Thursday, May 30, 2013


Tuesday was the biggest day of the year for the alpacas.  They all got their haircuts!  Once a year they get a buzz cut that lets them be cool enough for the hot summer days.  They are originally  from the very high altitude of the Andes Mountains  and without the buzz cut, they have problems dealing with the heat. Lucky me! 

This is the shearer, Marty.

That also means we get to harvest that wonderful fleece!  Softer than cashmere and just as beautiful.  It's made into all kinds of wearable products.  Warmer than wool, moisture wicking and uber soft.  I am excited to get it milled into yarn very soon.

How do you find out who your true friends are?  They show up to help you shear your alpacas!  Prairie Momma Trish and her daughter Elaina came to watch and of course jumped in to help me!  Trish gave all the shots and Elaina helped label the bags of fleece so I don't get them mixed up.
Our crew also consisted of lovely, neighbor girl Shyanne, my oldest son and my mom snapping the photos.

The shearers were amazing. Ever year in May they come up from Guthrie, Oklahoma to shear the alpacas in Montana.  Marty learned from his father how to shear and Eric is learning from Marty.  It takes them eight minutes to perfectly shear an alpaca!  They lay them down and put ankle straps on them to hold them still.  Then zip, zip, zip and they're done!

I was running around like a mad woman!  Trying to gather the fleece, bag it and trim the nails of each alpaca.  Might as well get 'em while they're down!

When they're done they look like this!

This is Genesis after her very first haircut!

The rugrats got to hang out and play while the rest of us were working.  They always find interesting things in the barn yard!

After two hours we had all thirteen alpacas ready for summer and they got to go out on the pasture and get the heck away from us!  Then I took the shearers to dinner and picked their brains about the best ways to market fleece and such.  I learned a lot in that short time!  Now I just need to learn how to knit!


Until next time,

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Calf Slobber Jeans

These days when I get up in the morning, I no longer look for clean jeans to put on. Usually the pair I put on in the morning is on the edge of gross. Ya see, if I put on the clean ones with in five minutes of being at the barn they are covered in calf slobber.  And just a little bit of poo.  This is a totally different way of being for me.  I can be a bit of a girly girl.  I try to be nicely dressed every day.  Even if it's just to go to the feed store for a case of dewormer.  I rarely leave my house without makeup.  Particularly mascara and lip gloss.  I just do not feel dressed without a spritz of perfume!  Silly?  Yes, totally and I know it.  I realize the irony in my lifestyle choices.  Lip gloss addict becomes lady farmer.  But now, the mascara and the clean jeans have to wait until after chores each morning.  Then I get into my decent clothes and get gussied up.  Or maybe not, if I'm headed out to build a fence or clean a corral.....

Just for fun I thought I'd show you a bit of the morning procedure. Some folks have asked how in the world I manage to feed ten bottle calves twice a day. This is how we do it....

On this fence we have five bottle holders all lined up.  We let the calves out of their pen and they follow us over to the bottles and we help them get hooked on.  Then they go to town!

On this fence in the feed room we have three more bottle holders.  We separate the calves into two groups to cut down on mayhem and bottle stealing.

A couple of calves sometimes need a bit of extra attention and hang out in their normal pen.  There we can give them a closer look and make sure they are getting over their belly aches and such.  My helper in this photo is my mom,
 aka Prairie Granny!

Notice Prairie Granny is all bundled up.  Yes, it's almost June.  But it has been cold for the last few days!  Our winter coats haven't got to take a break yet.

After they each one finishes his bottle he gets kicked out into the corral to play in the sunshine. 

They follow us out hoping for more food.  But we always make sure each one gets his fair share.

The photo credits today belong to my very talented 7 year old!  He did a great job taking the photos so you could see me and Prairie Granny at work!

This is my big boy with "Superman".

I hope you enjoyed seeing the operation!  Thanks for reading and sharing my blog!

Bye for now,

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I Used to Hate the Rain

Some of you know I spent a total of about 8 years living in the Seattle suburbs.  There were a few things I liked about the place, the coffee, great restaurants, lots of entertainment, Puget Sound and the ocean.  But I always hated the rain.  The almost constant drizzle.  Gray skies.  Mud everywhere.  Back then the rain meant if I wanted to go ride my horse, I had to deal with the rain or not ride.

Fast forward 15 years....

Rain now makes me smile!  We live in an area that's pretty dang dry for the most part.  Not a desert, but close maybe.  We get enough moisture that we have a nice grass prairie all around us.  Not sagebrush!  But it's also dry enough that every drop of moisture counts.  It's never a bad day for rain.  Rain means the prairie will turn green.  Rain means less chance of wildfires.  Rain means the hay fields will feed the animals next winter. Rain means the people here that make their living growing crops will actually make a living.  There is no irrigated ground around here.  Pretty much everything is dry land farmed.  Without the good Lord sending the rain and lot of people would struggle.  Rain is GOOD!

On Monday it rained!  Really, really, rained!  A gully washer!  Water was running all over the place.  Gutters were overflowing.  It was the most rain I have seen since we moved here.  At least all in one day....

The silly horses have a barn, but chose to get a shower instead!

The rugrats and I were in awe.  We stood at the windows for a very long time and watched the rain.  I know my fields will grow.  I know the garden drank it up.  It was such a blessing....

An hour or so later, the skies cleared....  So we will wait for the next rainy day and be glad when it comes!

Bye for now,

Sunday, May 19, 2013

My Personal Trainers

This morning I spoke to a friend about the possibility of his oldest son coming to work here on the farm for the summer.  (Ya'll know who you are!) When I asked what the young man's plans were for the summer, his dad told me that he was planning on working out with a personal trainer five days a week, all summer.  The kid is very good at athletics, but wants get into better shape.  They do live in Texas after all and football is everything! 

I smiled at the thought of a personal trainer.... hehe.  "Welllll", I said. "I think he'd get just as fit working his butt off on a ranch! You should see how ripped I'm getting!" 

This is actually a very true story.  Every single day, twice a day, I am getting a one hour aerobic workout.  At each feeding of the calves I am running around the barn and the corral.  Chasing them from their pen to the feeding room.  Chasing them out the door into the corral.  Chasing them back into the barn and into their pen.  Hustling to switch the bottles out when they empty and run in a new batch of calves.  (Feeding three to four at a time.) Having to keep my balance against getting mauled and butted constantly.  It is insane!  I just keep telling myself, in 60 days when they are weaned, I will be very glad to have ten healthy steers! But for now, they are my personal trainers! At the end of each feeding I am sweating like a pig.
This is "Batman".  He and his brothers are getting me into shape!

The calves are only a small part of my fitness regime.  Add in the daily raking and shoveling that is just part of farm life.  Walking out to bring in the alpacas every night to keep them safe from the dang coyotes.   Add in trying to keep both my horses ridden regularly, especially Fancy who needs a lot more saddle time..... Plus hoeing and planting the massive garden and dragging hoses all over.  And rock picking.... Oh, I can't forget hauling hay a couple of times per week.  Loading and unloading 80 pound bales onto a pickup to unload and re-stack around the farm.  After the garden is in I will be starting on the many fences that need to be built around here.

All this is why my "old" jeans are starting to fit again.  I am now also a proud bearer of the official "Farmer Tan".  So, by the end of summer I am confident I will be looking a whole lot like I did before I had the twins.  And I will have all of my "personal trainers" to thank!


Bye for now,

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Yesterday, I Lost My Mind

This week was sure a busy one.  On Monday my big boy and I drove south to Wilsall, Montana to pick up my Fancy mare from the trainer.  It's a three hour drive there.  Once there, I took a lesson from Jaydee on how to use the new skills Miss Fancy has acquired.  Then we made the trip back and stopped to play a little on the banks of Belt Creek.  A treat for my big boy for being such a good traveling buddy.

On Tuesday I drove north to cousin Joellyn's house for some creative brainstorming.  She is helping us establish our logo and image for the farm.  So stay tuned!  Once we settle on a logo, I will debut it here! 

Wednesday mom and I gardened our hearts out.  We set up irrigation lines, planted lettuce, onions and potatoes and corn.  And I don't mean just a few!  Some thing like 100 potatoes, 200 onions, 4 long rows of lettuce and lots and lots of corn. Mom also got some tomato plants set out in their raised beds and I planted flowers out front.  The rugrats took a good  nap that day and we were able to get so much done!

Thursday was a little less hectic.  We did plant some more seed and put out more irrigation line in anticipation of the rains that were for casted.  It also showered a bit here and there and kept us cool, which was NICE.

Yesterday I lost my mind.....

I drove to the Montana, Wyoming border and picked up ten little angels.  There was an ad on Craigslist for newborn Holstein bull calves at a very good price.  So my traveling buddy and I set off again and made a 12 hour round trip.  They traveled great and ate an awesome supper when we got home.  But boy, it was a rodeo! We have to get our system worked out!  They will require constant care and bottle feeding twice daily, for two months.  But it is a very inexpensive way to get started on growing some awesome, natural, grass fed beef.  Yup, we're gonna eat them.  And that might seem harsh.  But there is no better way to insure that our beef is raised in the most ethical, healthy way.  No routine antibiotics, no cramped, disgusting feed lot conditions.  Just happy steers, eating grass.

This afternoon, the feed room got it's long over due cleaning.  There was so much moldy, nasty hay, straw and grain in that place!  Not to mention mice! Yuck! So after a couple of hours of pitching, raking and hosing it out, it's fit for feed again.  I'm germ phobic and/or smart enough, that I decided to wear a mask the whole time I was working in there.  No Hantavirus for me!! 

Well, I'm gonna go take a couple of Ibuprofen for my aches and pains and hit the hay! 

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Farm Tour

Most of you, dear readers, won't get to actually visit my little piece of heaven.  So as I was walking around the place today, I saw some things I could share with you right here in this blog.  We have only been here about a month or so.  In that time we have been going a hundred miles an hour every day, all day long, to get things up and running the way we want them.  But!  I haven't forgotten how important it is to do the little things that make a farm feel like a home.  Little things here and there can make the difference between being happy to walk up the front steps, or not.

This is now what greets us on our front steps. I found this ancient hay bale picker upper thing (technical term!) down in the farm yard. I think it's neat behind the flowers!


The back deck has fresh chives, just waiting to be snipped into salads!

A place to sit and watch the kids play....


The lilac hedges around the farm are starting to bloom.... Can't you just smell them? These white ones are amazing!

This tired old bucket was laying down by the grain bins. I think it's happier with it's new job!
I'll leave you with this quick shot of the "girls".  I guess there is always gold at the end of a rainbow!
It was fun sharing a few special little things with you.  Don't forget to take the time to make some things beautiful in your life. No matter how busy things are....
Bye for now,

Monday, May 6, 2013

Are Your Wheels Spinning?

Do you ever feel like your wheels are spinning? Like you don't ever really get enough done in a day?
With our recent farming endeavour there is now more to get done in a day than ever. Each day we tackle projects that have to get done ASAP. But lots of evenings I sit and think, what did I get done today? It's been such a blur!

Last night I made a friendly competition with a friend to see who gets more done in a day. Which prompted me to write down today's tasks so I could keep track and of course win our friendly bet. Then I added one more thing to my list and decided to BLOG today's projects. Oiy! I'm nuts I think....
Today was a major gardening day.

This is the little potting bench I set up to sort my seeds and organize my tools.
This is how things went.....

(Mom made us breakfast)
Got the kids dressed 
Fed the alpacas
Fed the chickens, changed water, gathered eggs.
Fed the horses
Seeded 20 acres of pasture with the 4-wheeler and a seeder, then ran out of seed.
Mowed part of the yard. (Mom did the rest.)
Made lunch for the Rugrats
Rototillered 6 raised garden beds with the small tiller
Took the tractor to town for an oil change
Planted 60 cabbage plants in the raised beds
Planted sunflowers, hollyhocks, green onions, lettuce and sweet peas
Made a casserole for dinner

Some of my little cabbages that I started in my garage.  Now they are much happier!
Some how I managed this list while having 1, 2 or 3 of my sons in tow.  Sometimes grandma had one, sometimes their dad had one, sometimes one was in school.  But right now, I have dinner in the oven and all three are here waiting for it to get done!

Two outta three, hanging out while momma gardens.

After dinner I will go haul some hay to the different areas of the farm where it's needed and doctor a horse that decided to kick through a 4 strand barbed wire fence.  Ugh.  Superficial wounds thank goodness.  Then I'll bathe the kids and put them in bed.  After they're in bed, mom will watch them and I will go put my alpacas in the corrals for the night and tuck in my chickens.  THEN I will get to sit on my porch with a cup of tea and enjoy the views and the perfect evening.  (After a nice hot shower.)  After that I'm sure I'll pass out in my bed until 6:30 am when it'll start all over again....

So then next time you feel like you don't get enough done in a day, take the time to write it all down.  It is very affirming!  Especially if you are like me, trying to be productive and be the best momma you can be! We really are doing more than we think!

Bye for now,