For those of you who know me or have followed my blog for any length of time, you know that I always seem to end up with a "collection" of projects on the go. Probably because I get distracted by new and exciting crafts to learn and partially because I tend to think "Oh I'll just take a break and whip up this other project" Funny...they just seem to add up not get "whipped up".
Well, after a very productive weekend which included a trip to the fibre mill, spending some time with the boys, trying my hand at felting (those pictures will be posted soon), building new feeders for the boys and actually trying to get some spinning done, I did manage to finish one of those many crafting projects.
The Lighthouse baby blanket I have been making for a dear friend who is patiently waiting for the arrival of her first grandchild. Hopefully the perfect blanket for a new addition to a family who's heart and roots are firmly planted in Newfoundland.
I can't wait to see a picture of him all wrapped up in it!
So we finally got our boys sheared and our little farmhouse is completely overrun by fleece!! It's time to face facts...I would have to quit my job and eat meals in my spinning chair to even remotely have a chance to get all of this spun. I put an ad on a local online advertising site and then started searching online for other ideas of what I could create with all of this gorgeous fleece.
This is just this year's 'harvest'
Much to our surprise, our ad started getting responses about 20 minutes after it was posted and I have a lady coming by today for a visit with the boys and to pick what colours she wants turned into roving. Roving?? JADA Farms is going to need to find a fibre mill! And find one we did! We took our first load of fleece in yesterday.
I would like to thank Gail at Gateway Fibreworks for the tour she gave us yesterday. Gail was wonderful! While the boys' microns were being checked she showed us around the mill, explained the different things she did there and of course, as a fellow alpaca owner, had a long chat with us about these beautiful characters. And then I was left with absolutely no choice but to spend some time with her going through her shop and discussing different felting and dyeing techniques while Andy waited outside. Luckily for him the rain had stopped. I walked away with a wonderful little book, "The Knitter's Companion"
I placed an order with Gail to have all of Parnell and Tyrone's fleece from last year combined and turned into roving...I can hardly wait to see it! We also dropped off some seconds and thirds for Gail to add to her recycle co-op. She combines her own fleece with that given to her by other alpaca farms in order to get the minimum amount needed and sends it to be turned into cozy insoles. The insoles are then divided among the farms that donated fibre for the project. Now that's my idea of a recycling program!!!
I will be signing up for her workshops when I take up the next load of fleece to be processed.
The really interesting part of the day was getting the boys' micron counts checked. Unfortunately though, for Windsor, this resulted in the end of his reign as "King" of JADA Farms. He has been downgraded to "Prince". Why? Because although he has superb density, staple length and amazing crimp, he is already showing a not so great micron count at the tender age of 3. This doesn't mean he won't be getting bred...it just means that we have to find just the right girl for him. Sorry buddy...
So who is the new royalty around here? Believe it or not, that little black trouble maker of ours!!!
Yep, that's right...what Vincent lacks in density he more than makes up for with a beautiful staple length and an AMAZING average micron count of .....16!!! Actually, it's too bad Windsor wasn't a female because together he and Vincent truly have it all!!
After our drive up to the mill, which is in the middle of the Muskokas (an absolutely gorgeous piece of cottage country) we came home and I decided I better attempt to finish up a few projects. I am happy to say that the baby blanket I have been making is just getting the last row of the ruffled edge and it will be all finished! This leaves me with more time to play with fleece!
So last weekend everyone was finally scheduled, we had a small group of four people, no new cria were making an appearance at the breeders and the weather was on our side. Everything was a go....except all the sweat and damp in all that fleece. So after shearing Parnell and Usairus our breeder decided that we should load up the fans in the barn, get the air circulating on our sweaty boys and try again on Sunday.
Sunday afternoon came and everything seemed to be in our favour again....everything except the shears. We managed to get Usairus 'touched up' and get half of Tyrone done. Have you ever seen a half sheared alpaca??? Not a pretty site, no wonder Tyrone was not authorizing the release of any photos.
Monday morning the heat and humidity started to build, right along with my concern for our boys. Tuesday's forecast was even worse and we decided right there and then that if we didn't get the shearing done Monday after work that Andy was going to stay home Tuesday to stay with the boys, garden hose at the ready! Luckily the call came early Monday afternoon from the breeder and we were on for finishing up that night.
We started at about 4:30 pm, fans blowing on the boys, every barn door open for air circulation. We turned on the shears, made a couple of adjustments and....they slipped through all that fleece like a hot knife through butter!!! What a relief!!!
By 7:30 pm our boys were sheared and much more comfortable...
Humidity levels dropped a wee bit on Wednesday but we still had our typical summer Canadian heat. Then this morning we woke up to a chilly 10 degrees and no humidity at all!!! And we found our poor boys huddled in the barn looking at us as if to say...
So we started shearing Saturday...and thanks to our damp muggy weather lately, it is taking a little longer than we would like.
And thanks to issues with shears....it is now Monday and not everyone is done...
So while Parnell and Usairus are cool and comfy, Tyrone is only half finished and not authorizing any photos and the other three boys are wondering what's taking so long.
Today the temperature is already over +20 at 8:30 am and tomorrow is supposed to feel like +39 degrees celsius with the humidity. Every fan we own is in the barn blowing into the boys' paddock. Our breeder, who also does our shearing, is making the shearing a priority and is working very hard at getting the issues with shears corrected so she can get back and make our boys all cool and comfortable.
Fingers crossed everyone that the fans do the trick....
The newest critters at JADA Farms are nine days old today...and starting to get mobile...clumsy but mobile just the same. They have even started to venture outside of their cardboard nursery....although just a wee bit outside.
Their eyes are pretty much completely open ...
... and they are pretty demanding of their Momma!
ooops....gotta go...dinner time for the wee ones...
So over the last month or so, we have been watching our barn cat, Smokey, getting...ummm...wider. Every day it seemed to take the poor thing longer to waddle across the yard and every day she seemed to want more in her bowl.... In fact, she has even been getting closer to our family, wanting to be around us more and more.
This is our poor girl on Mother's Day...hmmmm ???
May 11th started just as any other day. Work...school....chores....all the usual. That is until we came home and Smokey was waiting at the front door....a much thinner Smokey. The girls and I headed to the barn, with the new Momma hot on our heels and looking very proud of herself.
Once again there has been a birth on JADA Farms. Now for those of you who follow our blog, you will know that last year our Smokey surprised us with a litter of four little additions. Unfortunately, Smokey was new to our little family, was not as healthy and didn't trust us as much as today. For this reason, she moved her kittens from their bed of hay in the barn to a small shed over by Andy's shop. To this day, we are still guessing as to whether illness or predators were the reason the new little family did not survive.
Last year's outcome caused us to be concerned about this new litter. So after some discussion, May 12th was moving day! Yes that's right, I caved and got Andy to agree to move our Smokey and her little ones into our front porch in order to give them the best possible start to their lives. This of course was with the condition that they are not staying.
The wee ones got a fresh new clean blanket to cozy up in, a box to provide them privacy and a home where their Momma could take care of them without having to worry about predators. It took about two minutes for Smokey to make herself at home. Actually she did remarkably well with the whole move. She never got upset and doesn't mind us checking on her or the babies at all.
Since the big event, the weather has once again turned chilly and damp....okay so the temperature dropped from +25 to +6 and the sun decided to disappear and be replaced with wind and rain. Our little kittens snuggled in closer to keep out the cold. Smokey was going to need a little more help keeping them comfy. Luckily, we happen to have a supply of something that is extremely good for warm and cozy.
Alpaca fleece...add keeping 2 day old kittens warm to the list of uses of this gorgeous fleece!
Thanks again Vincent...
I have been taking photos every day, watching the little ones grow...and so has Leroy, our house cat.
Leroy is the first one at the porch door when I go out to check on the kittens and would love nothing more than to gain access to our porch. (Someone needs to explain to him that they are not staying)
Now on May 17th, eyes are beginning to open, little cries are demanding Momma's attention and three little furry bundles are becoming more and more active, crawling around exploring their box nursery. All seem very healthy and we have started trying to find forever homes for everyone to go to in another 7 weeks. We have been trying to come up with some temporary names....just for identification of course....they are not staying!