Saturday, March 29, 2014

The New Guys Arrived

The new alpacas arrived today. It started out a little scary...the rain made it impossible to get the trailer out of it's parking space. Lisa Saettel did her best. The people from SELR were kind enough to bring them the rest of the way.

I wasn't sure what was going to happen. We put them in the pen to dry off and get settled. Poor things didn't know what to think about the chickens.

I called Grumpy, but he refused to have anything to do with me. I helped Lisa with her kids while she visited her Mom at HMH. Came home to let the horses back in the barn. The New Guys seemed very content in the pen.

I called Grumpy, to my surprise he came in the barn three or four times before I got the door closed. He was really, really interested in the New Guys. I managed to corner him, halter him and got him over to the pen. I didn't know if he would go in or not. But he charged in, ears forward.

There was some kicking, no spitting, no biting and a few bleats. But for the most part, Grumpy had his ears forward.

It looked like he was smiling.

I'm really glad. He wasn't happy as an Only Alpaca.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Jordan's Croft As An Ecosystem

Grumpy stands watch over the poultry flock. Good boy!

Say what?

Well, it is an ecosystem abet a small one, but this tiny parcel of land (5 acres) is a living thing.

This is how it works:

The horses are the primaries. They graze the grass and weeds, leaving manure behind. Their bedding is spread to fertilize the grass. The manure spreader does it's thing, spreading grass seed, lime and wood ashes to feed the grass.

The chickens eat some grass, but mostly they kick the manure piles apart looking for bugs. Their favorite food appears to be fly grubs. The ducks eat a lot of grass, and every bug they can catch.

The geese are grazers who act as an alarm system and as walking fertilizer spreaders.

The alpacas are browsers who will nibble the weeds and now it looks like they will protect the poultry from minor predators. (I think of my dogs as minor predators.) I HOPE they will protect against foxes!

We get to eat the chicken eggs. I usually sell baby ducks and some mature pairs as well as the drakes that go to my Chinese friends. This year I'm hoping to sell duck eggs to the people at Heartland Whole Life Buying Club.

If all goes right I will have several baby geese to sell this summer as well. Last year only 2 out of 5 goslings survived. This year I've already got an incubator full of goose eggs. Any that hatch will be sold off to feed the rest of the flock.

It looks like Grumpy will provide a fleece for me to turn into yarn. I'll either sell the yarn or what I make from it.

This isn't big bucks by any stretch of the imagination. However, there's just enough money coming in to feed the poultry.

That's good enough for me.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Grumpy Has a Job!

Meet Grump the Alpaca and Evil Ian the Buff Orphington rooster. Grumpy lost his life-long companion, and I was afraid he would pine away. Oddly enough, Grumpy has taken a shine to the poultry in general and the lovely, but nasty Evil Ian.

The top picture shows Grumpy on guard. My Jack Russel, Trouble has come out to play. You can see Trouble in the second picture. That's Grumpy stamping his foot, warning Trouble to keep his distance, or else.

This is the 'or else' I was talking about. Grumpy targeted the little chicken-chasing dog for a bad stomping. Luckily for Trouble, I was there to protect him. He zipped around me, barking like a big bad dog, but hiding under my feet. 

"Don't worry, little buddy. I'll protect you!"

Trouble was still at my feet in this picture, and Evil Ian was coming in for the kill himself. Once Evil Ian was my favorite. He would sit on my arm and eat from my hand. But by the time this picture was taken, Ian had earned the 'Evil' by attacking me, the dogs, and anyone he could target.

It is great fun to watch the animals interact. That is, as long as Evil Ian didn't attack me. However, there was just one more species that needed to make itself known...

This is Tanamara, the young mare, who is in line to be Queen and doesn't let any of the other animals forget it. The alpacas were the newcomers, so they were the lowest critter on the totem pole. 

The young mare didn't want that fuzzball alpaca to get too close to HER human (that's me). And the old gelding came around to back her up.

Sorry Grumpy, you aren't the Alpha of this herd. This is Mare territory.

Stay tuned! You never know what I'm going to see and what I can get photos of. The animals here have their own world, and a strict pecking order.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Finished Snood

I never heard of a snood before - now I've got a really pretty one!

The yarn is Red Heart, fuzzy stuff is 'fun fur'.

This was a test knit, getting ready to make the same thing from something I spun at home.