Jen Pietsch
Orcas Island, WA

I love spending time outdoors, gardening, running and raising my fleeced friends!
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

postheadericon Ready, Set, Go! or I've Come Un-Hinged

We leave for Alpacapalooza on the 6:45 am ferry Friday. (Yes, that does mean I need to load those darlings in the dark. They are not too hot on what they know of the trailer but we will work it out.) Let me clarify we means, Luke and I are taking the crew, Buddy, Summer, Ranger, Klackama, Holly and don't forget Pippi!

I am confident that farmer Jeff will hold down the fort- he may need an anchor-yes it is STILL raining.

Last week at this time I went out to air out the trailer and make sure it was going to be all comfy. I opened the ramp in the back and the ramp/door hinge busted. The weld broke. I immediately called our neighborhood fix it person- Captain Barb- queen of all fix it knowledge- and she confirmed what I already knew- It was really broken- my new- used oh so few times- alpaca wagon was busted.

Captain Barb pointed me in the direction of a local welder and I got on the phone with the trailer folks- who were very apologetic and very helpful. Avery, the king of customer service at Carry-On Trailers in Atlanta second day aired me new hinges and Jorgen local welding champion, slapped them on (carefully) I am now sleeping more soundly- you notice I didn't say soundly just more soundly. Huge thanks to one and all.

We, I am big with we- which usually means me- handled vet check this week too. My regular island vet is out of town for a well deserved vacation but left the island in the able hands of Doctor Michelle Loftus from San Juan Island. This is usually not even an event, just a milestone of excitement...for me.

Michelle has a llama so it was easy breezy to get the check done and she brought along regular vet tech Rachel. The only hitch came when we went to confirm the micro-chips on the babies from this year. They didn't read.

It isn't unheard of and almost common that a chip may 'drift' and a new one would need to be inserted. Ackkkkk. But all four? We decided it must be the reader not the chip. Which once I stopped and thought, (imagine that stopping and thinking) it made sense. I checked all of the chips once they were inserted but used my own reader. (My reader is out on loan/trade to another farm in exchange for a 'pregnatone' ultrasound thingy) Rachel made a quick trip back the next day and we are now ready to go!

Wish us luck!

FYI- the animals pictured above are not mine-
Friday, March 18, 2011

postheadericon I Just Love My Donkey Girls!!

Marika the strong silent type

Hey where is the hay?

Pink Lady having checked out the little boys run in- no hay in there!

I don't have much to say about these photos. I just wish that I could do the donkey girls justice! Aren't they just the best? They have been spending their days with the little boys and Penny. (They do get separated at night, no funny stuff here) It is kinda a cross-species stimulation experience for them all. They don't seem to know it is going on but I am enjoying it.
Thursday, March 17, 2011

postheadericon Just Ducky or Please Stop Raining!

I woke up this morning and well look what I saw swimming in my pasture- yes- I did say swimming!

Look closely. It's Ducks! Don't worry they were just passing through. The sun shone all afternoon and spring is on its way!!!!---I think?

I just love Make Way For Ducklings!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

postheadericon All Ears!

Are you looking at me?...good looking huh?

Still keeping you posted on training. We are doing better each day. I decided to use my 'phone a friend' and find out how to get my team to keep their heads held high. Kathy, who has amazing animals, and a special relationship with each one suggested that I just hold the lead at their eye level. She said that the animal will just follow the hand and look up.

Who knew? how simple was that? Okay so we are not one-hundred percent but a huge improvement over only a couple of days. I think the animals are happier seeing where they are going anyway.

Oh, back to the title of the post.
Here are a few pictures of the cria and their ears.

Ranger aka Tug

The ever lovely Holly-B

Clackama- ears at half-mast

Pippi where are your ears?

Oh there they are!
Sunday, March 6, 2011

postheadericon Love is in the Air or Salty Chickens

Black Pearl, Scrawny Greta and Two

Well love must be in the air.

We are lucky enough to have at least one nesting pair of bald eagles not far from our property. This time of year it is exciting to watch them. Our pair, that I can only assume are very much in love (they mate for life you know?) scream and soar while diving head first toward the earth. I can't help but hold my breath. It is like playing 'chicken' for an eagle.

I am not sure why they do it but having researched it, a little bit, diving and screaming is not uncommon. What is also not uncommon is the belief that the eagles are mating on the death defying dives they make as they plummet toward the earth. This according to all sorts of authorities this is not the case.

Oh you are wondering about the salty chicken part? With all of the prey birds gone a courtin' the chickens have to be locked up for their safety. This is making them ever so salty.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

postheadericon Bachelor Bunnies?

There are two bunnies that live in our backyard. (hard to see in this picture) I know you are thinking two? You know what happens when you have two don't you? Well these bunnies have been here since late last summer and aside from them being absent for a week or two occasionally, there are always only two. We get worried when we don't see them for a week or so fearing the worse, we have a lot of eagles but they have always reappeared .

We can't decide if they are bachelors or old maids either way they are fun to watch.

When Badger, our resident bun-of-fun is up at his summer hutch by the house I know the other rabbits come to visit. They leave their little round calling cards right near his cage.

-sorry about the picture quality, I don't know what is up with the camera.

Friday, March 4, 2011

postheadericon Still Training! But it's not Raining!

For some reason training season always seems to bring the rain and wind. As an added bonus today it was cold. The cria are really getting the hang of the whole walking on a lead thing. It is a slow, individually paced process. Some days they are more interested than others. This is my preliminary evaluation.

Clackama- he is just like his father Phoebus- aka the Ninja, he is a close walker. The challenge with him is to get him to walk a little away from me. Given his choice he would tuck himself up under my arm and walk that way. I love this but it will be hard to show him if he is hiding.

Ranger- Ranger is a slow and steady kinda guy. I am trying to speed up his pace to show off his lovely stride. What Ranger has head and shoulders above the others- aside from actually being head and shoulders taller than the others- is presence. He stands like he is the king of the world. Head held high legs straight - although sometimes splayed- which we are working on. He is a picture perfect stander.

Holly- Holly comes from a nervous family and I am so proud that she is learning to accept being handled without going into a panic. She like her half-brother Ranger is a picture of standing perfection. Head up, chest out and proud. Her only challenge at this point is physical contact. She doesn't mind having me close but when it comes to examining her she is uncomfortable. We are working together, at her pace to solve this, what I can only imagine to be a genetic trust problem.

Pippi- Itty bitty Pippi. She is a doll. She is the best walker of the bunch but stands like a shrinking violet. I have been finding that unlike Holly she is more comfortable the closer you stand to her. You can see her physically relax. I wish there was a way to teach her to keep her ears up. Kahana, my son who has been helping with training has decided that her ears are just proportionately too small. I see it as her top knot, the fleece on her head, is just so long and luxuriant that they appear small. Big or small I wish she would let the world see them.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

postheadericon Blowin' in the Wind

Carmen loves the wind in her hair!

Wow can you say windy?

Even though it cools things off our alpaca love to pronk when it is windy. Pronk you say? Yup it is this really cool run, hop, spring type thing they do. Imagine being able to spring off the tips of your toes and not have to bend your legs while you go way up in the air. The girls usually start the whole herd a pronking.

I have tried to capture this on video but it is just too mesmerizing to watch I don't seem to be able to stop watching long enough to film it. I instead have decided to share a couple of pictures of my team with their windswept locks.

The ever fashion forward Brooklyn

Autumn scanning the horizon!

Not to be outdone by the ladies Penny is stylin'

The donkey girls don't pronk but the wind has brought down a brand new madrona tree branch so they are happy as...well...donkey girls.