Friday, June 28, 2013

Fiber Arts Friday: Tour de Fleece, 2013

It's been a crazy spring.  My garden is not yet fully planted and I am still shearing alpacas and llamas, but I am committing myself to the Tour de Fleece this year.

I have joined up with the Team of Wonder again... though the name has changed a little (Team Wonder Why Alpaca Farm), it will always be the "Team of Wonder" to me.  :-)

As usual, I plan to post my daily progress in my weekly Fiber Arts Friday Post.  But before I get started, I have already started....

This is what my bobbin currently looks like, about 1/2 way thru the first pass, spinning a lace-weight, colored, cotton.  I have 5.5 ounces to go.

I will continue to spin this on my wheel and would love to finish it out over the next three weeks.  I will also be travelling a couple of days so I will get some drop-spindle work on a currently undecided roving.  I have no idea what my "challenge" will be yet either, but I do have a few choices when it comes to prepared camelid, so so I promise to meet the one-and-only requirement for my team.  ;-)

My goal again is to spin at least a 1/2 inch each day the Tour races.  Most days I will spin more, but I know that some days there will only be a few minutes available.

You should join us, we start tomorrow.  ;-)

Happy Spinning and Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Nearly 11 years ago, this happened...

I was one of the many people that made it happen.

This video makes my heart race, gives me chills and puts tears in my eyes.  The amount of work it took to get to this day... well, I don't think I can quantify it.

Even though we did everything, checked everything and knew the baby was ready to fly, there was still just that tiny bit of unknown.  It was literally THE First Flight.

While reflecting on this day, the amount of trust we had in each other was awe inspiring... the amount of trust that we had in Bill Bubb to let him take the controls and the amount of trust he had in the rest of us to agree to take the controls... really, just awe inspiring.

This day was my first First Flight experience.  I was one of the many people on the ground... cheering, hoping, praying, waiting and cheering again.  We experienced a couple-hundred First Flights after that, but this was a brand-new aircraft, partially made with brand-new manufacturing technology and lots of other brand-new things.

Not much work happened after those speeches that day.  Hubba had to fetch me from the office and, as I recall, I was home "sleeping it off" by about 2pm.

May you be as blessed as I was to work with such an amazing team on such an amazing project.  These, most definitely, were the "the good ol' days."

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Veggie Garden 3.0

My time for gardening has been haphazard at best, but I do have some food in the ground... which seems like a huge accomplishment for me this year.

What little time I have spent has been in the initial garden... mostly because I didn't have enough water hoses to also reach the new garden until a couple of weeks ago.

I'm very excited about my initial garden.  What was once a light-colored clay is now a dark-colored rich soil, that holds moisture and has an abundance of earthworms.

The difference between the initial (3rd year) and new (1st year) garden soils is stark.  Both have weeds, but they are fewer and easier to pull in the initial garden.  The new garden is in what used to be a parking area so it was clay topped with road base... not the best environment for growing food.  ;-)  The top few inches were hauled away with fill dirt and alpaca manure being added last fall.  Then we added another layer of alpaca manure over the winter so the soil is better than it was, but seeing what has happened with the initial garden, I am very excited about what it will be next year.

In the initial garden I have a row and a half of tomatoes... mostly Romas for sauce making but there is also one pear tomato and a couple other unknown varieties.  There are a few pickling cucumbers, chiles, bell peppers, winter squashes, zucchinis and brussels sprouts.  Also my neighbor gave me a Giant Pumpkin seedling that I think my niece and nephews will enjoy.

I added a second row of old T-Posts and baling twine to use for holding up the tomatoes and cucumbers.  Last year, even with the drought, all of our tomatoes outgrew their cages so I'm hoping this structure will be a bit stronger.

I've also planted several herbs... two varieties of basil, sage, cilantro, rosemary and chives.  It appears that my thyme gave up the ghost last week after surviving a couple of years in a whiskey barrel.  I really need to add more manure to that barrel so that it has a better chance of holding moisture too.

I also have a few apples that I did not expect.  We had a late hard freeze and very few blossoms, so I'm excited to see apples.

I noticed a Robin checking out out my Cherry progress... certainly he was remembering how delicious they were last year when picked my tree clean.  So before he got too comfortable, I hung a few old CDs from the branches and I have not seen any birds hanging out in my tree since.  So fingers crossed that I actually get to eat some of these myself this year.

I would still like to plant beets, carrots, parsnips, onions, shallots and potatoes... hopefully it's not too late for these.  I know it is too late for the beans and peas which means my long-awaited Fava Beans will have to wait a little longer and I'm thinking it's probably a little late for greens and lettuces as well, but I may just plant a few seeds anyway.  ;-)

Finally, even with just the little bit of work this year, I am being rewarded with tomatoes.  :-)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fiber Arts Friday: Tibetan Mastiff Fur

Last weekend, we had a visit with our Tibetan Mastiff breeder.

Part of the visit was to let Gunnar play with his siblings and part was to pick up some TM fiber.  Our breeder has been diligently brushing out his dogs and saving the fur for us in grocery sacks.

I should have taken a better photo, but in this large garbage bag is about seven grocery sacks of TM fiber separated by color... light gold, darker gold and black.

These Tibetan Mastiffs have an average staple length of two inches with a nice crimp.  My hope was to have this fiber as well as the large amount of black we have collected from our girls ready to begin spinning for the Tour de Fleece which starts next weekend, but I don't see that happening.  :-/

There is good news in that the Black Forest Fire I mentioned last Friday has been fully contained as of yesterday!  It will be a while before it's fully controlled but in the meantime this is a huge relief.

We have had Stellar Jay chicks learning to fly in our back yard yesterday and today. Happy First Day of Summer and Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cria Watch 2013

We've been closely watching Apple for the last few weeks.  She is our only pregnant alpaca this year and she is a first time momma.

Apple at the end of May, looking pregnant

She is due in about three weeks and is definitely uncomfortable.  I have some ideas about when she will deliver, but I've been wrong before so I am keeping that to myself.  ;-)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Gunnar's first visit at his first home.

We took Gunnar on his first visit to his first home last weekend.  He got to play with his litter-mate/sister, Molly, his half-brother, Ferdinand and his momma, Janey.

Gunnar recognized his breeder right away
and was very happy  to see him.

running like the wind


Molly putting Gunnar in his place

The little kids picking on their bigger brother, Ferdinand

Tired Puppies

Gunnar had a very good visit.  He slept most of the way home, greeted the other dogs and alpacas then went for another nap.  We'll be visiting again soon.  :-)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fiber Arts Friday: The Wild Fire Edition

I went to the Estes Park Wool Market last weekend and was planning on sharing that with you today.  Especially since it was the anniversary of the start of the High Park Fire which burned near here last summer.

The High Park Fire became the most destructive in the state's history, when you consider homes and property improvements damaged or destroyed.  The record only stood for a few days when the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs became the most destructive.  We were feeling grateful that fire season hadn't started and that it was still looking quite green in our area.

Then earlier this week, I visited the Spun: Adventures in Textiles exhibit at the Denver Art Museum with some of my family and I thought I might share that trip with you.

It was a lovely day and fantastic exhibit that was hampered by smoke from the newest, most destructive fire in the state's history.  The Black Forest Fire, near Colorado Springs.

In both cases, the Black Forest Fire is smaller than the last two, but has already destroyed more homes.  As of this morning, it was 379 homes and 15,700 acres burned... and it is only a few days old.

Evacuations are in progress.  The generosity of the people nearby, who can help is astounding.  I witnessed someone making a plea on an online Alpaca Group for trailer assistance in evacuating livestock and having it met.

I've heard that the few people we've met in the area are safe and are helping others as best they can.

Livestock (including alpacas) are being evacuated to the Elbert County Fairgrounds unless the farmers have made other arrangements.

I know that most of my readers are not in the Colorado Front Range area, but if you are, and are able, please consider making a donation of feed or hay to the evacuees.  We will be making a hay donation when we get feed later today.  It's not a lot, but I know that every little bit helps... and with 379 homes already destroyed, the need for the animals and their people will be in place for a long time.

The Alpaca Breeders of the Rockies has set up an account for those who would like to donate feed and hay.  Black Forest Fire Alpaca Fund, ABR, PO Box 1965, Estes Park, CO, 80517 or call 970-586-5589.

9 Cares, Colorado Shares are taking food donations this weekend and of course, The Red Cross are great places to help as well as many other organizations.

There are a few other fires in the state, including the Royal Gorge Fire, also near Colorado Springs and the Big Meadows Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park, directly west of us, all of which are significantly smaller.

By the way, we are safe.  Our farm is about two hours north of the Black Forest Fire.

I hope that you are safe where you are and enjoying a beautiful spring, Fiber Arts Friday.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Hay Delivery - June 2013

The good news is that we finally got hay delivered last weekend.

The bad news is that the supply is at the end of the last 2012 cutting, so I'll be buying again in August.

The good news is that the first cutting has started, so hopefully we will see the prices return to normal.  Fingers crossed for a plentiful harvest this year.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Fiber Arts Friday: Spinning Green Cotton

I am currently spinning Naturally Colored (green, although it looks sort of yellow in the photo) Cotton.  It is going slowly...

But I enjoy spinning cotton.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Cleanse that Doesn't Suck

I signed up for a nutritional cleanse last month that was offered by a friend who is a Holistic Health Coach.

I had never done a cleanse before and wasn't exactly sure what I was agreeing to.  But I trust my friend and another friend was also participating.  So I signed up.

We had a kick-off call a couple of days before it started to set expectations and make introductions.  This was the first I had really thought much beyond the time commitment... basically it was eliminating a bunch of foods and following a vegan diet for three weeks.  Going for mostly raw and a few specifics for what to do and not do.

Starting out... I knew that eliminating the sugar, meat, eggs and alcohol would not be a problem.  Caffeine and gluten were certainly doable, but would require some thought.  The big thing for me was going to be the dairy.  I eat a lot of cheese and yogurt and a fair amount of milk... as in I have been trying to make our own yogurt because we eat so much of it.

After the cleanse...  It turned out that animal protein was the hardest part to go without.  Mostly this is because of shearing season.  Shearing is a very physical job and the food I was eating, while providing a lot of immediate energy, was not sticking with me.  So, I broke a lot of the rules at least once.

I did not experience the lack-of-caffeine headache.  I did not feel like my eating was stifled or limited.  I did not go hungry.  I may have lost a few pounds... I'm not diligent about weighing myself, so I'm not certain about that last one.

My first soda, cake and coffee were not satisfying.  My first turkey, bacon, sourdough bread and cheese were all very satisfying.

What did I learn?

Eating breakfast and taking time each morning for myself is a good thing.   Before the cleanse started I was waking up, making coffee and going straight to the Day Job... no breakfast, no slow-ease into the day, just wake and work.

Drinking warm lemon water helps with the after-effects of eating beans... almost instantly.

This cleanse reinforced that we eat a well-balanced diet.  Some of the people were having a hard time, but I never felt restricted.  I never had any pain or discomfort and I generally slept a little better.

Would I do it again? Yes.  But not during shearing season.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Slow Living: May 2013

May 1st looked like this:

9 inches of snow

Yesterday looked like this:

Lush, green and already mowed, twice

I think it's safe to say that were are finally past winter.  :-)  Which means it's time for the May 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.

I'm in the process of a nutritional cleanse, so there have been a lot of juices, smoothies, beans and veggie stir-fries.  But before that started there were meatballs from scratch (pretty sure I won't be doing that again anytime soon)  and the last of our spaghetti squash from last year's garden.

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.

I have to say, there hasn't been much outside of the day job and alpaca shearing.

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.

Hmmm... well, we had the car repaired.  I suppose that counts.  :-/

Miss Wasabi has the sweetest face

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 rearranged two cabinets in the Kitchen earlier this year which has resulted in an increased use of re-usable food-storage containers and a decrease in plastic zipper bags.  It would be nice to have one or two larger containers but I'm very happy that all I had to do was make something more accessible to see our behavior change.


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!

We got both snow and rain this month, so I only have one row of seeds and a clump of chives planted so far. I have plans for planting more this weekend, but it will only be a few hours here and there.

Our fruit trees have blossomed.  We definitely have cherries and a few plums in progress.  I don't think we'll get many apples or peaches.  I'm crossing my fingers for pears, but I'm not certain yet if we'll be seeing any of those.  I also have a few volunteer onions.

Cherry Blossom

We sheared our alpacas and I have been shearing for clients on weekends this month.

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.

The Kombucha is still happening but the knitting and spinning are taking a back seat to shearing and the day job.  The yogurt making is also on hiatus until the cleanse is over.

This year's Alpaca Fiber Harvest

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.

Every day I shear, I learn something... handling techniques, nutrition, supply sources.

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.

We were on the receiving end of this one a lot this month.... My Momma spent several days with me to help keep tabs on the puppy while Hubba was in Korea for a race and some very, good friends helped us shear our herd.

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.

I enjoyed my Momma's visit.  The dogs adore her, as do I. :-)

I'm enjoying watching Gunnar grow and learn.  He's doing a great job with the alpacas and big dogs.

Gunnar fitting in perfectly

I'm enjoying shearing... meeting new alpacas and their people and seeing ones I've known for a while.

I enjoyed a visit with a dear friend from Canada who I have not seen in more than a year.