Saturday, December 19, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Friday, September 04, 2009
Ribbon Cuttings Get Exciting!
Mike Moser & Phyllis Swenson along with
Prospectors, Friends, and Staff (Alpacas)
get a “cut above”
At Aardwolf Alpacas
Now who could resist a face like that!
As Published by the Canon City Chamber of Commerce.
As Published by the Canon City Chamber of Commerce.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
We spent the whole summer waiting on bees and still haven't gotten them. More on that at http://aardwolfbees.blogspot.com/.
The Fleig Family from Albuquerque
We have been working on marketing and increasing the numbers of visitors to the ranch. As such we have gotten our felting workshops officially off the ground. See our page http://www.aardwolfalpacas.com/workshops.html for more information on those, but they have been very well received and are growing. I have a few commissions for some products, so although I don't want to be a clothing manufacturer, it's all good.
In the same light we have joined a number of local organizations to increase our visibility, including the Canon Food Coop, Business Owners meet & Greet (local networking group), the woman's new neighbors group, and the Chamber of Commerce. The Coop has been manning a booth at the farmers market all summer and we have volunteered at least half of the days, selling alpaca product and educating the public about alpacas. The Meet & Greet group has us on the advisory board, and Mike is now on the committee to run a Business Expo in October here in town. The new Neighbors group doesn't meet during the summer, but has offshoot groups that we are involved in, Couples Card Night, and I belong to a "gad-about" group that goes places once a month together. So every week we are busy with activities for these groups and friends we have met through these groups.
Over the 4th of July we participated in Open Ranch Days at a ranch in Salida (an hour away and a market we have wanted to target.) It was very successful and we have a few nights booked at the ranch and felting workshops booked from the event.
Last week we got a bit of a vacation. We had the people we are boarding animals for come watch the animals and we headed out to Salt Lake for a week. Actually we started in Idaho visiting our alpaca friends from our Wyoming days. They had a potluck in our honor, and aside from Cheryl being off for quadruple bypass surgery, it was just like old times. Got to see Rich and Shannons new ranch, and Londa and Jody's new Inn in Lava Hot Springs (cool place! http://lavaalpacainn.com/default.aspx I'm ready for another family reunion there!). Then the next day we headed on down to Ogden for Mike's Dad's surprise 80th birthday party.. And surprise it was, as his birthday is not until September 17! We were singing happy birthday, and he was looking around for who we were singing to! Mike got to visit with his kids, who all made it except Josh (who was off shooting an Oryx at White Sands, NM... we forgive you, Josh). And Mike's sister Nancy, husband, and sister made it in from LA, so we had quite a crowd.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
We have a bunch (who knows how many - 7? 10?) of cats. They are all wild, couldn't catch one if I wanted. This little girl was given to me because I wanted a friendly cat... and the woman who was a breeder, was downsizing her operations. The cat was a "Pixie Bob", a 20 year old breed started by breeding a bobcat and a domestic cat. She looked like a small bobcat and got lots of attention for that from visitors.. As far as friendly, be careful what you wish for! She was always underfoot whenever we were outside. I loved it.
It is hard to get someone to trust you with a cat when you will be keeping it outside. We have been warned against alpacas and Kittens, so those are not an option. I don't want to spend a lot of money (ie $90 at the pound -and again usually the pound won't let you take a cat if you will be keeping it in the barn) so she will be difficult to replace. She will be missed!
We are not sure how she died. Mike thinks she may have eaten a poisoned mouse... She started declining about a week ago. Getting more uncomfortable and less mobile daily. We hoped she would snap back - find another life. But no such luck. Her last day was Sunday, and she didn't move all day long.. not even a whisker, but she still purred when you pet her. I wished I could just put her out of her misery, then a friend suggested that sometimes animals die from dehydration. As she hadn't moved all day, I knew she was dehydrated. So I took a syringe and water and poured a little down her throat. Then she spasmed and died. (I am wondering if I drowned her).
Anyhow. Perhaps this is a little tribute to Tiger Lily. Now I'm hoping I find a photo to share with you. (OK, the picture I found is not her, but she looked just like that.. except she was missing an eye!)
Another death on the ranch this week was to our colony of bees, which we finally got! but they all died. Read about that on the bee blog. (http://aardwolfbees.blogspot.com/)
Friday, May 15, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
At the end of the month is the national convention, this year to be in Cleveland. I've been trying to talk Mike into going because it is an opportunity to meet and reacquaint ourselves with people that we have been networking with. But time and money are at a premium right now, so not sure if we will be doing that.
We got half way through the second guy and the shears broke a gear. Poor Phoenix looked pretty funny! Oh the humility!
Phoenix before we goofed him up!
Saturday we finished up Phoenix, things were working ok, sheared Ramon Jr. but the shears seemed to be not working very well and it was a struggle. Then a neighboring alpaca friend showed up to help for a couple hours. A third person really helps a lot. While Ron was there we sheared Escudero, and then stopped for lunch. Escudero was the toughest yet.. Hey isn't this supposed to be getting easier instead of harder? Mike is constantly having to adjust the shears to try to get them to cut well. When we stopped for lunch, he took the opportunity to sharpen a few blades.
Just as we were getting going after lunch a couple of other friends showed up who wanted to learn about alpaca shearing, so we started in on Scoundrel, but the cutters just would not cut. After an hour we were only about 1/2 done. Mike's frustration level was over the top. At this point the $1000+ we would have had to pay to hire a professional shearer is looking cheap! Oh well, we will get through, we will learn a lot!, and we will get better. In a couple years we will laugh at our naivity.
In the meantime we have decided to buy new shears, the ones we were using were ebay - used shears. Perhaps shears are one of those items you should not buy used! I'll follow up with the success story when we finish this chore. Only 84.5 alpacas left to go!
Other than alpacas, we have gotten fishing a couple times (it hasn't been real good yet this year), I traveled for work this week to Iowa, and tomorrow we get our bees. Watch the bee blog for news on that event.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Coincidentally we were contacted in January, by another ranch we have done business with, looking for a place to board their 45+ alpacas for a year or so until they can sell their house in Colorado Springs and buy another ranch that better suits their needs closer to town. They had been living on a ranch near Trinidad, 4 hours from the Springs, and the husband had been commuting weekly, leaving the wife home to take care of the alpacas, without a working well, and with two small children, one of whom needed an hour ride to the bus stop twice a day. Beautiful place, but too overwhelming.
We are blessed with lots of room, and with Mike contemplating looking for a part time job to supplement our income, this was just the ticket. We already board 1 other alpaca for someone who is trying to get back in the business. So we agreed, got the contracts together, and began to move animals. Since the first of their animals arrived February 1, they have had 3 new babies... more fun for us. The last of the alpacas arrived about 2 weeks ago. We are keeping them (at least for the time being) in our second barn, and have moved our boys from that barn to our big barn. This way there is no bio security issues. Part of our concern was being more tied down (I can convince a neighbor to watch 50 animals when I'm out of town, but how would they feel about twice as many), so as part of the negotiations we included that they will come take care of all the animals periodically to give us a break. A perfect solution to us.
They also breed guard dogs, and found homes for most of those, but really didn't want to give up their two best dogs, raised with alpacas, and didn't want to confine them to a yard in the city. So we agreed to take the two dogs as well, and keep them in with their alpacas. Our 4 dogs stay in with our alpacas. Our 6 (+-) barn cats do not go in the alpaca pens (by their own choice).
Two weeks ago a neighbor of ours bought a mini-horse as a companion for her riding horse that she had been boarding out for the winter. She had found this mini-horse after a previous deal fell through and for about 1/4 of the price of the first deal, and therefore jumped on it. BUT had to go pick it up before she had her fencing ready, or before she had hay, etc. So we are keeping the two horses here for a few weeks, until she can get that all going.
Then last week Mike's son, Dan, called to say his company had a new long term contract nearby our place, and when he was working in the area he'd like to spend weekends with us (yeah!). He has a dog, Nikita, that is by his side everywhere he goes. As such she is very well behaved. But the first week on the job he didn't feel comfortable taking the dog with him, until he got settled in a bit. SOOO, we volunteered to watch him this first week on the new contract.
If you've been counting, including Mike and I, that makes 106 hearts beating on our ranch. I find that just a bit shocking! We have ordered bees that should come the beginning of May. there should be 60,000 of them, once the hive gets up to capacity. Do bees have hearts?
Sunday, March 08, 2009
They took Josh's truck (diesel) and our trailer. The first night out Mike called at 4am to tell me the truck and trailer (and 7 alpacas) were stolen. Josh had a feeling something bad was going to happen so he was hyper vigilant that night and heard the truck being stolen from their second floor room at the motel in Independence, MO (thus the significance of diesel). They grabbed their pants, shoes and the guns that they each travel with and ran out, Mike ran toward where the truck had been parked, Josh ran the other way and headed off the truck as it pulled out onto the street. The guy tried to run Josh down, so Josh shot out the tires.
The guy only drove about 2 miles before he ditched the truck due to lack of tires, and ran off through the snow. The police arrived with the swat team, helicopters, and everything. The police followed the tracks through the snow, but did not catch the guy. The good news is of course that they did get the truck and trailer damaged only by two tires needing replacing, a bullet hole in the side of the truck, broken door handle and ignition switch. 4 hours after the first call they have new tires and are back on the road again, heading for Ohio! Nothing stolen, all without injury, Alpacas just fine. So much to be grateful for!
The rest of their trip (the next 3000 miles or so, and another 4 days) was downright boring compared to the first day. But ya' know? They did not mind! The weather was very cold so they did not sleep in the truck as they has planned, and would have liked to see the mid-west in the springtime, but alas... not to be. This was Josh's first trip East ever, and Mike got to spend 5 uninterrupted days with Josh, something he hadn't done in years... so overall the trip was full of memories.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Our well has a relief overflow, which when it overflows it runs out on the ground and makes mud in the Summer and ice in the Winter across a section of our drive. Last October Mike decided to bury a tank we had left from the previous owners so the water could run into there and dissipate slowly underground.
That's where it all started.. While burying the tank Mike bumped the tractor into a spigot directly above the well, which cracked a joint down low, and our water quit working. The well repair guy pulled the pump up and replaced the joint, which he said was corroded due to the wrong material anyway. Then he put the pump back down.
About a month later we were out of water in the house. Mike could turn off the pump and turn it on again and it would pump water for a few minutes and stop. The well guy came out (two days later) and said good news is our pump is not dead, bad news is our well is dry. We would have to drill a new well (~$12,000) with no guarantee that they would hit water. We were devastated. 2008 wasn't good to us financially and the bill for a new well was not going to fit in the budget! The well guy put a pump minder on so that the pump would shut off if there was no water rather than burn out.
Mike happened to be out when the well guy was there (taking advantage of the distraught woman at home, who knows nothing about rural life, and wells and such.) Mike felt there was something not right about the well guy's advise, after all we had had no trouble at all with water supply since moving in, and he could get water for a few minutes every little while. Mike wanted a second opinion. That didn't help with the sleepless night and lack of water in the house until the next guy could get there.
The next guy confirmed that we had water. He thought the well was vapor locking, and found that if he set the pump minder to about a minute before it turns back on (allowing dissipation of the gasses) it would fill our 300 gallon tank in about an hour, which we use up in about 3 days. So if this works then while we sleep each night it should top off the tank and we should be good.
That sort of worked. For some unknown reason occasionally it did not turn back on, and a couple days later we were out of water again. We did figure out that we could turn it off and back on and it would proceed to fill and be ok for a couple of days.
We left for Albuquerque and Christmas with a full tank. We were convinced that without us home using water, the 300 gallon tank would be plenty of water for the animals for 9 days. But the next day the girl (Jody) taking care of the animals called to say the tank was empty. She cycled the pump and had water again but every other day or so the tank was empty. The freezing weather, and hoses, and a spigot that freezes, etc, didn't help matters and she was carrying water from one barn to the other daily, rising to the challenges our water problems were presenting.
We were baffled where 300 gallons could be going every other day. Upon returning home we realized that it was all draining into the overflow tank! Aargh! Mike has shut that off, and still there is something wrong with the pump that cycling seems to fix about once a week, but at least we haven't been without water since Christmas. He thinks when the pump was pulled up it was never put back down far enough into the well. We'll get the SECOND guy back out to look in the Spring.
This story is not even going into the frustrations Mike has had over the first well service and letters back and forth and better business bureau and other ugliness.
Coincidentally about 3 days in with no water we realized our septic tank was full it had overflowed and backed up. So for three or so weeks we either didn't have water, or we didn't have septic tank! Either way we were getting up at 3am to pee (because due to our new eating regime we are drinking about a gallon of water a day!) and have to put on shoes so our feet don't freeze in the snow on the way to pee! That is just not right!
When we called the Septic Tank service they told us they would charge $50/hour to dig up our front yard to find our septic tank. Mike thought he could do that with the tractor, and would call them back when he found it. Of course there was about 6 inches of snow from the day before that was not too helpful.
We did dig up half of the front yard and we did find the tank and the lid. Called the guy back and he couldn't come out for a few days.. After some frustrations with that, we called the only other guy in town who came right out and pumped us out.
Whew, we thought our problems were solved and I went off for a much needed shower before my girlfriend took me out for a Birthday Tea. But alas, the shower wasn't draining. Seems the full septic tank had clogged back up into the pipes. Mike had to snake it out, making a heck of a mess in the crawlspace with back flowing sewage! But then HE could have a much needed shower also.
A couple days later we were relaying this story to some friends who said the first time they pumped their septic tank they hadn't realized there were two lids and that you had to pump both compartments. Two lids?? So out came the tractor again. A bit more digging and Voila.. another lid! And upon opening.. yup, this side if full too. So the Septic service came back out to pump that side (shouldn't he have mentioned that when he was here the first time?). He did however mention that he thought our drain field had probably been compromised and that we would probably have to dig a new one. That will be another task for the spring! And perhaps Mike and his Tractor can do that without employing incompetent service people! In the meantime we are conserving on toilet flushing, sharing the flush when we can, but it sure beats walking in the snow to pee!
Monday, February 09, 2009
I'm now VERY excited to start the next one ;-) I guess I am a knitter.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
We had a busy month in January. After Mike and I spent Christmas week in Albuquerque visiting my girls, my parents, Mike's son and various friends (Oh yeah, Mike got a few chores done at my Mom's house too), we had two very nice trips in January. So much for staying home and enjoying the ranch!! But actually both trips were VERY fun and the bottom line is we were together!
First trip was to Las Vegas for 4 days for the Alpacas of America auction. AOA is the largest ranch in the country (1000+ alpacas), and they host an auction each year to sell 80 or so female alpacas. We went last year, and had so much fun that we decided before we got home that we would go again this year. It's a great cheap vacation since they pay for your rooms and much of your food, and we can fly Southwest. This year most of our buddies from Wyoming joined us there, so it was like old home week. So great to see our friends, Great to preview and discuss the animals, and great educational seminars as well. We also unexpectedly got quite an education on auctions when we figured out the floor guys signals to each other, and were surprised that lots of alpacas did not sell even if they made you think they did. Not suprising in this economy, suprising that they felt they needed to be dis-honest about it. The good news is that Alpacas of America were not going to sell too low, indicating their faith in the alpaca industry to sustain itself through the recession.
As a bonus some ex-Boise neighbors moved to Las Vegas last summer so we spent a day and an evening with them, just chatting and catching up, and they took us out to Hoover Dam to see the new highway bridge being built there, an engineering marvel to be sure.
The other vacation we had this month was this past weekend when we joined my sister Monica and her husband David at their business partner's (Ginger's) condo in Winter Park. We got up there Friday evening just as the snow was beginning to seriously inpact the driving, and it snowed like crazy all night Friday and all day and night Saturday. Saturday we headed out for some shopping, but didn't venture far and ended up staying close to home and played some games, read, relaxed in our winter wonderland! There were supposed to be some festivities going on in town that day, but they were so disorganized that it was a bust! We did see a very short parade in the evening and had a good prime rib dinner though.. No complaints here.
We plannind to ski Sunday but only if the weather looked enjoyable. At $92/day we wanted to be comfortable... even if we did have a half price coupon. So when we got up Sunday it was sunny and nice and we headed for the slopes. The snow could not have been better!! We skied until about 1:30 when the storm had returned, and we decided we'd had enough and headed for home. For more detail on the trip you can see more photos and read Monica's blog at http://sunponyranch.blogspot.com/2009/01/happy-birthday-mary-jane.html.
Also January in Colorado means the National Western Stock Show. This is the first year they have had an alpaca show associated to the stock show and the local organization (Alpaca Breeders of the Rockies - or ABR) was all buzzed up about that! ABR has had an educational booth for the past few years and since last year has had a product sales booth. We volunteered to man the booths one day, and when they were short of volunteers we ended up volunteering for two other days. So three days driving up to Denver and helping out for a few hours and a 3 hour drive back, about rounded out the month. While at the stock show we saw and got interested in Yaks, but that is a story for another day ;-)
Thursday, January 01, 2009
With that in mind, lots of you have asked for more information on how our nutritional/health goals have been progressing and I think that is the perfect topic for this blog. Mike is a reformed man. When I last blogged about it he had just finished his detox and I was just starting mine. When we started on this path, the practitioner that has been guiding our process did extensive blood work on each of us. We both then did a 21 day detox, that included severely limited diet, and supplements to encourage the organs to release toxins, as well as supplements to address problems our blood work indicated.
Mike had a lot of physical problems that caused noticeable side effects. These side effects were in fact the motivation for finding the chiropractor. His blood work showed some issues, but indicated no arthritis, which we had thought he was suffering from. He found immediate relief in his joint pains with the supplements and although the first week of detox made him feel sick (nauseous like he had the flu) after a week he was feeling great and by now he is feeling better than he has for years. My blood work showed quite a lot more problems than Mike had, but mine had no side effects and therefore I felt fine. Through the detox I continued to feel fine, and still feel fine! My follow up blood work showed dramatic improvements on all of my issues, my blood pressure is down, my iron is back in line, my thyroid is better, my adrenal glands are working better. So although I don't feel any better and it's harder to stay motivated, I know it is a good process we've gone through and we need to keep it up.
After the detox we added back one food a week until we were back to eating normally. Mike discovered allergies to Milk, Ice Cream, Nitrates (found in grocery store pork and other cured meats) and peanut butter. We are both trying to eat organically and avoiding processed foods as much as practical. I have given up all sodas and all artificial sweeteners, and both of us are way down on our refined sugars. Because of doing this Mike has found his headaches to be controllable. He has had a headache once a week or so for his entire life, and now only has them when he eats something on his allergy list.. talk about motivation to eat right. He feels like a new guy! I'm continuing to exercise daily and now that the holidays are over going to try to focus a more on getting off the last of the weight I want to loose.
Overall we are extremely pleased with our progress and we are hungrily researching to be healthier on our own. We are investigating red light therapy, tapping techniques (EFT), and trying our hand at muscle testing. It's all fascinating stuff and we feel that there is value in these holistic approaches that our society has lost in the name of modern medicine. We are reading labels and shopping in the natural grocers. Wow, bizarre!
So, our new year's resolutions?? Boy, so much has changed in 2008 for us. My resolution is to maintain this path and not backtrack on our progress to being the best people we can be! This path we are on is very exciting to both of us. Hope you have something in 2009 to add inspiration to your lives.
HAPPY NEW YEAR.