Sunday, June 23, 2013

Toddlers in the Sprinkler

Today the temperature soared to over 90 degrees and I am definitely not a hot weather person. Like alpacas, I am more inclined to be active when it's a lot cooler. I do stop short of sleeping outside as the snow falls like the girls did last winter. In the warmer weather you can usually find the alpaca girls resting in front of the large barn fan which is where they could be found this afternoon. We had observed on our research expeditions last summer that while alpacas don't particularly like rain because it soaks into their fleece, they do like to have a little water sprinkled onto their legs and under belly in really hot weather.  Rich got a bright idea and dug the old circular lawn sprinkler out of the cellar, hooked it up to the hose and placed it in the pasture and turned it on low spray.

Since Took and Firenze have been visiting the boys at Amy J's Homestead , Leezza and Mango have been a bit more timid than usual. They watched him from a distance until he left the pasture and then their natural curiosity took over. They slowly wandered away from the fan in the barn doorway and crossed over into the second pasture. Circling the sprinkler, Mango leaned her nose down into the gentle spray and jerked back. She repeated this a couple of times as Leezza circled around to the other side of the sprinkler letting the spray graze her side.

As soon as they realized that the sprinkler wasn't going to jump up and attack them they both jockeyed for position, kneeling into the spray and kushing in the small puddle.

Each girl would lay in the puddle, letting the spray barely touch their face before jumping up, doing a little happy dance (that my "trigger finger" wasn't fast enough to snap) and then trading places.

Mango and Leezza were like two toddlers, who have now grown into teenagers,  and who  used to play in the sprinkler when they visited grandma. Like those two toddlers, they were so darn cute!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

You Know You're a Country Girl When...

I still don't garden and I hate getting my hands dirty, but increasingly it is becoming clear to me that I am a country girl. It's times like last evening after dinner I found myself driving the tractor...ok, ok it was the riding lawnmower...slowly across the grass while Rich walked behind operating the sprayer. We were preparing the new pasture for the "girls" by eradicating the weeds that would be harmful for alpacas. I cruised along at approximately two miles per hour while Rich was shouting at me over the drone of the engine to "stop" then "go" as he tried to spray right and left while simultaneously trying to keep up with me. It's no wonder I got a bit bored and started snapping pictures as I drove.

I tried emulating my granddaughter, Olivia, by taking a "selfie" with the camera but a shadow was the best I could achieve. Teenagers look so much better than grandmas in those distorted self portraits! Rich was getting a bit impatient with me as my path deviated off the straight and narrow while I snapped pictures of me (see above) and him and the surrounding scenery.

When he first noticed what I was doing I got such a "look" from him. Fortunately he is used to my quirky ways so he just shook his head and kept spraying! He has a well developed sense of humor and loves me very much. That's a good thing.

Rich is also very patriotic. He puts the red-white-and blue up on Memorial Day and it stays up until Labor Day weekend, so we look very festive all summer long. I like it because we do a lot of outdoor entertaining during the summer and I don't have to decorate! The little red alpaca barn is visible on the right. The girls kindly allow me to have the larger front section for my weaving studio.

The fence posts are set, the new portable shelter is in place and the grass has been conditioned. All that remains is for the fencing to be stretched into place and the pasture will be ready for the herd rotation. Our alpaca girls really appreciate a fresh new growth pasture and have been looking longingly across the fence. They provide us with endless amusement  as they frolic and graze in the lush grass.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

You Made Me Love You!

One of my goals for the summer was to write more frequent posts to my blog. I make a "to do" list every day, but somehow blogging always seems to get left in the dust. Every day seems to be filled with activity; spinning, weaving, knitting, visiting friends and family. The time seems to fly by. This entry will have to cover everything that has happened in the last 18 days.

On Sunday, just two days after my official last day of teaching seventh grade, Pressley came out to put Mango and Leezza through their paces, practicing for the fair. She brought her cousin, Gavin, another student of mine. Gavin is a city boy and not exactly an old hand with animals like Pressley. We put him to work anyway, walking Leezza, who was sometimes less than cooperative!

Both Leezza and Mango did well on their first obstacle course.
My good friend, Nancy, took me to lunch on my first Monday of retirement. She has been retired for a "few" years and is one of the busiest retirees that I know. She has set the bar pretty high for me. I only hope I can keep my energy level up as high as she has.

I also taught the fourth annual basket making class for my group of six close girlfriends, including Nancy. We call ourselves the WINOS (Women In Need Of Spirits!) We make a day of it and do a potluck lunch. Lots of laughing and camaraderie and love.

This past weekend my daughter and son-in-law and two of my beautiful grand kids took me to see the musical, Wicked in Columbus. I loved it and had a wonderful evening. My son-in-law, Steve, made his famous fettuccine Alfredo for supper before the play. Yum!  A lovely retirement celebration.

My lovely granddaughter, Olivia, came home with me on Sunday. We gave grandpa Rich his father's day gift and went to a family cook out down the road at my brother-in-law's. After that Olivia and I made strawberry jam with the berries we picked from our patch.

This has become an annual event that I look forward to very much. I am so thrilled that a high school sophomore still wants to help her grandma make jam! Last year we even created our own jam making "company" called the Strawberry Lamb Jam Company. So named because of a poem she wrote and published when she was in third grade.

And finally, two weeks ago we had Took and Firenze ultra sounded to be sure that they were still pregnant. Firenze seemed too thin to be pregnant and in fact, she wasn't. Took's ultrasound also produced inconclusive results. So today we took them back to Amy J's Homestead where we purchased them. Joseph, the farm manager, is going to put them with a male for the "spit off" test and depending upon the result of that will do a blood test. Firenze will definitely be re bred. We will miss our big girls, but they will return in a few weeks.

While we were there we went out to one of the pastures to visit the  young males. We had been tossing around the possibility of purchasing a male for the fiber and the guardian potential. Mostly we thought we might buy a gelded male and not bother with breeding.

While we were looking this little guy, Nikko, came up to check us out. He is a handsome young macho with a beautiful top-knot. Very eye-catching. Nikko was as curious about us as we were about him and his fellow pasture-mates. While we were talking to Joseph and asking general questions about alpaca care, little Nikko kept sniffing around us, and at one point coming right up and inserting his head between my camera and my face. Just curious, nothing threatening. He just wanted to know more about these strangers visiting his pasture.

He was curious about the cat...

Rich's shorts...
and my camera!
He was determined to be noticed by us and how could we not notice him? When an alpaca you've only just met pokes his nose into yours, it's a difficult thing to ignore. It seems that a "mutual admiration society" (to quote a very old song) quickly developed between Nikko, Rich and I. As Rich and I pulled out of the driveway to head for home another old song kept running through my mind..."You made me love you. I didn't wanna do it. I didn't wanna do it."