Sunday, December 23, 2007

What's new around here??

Mike's new toy for one,

Amber's new baby girl for another, (born Dec 22, nearly froze to death but we have saved her).

And for those who are paying attention, I'm finally ready to breathe a little easier as it seems Phoenix has turned the corner and it looks like he's on his way to recovery!


Monday, December 10, 2007


Our little prize winning boy, Phoenix, whom the judge at the last show alerted us to the fact that he was SO skinny has just gotten home from a week in the hospital. He is 8 months old and just tiny. He's only been at our ranch since August so we haven't known him for long and I suspect that he came with whatever he has. So we never saw a change in personality. But he's always seemed so calm, laid back.. un-alpaca like.

Three weeks after he got here I found him lying in the corral. I thought he was dead. When I walked up to him he turned his head but that was it, so I rushed him and his Mama in my Honda to the vet. The vet could not find anything wrong with him so we got some antibiotics and headed home. Once he was up he seemed fine again, and we just kept a close eye on him, but no other odd behavior and the next couple months seemed fine.

We went to the show. He got a first and the judge just raved about him ("If there is one alpaca you look at this weekend, stop and see him" :-) Two weeks later we went to another show. He got a 3rd out of 3. The judge touched him and exclaimed "Oh my God! Have you noticed his weight? He's starving to death." Once she saw that, she dismissed him as a serious competitor. I had realized he was losing weight and thought I ought to address that, but hadn't realized how much, with their abundance of fleece it is not obvious. When we weaned him he weighed 63 pounds. Now two months later he weighed 50 pounds.

After that we started separating him for eating in case it was an assertiveness issue. That's when we realized he was just nibbling on hay (alfalfa now) and not eating pellets at all. That was REALLY concerning.

We took him in for bloodwork to be done. Everything we could think of. Two days later CSU called us and said, bring him in now! His liver was not functioning right and once an alpaca starts that, it is almost impossible to snap them out of it and make their stomachs work again, especially without hospitalization. So we loaded him up and took him in. It felt like a death sentence. I was sure when I walked out that door that I would never see him alive again.

But, on Saturday we brought him home. They had been feeding him intravenously for a week, gave him two plasma transfusions, giving him daily ultrasounds and blood tests and drugs for anything we can think of. They did find a deadly coccidia called E-mac. This coccidia does not explain the whole story and they still do not know what the catalyst was, which is the main concern. We hope when we stop supporting him, he will not just start downhill again because they have not treated the cause. Anyhow, they sent us home with BAGS of medications and notes that basically say, "Well, we don't know what's wrong with him, so, give him drugs, weigh him a lot, and if you have any ideas, Go for it!" So I am supplementing his feed and encouraging him to eat, and giving him drugs and more drugs. The more nutrition I can get in him the better. This morning he's up 0.6 pounds.. not much, but the right direction.

We have put him in with his Mom, and I'm glad I did that cause those two are latched at the hip. So perhaps that will also relieve stress for him. I also stuck in one of the boys he's been in with for the past two months, so if there is any bonding there, that connection can continue to grow.

The drive up and back Saturday, was fairly horrendous! The biggest snowstorm of the year (so far) and Denver traffic are a bad combination. We left home after the hospital called at 10am with the status update and didn't get home until Midnight, what should have been 8 hours round trip. Then of course Sunday was Gorgeous, sparkley snow and all! Oh well. No major incidents, no major complaints.

So, things are still touch and go with Phoenix, but he is alive. Keep us in your thoughts as we nurse this guy back to health!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

We had a nice weekend. Kelsey and Sara were up for the weekend. We started with a nice quiet Turkey Day with just the 4 of us, lots of food, games, football, movies, Animals, and plenty to be thankful for! The celebrations continued when we had the neighbors (with their 5 kids from 17 months to 17 years old) over for brunch the next day. It was good to get to know them a little better and good for my kids to meet their kids, and summer already seems more fun.

Then, Friday afternoon the REAL adventure begins, as we drove up to Denver. Monica and David were taking Kelsey and Sara to a "Fall out boys" concert including 3 other bands Mike and I did not know (is there supposed to be a generation gap between you and your sister?).. Ok for those who might know, it was "Plain White T's", "Gym Class Heros" and "Cute is what we aim for". Ha! did that help?! Anyhow the adventure started long before we got there as the snow started falling early that morning. The roads between Colorado Springs and Castle Rock were hazardous to say the least. We had the added challenge of driving the truck pulling the trailer, because while the kids were at the concert, Mike and I were heading up to an Clearview Alpacas, way up on top of the mountain west of Golden, to pick up a Mom and cria that were there for breeding. But when we almost slid the whole rig into a small hatchback while driving up I-25 (luckily going 15 mph, but envision our size difference) we decided not to try to drive up the mountain, and not to try to drive home at midnight that night, so when we dropped the girls at the concert we got a hotel room. I still am in awe (not for the first time) of Mike's driving abilities. I honestly cannot believe he didn't hit the car, nor slam the trailer into the concrete barrier on the shoulder. Just another thing to be thankful of!

SO Saturday morning we still had to go up to Clearview and get Athena and Alpine, before heading home. We got home around 2pm, putting a serious cramp in our plan of decorating for the holidays and cookie baking. We had a friend also coming by to pick up the Subaru, which she bought from us.. another story another day. As we put Athena and Alpine into the barn we were greeted by a new cria! I had actually put it out of my mind that Sophia was due any day now. She had a little beige girl, and absolutely no problems. She was about 2 hours old, and pretty cold, but already standing, eating, and curious as heck. She is going to be a strong nice girl! We have named her Vail.


The girls have gone home now, the house is quiet and I am finishing the decorating the tree and baking cookies. Ahhh, life is good.

Hope your Thanksgiving was just as satisfying!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

We sold our house

Sorry I've been incommunicado for so many days, but I was holding my breathe, didn't want to do anything to jinx it.. But today we closed, and the house in Wyoming is sold! Yee-haw! Life was starting to get kind of scary, so this didn't come any too soon.

What else has happened since I last wrote? Well it seems like long, long ago, but we did participate in National Alpaca Ranch days Sept 29th and 30th. Surprisingly we had visitors continually both days. And of those we had a very good mix of those curious, neighbors, and people genuinely interested in the business. Next year we're cooking burgers!

Balloon Fiesta found me in Albuquerque, and though every year I say this is the last time, I always find some excuse to get me up again at 4am and sit in traffic for half an hour and freeze my toes off waiting to see if the weather will cooperate! It's tradition. This year Kelsey decided to have her birthday party go and my sister Monica was down with husband and 2 friends. My parents went and my sister, Nancy's family joined us with her sister-in-law and her family.. So we were quite the crowd. And this year for the first time since I remember the weather was great all 9 days of the fiesta! The day was perfect, except all Kelsey's friends were too tired to enjoy it!

Toward the end of October we went to an alpaca show in Topeka, Kansas. We car pooled with another breeder in Golden. We took 5 animals and brought home 4 ribbons - 3-firsts and 1-fifth place. We felt really good about that. Two weeks later (this last weekend) we went to our local affiliates fall show up near Ft Collins, at a brand new facility there and stayed with Monica (didn't however "see" her after the first evening when we went to dinner, both our schedules kept us hopping). Actually, I came straight from Albuquerque and left Mike to check in the animals and get our booth set up. Luckily Monica had a plane arriving at the same time, so she gave me a ride from the airport instead of Mike having to come down and pick me up, so that worked out super! At this show we brought 6 animals and although none got a blue ribbon, all of them did get a ribbon (3-seconds, 1-Third, 1-Fourth, and 1-sixth) so we were extremely pleased with this weekend too.

A few anomalies though that threw up for a loop.. Carmel DID get a first, but later they figured out they had done some math wrong so she got down graded to a second. Bummer! Another misfortune, we had entered 3 entries in the spin-off. This is a competition where you send in 2 -oz of fiber and they spin it and judge it on it's "spinability". Well there was a notice on the entry form in bold letters "DO NOT SEND MORE THAN 2 OZ OF FIBER" so I tried to send exactly 2 ounces of fiber. The show scale however was slightly different than mine and it recorded in at 1.9 ounces. I was docked 25 points on each entry and got 2-fourths and a fifth place. These easily would have been first places if they had the other 25 points.. More Bummer. And finally our little boy, Phoenix, that had done so well in Kansas, did not catch the judges eye at this show, she commented he was too thin. I'm thinking this is why she didn't like him. Well, we'll have to work on that.

On the bright side, it looks like all our animals escaped getting the highly contagious virus that is going around and terrorizing the alpaca community.

The same weekend of the Kansas show Sara's choir went to New York to sing in honor of 911. It was a great honor and a fun trip. It was great for her and they saw all the main sight. Maybe I'll have her post an entry.

Kelsey had a big event this month too as she went to Homecoming, her first HS dance. She went with a few girlfriends and they had a blast.

Mike is finishing Monica's basement this week so he'll be "home for the holidays" we are both looking forward to that! Then he'll go back in the New Year to complete "phase 2", the kitchenette, dining, living, 1/2 bath, office and guest bed. Wow that sounds like a lot!

We've still been alternating our time at the ranch, but one of those weeks his son Jed came to visit and do a little fishing, so he's getting in some fun too. No new water issue, oh except our washer wasn't reconnected correctly after the softener went in, so the pump burned out on that. Monica and Dave had a spare we are using now though.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Never a dull moment

Here's a picture of what we've been up to... You'll recognize Trinity, but Cody (brown) was born a week ago yesterday and Alpine (White) was born last Friday. "The three musketeers" are fun to watch, and interestingly all three match their mother's color...

The sale of our house in Wyoming fell through and therefore the two alpacas we gave to the buyer's (Jack and Ko-chise) had to come home. Mike went up to Wyoming last week (via Salt Lake to visit his kids and new grandkids) cleaned up the house, picked up the two alpacas at the house and picked up Token and Fletcher, left there when we moved because she was too close to giving birth. So it was funny to read my last title (baby makes 26) cause suddenly now we have 30 alpacas, and 29 of them are here at the ranch... weird/exciting/scary... definitely interesting. Never a dull moment. SO.. anyone want to buy an alpaca?

Our Water problems have continued. Lately the house has been smelling of Sulfur again, not nearly as bad, but enough that we have been trying to figure out the problem at the well. Last week I had periods of no water at all, so when Mike got home from Wyoming he checked a little closer he found that the plumbing under the house had sprung about 8 leaks, most likely more than a month ago, and water had been filling the crawlspace as fast as it could flow for that whole time. We knew we were going to have to replace all the plumbing in the house, the sulfur had corroded the pipes so that they spring leaks when you touch them, we just hoped to hold out until the renovation of the house to do that work... Best laid plans! Oh well, Mike now has over half of the plumbing replaced, the half that was currently leaking and perhaps can hold out for a while. He thought the job might have been a LITTLE more fun had all his tools not been at Monica's house.

All this was going on while I was trying to make lunch for my Mother and some of her friends when they came to pick me up for this years Women of Faith conference in Denver. We spent the weekend there. If you have never been, it's just a great uplifting weekend. This is my second year. Mike stayed home (fixing plumbing and birthing alpacas) then I came home Sunday, he left to go up to my sister's (Monica's) house (finishing her basement). He'll be home Friday to help clean up before National Alpaca Ranch days that we are participating in this weekend. If you have nothing else to do, look up an alpaca ranch near you ( Never a dull moment.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

And baby makes 26

We had a new cria on Friday. A girl and solid black. She's tiny, but she is a beauty. This is her Mom's first baby and obviously she hadn't read the book because by noon it was definitely looking like there would be no baby that day. Mike had been down at the barn working until 2:30 or so. I was leaving for my monthly trip to Albuquerque at 4pm. I stopped by the barn to pick up something to take with me, and found a baby that was probably close to an hour old sitting up beside her mom (who looked very confused). She was ready to stand and definitely ready to nurse. Her name is Trinity.

Coincidentally, Kelsey (who checks the barncam every afternoon when she gets home from school) realized that she was on here way to look at the barncam at 3:30, but realizing I was probably already on the road to Albuquerque, she did not. Of course if she HAD, she might have seen the baby being born, or noticed it on the ground and would have collected the $100. She's bummed she blew it off.

Sophia and Athena (the two remaining alpacas in the birthing pen) are due to have their babies before the end of September. Guess they will make 27 & 28, unless of course we sell one by then! HA! By the way, our alpacanation site (the place most people buy alpacas) is live now as of a couple weeks ago, another major accomplishment for us. See it at

Friday, August 24, 2007

A visit from the Moser boys (well most of them anyway)

It is a rare enough occurrence that it is worth posting about. Three of Mike's boys, accompanied by Josh's girlfriend, Rachel, stopped in for a visit last weekend. This is Adam's first visit since he lived with his Dad. He drove over from Salt Lake with Jed. Josh and Rachel drove up from Albuquerque. The only son missing, and missed he was, was Dan, whom had a plane ticket but at the last minute got called out on a forest fire in Montana. Mike was in heaven!

Even though Mike has found the fishing here to be even better than the Jackson area (an unexpected bonus) we have had a LOT of rain this summer and it keeps messing up the rivers and washing out the roads. They spent dawn until dusk for three days seeking good fishing, and never quite found the quality of fishing Mike knows is in the area. Mike was very disappointed at that. I think the boys enjoyed the seeking as much as the fishing. Rachel and I spent Saturday seeking more civilized entertainment, best idea I've acted on in a while.

Last week I got a new contract at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and so I also was a but preoccupied with that over the weekend but have worked pretty much non-stop since they left on Sunday. Last night we took a break from the work and went to see Steve Miller Band at the Red Rocks in Denver, a venue I've wanted to go to for years! It was quite gorgeous, and the band was fun too. Monica and David were to join us but at the last minute Monica had to go to Seattle, so sent her die hard Steve Miller Band fan friend, Janice, with David. Only down side.. couldn't leave early (Jet Plane played at midnight) so we didn't get home until 3am. Today we are both in total recover mode from the week!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Summer is over

I know it will shock most of you but for Albuquerque kids summer is now over. My girls went back to Albuquerque yesterday. They had a nice summer in Colorado. Kelsey spent a week with me in California, Sara spent a week with a friend in Albuquerque and had that friend up here for a week. Sara also spent a few days with her cousin Charlotte (Keith's daughter) at my sister Monica's house. We enjoyed visits from all my immediate siblings, most of their families and from my parents. And the girls enjoyed hanging at the ranch, enjoyed the horses and dogs, and alpacas. Kelsey went Kayaking. We went to the local waterpark. Took in a Rockies game. Went to Celestial Seasonings and to the Butterfly Pavillion. So all told it was a summer to remember.

On the last day that the girls were here we had another Alpaca birth. Bonita gave birth to a boy. We had been watching her pretty close and Kelsey was hoping on all hopes that the cria would be born before she left. Mike had gone out to do the morning chores. I was going to follow shortly to check on her status. He called at 7:50 to say we really ought to come down. So we quickly did, and the nose poked out at 7:56. The cria hit the ground at 8:06, and he was perfectly healthy. A textbook birth. He stood up by 8:56 and was eating by 9:15. His name is Davis. Kelsey is very pleased to have been there for the whole birth. For those of you watching the barncam, the next one due is Ruby (the black one). Start watching August 29.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Two weeks ago (seems like forever except haven't had a chance to blog it until now) we went to a Colorado Rockies game. From the start of that game a series of odd events were kicked into play. In hindsight I decided that each one, while seeming negative could be viewed with a positive component.

1) It rained and delayed the game which kept us out later on a night when we had a long drive home after the game. Hoping to be home by midnight this assured us not to be home before 1am. Then on the way home the Honda broke down, the timing belt broke.
1st silver lining : Mike was with me, and the girls had a new experience pushing a car.

2) It was just after midnight and the car rental places had all closed for the night. We thought we'd have to get a hotel. We had a big day the next day though, Sara and her friend Leandra (who had been visiting for a week) were taking a Greyhound bus to Albuquerque and Kelsey and I were flying to California to check out universities. We didn't really have time to get up in the morning, rent a car, get home, and then off to our various appointments.
Silver lining 2 : the place that towed the car also rented cars so that guy set us up with a rental and we were home at 4am.

3) So I headed off with the girls at 7:30 the next morning to put them on the bus, which was 40 minutes late. That was nerve wracking and stressful as I needed to get to the airport, and I DIDn't need to worry about their safety.
Silver Lining 3 : The bus schedule and the plane schedule actually gave me lots of leeway, and the girls did get to Albuquerque without incident.

4) Kelsey left home in the Subaru when I left the bus station to met me at the car rental place to return the rental and then on to the airport, we hooked up 40 miles south of the rental place and convoyed. About a mile before the exit she called and said the speedometer was going whacky. I said we were getting off at the next exit and I'd look at it there. We pulled into the gas station, I filled the rental with gas then went over to look at the Subaru. It would not start.. completely dead! Turns out the alternator belt had disintegrated and was completely gone. Probably happened 100 miles before and the car and been running on battery since then.
Silver Lining 4 : She didn't die on the highway, instead the car died at the gas station, 1/4 mile from the tow truck guy we had met the night before and across the street from a Napa Auto parts store which closed 5 minutes later, 30 seconds after I walked through the door. They sold me a belt, but didn't want to put it on, so the tow truck guy did it for me (I have a recommendation if you ever break down in Castle Rock, CO). and we were back on the road 20 minutes later.. with probably enough time to make our plane still.

We were convinced that Global Warming had caused all belts in everyones cars to melt away!

5) There was an accident on the highway that diverted all traffic onto city streets and caused us to miss our plane.
Silver lining 5 : That plane would have crashed if we had been on it!! AND we didn't check our bags and did get out standby (even on the extremely busy Sunday after 4th of July in Denver) and got into San Diego only 2 hours past our original scheduled time.

Then we spent the week in California. Two days staying with my friend Amy, one day looking at Moorpark Community College and one day looking at UC Santa Barbara. Then on our own we spent one day looking at UC San Diego and one day looking at UC Davis. We fit in dinner with Mike's sister, Nancy, and her husband, neither of whom we hadn't met before. And we fit in a trip to the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield. Kelsey had lots of time to develop some thoughts on what she might like to do after HS and she is converging on the community college to work on core classes, residency, and get into an "exotic animal handling" program they have there, before transferring into UCSB.

Good trip. No particularly unfortunate incidents except the delay of the flight home caused us to make our Las Vegas connection but not our bags. As we were trying to decide what to do (ship the bags, wait and see if they were on the next plane) we realized the car keys were in the checked bag!
Last Silver Lining : The bag came in on the next flight 40 minutes later (the last flight of the night) and the car started after sitting for a week and we got home... late but safe.

The next day my parents came up for the night bringing Sara home from Albuquerque. Their car broke down (Right front wheel locked) on their way home and they had to be towed on into Santa Fe. Their silver lining? Well, this didn't cause an accident since it happened when they slowed to a stop on the highway due to another accident, so they were standing still, not going 70 miles an hour when they discovered it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Water Problems Solved

I had a couple people point out that I had not posted on the resolution of our water problems.

I am happy to report that by mid-June we had the solution installed. It was pretty intense. It involves injecting peroxide into the water out of the well. The peroxide molecule attaches to the sulphur molecule and becomes an oxygen molecule, that then dissipates off in a 300 gallon tank. Next the water goes through a carbon filter to remove any of the peroxide left. From there it splits off to the barn and the house. In the house it goes through a water softener and then reverse osmosis at the kitchen sink.

The pipes have all been corroded by years of sulphur/copper reaction so before we are done we will have to replace all the piping in the house, which we will do over time with PEX piping (plastic - won't react to the sulphur).

In the meantime the water tastes great, the house smells better, the showers don't make your eyes sting. Every time we think about it we are just amazed that the previous owners lived for 10 years this way.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Disaster Averted

The herdsire we picked up in Georgia and then had to leave in Ohio because we didn't have enough room in the trailer, Symphony, arrived via transport a week and a half ago. He is a beautiful black boy, and especially good looking for his age (8) and we think he'll make a very nice herdsire. We had him quarantined, across the barn from the other boys, which he was pretty stressed about.

My cousin Laura from "the Van" and her friend, Abby, were visiting for a couple nights over the weekend. When we got down to look at the boys, Abby noticed Symphony was walking funny, kind of limping. We took a close look but couldn't find anything, and decided to put him in a small pen for the night hoping the restricted movement would help him heal.

In the morning he was noticeably worse. It was obvious to me that we had misdiagnosed this as a foot/leg problem, but now it was obviously a hip/abdomen problem. I thought maybe a bowel problem, although we hadn't noticed problems in his feces.

I called the vet (Sunday morning) and he was no help. Thought he might get there after church and before his Lions club picnic, but wasn't sure! By 10am we were sure Symphony wasn't going to wait another day for the vet. I began calling alpaca people that might have suggestions and ended up calling the ranch in Ohio he had spent the month at (The Alpacarosa). They are a wealth of knowledge about alpacas! I didn't even have to finish the story before she knew what it was and emailed the treatment. Called the vet again and he agreed to meet us an hour later at his office to give us the drugs we needed, so by 1:00 we had given him the first dose of pretty serious medications required for the next 5 days.

What he had is a parasite called Meningeal Worm, that is so small that it gets into your spine and causes nerve damage to the end of the spine and works it's way up into the brain, killing the animal. It is very common in Alpacas and Llamas in Georgia, and Ohio. Very difficult to diagnose and generally by the time you know what it is, it is fatal. If suspected you should treat immediately. We apparently caught it way early in him and he is well on his way to recovery now He may have a gimpy leg for the rest of is life, but otherwise should be fine and still a good breeder. This parasite requires a weird combination of having to be introduced into a pasture by a white tailed deer (in its feces) and then picked up by a snail and then eaten by an alpaca, then 40 days later you will see symptoms. We don't have this parasite in Colorado because it is not wet enough to have many snails. So even if the vet had come out he probably would have missed it.

Anyhow the stars must have aligned. We feel very lucky!

Otherwise June has been relatively uneventful. Kelsey and Sara are up for the summer, we are enjoying the ranch, playing with fleece, taking care of the animals, making small improvements to the house and barns daily. Token, our girl in Idaho has had trouble getting bred and we almost planned a trip to go get her, so we could figure out what was wrong, but the night before we left she bred... so with a sigh of relief (on many counts) we canceled that trip and stayed home for more "ranch time".

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The First Ride

Photos from the first ride of the summer for the girls. They didn't leave the property but plenty of riding without needing to go further.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

4300 Miles & 10 alpacas later

Just home last Saturday from our trip East to Kentucky for the National Alpaca Conference, with stops in GA, VA, and OH to pick up animals. We snuck in a wonderfully restful 2-day visit to my Aunt Cordie & Uncle Charlie's place in Asheville, NC. We learned a lot at the conference, and met a lot of people. Definately worth the trip. At the Auction we ended up buying three animals, including one Suri alpaca (Another kind of alpaca that has ringlets like dreadlocks in their fleece).
Meanwhile back in Idaho, where Token was enjoying her maternity leave, we had a new baby boy born, Fletcher (named after the town my Aunt & Uncle's address is).

We finished up the trip (be thinking $100 of gas every 3 hours for a week and a half) with a 28-hour marathon drive, with 10 alpacas in the trailer, straight through from Ohio in 3 hour shifts. Which actually, while we were dreading it, it was actually just fine.

Mike dropped me off in Denver to pick up Valeria, a foreign-exchange student that lived with my family for a year in high school. Meanwhile he went home and made dinner for us. We spent the night, and morning, experiencing the ranch, then she and I went to Albuquerque to visit with my parents. Memorial day found us by the pool with friends of the family Valeria had not seen in the 27 years since she lived at our house. Then Tuesday she and I went up to visit Los Alamos, peek in the windows of the house, wander around the high school and look up a couple of friends we could find. This morning I dropped her off at the airport and she left again for Brazil. She is really just like a sister to me and the visit was absolutley perfect. So sad to see her off again!Saturday the girls come home for the summer. We are having a pool party for their friends before heading up to Colorado. Mike is already home and making great progress on the daunting projects that await at the Aardwolf Ranch.... Life is good.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Another busy month

In attempt to be brief (ha!) here's the highlights:

April 20 - Rented the big truck and moved all our household to the new ranch. We stopped at Monica's for the night and they came down with us the next day to help unload. Thank goodness, couldn't have done it without them.

April 25 - Pepperfire (the girl in VA) had a baby boy. Phoenix is his name. Our first of 9 babies due in 2007.April 27 - Alpaca show in Coeur D'Alene. One of my BBQ buddies, Londa Palmer (willow River Ranch) went on the roadtrip with us, nearly 10 hour drive. She brought 2 boys, we had 4. Her alpacas did well. Our not so well, except Ramon, the boy we got with the ranch. Because of his heritage we can't use him as a herdsire, but he's looking like he'll be the best alpaca on the ranch! While in Coeur D'Alene we had dinner with longtime family friends Joy & Ken Crandall and they visited the show and learned a bit about alpacas.
May 1 - Moved the animals and the last of our belongings to Canon City. We left Jack and Ko-chise to the people who bought our house in Wyoming. They had wanted alpacas for a long time, these two make great pets and a good introduction into the business.

May 3 - Took 3 boys up to the show in Denver. This show is huge, second only to Nationals, so it's great to go be involved in that. 1200 alpacas were in attendance. Londa and her husband joined us again but we all felt like we were running the entire weekend. Kelsey and Sara came up to join us too, Kelsey took Ramon into the showring. And they both showed in a performance class to test handling skills and that was good experience. As far as the animals went it was an exact repeat performance of the prior week.
May 5 - Our girl Serena who was boarding at a ranch for breeding died. She had a parasite that is difficult to diagnose (E-mac, a coccidia like parasite). At least that's what "I" think she had. The vet's found nothing. By the time we figured on E-mac and were treating it, it was too late and she died a week later. By that time she was losing 3 pounds per day and losing the will to live. Luckily she was insured and had given us Olympia, a beautiful little girl. Just could have used two more just like that.
May 6 - Drove the girls back to Albuquerque after the show. Because they hadn't been there we took a detour by the ranch. We were glad we did because we found a pipe had burst sometime that weekend and two the utility room/office and garage were flooded with 3/4 inch of water. And of course much of what we owned was in cardboard boxes sitting in that water. We cleaned up the best we could but when Mike got home Monday evening he had to tear out the flooring and gyp board up the walls. Since we plan on remodelling that area anyway, perhaps it is not devestating, but just didn't need the extra activity right now. While we were at the house in one of the barns, we found a nest of Mice, so we had another delay "saving" the mice. (we need some cats!) The girls decided the ranch is "full of adventure"!

May 7 - While we went to NM, Mike stayed behind at the show for another day. He took a shearing clinic the next day in the neighborhood. The entent was to get exposure to shearing not to learn to shear our own animals. He sheared two of our animals and got lots of practice. In the end he really enjoyed it, and might consider shearing our animals.. very interesting!

So this week I'm in Albuquerque, trying to work. Mike's at home, fixing the house after the flood! We are both trying to recover a bit before heading out on the next adventure next week. We are driving out to Kentucky for the National convention and then going to North Carolina to visit my Aunt Cordie and Uncle Charlie, then to Georgia to pick up some animals, to Virginia to visit the ranch we have that girl at there, and to Ohio to pick up more animals, then home by June 1... Oh, actually just in time to pick up my Foreign exchange student from Brazil (Valeria) who will be visiting for a few days...

Then June is going to be BORING! (we hope).

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Legend gets his first Histogram

Just a bit of background most of you might know. We bought our Alpaca named Pepper Fire from a small ranch in Virginia last February (2006). The seller wanted the baby she was carrying, and in fact, this being unusual might be the reason someone else had not snagged her up. But she was close to her due date and therefore not a big deal to us, and we got a good price on a nice black female. The seller wanted to keep the baby because she had gotten a very nice breeding to a very well known male, the Aga Khan. Pepper stayed at the sellers ranch until the baby was weaned (nearing 6 months old).

Well shortly after that Legend (the baby) went to his first show and he took every award in a landslide win. The seller (Dawn) immediately called saying the value of our girl had just easily doubled and we had better take her off the market before someone buys her at a too low price due to our inexperience. Well this was all very exciting, and since then he has won everything at the next show he went to. Everyone has been congratulating Dawn telling her she "just won the lottery". She now has a multi-hundred thousand dollar alpaca on her ranch (and our girl is the mom ;-) We decided to leave her at that ranch until the next baby is born (any moment now) and then breed her back to the Aga Khan and keep our finger crossed for a repeat performance. So here we are a year later owning an alpaca we have never even seen! (but with excellent potential).

Anyhow, Legend has just been shorn for this year and gotten his fleece sample back. For those who knows what this means his stats are as follows:

Fiber diameter is 14.4 microns,
Standard Deviation is 3.2 microns,
Coefficient of Variation is 22.2% and
Fibers greater than 30 microns is 0.3%.

For those of you that don't know, this is VERY GOOD. Congratulations to Dawn, and Mada Vemi Alpacas! We are so excited for you and happy to be a part of this.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

April means moving

Last week Kelsey and Sara came up to Wyoming for spring break and to say goodbye. They both like Wyoming, so (really for all of us) this move accompanies many emotions. While they were here we didn't do very much, relaxed, read, played with the puppies, who now weigh 75 pounds! And on their last day here we picked up the horses from where they were boarded for the winter.

Then, Tuesday Mike loaded the horses and another 1/2 trailer full of our household and headed down to CO. We left the horses at my sister, Monica's, horse ranch. Luckily she is only a couple hours away and can help out. Hopefully, we will be able to plan some stuff with them, although with their blossoming Dog Kennel and horse businesses they don't have much spare time either. (See Sun Pony Ranch blog link at right). But they will be able to come down in a couple weeks and help us unload the moving truck and see the place.. not to mention keeping the horses, which helps tremendously.

Just as the alpaca business seems to be full of logistics, this move with all the animals etc, seems full of logistics. The previous owners moved out last weekend, so Mike wanted to check on the condition of the house before we moved. So after dropping the horses he went on down to our house and spent a day getting a good look at what needs to be done, and found a LOT of work ahead for us. The Carpet cleaners the seller hired hadn't done an exemplary job, so we got them back out to finish up, and the house was very dirty, even after they hired someone to come in to clean. Mike spent some time washing walls, light fixtures, cobwebs, etc, so that when we arrive with our furniture on the 19th the house should be ready. He also met with a water company to discuss what we need to get to fix our water. It has a very strong Sulpher smell. Not sure why the previous owners didn't fix that, but that is first on our to do list. The house needs a lot of updating and painting, plus we want to modify the plan some, so we are anxious to decide what we are doing with that. Luckily the animals can move right in. They will be the last thing we bring on May 1.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Land Owners in Colorado

Yep, two weeks ago I drove up from Albuquerque to our new house in Canon City (6 hours). Mike drove down from Wyoming bringing one load, which included about half of our household. We closed on the new ranch without incident.

While I was in Albuquerque, our neighbors (in Wyoming) sent someone they know over to see our house. We were excited at the prospect of selling our house without even putting an ad in the paper. After the guy came by Mike felt like he wasn't that interested, life goes on, I buy signs to put up in Albuquerque and we take them home and put them up a week later. That evening (after we had put up the signs) the guy (Scott) came by, nervous to see the sign. He told us to please hold on for a few more days because he had been wracking his brain, unable to sleep at night, trying to figure out how to get his house sold and make an offer on ours. He asked us to wait one more week cause he was expecting a raise and he'd have more information. Well last Thursday he came by to discuss terms and we came to an agreement. We are just waiting on the final contract! Unbelieveable. We sold our house without even posting an ad anywhere! Sort of like we bought the house in Colorado without them having to place an ad anywhere except the Yahoo group we belong to. This whole move has been pretty surreal!

We'll be moving in April and going to alpaca shows at the end of April and beginning of May. Our phone numbers have already changed. Please note the following new address and phone:

167 Cactus Dr. W.
Canon City, CO 81212

719-371-7124 (Phyllis)
719-371-7125 (Mike)
The girls number stays the same.

Friday, March 09, 2007

A Trip to the Alpaca Mall

Well, what should you do when you buy a bigger ranch? Well, buy more alpacas, of course! As soon as our contract was signed we started looking for more animals. And when you look, be careful, you will find. Ohio has more alpaca ranches than any other state, so no suprise when we picked out a few animals there. Three were at one ranch and after initial email negotiations we decided it prudent to visit Ohio and see them first hand (In fact we consider that we buy so many without seeing them as rather risky and luckily have not been burned yet). So I tagged the trip to Ohio, which I now like to refer to as the alpaca mall, on to the front end of one of my Albuquerque trips. I visited three ranches, hosted and guided by one of them, and went home with agreements on 5 animals and a decision on 3 in Georgia. This rounds out our herd with 22 alpacas now. We need to shift our focus to selling so we can buy more ;-)

This week I have been in Albuquerque, finalizing negotiations, and arranging our trip out east in May to pick all the new kidlets up. 4000 mile road trip ahead!

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Las Vegas

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Well, the Big new of the week is we have a contract on the new property in Colorado. The sellershave pick their new place in OK and want to close by March 12. Then it looks like we will be moving May 1, between two shows and a baby due! Everything is falling into place.

So my girls and I went to Las Vegas to celebrate! OK.. we had the plans before the house deal happened, but it all helped the celebratory mood anyway!

Kelsey and Sara had never been to Vegas before, and when the newest Cirque du Soleil called "Love" featuring music from the Beatles, opened this summer and Kelsey announced that "someday she would see it and I would go with her" I figured it was high time! So we waited for a good deal on airfares and went.

In the meantime my college buddy, Amy Poore, and her daughter, Anastasia, decided to join us from Los Angeles. Amy's sister lives in Vegas and joined us some as well. So it was definately a girls weekend!

We went non-stop from Friday evening to Sunday noon, in the city that never sleeps. So non-stop that I came home with a cold! Spent most of our time on the strip and the show was fabulous! I'm sure it was a memory we will cherish!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Don't Blink - Cause Everything Changes

When I last left you we were heading into December with two new babies on the ranch and one in Denver. Shortly after that we bought another girl (Barbara) who had a baby the beginning of December. Mid-December found us taking the two born here and their Mama's to Denver to be bred, and picking up Kobria and her baby (Quemado) to come home. On our way home we picked up my girls (the human kind) and brought them home for the holidays.

We had a nice relaxing holiday, although Mike was gone to Salt Lake for most of it finishing the job at his sisters house. He did make it home for Christmas day + 3 days, and his being in Salt Lake afforded him the chance to see his boys (Josh and Dan, and Jed who already lives there, and Rachel, Josh's girlfriend) who were in town visiting their mother. The girls and I were in Wyoming taking care of the alpacas, playing with the puppies, and watching lots of movies.

Anyhow our alpaca count is now 13, and luckily the most we have had here at one time is 6. But pressure to get out and find the new ranch was mounting, so we scheduled a trip to Spokane/Coeur D'Alene for mid-January as well as I had taken two separate trips ot the Durango area in Colorado and had pretty well ruled that area out. We were down to Spokane almost exclusively.

On New Years Eve I took Kelsey & Sara to the airport in Salt Lake and decided to stick around and visit Mike for a week. On New Years Day someone posted an add on the Yahoo Group, Alpaca Classifieds, listing their ranch for sale outside of Canon (pronounced Canyon) City, Colorado. It sounded pretty nice and the price seemed right. We asked a few questions and liked the answers. Since we were in Salt Lake, near an airport, and Southwest now has Salt Lake/Denver flights... AND I could get a ding fare for less that $170 round trip for the two of us, we decided to go have a look. So Friday we flew to Denver drove through the storm of the century to Canon City. They met us at the end of their drive in their Hummer, cause our little rental car could go no further... Hmmm. Although they assured us it NEVER snows more than 6 inches there. This 18 inches was very odd! They described the mountain just outside their back door (since the snow prevented us from seeing 10 feet in front of our faces). They promoted the virtues of Canon City, the Wal-mart (how exciting to us, with the nearest Supermarket 1 hour away), the home depot (1.5 hours from us here), and the state prisons, which everyone in the country whose heard of Canon City knows about except us... But Oh, the unibomber is right there in Canon City.. but don't worry, He is 12 miles away, so we are really safe!

So we spent the afternoon with them, and the best part is that they are alpaca breeders so they have 2 wonderful barns, a heated double garage, and another storage building (where he keeps his helicopter). And all the fencing that we need is done! The house needs work but when I pointed out to Mike that ANY house we would buy would need work because we are who we are.. I think that sealed the deal for him. We called them two days later with a full price offer.

Besides the out structures, the property includes 35 acres and a separate 35 acre lot with a well and septic on it. The house is 2600 sf/3 bed/2 bath and well sited on the property. We were a bit hesitant because it is a little drier than we'd like to be, in the Pinons and Junipers, but at 10 miles West of Canon City it is in the foothills, and 10 miles further to the forest the big mountains. Oh and did I mention there is a Super Wal-mart 12 miles from the house! It is a 6 hour drive from Albuquerque, so I'd drive back to see the girls, but could fly if I wanted to. Right now it takes me 6 hours and that is if there are no airport delays etc, and if I want to go down for the weekend (or they ome up) we can. I think we'll like that. It is 1 hour South of Colorado Springs, and 2 hours to Downtown Denver, so again, I think we'll enjoy the location. Being central in the country we will have more access to alpaca shows either way from us.. In Spokane we might have felt bound to the West Coast Shows.

So I wanted to write right away, but have been holding my breathe, waiting for a contract. The sellers were "feeling out the market". They had no idea that their house would be sold within a week of their first thoughts about selling. They are a bit overwhelmed. They want to move to Oklahoma.. I think they really do.. But before they set closing and moving dates with us, they want to make sure they have a place to move to. They will soon be taking a trip to Oklahoma to look at a few places. Soon as the weather clears up! They keep delaying, but I understand why. And I think they really do want to do this, we just need to give them time. So.. we wait. I'm sure patience will show their earnestness, so we need to just wait.

In the meantime, I'm drawing house plans, Mike is picking floortile, we are coordinating our animal births with a plan that will move us into the new place in May, between the show in Denver May 6 and Nationals in Louisville on May 17! Ha! (Of course I have a week in Albuquerque in the middle there!) Life is never dull for too long!