Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Meet Molly our Stinky Dog

Our Molly
I do not remember introducing everyone to our wonderful dog, Molly.  I adopted her from an animal shelter many years ago. She has been our greatest companion and loyal friend.  Molly is as an active participant here at ranch. When we do the daily chores, she is right there with us every morning and evening.  The other night we were walking back from the barnyard to the house after completing the evening chores when Molly bolted into the dark chasing after something.  Usually she does this when there is a squirrel to chase up a tree.  I shined my light over in the direction that she bolted and said "Molly come." What I saw was this!
Of course the tail was going up and then the awful SMELL was in the air. Molly stopped chasing the skunk and came running over to me. Oh my, now she stunk!  Well she is an indoor dog and now we had to try and rid her of the smell. I tried bathing her with some dog shampoo, but of course that did not help.  So the next day I did some research and found on the internet a formula that was tried on the show Mythbusters. They said it worked the best.  So off to the store to buy some Hydrogen Peroxide.
 The ingredients are as follows.  1 Qt. 3% Hydrogen peroxide.  1/2 cup Baking Soda. 1 tsp of liquid soap (not dish detergent).  Mix the ingredients in a plastic bucket. Do not store this mixture as it can explode.
Be careful of not getting this in the animal's eyes, nose, or mouth. Put this on the dog and really work on the area where the spray is. Molly has a white patch on her chest and we could see the yellow spray from the skunk. Leave it on for 5 minutes, then rinse with tepid water.
Sweet Smelling Molly
Here is a picture of Molly after drying her off. The best part is that it really WORKED!  No left over odors on her.  She just smelled like a normal wet dog. The next problem was ridding the house of the odor.  Well that is another story for another day. I hope that Molly has learned her lesson and will not play with the skunks anymore, but if it happens again, I now keep all ingredients on hand.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

National Alpaca Farm Days
September 24th & 25th
Meet the Alpacas!
Where: Sundown Alpaca Ranch
4727 West River Ridge Road
Ocqueoc, MI

Time: Sat. & Sun. 11:00 am to 6:00 pm

Pet the Alpacas and see demonstrations of spinning yarn and weaving.

Driving Directions to Sundown Alpaca Ranch

From I-75, exit at (M-68) Indian River. Turn east on M-68 driving towards the City of Onaway. Drive thru Onaway continuing east towards Rogers City for 6 to 7 miles. Turn left (North) on Ocqueoc Rd. Follow another 6 miles to Schaedig Hwy. (Landmark is a white church). Turn right (east) on Schaedig Hwy. follow to the end of road (dead end) and then turn left on W. River Ridge Rd.(Private Rd). Follow around curve and driveway for Sundown Alpaca Ranch on left side.

From US-23, turn south on Ocqueoc Rd (at the mouth of the river by the Hammond Bay Party store). Follow for about three miles to Schaedig Hwy, making a left (East, landmark is a white church). Follow to the end of the road and turn left on W. River Ridge Rd. (Private rd). Follow around curve and driveway for Sundown Alpaca Ranch on left side.

More babies!

I'm back again to update everyone about life here on the ranch. Sorry for the delay in posting, but my personnel life was keeping me from updating all of the ranch's social media sites. We have been busy here on the ranch and I also did a lot of arts & craft shows this past summer.

We had a new kid goat born on Sept. 2nd.  He is a Nigerian dwarf goat.  I nicknamed him Houdini as he is small enough to fit through the pen's fence and escapes.

Mom & Son

We also have a brand new cria born on Sept. 16th to Lizzie.  She is our eldest female and is an original imported alpaca from Peru.  Here are some pictures of  him and Lizzie.

Just born

Curious alpacas
Pan guarding his newest alpaca

We are having our annual Open House this coming weekend. Sept. 24th & 25th.  It is from 11:00 to 6:00 pm both days.  Come out to visit the new babies and see demonstrations. See next post for more information.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

All in a day's work!

I have to tell you a little story about what I found while mowing the  pastures the other day.  The alpacas only eat the grass in the pastures. In our pastures we have brome and orchard grass, but we also have some wild daisies, thistles, and queen anne's lace growing. So before all that goes to seed we like to mow them down with the tractor and brush hog.
When I mow the pastures it usually takes me two to three days. I can only ride the tractor for a couple of hours at a time as I usually start getting stiff, but I do enjoy doing it. I love the views, fresh air and sunshine. While mowing I stir up a lot of grasshoppers and other bugs, that the barn swallows swoop down to catch and eat. So while mowing I usually have the swallows following me around the pastures. They like to dive close to my head at times, but they never have "collided" with me. They are so much fun to watch.

When I'm mowing, I always keep a look out for other critters hiding in the grass. I have seen everything from baby rabbits, foxes, and fawns hiding in the tall grass. Of course I don't want to hurt them with the tractor or the brush hog.  When I was mowing the other day,  I caught something out of the corner of my eye. At first I thought it was a big toad that was trying to hop away as fast as it could. I looked again and it was a baby bird! It was not able to fly. I thought, oh the killdeers are having their second brood. We do get a few nests in early spring.  But I didn't see any of them hanging around trying to distract me with their broken wing tricks.  So I got off of the tractor and went to look at the bird.  It was trying to hop away. It was so small that at times you could not see it in the grass.  I didn't see any adult birds hanging around, so I wasn't sure what kind of bird it was.  It was in the middle of the pasture, so I couldn't just leave it there, as I might not see it on the next pass. So I took my hat off, and gently laid it over the bird. I then picked it up.

These pics are a little blurry, but I was trying to take the picture with only one hand using my phone.

As I was looking around the pastures, I spotted two tiny brown birds setting on the fence. I said to the baby bird (and yes it listened) "that must be your parents." So I walked over to the area where I saw them and put the baby bird on the other side of the electric fence. It then proceeded to hop away.  As I walked back to the tractor, I spotted another one!  Again, I laid my hat on it, picked it up and walked it back over to where I released the other bird. It too hopped off into the direction of the other bird.  When I got back onto the tractor and started to mow, I noticed the two birds that I figured were the parents.  I got closer to them to try and identify what they were. They looked like they might be what my bird book says are Fox sparrows. They have 2 broods a year and nest close to the ground.    All in all that day I moved 4 baby birds out of the pastures.  I seen that they were found by the parents as they were swooping down into the grass where I had released them. So for the next two days as I mowed, I kept a good eye out for anymore. I did come across one more, but it was close enough to the fence, that I didn't have to catch it. It hopped right out under the fence. So hopefully they are going to be fine and soon they will fly away.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The lazy alpaca days of summer. Not!

Boy, the time sure flies when your having fun.  Gary & I have been busy here this summer.  We have done 3 Arts & Crafts shows to date and I have 3 more scheduled into the month of August. I have been busy with making more items to sell for the shows. Below is a picture of my booth. I also like to demonstrate spinning at my booth.  I can then educate children about how yarn is made. 
It is also haying season. We also have been putting up our hay bales for the winter.  Between the alpacas and the goats, we figured we will need 700 bales this year.  Here is a picture of Gary bringing more hay for us to unload into the hay building. 

As far as the Alpacas, they are enjoying the summer weather too.  Some of them love to sun themselves. The first time we ever saw one of  our alpacas doing this, we thought he was dead! It gave us such a scare.  We went running into the pen, to see him roll over and get up. We then laughed!

Do you have any sunscreen?

Are you awake?

Well this is all that I have to write about at the moment. I need to go down to the barnyard and help Gary clean up alpaca poo.  I know that summer is a busy time for everyone.  I hope all of you are having a wonderful summer.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Really? A thief here at the ranch?

The 4th of July weekend is here and it is the official start of summer in Northern Michigan. I will be participating in the Dancing Hippo Arts & Craft show this Saturday & Sunday. I have been busy with my dye pots, spinning and knitting in order to have some new items ready for the show. Plan on coming out to visit me and see what I have been busy creating.

Yesterday, I washed a hat that I had just finished knitting and I placed it out on the deck to dry in the sun. 

Last evening after coming into the house from doing the chores, I went out to the deck to bring in the hat and it had disappeared.  I had been home all day, so I know no one was here to take it. It was not a windy day, so it should not had blown away.  I looked over the deck railing to check to see if it somehow ended up on the ground.  No, it was not there.  Then I remembered that Meadow (one of our maremma guard dogs) had been here earlier in the day visiting me on the deck, while I was spinning some yarn.  I came into the house, before she had left as she was napping on the deck.  Well, that explains the mystery as Meadow likes to steal things from the deck and hide them in the woods.  I'm now in a panic thinking I'll never find it and all of my hard work is gone. I grabbed a flashlight (as it is now dusk) and headed down to the barnyard, calling Meadow's name.  When I got there, she was laying outside of the hay building.  When she saw me, she immediately got up and ran into the building and out she came with my hat in her mouth! I said, "Drop it Meadow"!  She had this sheepish look on her face, then she dropped the hat. She then laid down next to the hat and put her chin on her front paws as if to say, don't be mad at me.  (I can't be mad at her, as she has such a cute look on her face).  I picked up the hat and examined it. There were no rips or snags, just some dog slobber and a few pieces of hay to be picked off.  I looked down at Meadow and scolded her by saying "bad dog, you are a thief".  She just laid there looking up at me, with her cute little smirk and wagged her tail.  I then just smiled at her and said,  "you are a very funny dog"!  Well, she then got up and walked me and the hat back to the house.  The hat has now been rewashed and it is drying in my basement where Meadow cannot steal it.
Meadow the thief

Monday, June 20, 2011

Alpaca shearing is done!

It's feels wonderful to get this job done for the year. Both for the  alpacas and us.  All of the alpacas are looking "skinny", but feeling very comfortable.
Some of the girls & cria
Dave Easter is our shearer that we hire.   Here is a pic of Dave shearing and Gary holding the cria's head. We like to shear the newborn cria's fleece as next years fleece that she will produce will not have "cria's tips". Not to get to technical, but when the cria is born it is exposed to amniotic fluid, which can help the fleece later  hold onto debris. Shearing helps keep the cria cool during the summer. If we have cria's born after our shearer has been here, then we do not get them sheared.  We are expecting a few more babies, late summer and early fall. They will need to keep their fleece to help stay warm for the winter. If we sheared them that late they would not have adequate time to grow it back in.

This year's cria is shorn
We had lots of help from some of our "shareholders" that opted to come out and get involved.  They did a great job and I know they left at the end of the day feeling tired and sore, but with an appreciation of where their yarn is coming from.

I also posted a video of the shearing on U-Tube. Here is the link. U-Tube Alpaca Shearing

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Saturday June 18th - Shearing Day

For all of you alpaca lovers, we will be doing our annual shearing of the alpacas. We still have some yarn lovers and spinners shares available for the 2011 season.  Maybe you missed this when I first talked about it on the blog.  Here is the quote from an earlier post here.

And a special offer for all of you spinners, knitters and weavers, as we are going to offer you something exciting for next years Alpaca fiber harvest.  We are now a CSA Alpaca Ranch. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Our fiber CSA will allow you to own a share of our alpaca herd and receive yarn and/or roving from our herd as if you owned the alpacas yourself.  When you purchase a share of our 2011 fiber harvest, you will not only receive a selection of fiber or yarns, you will also be invited to participate in the life on the ranch. You can come out for Ranch Workdays during the year (actually working is optional, of course!), and attend special events held here at the ranch. There will be more information and what other benefits you will receive with your CSA purchase next weekend during the open house.  Of course there will be a limited amount of shares to be sold so everyone will receive a lot of fiber and yarn.  Once the shares are all sold, you can be placed on a waiting list for the following year.  So come on out and visit the alpacas and see where your yarns and fibers will be coming from.

 I process all of the rovings myself as I have a small commercial carding machine.  So that saves on the costs of sending it out to another processor, which means more fiber for your money.

My Carding Machine


Handspun Alpaca Yarns
So come and join us and learn all about Alpaca ranching, while reaping the benefits of North American Grown Alpaca Fiber and Yarns.  Here is a link to my online store to purchase the few shares that are left for this years harvest.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Spring means it is time for Alpaca Shearing

Gary & I have been very busy here at the ranch since the weather has broke.  From fixing fences, to building new pens. I also worked the Arts & Craft show last weekend. I haven't had much time to put up a blog post.

We have some new chicks that have arrived. We like to have chickens free range in the pastures with the alpacas. It is part of our "worming" program for the alpacas. They also help eat all of the flies and other bugs that  "bother" both us and the alpacas.  The best benefit is that their eggs taste wonderful. We have a high demand for the free-range eggs that we sell.

Below is a picture of one of the pens that we built for the buckling (baby male goat) that was born here this spring. His neighbors are the male alpacas. His "daddy" will soon be in a pen next door to him. He has grown and loves eating all of the grass in the pen.

Alpaca Shearing is scheduled for Saturday June 18th.
Anyone that is interested in helping out, please contact me, either email, a post or give me a call. We have jobs from helping to hold the alpaca's head during shearing to picking up the fiber and bagging it. Last year it took us 6 hours to shear our herd.  During shearing we also trim nails, remove fighting teeth, do their annual vaccinations and worming if needed. This is a great way to get "hands on" experience with alpacas and to feel their wonderful fiber on the hoof before it is processed.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

40 Mile Point Lighthouse Arts & Craft Show Rogers City, MI

I have been busy working on new items for this show on Memorial Day Weekend.    Plan on coming to visit me.  It is Saturday, May 28th and Sunday May 29th from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm. You can also tour the lighthouse while you are there.

Friday, May 13, 2011

R.I.P. Fame - N- Fortune

10/7/1998 - 5/12/2011

Our "special" girl has passed away. Gary found her yesterday evening next to the girls shelter. If you remember I had blogged about her this past winter. Fame was part of a herd that we intially purchased for breeding. She was not breedable do to her neurological problems. When she was living in Illinois at another alpaca farm, she had a contracted a worm called the meningeal (brain) worm. You can read more about that here.  She did survive it, but it had lasting effects. The farm that we had gotten her from had bred her, but because her legs gave out on her once in awhile, she had fallen on her cria and it died from the injuries.  We decided that we would not take that chance and never bred her while she lived here on our ranch.  She was a good "Auntie" to the other crias that have been born here. I did also love her fiber. She had the most soft, lofty, silky feeling fiber. I posted a picture of her being sheared of that beautiful fiber. 

I also liked to felt hats with her fiber.  Here are a couple of pics of some of them.

Wide Brimmed Fedora


Gary & I miss her already. She had a "special" place in our hearts.
Rest in Peace Fame.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Our Annual Spring Brushing of the Maremmas

Now that the weather is warming, our Maremma's start to shed their second coat.  They have two coats to keep them warm during the winter. Here is a picture of Gary brushing Pan.

They shed so much, I could spin a lot of yarn with it.

Here is Pan after his first brushing. There will be several more as he is not done shedding all of that undercoat. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ocqueoc River has crested it's banks!

We live on the Ocqueoc River. Our house is high up on a ridge and is set back 400 ft. from the river.

When we built here they told us that there was a 100 year flood plain down by the river.  If we would have built closer to the river the house would be sitting in the water at this time.  After all of the snow melting from the storm and all the rain we've had here the last two days, the river has finally flooded some of our property.  Here are a few pictures.

The river is flooding on both sides.  Normally this bend is only about 10 to 12 feet across.

Normally the banks in the summer are about 5 feet above the water level

This is yet another view of the water flowing on the property.

This poor bird is sitting up on the tallest trees by the river. Hopefully it didn't lose a nest.

The alpacas, and all other animals are fine. They are just a little wet and the barnyard and pastures have a lot of water in them. We are supposed to have more rain this afternoon. Friday is going to be a sunny day. We sure do need it.