Spa Day

Slim came out today to help groom the alpaca.  We sorted animals last time so it was alpaca shearing day.  Annmarie tells me we should just arrange to have it done with someone else local we know who has a custom shear outfit come do their animals.  I need to see about getting our fiber processed and then decide what we are going to do but for now, we do our own.

We had to move the shear table around, run power cords out to the barn and get all the tools ready before we caught any animals.  We then rounded them all up and put them behind the barn.  I caught the first one and we started in.  First, you put the halter on, then you stand them up next to the shear table and then swing the table down and hold the alpaca on it so it is now laying on the table.  Tie both respective legs together and stretch the animal out on the table.  Tie its head to the corner eyelet.  Now shave half the body.  This year we only kept the saddle portion of the hair. Once you have all but the lower feet and head shaved you untie two feet and shave them.  Next you use the hoof trimmer scissors to cut away the curved toenails.  Try not to cut the foot or get the quick on the toenail.  So far I have not made a single alpaca bleed this year. Now do the other feet, shave then cut toenails. Tie every body part back up and let the head loose and remove the halter, shave the head and now its time to rock and roll!  One person holds the head, the other one takes the hard rubber dog chew toy and gets it into the alpaca mouth and holds it in place so I can cut out the fighting teeth.  This all has to be done so that I don’t cut the tongue or lips with the finger saw.  Once that is done then I have to take the Dremel tool and grind down the front teeth so they are even and match up with the top hard palate.  It smells and its not fun.

Once the animal has had its full spa treatment we untie all legs and let the head go and I spin and rotate the animal off of the table.  It works pretty slick and we don’t have to try and lift the table and slide them off off of it.  We tried that and they are not very graceful.

The alpaca are the ultimate passive aggressive animal.  We managed to get 6 of 8 sheared today and only one did not do the belly flop and refuse to stand up.  As you can see above they just lay down and we had to lift them up, shove your knee under their belly and then flip the table to a horizontal position.



We had an audience for most of the day.  A new barn swallow who we are pretty sure is not ready for the great outdoors.

We had to stop when the power went out.  We later learned that the wind blowing knocked over  a tree which in turn killed the power to a large area for a couple of hours.


We had lucky number 7 alpaca already on the table strung up and ready to go.  We did his toes since he was there and then let him go.  We will get the last two next week hopefully.

As soon as we let the first four out they ran over to lay down and scratch their backs on the grass and weeds.  Slim and I emptied the pickup bed and removed the gravel so we can take the pickup and trailer to an auction in the morning.

Annmarie went out and cut herbs from the garden and wrapped them all up.  I hung them up on thee breeze porch to dry.  As soon as the upstairs bathroom is done I will clean up the breeze porch again.

Annmarie missed another rock chuck out in the ram pasture.  I ran upstairs but when she started to fling lead it ran out of my field of view.  I may have to put out some targets in the field and up on the hill so I can do some practice shots from the bedroom window.







Scaring away rock chucks


Mr Professional came out to the house and picked up bales of hay from the orchard and drove the trailer over to the barn.  He has been working on another project in town that Annmarie asked him to do so his time on the farm has been limited.

On Thursday, Annmarie spotted TWO rock chucks down in the ram pasture and went out the front door with the 22 rifle.  She flung lead at them and they got away.  I saw this all from the living room window.  Without a carcass she gets no kill credit.  She even admitted she missed.

Friday morning, Annmarie’s spotted another two rock chucks and went outside and started flinging lead again.  Again, they both got away.  I was not home at the time but she told me about it.

I had gone out to barn to move the hay inside off of the trailer.  It was a mere 98 degrees F and I did bring some water.  There were 60 bales to go in from the orchard haying (1.25 ton) and someone had to do it.  I got them all in the barn and stacked.  I needed the trailer cleared off so I could go and see if the metal scrapyard had any panels or culvert for me.  I found some amazing panels but the owner was taking them home and I did find a piece of 4’ culvert hidden in the back corner inside a piece of 6’ culvert. I will come back in a few weeks after I gets some more haying done and have them pull it out and cut it down to 16’ long.  I decided to go with a longer culvert.  The gate is 16’ wide and that would allow any size truck to cross.  I am going to use Rasta blocks and install a concrete wall on both sides of the culvert so it can withstand the water cresting it if needed.  On a plus side, I did not pickup any scrap metal and they gave me a sold recommendation for a portable welder.  I will be buying a Miller Multimatic 200 and using flux core wire.  I have been shopping around looking at prices but it looks like $2200 is the price I am going to have to pay. This is less than the allotted $3k I had set aside for this needed purchase.  It will even work off of my generator and will do 110/220v power supply.  This was a major tip and I am grateful for it.  I will be converting my old small pickup bed trailer to a welding trailer and mounting the cutting torch and welder and generator on it all so I can just hook up and go!

I was dragging after unloading the hay in the heat, tired, did not feel good, so after my shower I am upstairs dressing and Annmarie started shooting again at rock chucks!  At her opportunity rate I am going to have to increase my accuracy to offset it.  She shot at two more rock chucks.  I am thinking its the same two she always shoots at.  She now has to sneak out the back door as they will run away if you use the front door.  Friday morning I had removed the screen from our bedroom closet window so I could get a shot off if needed.  It doesn’t show the whole ram pasture but I can see  the hillside.  I spotted a rock chuck running up the hill and got off two shots.  We both missed.  My plan is to now just use the upstairs window when I want to shoot at the rock-chucks.


This is my view from the upstairs bedroom closet!  I have a decent field of fire if they run for the upper rock pile.



Animals contained

Sunday started off with another surprise, another fairly new calf!  This one has white on it also and has a white heart shaped design on its forehead.  The other heart headed calf has been named “Valentine” so Annmarie wants to call this one “Cupid”.  We are fairly certain that those are the last two calves and as soon as we sort off the young heifers we will turn the bull loose back into the main herd.  This will give us a calving date next year of March 2021.

After breakfast, I caught up on thee blog.  I would like to spread them out a little more but its hard to write when you work until 2200 then shower and need to go to work the next day.  I take notes for every day I work on the farm now so I don’t shortchange myself and take credit for the things I actually did.  I then did the dishes, emptied the compost, emptied the dishwasher, started Roomba and finally ran out of excuses to go outside and build fence.

I grabbed a roll of new wire (my last one), an old 2×6 board, two charged batteries for the sawzall and two cow panels.  I used the hitch on the pickup to pull the cow panels behind me out into the field.  First thing I did was install the bird cross posts.  I am unsure if the birds will use them but I climbed up the post and installed them.  I made sure to crawl up first before I pounded all the T-posts into the ground and hammered in staples for a few hours.  I needed maximum strength and my lackluster enthusiasm is not helping, I am so looking forward to going back to work this week, I need the rest.

I rolled out and stretched new woven wire.  I installed a smooth wire over the top of the woven to hopefully keep the horses from crushing my woven wire at the top.  I got the new side all clipped in and even installed a 26’ breakaway section near the ditch using cow panels.  They are anchored at the top and then nailed along both sides from the back so that the water pressure can just pop out the staples and the panels will lift.  I have a total of 42’ of breakaway frontage in this section of fence alone.  My goal is to install at least 16’ in every cross fence.  I opened the gate and called the sheep through, called Annmarie to verify the horses location and shut the gate.  The sheep and horses are officially stuck in Prime field.  I even hung the panel across the ditch and clipped it in place.  The left side of the fence still needs clips and wooden stays installed.  Once that is done then its onto the orchard pasture so we can get it fixed and sort the sheep. I was back in the house by 1600.

I showered and was upstairs in our closet and spotted a critter out on the ram pasture, it was a rock chuck!  Our score, Steve 1: Annmarie 1, on dead rock chucks is even, not that I am counting mind you.  So it was crucial that I get outside and make the kill.  I jumped into  my slippers, grabbed my 17 HR and ran out the back door making sure to not let the door make any noise on the way out.  Unfortunately for me the sheep and horses are in the barn lot and I had to pick and choose my shot.  I missed twice!  Now in my defense I did not use a rest and my arms feel like rubber after all the hard work this weekend.  They are living under one of my rockcribs down by the back creek and they will dig out underneath it and cause it to fall or lean over.  Annmarie shot this photo below for posterity.  The second coming of Sasquatch!