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Friday, January 3, 2020

Our Maremmas

Snowy

Snowy

I have always posted pictures of our amazing livestock guardian dogs over the years, but have not really talked about how and why we have them on our farm.

Livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) are dogs that have been bred over the years to be working dogs that help protect animals and birds from predators. They are not herding dogs. They tend to just patrol fence lines, bark at potential threats (including people) that may have come onto the property that they are protecting and will physically attack such animals as bear, cougar, wild dogs, coyote, hawks, etc. that are preying on their 'flock'. Maremma Sheepdogs are in this group. They originated in Italy and the region surrounding Italy. Other LGDs include the Great Pyrenees, Mastiff, Anatolian Shepherd, Komondor, Kuvasz, and Akbash.

We started our journey with alpacas in 2002 and adopted our first LGD a few months later. Sheba was a Great Pyrenees and loved her 2 alpacas. However, she developed bone cancer at the age of 4 and we lost her. After that terrible time, I did a lot of research on LGDs and found that the Great Pyrenees had been bred over the years to become bigger and brawnier in order to compete in dog shows. Breeding in this way has caused the breed to have some genetic issues with bone structure and cancer. I decided that I could not go through that awful experience again and decided that the Maremma Sheepdog would be a good fit for us. Smaller that the Great Pyrenees and not on the 'show' circuit, these dogs were touted to be very independent, ferocious and intelligent. Finding a Maremma in this country proved to be a challenge, however. I finally found a breeder in Colorado who flew our first Maremma up to us. This was 12 years ago. Snowy is still on the farm, but has decided to retire and give her duties over to our 4 year old Sassie. Snowy had a mild form of hip dysplasia that is now affecting her ability to get around. Because of her hip problems, we never bred her so as not to pass this gene on to her offspring.

We have been very fortunate that we have not had any issues with predators attacking our alpaca herd. We have coyote, bear and the occasional cougar sighting around our property. Our dogs do bark a lot, but we know that our alpaca herd is safe because our LGDs are on duty.

Besides Snowy and Sassie, we have a 6 year old rescue Maremma (Bella) that came to us via Alaska and a new 18 week pup (Gus) that we just adopted. We are hoping for some beautiful Maremma pups this year from Sassie and Gus.
Baby Sassie - 2015

Baby Sassie - 2015

Snowy, Sassie & Bella, Christmas 2017

Snowy, Sassie & Bella, Christmas 2017

Sassie & Bella with their alpacas

Sassie & Bella with their alpacas

Sassie, 2019-4 yrs old

Sassie, 2019-4 yrs old


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019-A year to remember!

The start!

The start!

This past year seemed to just fly by on the farm! We were fortunate enough to be able to finally build our new farm store with the help of lots of friends. The process started in May and we were able to open the store on December 4th and held a 2-day Grand Opening. Visitors are able to interact with the alpacas right by the store and can then see products that are made with the amazing alpaca fiber. I was so very excited to finally be able to take product out of boxes and totes and put it out on display!

We did have lots of visitors this year at our annual National Alpaca Farm Days. Although, our store was not officially open, I was able to feature a few items on tables. And, even though the alpacas get a little weary from all of the attention-I think they look forward to all of the treats they receive!
We were expecting 3 cria to be born on the farm the weekend before NAFD, but were very disappointed that none of the girls produced babies this year after all. All 3 girls indicated that they were pregnant, but they either all miscarried during the year or just plain fooled me. We are trying again with 4 girls due in July and August.
Walls going up!

Walls going up!

Roof going on!

Roof going on!

Almost completed

Almost completed

Ready for Visitors!

Ready for Visitors!


Monday, November 27, 2017

2017 in Review

NAFD 2017

NAFD 2017

Another year has gone by and with it many happy times with our alpacas along with some heartaches. It seems that time goes by so fast, probably because we are always busy.
We have three new babies this year, one female cria (Kelly) was born in July and two male cria (Smokey & Augi) were born within a day of each other in August. They are growing so fast! Our visitors during National Alpaca Farm Days in September were able to visit with them when they were only weeks old.
However, we lost our oldest alpaca. Arianna was a rescue that lived to be over 20 years old! She was pretty wild when we got her at age 14, but along the way she learned to trust us and even had a cria! I miss her even though she was grouchy and ornery most of the time. Ha! Ha!
We also lost one of my favorite girls, Star. She was only 7 when she crossed the rainbow bridge. She developed a mass that affected her kidneys and we could not save her. It was very hard to see her go. She was a very sweet girl and was momma to one of our very handsome herdsires.
On a happier note, our 4 girls and 1 boy that went to alpacapalooza this past spring did really well in the Halter and Walking Fleece show. We are so proud of them! We came home with 10 ribbons! Abraxas took the black Color Champion in the Walking Fleece Show. He is a beautiful boy!
We are looking forward to some down time as winter is setting in. A good time to try to get some fleece processed into yarn and make repairs around the farm. Before we know it, it will be time for shearing again!
3 new Cria!

3 new Cria!

Star at age 3

Star at age 3

alpacapalooza 2017

alpacapalooza 2017

Abraxas

Abraxas


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

National Alpaca Farm Days this weekend

We will be open on Saturday, September 24th in celebration of National Alpaca Farm Days. Please come visit our 3 new cria ranging in age from 3 months to 6 weeks old. They are so much fun to watch! We will also be selling alpaca products which include socks, gloves, scarves, hats, sweaters and stuffed animals. We will have a special sale going on during the event - socks will be marked down 15%!!! This sale is only for those attending our event.
I will also demonstrate the process we go through with our fiber, from sorting to carding to spinning with a sample of the yarns that I spin.
Come meet our herd!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Time flies.....

Miss Molly & Snowy, October 2014

Miss Molly & Snowy, October 2014

Wow1 It has been over a year since I last wrote. I can't believe how time flies by!

Lots of news on the farm in that time, but hard to remember all the happenings. Our little Miss Molly who was born on Labor Day, 2014 in now over a year old and is a wonderful little girl. I at first thought that she was a bay-black in color, but since shearing, we can now see that she is a true black. So very pretty! Can't wait to spin her fiber! Miss Molly has always been attached to our LGD Snowy. They were great pals until Miss Molly grew up and is now twice as big as Snowy and likes to play a little too rough with the dog, LOL!

I attended a Certified Sorted Fiber Sorting School last November to learn how to grade alpaca fiber. It was very intense with lots to learn about fiber and fiber characteristics. I am hoping to be able to finally get all my bags of fiber sorted and sent off to production. Of course I will keep the best fiber to handspin into yarn to sell. I am also available to help other nearby farms sort their fiber.

Our past summer was a little different this year. Very, very dry and warm. The pastures gave up on trying to grow grass in July, making it necessary to feed hay to the alpacas this summer. But, we have now had enough rain for the pastures to produce grass for foraging again and it looks like our first frost will hold off for awhile....happy alpacas!

This was also the first year with no new cria on the ground. Seems really strange to not have a little one under foot. However, we are hoping for 4 new babies next summer. We were very fortunate to purchase a very wonderful herdsire, Silver Rose Top Secret, and he was very busy this past summer! He is rose gray with wonderfully dense fiber. Can't wait to see his cria!!!

We also sheared our own herd this summer. Last year we attended a shearing school and managed to shear 5 animals. This year we sheared all 30!

Our next big project is to build a small alpaca store on the property. I had leased a space for a couple of years about a half hour from the farm, but it will be so nice to have my own store right on the farm! Look for upcoming news about the store soon!
Silver Rose Top Secret

Silver Rose Top Secret

Beautiful sunsets this summer!

Beautiful sunsets this summer!


Monday, September 22, 2014

Mateo & Pedro

A sad day as our two oldest boys moved to a new home. Happy for them as they are going to a farm which has 5 acres of beautiful grass, a pond and lots of area to play in. A perfect retirement home for them and a wonderful caretaker who is going to spoil them more than they are already spoiled! They are going to be companion animals to an alpaca that is a year older.

Mateo & Pedro just turned 13 years old this month and they were our very first alpacas on the farm. We got them when they were 8 months old and I will miss them, but know that they are going to a loving home. I am sure that they are also happy to get away from all the youngsters who are always pestering them to 'play'. Mateo & Pedro were the only boys on our farm for about 5 years when they were finally joined by Kal-El, the first male born on our farm.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Our new little girl!

After making her mom (Savannah) absolutely miserable for the past 3 weeks, little 'Miss Molly' was born on Labor Day, September 1st. Poor Savannah was so big while carrying her...I thought for sure that she would have a big baby, but to our amazement Miss Molly weighed in at only 13 lbs. 2 oz. But, mama has lots of milk and Miss Molly weighed in at almost 15 1/2 lbs. on Day 4!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Brrrr...it's cold out there!

It was 12 degrees this morning at the farm. It was so cold that after Lady drank some water, she had icicles hanging from her chin!!! I was carrying 5 gallon water buckets to our upper pasture area because our hoses were frozen and by the time I got back to the house, the little bit of water in the bottom of the bucket was frozen! At least the alpacas are nice and warm! It is supposed to be colder tonight and possible snow in a couple of days. Looking forward to the warm up, but not the snow! But, that is when I am able to get those great Christmas photos of the alpacas.....

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Getting ready for the Holidays

Usually, about this time of year, I am looking for photo opportunities to take pictures of the alpacas to put on our Christmas cards. Snow is always good, but have not seen any up to this point. We had some hail on the ground yesterday morning, but melted away before I could get any good pictures. Besides, all the alpacas where very wet! Hopefully we will have a little snow for pictures soon. I have 4 beautiful babies to feature on our Christmas cards! I have attached pictures from past years cards.... as you can see, alpacas are not fond of fake antlers!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Looks like winter has arrived

Pedro and our dog Snowy. Snowy is a Maremma

Pedro and our dog Snowy. Snowy is a Maremma

After two weeks of wonderfully dry weather, the rain and wind have returned with gusto! I think that we must have had some wind gusts of close to 40 mph this morning...hoping that our power stays on today! I am not fond of fall/winter because everything is turning brown and dying and the grass stops growing for the alpacas. And...when the alpacas want to give me a hug, I get soaked!

Stocking up the store with gloves, scarves, sweaters and socks for the winter season. Christmas is just around the corner. Where does the time go? Before we know it we will have snow!
Kal-El's first Christmas

Kal-El's first Christmas