Monday, November 30, 2015

NaBloPoMo: All Done

At the beginning of this month, I committed to writing every day and hoped I would finish a daily post.  I felt this was daunting, but doable if I put the time in.

I'm really proud of myself for accomplishing this goal and am looking forward to taking tomorrow off.  ;-)

My goal now is to continue a near-daily effort of writing, with publishing twice each week.  I would like to write more about the farm.

Thank you for reading all of these posts this month.  :-)

Sunday, November 29, 2015


If there is anything I dislike more than shopping and returning something that isn't what it's supposed to be, it is returning something because it doesn't work.

Since I wrote about puppy-proofing our de-icers, I have bought two more of the second brand... for a total of four this year.  One works, three don't.

Those are pretty bad odds.

So thinking that my brand new de-icers should be in working order, I have replaced extension cords, swapped outlets and swapped cords.  When the second one didn't work either, I did the whole thing again thinking I had missed a scenario.  So when the third didn't work, I resigned myself, went back to the first store and bought one of the first brand from last time and that one is working.

We haven't been above freezing since Wednesday evening... all tanks have open water. :-)

Now to hope Miss Nobu doesn't decide to kill this one.

Happy Winter!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Winter (Finally)

As the saying goes, "There is no bad weather, only bad clothes."

Before I was a farmer, I was an alpine ski instructor.

Just like skiing, how you dress is important for farming.

It's important to stay warm, but not too warm.

If you start to sweat, you you will get chilled.

Of course the Himalayan Canines and Andean Camelids could not be happier that winter is finally here.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fiber Arts Friday: Voie de Vie

Sometime last summer Denise at Voie de Vie offered to make a cowl for me.

I don't exactly remember the circumstances, but I do remember feeling both inadequate and grateful to be offered such a gift.

Miso the kitty loves my Voie de Vie La Coeur Cowl too

Having made for others and rarely making for myself, I know how generous this sort of gift is.

We talked about some of the prepared yarns I had available and she decided on my handspun Keyla singles.  I sent her all I had left and included a skein of Bandit that I had spun last year for her trouble.

Keyla's yarn

She decided to use all of the yarn I sent and included some of Wonder Why Gal's handspun too.  She wrote about it here.

Bandit (grey) paired with Wonder Why Gal's handspun alpaca

I'm not certain I can convey what this gift means to me.  I bought the yarn before I bought Keyla.  She was always a teacher for me, up to and including when we lost her over the summer.

Denise, Thank you so much for this wonderful, generous gift.  I love it so much.  :-)

The pattern is La Coeur Cowl.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Giving Thanks

This was a surprisingly hard post to write.  Today is Thanksgiving in the US so social media will be covered in thankful and food posts.  I am most definitely thankful for my life and the food I'll be eating later, but it's been a tough year on many fronts.

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday.  Not only do I love turkey (and food in general) but I love getting together with my family.  They are loud and overwhelming.  There are a whole lot of them and I adore them.

I will laugh at my BIL's stories until I cry.  I will compare my height with nieces and nephews.  (I seem to be getting shorter.)  We will tease and make each other the butt of jokes.  We'll talk about what's going on, jobs, school, dreams and goals and we will toast each other's successes and blessings.  This is really one of my favorite days of the year.

Of course I will make time to watch the National Dog Show.  The show itself was November 14th, but the NBC broadcast is today.  A couple of friends were exhibiting and one's Tibetan Mastiff won Best of Breed, so I'm looking forward to watching her in the group ring.

I will take moments through out the day to pause, reflect and say thank you... as I do most days.  Life is precious.  I am grateful for the one I have and especially grateful for the many blessings and acts of kindness we've received.

I hope you have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


My MIL's recipe is a closely guarded secret.

I promised to never share it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


These weeks from the end of Daylight Savings until the Winter Solstice can be tough.  The days are just too short.

The time change has the sun go down an hour earlier when the days are already getting short.  Then they just get shorter.  This last week has been especially noticeable.

The sun is officially setting around 4:30pm now.  Which means at 3pm, it's really feeling late.

I love the cooler weather and winter in general.  I mean, we do raise wooly mammals.  But I am looking forward to the Winter Solstice next month.  ;-)

Monday, November 23, 2015


I've been perusing the BlogHer list of posts for NaBloPoMo.... apparently I'm supposed to be linking my daily posts.  Oops.  I wonder if I should go link each day from the last three weeks... Engineers are not good at following directions.  ;-)

Anyway I've found a few new blogs to follow.  A recent one is Retired Ruth.  I tend to enjoy school teachers and this post about advice hit a chord for me.  She started with a quote she had read recently...
"When you feel like quitting, think about why you started."
Definitely worth thinking about.  Sometimes there are reasons to quit, as noted in The Dip by Seth Godin.  He says, if you're going to quit, quit early... for example, my basketball career.  I sucked... Big Time.  But don't quit just because it's getting difficult... most things worth doing are going to be hard at least some of the time.  So the point is... when the going gets tough, think about why you're on your path.

The piece of advice that came to mind for me was...
 "Stick your finger in water.  If the hole remains when you remove your finger, only then are you irreplaceable."
That was tough to hear put so clearly, but the reality couldn't be more true.... as I'm in the midst of my 5th lay off.  :-/

So when the going gets tough, and you are replaceable, what are you going to do?

I've been searching for a new day job and working on the farm's business plan.  In both cases, I've been refining my focus on what I want to do and what value I can provide as well as attending classes and networking sessions.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Star Wars

Star Wars was the first movie I ever saw in the theater.

My sister, parents and I went to the Continental Theater in Denver.  At the time it was a nondescript, square, white building.  The line went around the building and everyone was excited.  I remember feeling excited too, but not understanding why.

We finally made it into the lobby and I was in awe.  High ceilings, chandeliers, archways and fancy carpet.

My next memory is sitting in the theater.  Everyone surrounding me was still excited and I still didn't understand why.

Then the lights went dark.  The music started.  The opening narrative flew through the sky.  There were space ships.... and then.... Darth Vader.  He scared me, but he had my full attention.

Good vs. Evil.  Good wins.  Amazing Music.  What's not to love?

Return of the Jedi was the first movie I saw in the theater without adult supervision.  My friend wanted to see one of the Jaws movies because she had already seen Return of the Jedi, but agreed it was worth seeing again.  It was.  I've probably seen it 20 times since then.

I'm excited about the next installment.  Every time I hear the music, I'm brought back to that first experience.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


My pancakes were legendary when we lived in New Mexico.  Thick, fluffy, buttermilk pancakes.  We had a gas stove and I loved cooking on it.

Here in NoCO, I have a smooth-topped electric stove.

6 years later I've figured out how to cook most things on the electric stove, but not pancakes.

I've tried different skillets and fats but the pancakes are not legendary.  Or perhaps they are just legendary at the other end of the spectrum.... burnt and raw at the same time or if I'm lucky, not raw but still burnt.

Clearly my temperature is too high but the electric stove takes so (sooo) long to change temperature.  Ugh.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fiber Arts Friday: The Nook Chair

Sometimes you find fiber arts in unusual places.


I happened upon The Nook Chair while reading a contemporary architecture blog a while back..

Cool, eh?

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Fencing, with respect to livestock, provides three functions for us.

First is to contain our alpacas.... boys and girls separately and occasionally smaller groups for other reasons.  A 4 foot fence is sufficient for this.  Some of the alpacas will get their head stuck in the 4x4" pig fencing that came with our property.  But when I go to help them, they usually figure out how to get their head unstuck.  So we prefer to use 4x2" "no climb" fencing.

Second is to aid in keeping predators out.  While bear, mountain lion and coyote are in the area, we are flanked by dense residential property.  We have seen coyote on our property, but the bear and mountain lion tend to stay west of us.  We don't have poultry or rabbits so the plentiful raccoon, skunk and raptors are not a current threat.  With all of that said, our biggest predation threat comes from neighborhood dog and human.

Third is to contain our Livestock Guardian Dogs.  All LGDs will expand their territory without proper fencing.  The Tibetan Mastiff, being a perimeter-style guardian, is especially prone to roaming, aka expanding their territory.  A 5-6 foot "no climb" fence is better for this.  Most of our dogs are fairly grounded.  Noodle can get over a 5 foot fence, it just hasn't crossed her mind to do it yet.  Nobu can climb a 4 foot pig or chain-link fence without any trouble.

When we moved to our property we did a lot with what the previous owner had left behind and supplemented that with 5 foot welded wire no climb fencing.  For the most part it has worked pretty well.  The fencing we bought is not as durable as we'd like it to be, so we've had to replace several sections and are finally using up the last of our initial buy.

Replacing the 3-strand barbed wire perimeter fence with 6 foot woven wire horse fencing has kept the coyotes and neighborhood dogs out of our pasture.  Which makes our dogs' job easier and helps us to sleep a little better.

Our task last weekend was to replace a line of pig fencing on the girls' interior corral in order to contain Miss Nobu.

This line was in place when we moved in; two panels of pig fencing sandwiching a livestock gate.  It was ugly, but for the preceding dogs and all of the alpacas, it was functional.  We replaced the inside line of pig fence and livestock gate with 5 foot no climb fencing.

Nobu inspecting the new fence

For Miss Nobu, it had been an easy way out of the corral and into the pasture... and now that she's approaching her first season, she showed me that it was an easy way back into the corral so she could cosy up to Miles, who is very much in tact.  While we are considering this breeding for the future, it's too early for both of them and will not be happening this year.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

More Video Testing

So embedded videos are not viewable in Feedly, on email subscription, in the Blogger App or on the mobile version of this site on my iPhone... even though the video was taken by my iPhone. :-/

But they are viewable on the computer UI even if they are not viewable in Preview mode up to at least 7.1 MB.

Here's yesterday's video embedded from YouTube:

And the YouTube link.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

LGDs at Play

Here is the video (hopefully) of Wonton and Gunnar that I've been wanting to share.  I took it about a week ago.

I like it for two reasons: it shows that a working dog's life is not all work, and it shows Gunnar being respectful of Wonton's position as the leader of the pack.

I just recently put these two back together since all of the older girls are now past their season for the year.  Noodle is back to mentoring Miles and Wonton is back to helping Gunnar bring up the puppies.

Wonton has had a hand (er paw) in raising each of our younger dogs.  She is the pack leader, without question.  She does not put up with shenanigans and all of the other dogs defer to her leadership.

Wonton and Gunnar are a great team.  So to see them playing together is a treat.  It tells me that she's happy to back with him and that she trusts him.

While watching the video you'll see that even though he is bigger, he is submissive and a little bit flirty.  She is altered, so no puppies will be coming from this pair.  ;-)

At one point Wonton lays down and Gunnar is not sure how to be lower than her.

Later he anticipates her jumping up but she does not go as high as expected.  So he briefly has his front leg over her neck, quickly fixes it and pauses until she resumes being playful.

ETA: I am able to view this video after publishing.  It was added with the Blogger icon and was not viewable in draft mode.  Yesterday's video was viewable in draft mode.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Test Video: Miles Being Silly

I'm still having technical difficulties.  The Blogger online help was not helpful.

I found this article that says the max file size is 100 MB and that supported formats are .mp4, .wmv and .mov.  My file is 7.1MB and .mov, so I'm good there.

I experience the same behavior in Chrome and IE.  So I made sure I had a default video player set up on my computer and verified the video is playable outside of Blogger but that didn't help either.

So I'm just going to post a silly, short, video and hope that it's view-able after publishing.  I'll be doing my own tests, but if you don't mind letting me know if you can watch the video and what browser/version you are using.


Here it is...  Miles Being Silly.  20 seconds.

Of course, this one played in preview mode.  hmmm.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

NaBloPoMo: Half Way There

Whelp.  I thought I  might fail on Day 4, but here we are half way through the month.

I hope you're not tired of me yet.  ;-)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Technical Difficulties

I don't know if it's the Blogger Video Plug in, the fact that I'm using Chrome or if there is something wrong with my video, but I am unable to get videos to play in a draft post.

Research is required.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Fiber Arts Friday: Bandana Cowl, v4.0

I have made this Bandana Cowl four times now, and am reaching into the bowels of my drafts for this post.  This was a Christmas gift for last year... all drafted and ready to post well before Christmas 2014, but one never knows who's reading and then life happened. ;-)

The latest edition was made with Manos del Uraguay in a colorway I had been calling Muddy.  It's a rich, deep, earthy brown with lots of variation and hints of mossy green. (edited to add, it's real name is Moss...  lol.)

The recipient is a hunter so I made it a little longer than normal and was really happy with the camo-effect of the yarn.  I'm told he liked it.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Farmer's Market

My love affair with the Farmer's Market began the summer I lived in Boulder.  I was in college, staying with my parents.  We would walk along the creek path to the Farmer's Market.

There was wonderful produce, fresh bread and cut flowers.  There was fresh coffee and places for breakfast.  Everyone seemed so happy.  What a tremendous way to live I thought.

A lot of life has happened between now and then and I continued to frequent Farmer's Markets.

Today, we have our own farm with a decent  sized garden.  Hubba and I go back and forth between thinking about having a booth and relishing the fact that we are just able to enjoy it.

Especially since dogs are allowed at Farmer's Markets in Colorado and it's great socializing for the puppies.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Things I Wish I Could Grow

While snacking on some guacamole, it occurred to me there are a few things I really wish I could grow at home...

Avocados - I love guacamole in and on so many things... and frankly a slice of avocado on a grilled turkey sandwich or salad is pretty hard to beat too.  Of course I can buy pre-made guacamole and we do have avocados in the grocery store every now and then, but they're definitely not local so their flavor and ripeness is always a challenge.

Indian Mangos - ever since I visited India years ago, I have a mostly unresolved craving for a good fresh mango.  We do get the larger Mexican mangos here, but they don't have much flavor.  I suspect they are picked prior to being ripe.  Which makes them just unsatisfying.  I have been able to find a good substitute with Ceres Mango Juice that in imported from South Africa and occasionally I find a decent mango sorbet.

Oranges - There is absolutely nothing better than fresh-squeezed orange juice.

Olives - I love olives, olive oil, olive oil soap... I love olives.

Teff Grass Hay - My first hay buy when we moved to our farm was of locally grown teff.  It's a thin stemmed grass that the alpacas loved.  When it came to buy hay again, the farmer had gone out of business.  So I have been buying a different grass hay from the feed store.  It's more stemmy than the alpacas care for, so a lot is sent to the "spent hay" pile.  Technically I can grow Teff Grass here, but I don't have the space to make it worth the cost of haying.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Hot Air Balloon

When our oldest girls were young and a long way from being on full-time guardian duty, a Hot Air Balloon came close to their corral.

They instinctively knew to round up the alpacas and defend their herd.  Noodle took the front line and Wonton went back and forth between checking on the alpacas they put in the loafing shed and backing up Noodle.

I did not tell them that balloons were not a threat because I was so impressed with how well these puppies worked together.

Fast forward 4.5 years: I've managed to convince all of the younger dogs that Hot Air Balloons are nothing to be concerned about.  However both Noodle and Wonton are still convinced that they are out to hurt their alpacas, me and/or Hubba.

Hot Air Balloons don't listen to their warning, so the dogs get more upset the longer the balloon hangs around.

As you can see from a couple of these photos, we have close residential neighbors who don't care for barking dogs at 7am.  But residential property adjacent to farm land is an entirely different post. Suffice it to say that we try to be good neighbors.

There are two Hot Air Balloons that regularly fly in the area.  So every weekend during the spring and fall, as long as it's a cool morning with clear skies, we will see a Hot Air Balloon at least once.

Normally it's a quick pass in less than 15 minutes and they don't come too close to our property.  So it's not a big deal to keep Wonton and Noodle in for a little while longer.  But on Sunday, this balloon hung around our property for close to two hours.

Since Hot Air Balloons are dependent upon the winds at the time I know they weren't hanging close on purpose, but it really messed with my priorities for the day.

Monday, November 9, 2015


I love the mystery of a foggy, frosty morning.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


There are few things I dislike more than shopping.  Going back to a store to return something that is not what it's supposed to be is one of them.

I bought a couple of de-icers at one of our local farm stores.  From the box, there is a wire shield around the electrical cable and the second bullet from the bottom states "Heavy Duty Anti-chew Protector."

That's what I need since sweet baby Nobu killed one of my existing de-icers. (No, it was not plugged in.)

So... when I opened the box, look what I found.


Part of me thought "Fine!  I'll set it up.  Nobu will kill it.  Then I'll take it back."

Fortunately a cooler head prevailed and when I was near a different farm store the next day, I picked up these.  The second to last bullet says "Heavy duty cord protector to deter chewing."

When I opened the box, I actually found a "Heavy duty cord protector to deter chewing."

We actually bought the second brand last year after we went down the same road with Mochi.  Here it is with Miles... still working.

Now to go return the first brand. sigh.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Best Question

I was on an interview earlier this week.  It was a panel interview which can sometimes be a little nerve wracking.

While we were waiting for the conference room to free up, one of the interviewers started off with "Who has the best cinnamon rolls in Albuquerque?"

Albuquerque is in New Mexico.  We were in Colorado.  There is only one answer to that question.

So in a moment he told me that he was also a 'Burqueno, that he understands my longing for green chile, that he knows New Mexican food is not Mexican food, and that we had some common history.

It was the perfect ice breaker.

For the record, the answer is The Frontier.  If you ever have the opportunity, stop in.  Your taste buds will thank you.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fiber Arts Friday: Fiber

I wrote earlier this week about how writing helps me to feel grounded.  My other main go to when I need grounding is fiber.

I have lots of fiber-y pursuits.  Often several are in progress at the same time.

At the moment I have a hand-spun Tibetan Mastiff scarf on the needles,

yak on the wheel,

and a bag of washed Tibetan Mastiff ready to be carded.

I also have yak/merino and alpaca patiently waiting on needles.  Sock yarn on a crochet hook, cotton on a bobbin and cashmere on a spindle.  Not to mention a large stash of raw alpaca that is ready to be skirted.

Working with the animals and their fiber goes a long way toward keeping me focused on the things that matter most.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


Years ago, I wrote about how much I love a good cup of coffee.  I still do.  But I also love a nice cup of hot tea.  Especially on days like today.

The weather is cooler, it's damp and I'm stingy with the thermostat.  I tend to stick to herbal teas, but a good cup of black or green tea is nice too.

The dampness always makes me crave more tea.

It might be time to stock up.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

This is Getting Hard

It's day 4 of NaBloPoMo and I'm having a bit of writers block.

I have close to 200 drafts.  Many are no longer relevant and should be deleted.  Some require more thought or photos.  Some are a collection of thoughts for future events. But most are not going to get published.

I've started to review the list of prompts, but not really feeling it.

So here we are.  It's day 4 and I'm feeling challenged.  :-)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Those of us in the Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) community talk about our dogs as being slow to mature.  LGDs generally take about two years to grow up and individuals always vary.  So this last month, while three of our girls have been in season, I've been pondering the maturity of our boys.

Gunnar, at nearly three years old, is smooth.  Noodle is the focus of his attention.  He sings songs to her.  To the untrained ear it's howling, barking and whining.  But it is definitely a song, with interesting vocalizations.  Some reminiscent of a didgeridoo.  Every chance Gunnar has to get close to her, he does.  He prances in front of her, fluffs up his mane, stands taller and smiles at her.  She explains that she's not interested in his advances.  He fluffs his mane some more, stands even taller and smiles even wider.  If there wasn't a fence between them, we'd be expecting puppies.

Miles, at 22 months, is a hormone on legs with all the swagger of  tween-aged boy.  He gawks and cries at the girls.  He tries to pull the fence down from the middle.  He bounds from girl to girl.  Who ever is closest to his fence line is the girl of the moment and he thinks farts are funny.  He will join in on Gunnar's songs occasionally, but doesn't yet understand the point of courting.

Ramen, at 10 months, is like a kindergartener.  He's sweet, easy going, funny and charming.  He knows there are girls and boys, but isn't moved by the differences.

With respect to knowing their job as Livestock Guardians, Gunnar is an excellent guardian and a leader in the pack.  He has been mentoring his puppies, Ramen and Nobu.

Miles is very protective and strong willed; very good traits for a LGD.  But he is still impulsive which means he is not ready to move past the apprentice role.  Therefore he is currently under the full-time supervision of either Noodle or Boss Lady Wonton and will be for awhile longer.

Ramen is still very much a puppy.  He follows the lead from the others when things need warning.  He will back up Gunnar if he thinks he's preparing to engage, but play time is important to him.  His easy-going temperament makes me to think he will mature at a similar rate to his father.  Faster than Miles, but not quite as fast as his sister, Nobu.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Space to Write

As I mentioned yesterday I was laid off last month as part of a global reduction in force.

Now that it's been a few weeks and I've gotten past the sting, I've been spending time writing.  Not that it's doing much to directly affect my job search, but it has helped me to clarify my feelings about my most recent transition and my priorities for the next.

I think it's important to take time for the things you love to do.  Doing so can make you a better and more peaceful person.... which is certainly a nicer to work with person.

I didn't publish much while I was working at my last day job.  The job wasn't overly stressful and I enjoyed being an "individual contributor," but the daily commute really interfered with my things-I-love-to-do time.

Don't get me wrong.  It was a really nice commute.... essentially no traffic, lots of open space, mountain views, farm and ranch land.  But it was 45 minutes twice a day, every day.  Where I was driving and thinking but not writing, spinning, knitting or spending time with my husband or our animals outside of doing chores.

It feels really good to be able to get thoughts on paper... er, in electrons.

It feels really good to be connected on this channel again.

It feels really good to have space in my mind to write again.

Sunday, November 1, 2015



National Blog Post Month, sponsored by BlogHer.

There was this sweet little gem in my inbox this morning which seemed like a great idea.  I've been missing my blog and bloggy friends, but starting to work on a few drafts recently.

My day job over the last year made it hard to finish and publish posts.  But since I was RIF'd last month, my time is more flexible even though it seems to be much more full.

So, since I have several drafts in progress and have been feeling my writing mojo again, I will commit to writing every day.  I will also sign up to publish a new blog post every day for the month of November.  This is going to be hard, but I will do my best.

Here's to NaBloPoMo!