Follow my journey into the future. I promise it will be full of random rants, travel and other photos, musical musings, especially BOWIE, general chaos, and all my animal family: four horses, three alpacas, three dogs, and three and a half cats.
A few people have asked if I will ever blog again and this prompted me to post a universal reply. All I can say is,
I've been in a downward spiral for a while now:
I lost my job, the white car died, lost Nadia, lost my cat, daughter has been very sick, lots of other stuff...
On the flipside: I've got a new job, replaced the car with an even older one but less mileage, took a train vacation to Chicago to see the "David Bowie Is" exhibit, my Mom is living with me, we're mostly healthy...
I continue to take random road trips and still use my camera a lot, so, maybe, I will start posting again. I hardly go on the internet anymore, but maybe it's time to revisit blogging. I have received a few inquiries over the past years (has it been that long?) so maybe I will. I did enjoy keeping a photo journal of my life when I was posting. I cannot promise regular posts but I will try.
Driving through the backroads of Colorado, outside of Denver, I came across a giant adirondack chair in an open field. I mean GIANT! Look closely and notice the normal size chair in front of it. Here's more about it if you're interested.
I was able to get a good supply of alfalfa hay this summer in spite of the extreme drought we had but I still needed grass hay for the alpacas. I was reading the craigslist ads and I saw an advertisement for some round bales from Arkansas. Farmers don't make round bales around here but whenever I drive east I see them in the fields. Our little squares are getting more and more expensive and harder to come by, so I am always looking for an alternative. Out of curiosity, I decided to call him. He would deliver them free of charge but wanted to sell a full truckload to make the trip worthwhile. I agreed on 10 providing they would fit in my barn. In September, we had record rains, a couple of inches at a time, and heavy flooding, although nothing so bad as Colorado and other parts of New Mexico. My arroyo/lane near the barn flooded into a river twice last month so that I had no access to my barn for a while.
The next photo is looking the other way. We had new ponds everywhere.
Even on the main roads.
And the barn area was a complete mess! The water all drains downhill into my pens.
They didn't even have dry stalls.
I had to walk along the road and into my neighbor's field once and through my ankle deep arena another time. I was worried with all the rain that we wouldn't be able to deliver it up to the barn.
Fortunately, it stopped raining for two days before he arrived and the arroyo/lane partly dried up enough so that he was able to deliver the bales one at a time using a spike on the back of his truck.
I called my son and, fortunately, he had just finished work and was able to come and help. My daughter was over for the day too. Hooray! I had helpers.
He'd back in as far as he could and then, using a hydraulic jack, he'd lower them. We'd pull them off and roll them into place.
Rolling a 1200lb bale is not easy and it took the three of us to move it. And these are actually small round bales!
In the end, I was only able to fit 9 but he had sold 2 others and thought he'd be able to sell the extra one. You can see more of the bales in the background at the right in the next photo.
Afterwards, my kids got feeling a little rowdy although it was all for show
and photo ops.
There was even time for a quick sit on dear, old Nadia.
I've been feeding off one bale for almost three weeks now, although I still give them some alfalfa at most meals. This is nice grass hay, GMO free, but my horses don't appreciate it. I guess it's like going from a steak and dessert diet to plain gruel. It fills the belly but it sure doesn't taste the same. I tell them it's good for them and they sigh and pick at it. I haven't had any problems feeding it from the roll. I just pull off what I need, roll it up, and carry the roll (or armfuls) out to them. When I got about a third of the way down, I had my kids help me roll it over and then I pulled from that end. I feel so good now having a FULL barn of hay.
Just wondering, does anyone else use rolls of hay?
Also, it just occurred to me that I called a phone number listed on the internet and had a strange man drive miles and miles across country to my house to deliver 10,000 pounds of hay I'd never seen and I never worried or felt uncomfortable. Isn't that crazy?
Annie's mother was Fantastka, the Polish National Champion Senior Mare in 1985
and I have the video footage to show it! She was the highest scoring horse that day. She's the white mare in the footage first showing up about 4:28. She does remind me very much of Annie, with her delicate femininity, long swan neck, and light trot. Two of the stallions mentioned are Palas and El Paso; both are Annie's grand sires.
Fantastka was sold the next day for a cool $240,000 as a ten year old!!! She was in foal at the time and was imported to the USA by Magness Arabians where she became one of the top broodmares in his large breeding farm in Colorado. He had a breeding/racing program and I believe Annie was destined for the racetrack. Unfortunately, Mr. Magness passed and much of his prized herd was liquidated, including Annie, which was fortunate for me because I got Annie!
This final video is sort of a promo for the Polish Prestige Sale. Fantastka features in it as well.
Ninja wants to be on top of the world. I often see him sitting on the back of the couch looking up at the ceiling, wondering how he can get there.
He's found out how to jump on the kitchen counter to the top of the refrigerator and then up to the ledges above. I have several clay Indian pots that I hope he doesn't knock over but so far he has been careful. To the right is the kitchen and to the left is the den. Ninja likes to look down into the fish tank. I just hope he never jumps down to it.
His next challenge is jumping across the hallway to the shelf on the other side
but it's a looooong jump and he's got reservations.
I wonder how long before he actually takes the leap...
I'd Rather be High- song: I'd Rather be High, artist: David Bowie, album: The Next Day
Last month was farrier day for the horses and shearer day for the alpacas!
It was a very different scene this year, as opposed to two years ago, when I and had a broken ankle and had just bought the two alpacas.
Then, both Thelma and Louise had to be cornered using a rope and then caught, by Rick the shearer, and his helper. However, once they were caught and halters had been adjusted to fit their heads, they were very easy to handle. (I was so glad that I had bought two 2-way adjustable, extra-large sized alpaca halters at the alpaca show in Denver the week before. I didn't know what size to get, but I had read about the 2-way (nose and crown) adjustments and decided that was the way to go. (The halters I had been looking at locally were not adjustable). Best investment ever! The halter adjusts large enough to fit an unshaven adult and small enough to fit baby Sophie.)
They led surprisingly easily, after a short tug-of-war test, walking all the way over to the barn without incident. But when it came time for the shearing, each of them cushed, laying down with legs folded up. It took the helper, my son, and daughter to roll the alpacas around so that Rick could shave them on all sides. They kicked at us and spat at the horses when they were tied to the railing. Not happy!
But this year was much better overall.
I wanted to have them ready for shearing by combing out their coats so I 'captured' Thelma and made a makeshift halter out of a piece of rope around her head snugging it up high on the bridge of her nose. I have read that alpacas (and llamas) have a short bone structure in their nasal area so a halter cannot sit low on the nose like a horse because it cuts off the air intake which causes them to panic. Thelma is easier to handle than Louise so I figured she would be best behaved without a real halter. I tied her up and went after the other two. The part on her nose was actually tightened up so that it rode higher on her nose after I took this picture.
Then I caught Sophie. The alpacas will stand within a foot of me but do not like to be touched other than hand feeding. To actually touch them, one has to wrestle them for a few seconds until they relax. I have been working with Sophie on leading, but she still gets balky.
I cornered Louise and haltered her. Now I had all three tied up in the barn. I was ready to begin grooming them. I wanted their fleece to be clean for the shearing. I had purchased a dog comb and a detangler comb. I tried using them but the alpaca fleece was three-five inches thick and I decided it was just too much of a task. Rick told me he was bringing a blower and that combing was not necessary so I figured I'd just go with his way.
Rick came alone and my kids weren't available, so it was just the two of us handling them. And he forgot his blower.
We decided to do Thelma first because she is the easiest to handle, even with a makeshift halter. She did very well, standing the whole time. Rick also gave a booster shot because I am squeamish about sticking needles into living things. He also trimmed her toenails but by now she was getting really pissed off. I could smell the bile in her mouth as she prepared to spit. We decided that her uncut toenails didn't look too long, enough was enough, and let her go.
Sophie stood with her mother, Louise, and watched all the activity with Thelma, curious, but uncertain. Then it was her turn. I held her head up and she reluctantly stood for the shearing. She was very antsy so we missed a few spots on her legs and she also has long whiskers on her face. She didn't mind the shearing too much but she really didn't like having her toenails clipped. This was the second time she's had her toenails clipped. Once, I had the farrier trim her nails, because they were long and curled under and it was hard for her to walk. Both Louise and Sophie grow long, curled toenails whereas Thelma's break off regularly.
We worked with Louise last and she was a royal pain. She cushed (folded up) while waiting for her turn and she never did stand up. We finally had to drag her across the floor in that tucked-up position. Rick did his best to shear her but he missed a few spots on her legs and belly.
This was the only picture I got of the shearing process because I was so busy helping. That is not blood! It's dirt and hair.
There is nothing more alien and adorable than a sheared alpaca's face.
Thelma looks so happy she looks like she's smiling. And Louise and Sophie look like miserable!
Notice how in the two previous photos, the alpacas all turn their heads the same way in synchronicity.
And Sophie "after". Doesn't she look so grown up now?
Ain't Got No Hair: song - Ashes to Ashes, artist- David Bowie, album- Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)