded Participation Ribbons instead of Placement Ribbons... especially since she and Clementine did very well on the Obstacle/PR portion.  She was sizing up her competition and figuring out who would place where.  It's my fault for not realizing earlier and preparing her for that, but she was still very proud of a job well done.  :-)

They award Placement Ribbons in the next age group, which she will be eligible for next year.  She was very excited and has already started planning next year's show with the new cria... Pearl, Holly and Willow.  She thinks Willow will be the best candidate for Performance because she's the most bold.  I have to agree, I think she's right.  :-)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: For Me Too

I cast on 6 fewer stitches and am planning to add 1.5 inches to the depth.  Hopefully I'll be happier.

Have a great Fiber Arts Friday!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Slow Living: October 2012

We've had several freezes and some snow this month but there have been many days where a long-sleeve shirt or jacket is too much.  I do love the fall in Colorado.  It's a busy and beautiful time of year, but then I think it's always is.  ;-)

Here's my October's installment for the Slow Living Project.

NOURISH: Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch overpackaged, over-processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead. Share favourite links/recipes/tips from the month here.

We had our last Farmer's Market.  I'm always sad for the season to end.  There is a smaller, less-frequent, indoor, winter market that I am looking forward to, but the dogs are not invited.  :-(

We've eaten many beets and potatoes from the Farmer's Market and are making a dent in what's left of our garden onions as well as the first butternut squash of the season.  Nothing says fall quite like a butternut squash. yumm.

PREPARE: Stockpile and preserve. Freeze extra meals or excess garden/market produce. Bottle/can, dehydrate or pickle foods to enjoy when they are not in season. Aim to reduce dependency on store bought items especially those known to contain BPA and other suspect additives. Stocking up on dry goods when prices are low counts too.

Canning season ended abruptly early this month with a hard freeze, a condensed alpaca birthing season, a new puppy and a few other things that needed to be accomplished.  But I did pick all of my winter squash right before the hard freeze.

I read that it's no longer recommended to water-bath can pumpkin butter, puree or otherwise.  Apparently pumpkin is too dense and therefore the center can not reliably reach the appropriate temperature for safe canning.  I was kind of bummed, but since pumpkins can be stored whole, I wasn't bummed for too long.  ;-)

I cleaned up the first garden and put everything away for Winter.

Miss A and I have also been preparing for our first-ever alpaca show over most of the summer.  We had our last practice day last weekend and both Miss A and Clementine are doing very well... even with the distractions of The Alpaca Dog.

Lastly, we built our new veggie garden.  :-)

I have some fencing and raised beds to build, but this second garden is about twice the size of our first garden.  I am looking forward to planting it in the spring.

REDUCE/Reuse/Re-purpose/Repair: Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing. A ladder into a strawberry planter? A sheet into a dress? Share ideas and project links here, allowing others to be inspired.

I have been doing some "Spring" Cleaning. While it's not technically Spring, I have been cleaning, organizing, re-purposing, setting aside for donation and basically doing a deep clean in preparation for the winter heating season.

GREEN: up our lives. Start (or continue!) using homemade cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies. The options are endless, the savings huge and the health benefits enormous.

I don't think we accomplished anything in this category again this month. :-/

GROW: plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden? Herbs in a pot, sprouts on a windowsill or and entire fruit/vegetable garden -opt for what fits space and time constraints. Don't have a backyard? Ask a friendly neighbour or relative for a small patch of theirs in return for some home grown produce, they may surprise you!

Our garden finished up early this month, so I had a good final harvest of the winter squash, a few watermelons and a few other things..

Willow, the last of our expected cria, was born on Monday October 1st.  The three girls have been growing quite well and are the best of friends.  Of course I am only able to capture photos of two of them at a time... with continued distractions from The Alpaca Dog and under the supervision of Noodle (LGD#2).

We also had out vet out for Pregnancy Ultrasounds so we know for sure that we are expecting only one cria in June 2013.

CREATE: to fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others. Create something as simple as a handmade gift tag or something as extravagant as a fine knit shawl. Share project details and any new skills learnt here.

Only a little bit of knitting with wool and alpaca.

DISCOVER: Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests. Trawl libraries, second hand shops or local book shops to find titles that fill the need. Share titles/authors of what is being read this month.

I discovered an Owl's Cough Pellet while doing my farm chores this month.  I had to pull out a reference book to learn what it was.  I realize now that I've seen a few of these this year in various states on the property.  It's a great discovery since it means the owls are back.  Hopefully this will translate into a decline in the mouse and rabbit population.... especially since we're entering fall without a cat this year.

We've also been studying election materials.  We want to make sure we're clear on what we're voting for and why... Election Day is just a few days away.  :-)

ENHANCE: community: Possibilities include supporting local growers and producers, help out at a local school/kindergarten, barter or foodswap, joining a playgroup or forming a walking or craft group. Car pooling where possible and biking/walking instead of driving. Even start up a blog if you haven't already - online communities count too! Or maybe just help out someone trying to cross the street! The rewards for your time are often returned tenfold.

Hubba volunteered with the Obama Campaign and I looked in on a friend's cat while she was away.

ENJOY: Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment. Share a moment to be remembered from the month here.

We have been enjoying our new cria and puppy quite a lot and I have been reflective on the last four years.

Hubba has been in Japan for the Oita International Wheelchair Marathon.  My understanding is that this is the largest all-wheelchair race in the world.  It's a fantastic event in a beautiful city.  Truly a tremendous International experience since racers come from all corners of the world.  I went with him four years ago and would love to go back.... perhaps next year. :-)