Wednesday, November 29, 2006

More news

Well the fun around here never stops! We had a new baby alpaca (cria) this morning (sorry those of you trying for the $100, keep watching, better luck next time!) Serena had a girl with colorig of her dad and beautiful grey striped eyes. After our difficulties naming the puppies, and the last cria I hesitate to tell you that her name is Olympia... By the way, not sure I mentioned it here, but the last one is named Carmel. Anyhow, I mentioned to Mike that we are getting "quite the ranch" going. He replied, "Yeah, all we need now is the ranch!"

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Well, we really didn't think we would get guard dogs, but a couple (or up to 8 of them if we wanted them) of great pyranees/Akbash puppies fell into our laps, at a great price, and it opened up the discussion of how we plan protect the valuable assets in the field. We decided it would be prudent to get a couple, and sooner is better than later, because it could take up to two years to learn their job and take it seriously.

So while the girls were here for Thanksgiving weekend we picked up these 10 week old puppies, and built them a spot in the shelter. Kelsey is holding Luke and Sara is hoding Asher (I think!)

I set up an additional camera so we could continue to see the entire girls pen (for baby watch) and keep an eye on the puppies too. So far all is well. The puppies and the alpacas have a respectful fear of each other still, but things are warming up.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


We have gotten our Barn Cam up and running. It is a very cool way to keep track of the animals without running out to the barn every hour, while we are waiting on the next baby to be born. It will help when I go tomorrow pick up Kelsey and Sara from the Salt Lake Airport to Ogden to spend Thanksgiving with Mike's family.

Find the link to the Camera through our Web page at

In the meantime HAVE A HAPPY THANKSGIVING. Hope everyone has plenty to be thankful for, I know I do!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sophia's Baby

Sophia had her baby Monday, Nov 6. The birth was uneventful (luckily since I don't have pre-natal training until this coming weekend). I was in Albuquerque. Mike did the morning animal chores at 8:30, then we talked and he reported no indications of labor. About 9:30 he looked outside and noticed she looked a little funny, so he went out to check and found the little girl on the ground, still wet, but completely healthy. No decision on her name yet, but current leaning is Allie (after one change so far, this one MAY stick). Mike says she is bouncing around and just as cute as can be!

Everyone is curious!

Momma and Baby

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


This month Mike is finishing his sister's basement in Salt Lake and as we don't want to be away because the alpacas are due to have babies any moment, he is coming home when I'm in Albuquerque and going to Salt Lake when I am home.. It works out except we are not together much and I am missing him terribly! I'm usually not home alone, and it is darned quiet around here! Makes me feel sad that I leave him here alone so much. He hopes to finish Debbie's basement by Thanksgiving.

Mike did come home last Thursday bringing our newest herd addition (Token) home, since the ranch we bought her from (in Boise) called last week to say they could bring her to Salt Lake. So since Thursday we have been watching the herd dynamics, which is pretty interesting. Token is a very nice looking animal with great genetics and she will fit right in with our other girls. So now when we look out of the window, there are five!

Soon we will have our barncam up and running. We have bought it and set it up, but it turns out we buried the wrong kind of cable (remember that 7' trench) so we re figuring that out now. Well let you know.

Neither Kelsey nor Sara are interested in trick or treating this year so I guess we'll all be home (me in Wyoming then they in New Mexico) giving out candy and watching scary movies! Hope you have a HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Balloon Fiesta 2006

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

More progress

I find this hard to keep up with... Two major items that I wanted to share have happened since I last posted.

1) MIKE FINISHED THE EXTERIOR OF OUR HOUSE. He finished the Garage and finished the porch and painted everything and replaced the roofing. I wanted to post a photo.

We also came up with the idea to change the shelter to open to the South. It was genius on Mike's part and he is almost done with that conversion. He is installing the garage doors he got off another house, then we have to figure out how to insulate and install the heater. Then we will be read for the new babies to come in the next month.

2) WE ENTERED JACK IN OUR FIRST ALPACA SHOW IN CASTLE ROCK, CO. That was last weekend. He didn't due exceptionally well, but we bought him and went to the show mainly for the experience anyway. He did get two second place ribbons, which will look good in the barn, until you look up and find out in both cases it was second out of two in that class... Of course he didn't HAVE to be awarded anything, the judge could have not awarded a second place if she didn't feel he was worthy, which she did in numerous occasions. It did confirm our suspitions that this is not our herdsire.

The biggest excitement was when Ko-chise, along as a companion (whom we didn't realize was quite so bonded to Jack) leapt out of the pen and was free in the barn searching for us in the showring. The neighbors said it was a thing of beauty, and that he didn't even touch the panel! Ko-chise proceeded to scold Jack not to leave him again, and Jack was a wreck the rest of the time.. Couldn't have helped his placing in the ring any.

A side benefit of going to the show was that it motivated us to finish our banner, flyers, web site etc. Check it out at

Anyhow, now we are learning/developing quaranteen proceedures. We took the opportunity while in Denver to visit our new cria, Quemado. Here's the new addition.

Monday, September 25, 2006

We had a boy!

This morning the alpaca we bought last month (Not sure I even mentioned her here) in Denver, had a baby boy. Both momma and cria and doing great. They will stay in Denver until she is rebred.

Kobria & Quemado

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Most Popular ranch job #2 - DITCHES

Well with our decision to stay in Star Valley until May, we have to winterize our shelter which means getting water out to it, and bury the electrical, that all last winter we had provided by a long extension cord. Mike set out to do that two weekends ago while I was in Albuquerque.

He got help from our neighbor again with the use of his tractor with a backhoe on it. Well, both of these boys knew better than to dig without marking utilities, but didn't take the time to do that. Then, as I heard the discussion, there was talk about how deep was required, my vote was 4', like the footings. But someone said 5'. And in the end, because with the tractor it is so easy, we got 7'deep (in some areas) trenches.

This, in it self, is not big deal. However, they managed to cut the phone line, tear into the septic drain field line, and clip the main power, yanking the meter off the wall and knocking out the main power to our house and the neighbor's (not the one helping us) on a Sunday afternoon (the power guys LOVE that at double time).

This of course caused Mike a lot of extra work last week, but we finally got the job done and trench filled in, and even got in a wire for our not-yet purchased barn-cam.

Oh yeah, did I mention, also while I was in Albuquerque he painted our house, so it is no longer "the blue house"? I picked a color that I thought was a grey/tan color, matching one of our neighbors.. But when he painted it has most definately a pink hue! Now we live in "THE PINK HOUSE"

That was the fun last weekend... This weekend I am at the "Women in Faith" Conference in Denver, CO, with my mother and sister, Nancy. Which I might add, is turning out to be great fun, dispite the fact that me Gilbane contract has a big deadline delayed for two months until THIS weekend and so I am working until the wee hours.

Then Sunday my sister, Monica will drive back to Wyoming with me (for more information read HER blog at Then in two weeks Mike and I come back to Denver for an alpaca show.. More about that next time.

Friday, August 25, 2006

A Visit from Mike's Parents

Well it feels like a month since I wrote although it has only been half. Since the girls left at the beginning of August I have been to Boise for almost a week, Las Vegas for a few days and last weekend I was supposed to go to Providence, RI, next week to Denver and then on to Albuquerque. The trip to Providence was cancelled at the last minute, but Mike had made plans to pick his parents up and have them spend the weekend up in Wyoming (Picking them up and dropping them off while giving me rides to the airport each way). So we drove to Ogden anyway, and his parents did come up for a visit to beautiful Star Valley, and we were able to be in Ogden for Mike's sister, Vicky's, birthday party. We still a great weekend (better for me than going all the way across country), we just need to slow the adventure down! (How many times have I said that in life?!) We did manage a horse back ride or three and a couple outings fishing, but not nearl enough for the summer we have.

Seems three of the contracts I am working on now have deadlines in the next week, so work has been ver hectic for me. I am loving the new work situation, I just need to spead it out a little more too. Mike's work has slowed down a bit and he has made lots of progress on our house. We'll be ready to send photos soon.


We had a blow in our business plan last week. The Alpaca with the broken toe, who was still recovering in Denver and trying to get rebred (but not having any success), had a heart attack and died. Her recovery seemed to be going so well but I guess all the stresses took their toll. Stress in the number one killer of alpacas and she had certainly had her share of late! She was insured for the purchase price although she still cost us a lot for her surgery, breeding, transportation from GA, etc. On the other hand, I think something may just not have been right in her, perhaps it's best we can move on.

Just two days before that we mailed the check out on another girl at a friends ranch in Boise, so we still have six alpaca. This is Token. She is nursing a little one and won't be coming home until Thanksgiving or so.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Summer is over...

... or at least for all the school kids in Albuquerque. July was very busy, with travel and extra-curricular activities, so to get in enough hours was tough. After the Spokane trip, the following weekend the girls and I went to San Jose and visited my brother Keith's family and I went to a friend's wedding. This was a friend I had worked with at Washington Group (Steve Pham). Since he's Vietnamese and his wife is Chinese I felt very "white". The kids had a great time "hanging out" with their cousins (whom they have been getting very close to through instant messaging this summer). The cousins had a swim meet and a vacation they were getting ready for, so the weekend was very relaxing.

The next weekend Mike went to Alaska fishing. The trip turned out to be sort of a bust as most years the King Salmon limit on the Kenai river is 6 per day, but the run was so small this year that it was 3.. Then the day they arrived it went to 1, so twenty minutes later, when Mike caught his one.... Well, finally the next day they closed the season all together, so Mike got to catch one Salmon! The next few days they did some Deep Sea Halibut fishing, which Mike found interesting but requiring more muscle than skill. All in all he was not thrilled with the trip but it was beautiful and restful.

While he was Alaska, the girls went for a daylong trail ride on the horses while I sat in the car and worked. They had a great ride to Bailey Lake. That is beautiful too. Mike and I will have to go this fall.

In the last few days of July, I was not doing anything but work, the girls were sewing, sleeping, riding, and relaxing. If I was awake, I was trying to get billable hours in. But now it is August (the month starts fresh!).. I dropped the girls at the airport Thursday to go back to Albuquerque since school starts next week for them. Then I took off to work a few days in Boise (through the weekend.. again BILLABLE HOURS!) and next week I'm going to a conference in Las Vegas.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Visit from Mom & Dad, Shearing Day, and House Hunting

Boy, haven't written much lately due to extreme back-to-back action around here. Mom and Dad came up for a visit on the weekend before the 4th. We had Shearing Day scheduled for July 1 but nothing else much was going on so we spent a day in Jackson, which totally wore us out, and so spent the rest of the weekend around home. I guess since we move so often the parents felt the need to see our place before we go. So it was great they could come and combine it with a trip through my sister, Monica's, place in Denver coming and going and enjoy the 4th there.

While they were here we sheared the two girls. That was a big event, yet pretty straightforward. The whole thing took about 15 minutes per alpaca. The boys had already been sheared this year so they did not need it. The shearer came up from Salt Lake, Mike and I were his pawns. Mom and Dad took photos and video and Kelsey and Sara collected the fleece. Here are the before and after shots.

We were concerned about leaving the Alpacas while we went to Coeur D'Alene for a week, and a week before we left my sister, Nancy was telling me how her friend from Richland, WA, wanted to vacation in Yellowstone this summer but had no reservations yet, when we conceived of the idea that she could Alpaca sit for us while we were gone. Keep in mind this idea came less than a week before we left! So we presented it to her as a long shot, and 5 days later she jumped in her car with her two children and parents in tow, and drove 12 hours to our house for what to her was "A week at the ranch" within an hour of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It was really a fabulous win-win situation.

So we headed out way early on the 3rd for Boise, where we picked up a friend of Kelsey's at the airport and dropped the two of them off at Girl Scout camp in McCall Idaho for a week. Then Sara, Mike, and I headed on for Coeur D'Alene to house hunt. We stayed in our camper in the yard of friends from Los Alamos days, (wonderful place they have there too), but beat the streets every day with a couple of realtors, one keeping us out for 14 hours on Thursday. We love living in Star Valley and would love to stay there, but simply cannot afford to buy the size place we need for the Alpaca business. So we have enlarged our search to include Boise, Denver, and Coeur D'Alene. We found out we are going to have trouble buying something in Coeur D'Alene too. Friday we ventured over to Washington, the Spokane area, and although that had not been our original plan, were pleased with what Spokane had to offer. That is where we found the only house we were interested in and although it was still over our limit, we made a low offer. In the end that didn't go anywhere but the trip was an eye opener, and now we need to re-evaluate.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Cracker Jack Comes Home

Cracker Jack finally made it to our ranch, after another eventful transporter experience where the transporter's truck broke down in Gunnison, CO. We also got the panels we ordered this week, a month after promised (just like Jack) so we can now put the alpacas out to graze during the day. They do love that. I tell you the alpaca transport business is HOT if ya'll are looking for a career change. But with the gas prices there are even fewer transporters. This guy we used is one of the few left and the demand is so high, and he can't seem to keep his truck functional.. and never returns a phone call. I keep running into people who I have to think, "Gosh if I'd just respond to my customers, I could do BETTER in business than these people." And the people I think this about and doing pretty well in the alpaca business! So, this makes 4 animals at the ranch (Two pregnant females, one potential herdsire, and one gelding), one in Denver for breeding and one in VA, taking care of her baby. It will still be 4 months or so before those two come home, depending on transporter availability!

Anyhow, after seeing Jack for the first time we were all suprised because he is TINY, especially next to Ko-Chise who seems to be on the extra large side. Of course it's hard to judge since the boys are sheared and the girls are not. At any rate, he is one of the sweetest, friendliest, easiest handlers we have met. We are thrilled with him.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Horse Camp and Denver

The girls (human kind) came to our house for the summer last week. Sara spent her first week in Wyoming at Horse Camp. Kelsey did get up with her to ride the horses with her over in the morning and back in the evening from camp. The event kept both of them busy for the week. Sara got some good refresher and while she was nervous about the horse shifting weight on Monday, she cantered on Friday. Monday coming home the horse took off with her and shook her up pretty good, but they worked on that on Tuesday and all issues with that were over by Friday as well.

Sara & Kaitlin (the horse camp leaders daughter)

Currently the girls and I are on our way home from Denver where we took our alpaca in for a follow-up to her surgery last month and cast removal. Although her toe is healing very nicely (good calcification at the joint, and even the floating chip had moved back toward the correct placement), for some reason they decided they needed to knock her out for the cast removal, which meant fasting, which meant she had to stay the night. This turned out to be OK since I had arranged a day of work for Washington Group in Denver and Kelsey and Sara got to hang out at my sister, Monica's, doggy day care Kennel all day. Crescendo got the cast off and a splint on and is back at the ranch she has been staying at to breed soon.

We also took the opportunity while in Denver to visit Monica and David and look at some properties to buy. Didn't see anything too exciting but got some food for thought. Kind of a new experience. As I type this, Kelsey is driving us home!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Star Valley Ranches House

Some of you may know that in January or so Mike got a call from a guy who was an American working in Iraq. He had been there 3 years, was getting ready to come back stateside and had bought a vacation house online (sight unseen) in Star Valley Ranches ten miles south of us. The house was finished on the outside but completely unfinished on the inside and he wanted someone to finish it before he got here in May. He got Mike's name from our mortgage broker.

So this was a great winter job for Mike and a pretty big job for him to do by himself, but all in all it was perfect. Last week was the deadline. The Guy was coming to town on Friday and going to lay eyes on his finished house for the first time. This was pretty stressful, especially to pick out all finishes and colors by ourselves. And truthfully Mike could use another 2 weeks. When I was in Albuquerque I could tell Mike was stressing out pretty bad so when I returned last Wed, Thurs, and Fri, I put all else aside and we both cranked on the house.

We got it reasonably done and cleaned about 1/2 hour before Lee showed up with the moving van. Lee was thrilled. Mike still has finish up work, which unfortuately includes gyp.boarding the garage, which will be difficult to do around all the stuff. But did I mention Lee was thrilled?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Our Website is live! Check it out at Comments and feedback welcome.

Alpaca Initiation

Well, I've been initiated into the alpaca world. We had a happy hour this week. Thought we might do that regularly to introduce people to the alpacas. We've been advertising for people to "touch the alpacas", so obviously they would have to be caught, something we hadn't done since bringing them home two weeks ago. When the first few guests arrived we went out to the alpaca corral, Sophia proved to be the easier to catch, although she wasn't too happy about it. So we decided to catch Serena when the others got there later. Serena is much less friendly and with everyone making a fence and giving her very little room, I successfully caught her, only to be tripped up against the fence and thrown to the ground... feet flying through the air, dress torn, glasses flying.. guess it was quite the entertainment for the guests. Then with more resolve I headed back for her, but Serena is the kicker. Her aim was true (I should have known better than to get behind her) and she gave me two swift kicks, right in the spot that was scraped up from the fall! Finally we used the horse panel and penned her in and got the halter on through the panel, so she did not get away with it. On the brighter side the secod time Sophia just stood to be caught and I caught her again today and fed her hay out of my hand, Serena's just not as friendly. Sophia is the spitter though, and so I guess you can say Lila was initiated too!

Monday, May 08, 2006

The girls come home!

Well once again too many weeks and too
many events have gone by since my last post. In the last month we went to Oregon/Washington for Alpaca training and Tulip viewing (visiting seven ranches, some of the most successful Alpaca ranches in the country); we went to Missoula to see Mike's son, Dan, in a Lumberman competition (unfortunately he came down with the stomach flu and could not compete); and I took a business trip to Rhode Island (where I have never been before). I'd love to tell you more about those trips, but I'd rather talk about the trip to the big Alpaca Show in Denver.

We were invited to help a ranch near Denver that we are working them show their alpaca at the Great Western Alpaca Show, one of the largest shows in the country. We were also taking the opportunity to take home our alpacas from this show. While the first of April still found 3+ feet of snow in our yard, April brought the summer. Last weekend we persuaded a neighbor to clear all the horse manure out of the corral and shelter, and then we put up our fences for the Alpaca yards. Wednesday night after work we headed for Monica's house getting there about midnight.

At the beginning of April we had an alpaca shipped from GA to Denver to await our transport home, unfortunately she lost her pregnancy on the trip, AND broke her toe getting out of the transporter's truck. The break was at a joint and had a large chip broken out. (Click on the photo to enlarge.) The chip was the part of the bone that all the ligaments connect to and so things were bad enough that the vet (and the five other vets I consulted) thought surgery was necessary. Thursday morning we ferried one of our alpaca from the hotel the couple who brought her from Albuquerque were staying at to the Tapply ranch for safekeeping during the show. Then we took Crescendo to the veterinarian hospital for her Surgery. The rest of the day was helping the Tapply's load up, transport to the show, vet check all the animals, color check the animals and get checked into the show. Then we went to the evening seminar on Fleece, which included dinner.

Saturday morning we picked up Crescendo from the hospital and took her back to Tapply's ranch where she will stay until she is healed and perhaps until she is re-bred. She is apparently doing great. The surgery will protect her from excessive pain as she gets older, and hopefully prevent her from becoming barren (yes, from a broken toe), a possibility without the surgery that we could not afford.

Friday and Saturday were show days. We met a lot of contacts, went to a few educational seminars, shopped for alpaca products and needs, and watched some of the show ring. We thought we might help take an animal into the ring, and so were prepared but the opportunity didn't really come up. The Tapply's had a great show with a fourth place, a third place, and two first places on their animals and a first place on their fleece entry. It was great seeing many of our other new friends doing well in the show also.

Loved the opportunity to visit with Monica and David as well and to see the operation of their new Dog Boarding Kennel first hand. Sunday we had breakfast with Monica and Dave before going to the Tapply's to load of two of our females and head for home. The boys (Cracker Jack whom we bought in March (see previous post), and Ko-Chise, a companion gelding for Jack that we bought at the show) will be delivered to the ranch later in May. Pepper Fire will stay in VA for the rest of the year and Crescendo will stay at Tapply's until October or so.

Now that I've passed out a lot of business cards at the show with our web address on it, guess I'd better get my Webpage live soon. Maybe in Albuquerque when I go there this week!