Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Taming of the Roux

So Roux and Jak-Jak have been in jail (ie., their stall) and every day I've been spending time getting them used to me. It's been a bit like this (click here) which may give you some idea of where Jak-Jak got his name from. No actual spitting yet though, I'm happy to report. A bit of threatening, rather like a ball player hawking up and getting prepared, but no bonafide spit as of yet (and no fire.) They both eat grain from my hand now and Jak-Jak grudgingly allows me to breath air in the same time zone. Occasionally in his actual presence. He's even let me brush hay off his fur without violence. (Though I've since found out that if you want to annoy a camelid that's one of the best ways to do it. I have a lot to learn.)

In the meantime ("the meantime" being an as yet undetermined length of time until I feel safe enough to try putting them back outside) I've ordered a halter for Roux (which arrived today) and this book which should effectively teach me how to be a camelid whisperer. Who knows, maybe it'll open up whole new worlds to me. Or not. But at least it should prove helpful in getting them in the barn, out of the barn, in the barn, out of the barn, with the least amount of panic possible.

In other fiber areas I had this little idea floating around in my head for painting with wool, picture coming soon. Now I'm anxious to explore all sorts of other avenues along the same lines. Painting with wool is fun! But the big news of course was the big snowstorm we got. Practically in May. My poor apple blossoms!! (Above) I was out beating snow off the lilacs with a broom because they were bent to the ground. Gotta love Vermont.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Continuing Saga

Since you will all probably get a hearty laugh out of this pull up a chair and I'll tell you a short story . . . a couple days ago Beatrix missed the gate and ended up outside the fence instead of inside. We had a devil of a time getting her back in and Max helped by chasing her around so we could get her near the gate. My husband finally lassoed her with a fish net. (I told you you'd laugh.) But the funniest part is that today, when I put them in the fence (after all the chasing last night with the camelids I was anxious that they all make it inside without incident, which they did) Beatrix went back outside the fence before I could get the gate shut, trotted up to Max and gave him a playful push as if to say, "Hey, you wanna play that game again? The one where I run and you chase me?"


If looks could kill we'd be having mutton for dinner. I still can't believe she did that. So this morning we had another lively game of chase the runaway animal. Last night one of the chickens flew the coop. Now if only a bunny would run away all our bases would be covered and I could stop waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Reindeer Station Rodeo

When Beatrix wouldn't go in the fence with the other sheep yesterday and we had to chase her around the ominous music should have started playing because it just got better from there. How, you ask, could it possibly get better than Beatrix running circles around the electric fence with Max at her heels and Rob and I chasing her with a fish net and bug net respectively? (I didn't grab the nets, just so you know. Rob did. But they came in handy.) Oh, just hold onto your socks, cause that's just the beginning.

Today I put the girls in the winter pasture with the boys so they could continue their acquaintance and learn how to all get along (preferably with no spitting.) A couple hours later I got a call that the sheep were out. It's odd how when you get strange animals all of a sudden you start meeting your neighbors. The lady next door has lived in that house for years, but I'd never met her until tonight. She's very nice. They had the sheep put back in the pen before I even got down to the barn. She was tickled to see the llama and alpaca up close and personal.

She got to see them from a bit further away just an hour or so later when Rachel and I tried to bring them into the barn and they bolted for the high road. In fact she got quite a show as we chased them around her house and through her yard, and then Rachel went back for Josh. And then the three of us chased them. They ran across the street stopping traffic . . . a guy in a car who laughed his head off at them and then drove away. We cornered them for awhile by one house. The people came out to see if we wanted help and started snapping pictures. We're probably plastered all over Facebook and YouTube by now. (I have to pause here to say that it did cross my mind how ludicrous it all was . . . picture this . . . a nice, well manicured lawn, classical music spilling out of the house. I can see the lady inside getting dinner on the table. And just outside we're racing like lunatics around and around their house. You should maybe peek outside because the same thing might be happening on your lawn. Hey, you never know.)

Sadly, we couldn't corner them there so we chased them around some more, invading loads of other neighbor's yards. Fortunately most of them weren't home. Then back across the road (fortunately) and onto our meadows where the kids pushed them back, back, back to Rob's grandparents' where there were fences. I still didn't think we had any real hope of catching them when Josh, in a feat of heroism, made a desperate lunge at Roux and managed to grab hold of his neck. It was all over after that. With one of us on each side we quick-marched him back to the barn and Jak-Jak had no choice but to follow.

After that Lucas had to talk me down out of a tree.

When I could think and speak rationally again he assured me that life would go on, that everything would be okay, and that he'd help me figure out a safer way to get them in and out so I never, ever, under any circumstances have to go through that again. Which is good because I'm getting really attached to them. Well, Roux anyway, and I really don't want to have to bring them back. They give the farm a certain je ne sais quoi. Though tonight they mostly just give it mild heart failure.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Yes Virginia You Can Pack an Alpaca and a Llama Into an SUV

A lot of people have been waiting with bated breath to find out if you can indeed wedge a full grown alpaca and a baby llama into the back of an SUV (as Lucas so confidently claimed - yes sir, I bow to your experience and wisdom in these matters) and I dare say we can now state, with utter confidence, that yes, you can Virginia. You can pack them in there. In fact, there is room to spare. What you cannot do, Virginia, is keep them lying down while you drive (particularly as your cruise nonchalantly past officers of the law and the crowded sidewalks of normally sleepy towns at which points and for the record, Lucas, it becomes rather difficult to "speed up and take a few sharp corners" - I'm just saying) and you also cannot keep them from spitting inside your car. Yes, they spit. At least the alpaca does. The little guy has better manners so far.

So, yes, Rachel and I intrepidly traveled to Lucas's place to pick these guys up. I almost hate to tell you the names they came with because after a lot of deliberation I've decided to change/alter them. It's not because I didn't like the names they came with, it's just that, well, for one thing, the little guy's (he's the llama) name was Poindexter. Which I totally love. But try saying that in a sentence when you refer to him. It takes all day. So we're going to call him Roux (like rue or if you prefer roo, only French.) It's actually the name of a Johnny Depp character in Chocolat. And he just looks like a Roux. He eats grain out our hands and sniffs our faces all over (breath mints are clearly in order . . . for him, not us . . . if you've ever come up close and personal with a llama you'll find, trust me on this, that they smell remarkably like silage. A matter you're not likely to encounter until you have one kissing your face.)

The big guy was Jake and we're sorta keeping that, except that he looks like a pirate and is rather grumpy and set in his ways. So we're calling him Cap'n Jake Blythe. Or mostly, probably, Cap'n for short. Not that I'd wish this on him, but really he ought to have an eye patch and a peg leg and stump around growling, "Arrrh, me hearties."

Needless to say Rachel has really gotten into this whole camelid thing and scoots down to the barn at odd hours to feed Roux grain from her hand and try to talk the Cap'n into liking her. She is, while I type this, making camelid cookies from a recipe we found online. Like I said . . .

The Boys

Monday, April 5, 2010

Made in Vermont Etsy Street Team Giveaway

It's my turn to give something away on the Made in Vermont Etsy Street Team blog. I spent quite a lot of time trying to decide what exactly to give away. My Etsy shop is an eclectic mix of fiber art and vintage. I thought it would be nicer to give away something I'd made and I'm all into these Lincoln locks I got recently. They are just so cool. So after some pondering I thought, well, what if I use this leftover bit of sweater cuff from when I made my angora rabbit a jacket after he was sheared, and some of these locks, and this costume jewelry necklace with the fabulous cinnamon beads . . . and what if I made a funky, go-out-to-dinner-and-the-theater purse . . . and viola! This is what happened.

From top to bottom this purse measures 11". The bag itself is 5" long. The top is 4" across and the bottom is 5" across. The body is made from a sweater that was felted in the wash (oops!). The lovely Lincoln locks are felted in place. The bottom is embellished with the same string of beads that makes the handle. The closure is a vintage mother of pearl button and some corespun yarn that matched the locks. The locks are also on the back so it doesn't matter which way the bag swings you'll always see the funky locks. (I recently saw a spread about a woman who made her entire wedding dress from white Lincoln locks from her own sheep!!) For more pixs, go to Spindrift Studio at Reindeer Station Farm on Facebook and look under photos. The photo album is called MIVEST Blog Giveaway.

You can enter the drawing more than once by doing the following:

1 entry: You MUST post a comment on the Made in Vermont Etsy Street team blog to enter at all (please include your email so i can notify you if you win.)
1 entry: If you become a fan of the farm/studio page on Facebook(leave a comment on this entry telling me you did that and I'll enter you again. If you're already a fan leave a comment stating that and I'll still enter you again.)
1 entry: If you add the farm/studio Etsy shop to your favorites (leave a comment on this entry telling me you did that and I'll enter you again. If we're already a favorite leave a comment stating that and I'll still enter you again.)
1 entry: If you follow us on Twitter. We are listed as ReindeerStnFarm (leave a comment on this entry telling me you did that and I'll enter you again.)
1 entry: If you comment on the studio/farm blog or become a follower (leave a comment on this entry telling me you did that and I'll enter you again.)

So if you did all those things you'd have 5 chances to win; however many you choose to do I'll enter your name once for each thing. Just please remember to blog here that you did it so I can put in another entry and also leave your email address so I can notify you if you win. You don't have to write an elaborate comment either. A simple "following your blog now" and your email is enough.

So, enough chatter, let the entering begin! Have fun and thanks for playing!

(p.s. Don't forget to tell your friends and hurry, hurry because this drawing will be held on April 18. Good luck!!)

Friday, April 2, 2010

One More Time

This picture deserves its own entry and a blow-up. I mean, just look at that GORGEOUS fleece. I'm not positive, but I think that is Beatrix (natch) whose fleece, while not purebred Cormo, is VERY Cormo. Everyone watching the shearing was impressed by how beautiful this fleece is. Cormo is a next-to-the-skin soft wool and I can't wait to spin this fleece! It *could* be Lili also because she and Beatrix both had tons of wool. Lili is a Coopworth, but I chose her because her fleece was not as crimpy as some. So I can tell the difference between her fleece and B's up close. I washed up a few locks that had been left in the driveway as part of the belly wool (which gets thrown) and this morning it is BEAUTIFUL!!! I spun a little between my fingers and it spins up like butter. Can't wait to work with it. Today I'll be drying fleeces so that I can wash them (ironic, huh?) I'm glad the sun is out. It'll have to work alone most of the day because I am directing the Rutland Area Christian School's bell choir for the Good Friday service today at 2 at RACS. Stop by if you're in the area; they always have a lovely Good Friday service.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Now Shearing

Since Blogger doesn't like to let me put pix where I want, they are just going to be in here any old way. My shearer is Jim McRae (thanks Jim!!) and here you can see him in action. It's beautiful out today and the girls were so happy to be rid of those heavy wool coats and I was more than happy to take them off their hooves. LOL!!

First Fergal

First a few more pictures of Fergal and his cute little jacket. You can see how I stitched the edges with red wool in the blanket stitch. What you can't see is that I felted the inside with his own fur so it would be soft. (I know; don't say it.) But, isn't he the cutest??

I was going to knit him a jacket, but I didn't have anything soft enough so I made do with the felting. At least one of the pix shows him cuddled up to his favorite guy, Max.

MIVEST Giveaway

I am shockingly late blogging about this giveaway so you must hurry to the Made in Vermont Etsy Street Team Blog ASAP and leave your comments to enter. (Did you see how cleverly I put that link in there? Instead of posting the whole URL like I usually have to do because my geekiness does not extend to knowledge of link embedding. Pretty cool huh?) Anyway, this time if you win you get a choice of prizes. This is only one, you'll have to go to the site to see the other.

On Monday you'll want to check back again because it's my turn to give something away and I've made the cutest little purse out of the leftover sweater bit from Fergal's jacket, some Lincoln locks, and a red bead necklace. Honestly, you have to see it to really appreciate it.

More later, but right now I have to go back some apple pies for my shearers who are coming later. Shepherds have stressed to me that you are supposed to feed shearers well. Since I only have 4 sheep I don't think they're apt to get too hungry, but I thought an apple pie might hit the spot. Pix of the girls sans coats coming soon to a blog near you. This one, in fact. Also, an update on nearly naked Fergal and his Peter Rabbit coat. If you need a giggle be sure to read that one.