December 3, 2002
Not much has happened over the last two weeks. But what HAS happened has been very exciting. First, we registered our "farm identifier" with the Alpaca Registry so no one else can use APF to designate their farm. This means we can name our animals APF Whatever and they'll always be identifiable as coming from our farm! ARI charges $50 for the registration, but the alternative was to hope no one else decided to use it. Apparently if a farm uses an identifier 10 times, it is theirs by fiat. I thought sure the A Paca Fun Farm had already selected APF, but the registry said no, it was available. So I sent off my $50 and soon got back confirmation that APF is now our official farm designator!
On the Wednesday of the week before Thanksgiving, I had to have a stereotactic breast biopsy done because there was an anomaly in my mammogram. I was really dismayed by having to get this done. I know I don't have cancer, and it seems like a big waste of a good $2,000. But of course, I went and had it done anyway, because that's what I was supposed to do. And sure enough, I don't have cancer.
Then on Friday of that same week, Evan (one of our kids) called us from Texas to let us know that he had a "large mass" in his colon and was going for surgery rather immediately. He did. It was cancerous. But the doctors also biopsied or removed (I don't remember which) several of his lymph glands, which apparently is where the cancer goes when it decides to spread throughout the body. The tumor was cancerous, but it had not metastasized, so he is effectively all cured now.
To keep things interesting, on the Sunday beginning Thanksgiving week, Rick suffered chest pains so bad he decided to go to the hospital. The doctor gave him a nitroglycerin tablet, and the pain went away immediately. The doctor said it could have been heartburn... or it could have been angina. But it wasn't a heart attack. Still they kept him overnight in the hospital just to be sure. And then on Tuesday he went out to put up a couple of boards on one side of the alpacas' run-in shelter, and got the pains again. The doctor had given him a prescription for the nitro, so he took a pill and felt better right away. But neither of us is eager for him to try again. I guess we'll have to wait til Randy comes up and see if he'll put the rest of the board on the building!
Then, of course, there was Thanksgiving, when we went down the mountain to Maryland to visit and feast with the kids. Everyone is doing beautifully - and I was delighted to see that Bruce is just as much a part of the family now as he was before Rhonda left him! What's more, there seems to be no bitterness between them whatever.. they were convivial and cordial with each other as well as with the rest of us. It did come as a shock to realize that it's only two weeks before we celebrate our family Christmas (on December 15). We normally do it the Saturday before Christmas, but this year, Robin, Ricky, Helen, and Tammy all have to work that weekend, so we had to move it up some. So Rick has already purchased the bonds for the grandkids, and now all we need to worry about is our exchange gifts. Since cash is tight this winter, we'll probably not spend a lot on other folks, but stick pretty close to our exchange people.
And today was a very exciting day! We sold 2 lbs of completely uncleaned fleece - and we hope to sell more of it as more folks realize we have it. Apparently there ARE folks out there who want the raw fleece so they can pick it, clean it, wash it, card it, spin it, and knit or crochet it all by themselves. We've met two such people so far, and have sold two pounds and 6 ounces of dirty, raw fleece, and the second person asked for a sample, which I promptly mailed out. I sure hope the buyers aren't disappointed when they see it. I tried to warn them - repeatedly - about how dirty the fleece is, and they tell me they do understand that, but while they appreciate my honesty, they still want the fleeces. So I'm only charging $1.50 an ounce for the raw blanket and $1.00 an ounce for the raw seconds (belly, neck, and leg fleece). Even so, unless someone buys a full fleece, I'll send off a little more than they buy because I *know* they'll lose a lot of it during the picking and cleaning. One of the people who purchased fleece raises Corriedale sheep, and she's planning to blend the sheep wool with alpaca fleece. She said she'll send me a sample, so I'm really looking forward to that.
We also discovered a company called We-R-Embroidery that embroiders farm logos on shirts. We want polo shirts, but it was only after I'd ordered them that I realized that the website doesn't say anything about polos - just about sweats and tees. In any event, the fee is $50 to create the stitching design and put it on disk. They have a digitizer, so they can get the logo exactly as it should be. Then there is the charge for the shirts and the actual embroidery on the shirts, which varies from $17 to $20. I am really interested in getting polo shirts with our farm logo on them to wear at shows, county fairs, and the like. I've seen others who have such shirts, but they got them at useful lama items or stevens lamatique, and the shirts aren't in those catalogs any more. Anyway, I emailed the people, and they responded quite promptly. We agreed to trade 3 4oz skeins of Sobata's yarn for the stitching design, and then we'd buy two of the shirts. I had emailed Kylee, and to my surprise, she called me on the phone! She's very personable, and seems to be willing to barter a bit. She agreed to take 5 skeins of alpaca yarn (machine spun) in exchange for the setup fee, so we only had to pay for the shirts and the embroidery!
December 21, 2002
Well, this week made up for the last two weeks. Lots of things have happened! We finally got new pictures of some of the animals - including our Nubian goats, Jasper and Buddy!
We received the white polo shirts embroidered with our farm logo, and they're beautiful! Well, as beautiful as polo shirts can be, anyway. They're white with our farm logo over the left breast, and as long as we're not showing animals, we can wear them to alpaca shows! Rick is going to wear his when he goes down to visit his folks over Christmas!
Then we sold 9.6 lbs of last year's fleece clip - the remainder of the blanket fleece - which I'll ship out after Christmas. It's possible that the same spinner will want the seconds (neck, belly, and leg fleece), but if she doesn't, I'll just have it cleaned. I can sell it for more, if I have it cleaned, but I found out last year that it sometimes takes forever to get it all done. Maybe this time it will be different... one can hope, right?
Then today we sold Ricardo and Forrester to Pam and John Silvis of J.K.P. Arabians - a horse farm. They want the geldings more for pets and fiber rather than practice animals preparatory to buying a herd, and I think they've made a wise choice. Both Ricardo and Forrester will eat carrots from their hands, and if the Silvises spend enough time with them, they'll become great pet alpacas!
The Silvises drove down from Knox, PA towing their 4-horse trailer - they were that sure they were going to buy even before seeing the animals. They had seen pictures of both Ricardo and Forrester on our website, and I was able to send them additional pictures, and Pam said she "fell in love" with Forrester and that Ricardo was "Sooooo cute!" I think they'll all be happy together!
Rick went down to the bottom of the hill and brought them up here in our truck, then he trailered the 'pacas down the hill to the Silvis's trailer. Apparently it wasn't a big deal, because it didn't take long... he's back now, putting our trailer away.
January 9, 2003
This doesn't exactly have to do with getting started with alpacas, but I'm excited about it and wanted to share it with you. I actually won a contest! Legacy Ranch Alpacas has a monthly cartoon caption contest. Last month, the cartoon was two dogs tied to what looks like a garbage dumpster. So I sent in a caption and ... I WON! The prize is two sets of alpaca hats and mittens, which really delights me. The only alpaca finished goods we own are my shawl and two pair of alpaca socks that Rick bought when we first bought alpacas. He wears one pair, but the other pair is in my "show and tell" box. Now I'll have a hat and mitten set to add to that box to show what can be done with alpaca "second" fleece - the neck, belly, and leg fleece.
Rick has all the alpacas except Clovelly eating carrots from his hand. They run to him when he comes to the fence and calls them because each wants to get there first. Even Clovelly comes running... but she won't get close enough to even sniff a carrot to see whether she'd like one. The goats don't really like carrots. Buddy won't eat them, although he'll take them into his mouth to check em out, but then spits them out. Jasper will eat one or two bits, but he doesn't really like them. Oh, well. The goats are friendly enough without having to bribe them with treats to let us get close!
Seneca is eating grain at last! I put his grain in a cookie sheet on the ground while the ladies are eating their feed from their regular food bins. He gets enough down him so that when his mom comes over to share with him, he doesn't fuss with her about it. He sure protests if one of the other gals tries to eat his feed, though! He's a real sweetheart. He'll actually let us touch him if we don't try to hold him. As soon as he feels the least bit restrained, he's gone! But we can run our fingers down his back (he has just the BEST fleece - extremely soft and fine and dense) and sometimes on the back of his neck. He has beautiful facial fleece coverage, and with his little white eyebrows, he's quite a picture! I put up some pictures from last month, and will try to get more later this month.
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