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Saturday, June 21, 2014

What the Hay?

What the Hay?

What the Hay?

Today was hay day.

Alpacas are generally easy to keep. A little pasture, a little hay, supplemental feed. It's all good.

Alpacas love, love, LOVE orchard grass hay. Particularly second cutting (which is less stemmy than first cut). Orchard grass is good for them. Orchard grass hay is extremely palatable. It's a win/win.

Orchard grass hay is also hard to find around here. So when we find a good supplier, we tend to become territorial, possessive, and hay hoarders.

We ran out of "the good stuff" about a month ago, and alas, our supplier's stash was depleted. We were forced to resort to horse hay. Now, alpacas are picky about the texture of their hay, but they also can't have a lot of timothy and alfalfa (which is typical in horse hay). But desperate times call for desperate measures. We got 10 bales of horse hay to hold them over.

They hated it. They despised it. They spent the past few weeks randomly picking it from the hay rack and spitting it onto the floor, then pooping on it. Point taken.

So this week we got the call. 2nd cut of orchard grass hay was available. Woot! And hubby went and got 62 luxurious, soft, green, heavenly bales for our alpacas. The despicable (yet highly expensive) horse hay was cast aside to make room in the trailer for the real deal. And when all was said and done, the girls, who have access to an acre of green pasture, chose to eat from the previously shunned horse hay that was stacked outside the barn. What the hay?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Just Another Day

Grazing and Sunning

Grazing and Sunning

If someone had told me 20 years ago that today I would be living in the country, raising alpacas, and making soap I would have (politely) informed you that they were off their meds.

I grew up in the country, in a VERY small town. When I left the nest, I couldn't wait to get out of that town. I ran straight for the city (well, it wasn't a straight run - lots of pit stops all over the country along the way, but still I longed for the hectic pace and sidewalks). I lived in a city for 5 years, and then life found me back in the country again. Not my hometown, but similar.

And, lots of years and stories that make up my life later, here I am. Full circle, and then some.

Instead of the horses of my childhood, I have alpacas. And I make soap. And lotions. And wax melts. And sugar scrubs and body washes.

I am in a farmhouse that requires never ending maintenance. The kind of maintenance that requires immediate action before you can go on to the things you "want" to do, the decorating and renovating and painting and prettying up. I am surrounded by kids and chores. Alpacas to be fed, pastures to be built and rotated, hay to be hefted, dogs to be walked, cats to be cleaned up after, meals to be cooked, and all the household tasks that come along with parenthood and home ownership.

And it's hard. But my husband and I have always wanted this. The farmhouse, the acreage (meager though it may be), "something" grazing in pastures, the kids, the dog(s). The HOME. My husband is a city boy. Never even met a groundhog until after he met me. To him, this is an empire. To me, it's a farmette. But it's ours.

And at the end of the day, the hard work pays off. Not in the normal (i.e., cash) way - yet, but there's still something to be said for putting in honest, hard work and looking at your progress at the end of the day and saying, "I did that. We did that."

So today I was home from my "real" job because I have a sick kid. And it's hot. And so after going outside and taking care of a few chores, I wrapped 80 bars of soap in between taking temperatures (of the kid not the outside). The to do list is just as long today as it is every day. Supplies to be purchased, hay to be bought, loaded, and unloaded. I need to shuffle pasture time for the alpacas and attempt to get some breeding done so I have Spring babies. There's fiber to be processed into yarn. Oh yeah, we have shots coming due. There's the every day wonder of how to come up with new products, how to get better at using the fiber. And I need to learn to knit.

And lotions, and soaps, and wax melts, and laundry and dishes and worrying about bills and making time to play with the kids in the pool. And well, you get the idea. And you know what? I wouldn't trade any of it for the world. Because someday, this will become real. We've come a long way since we bought 2 little fiber boys just to see if we liked this whole idea of alpaca life. And have we grown by leaps and bounds into a massive alpaca herd of hundreds? No. But we've grown. Slow and steady wins the race.

Tools of the Trade

Tools of the Trade