Category Archives: WanderingFox Farm

New adventures in Atlanta

Fashion Forward

Friday afternoon I drove down to Columbus. Georgia, about 2 hours south of Atlanta. It was the Georgia Fiber Festival and I was compering the show that evening.

Checked in to the Marriott and walked across the road to the convention center, built utilizing the buildings from the old iron works. Spent the afternoon talking to friends and spending money. Then at 7pm my time to work! The show lasted about an hour and I am pleased to say I had everyone laughing from the very beginning (intentionally) we had 23 participants and they all sashayed and twirled their fab hand made garments and accessories down the red carpet.

I was in bed by 8.30 tired but relieved that it had all gone so well. Saturday morning I went over to the convention center to take a class in dyeing fiber, led by Jen Lambert of Angora Acres. We tried various techniques including painting, gradient, kettle, injection and dip dyeing. It was really interesting to see everyone’s results and I was really pleased with my efforts.

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Brought them home and rinsed them out, they look so different after they start to dry.

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In the afternoon I took another class with Jen, this time it was learning to use blending board and hackles to create rolags and nests. Man it was so much fun they looked really lovely and I have had great fun today spinning with them.

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Pick’n Pears

We have two pear trees at the bottom of the drive, last years weather was so bad for most plants in Georgia that we really did not know if they were still good trees.

This year we were able to get the answer, yes, very good trees. Mr Rob and I went out with buckets steps and fruit picker and picked the first 20lb.

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Mr Rob went back and finished the job during the week and netted another 50lbs. He also know my endless fascination with fungi so came to get me to see this monster.

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The chickens have finally settled into their new home, so no more trying to herd them down to the bottom barn at dusk. Although amazingly enough we seem to have the worlds first chicken herding cats ! They stay just behind us in a wide ark and as we stop they crouch and look for stray chickens. They really were a big help, go figure!

One slight issue with the new chicken home is too much interest from the raccoon and possum population. Mr Rob has had to send 2 raccoons over the rainbow bridge, at the moment the possum is being let off as he seems to be interested in their food not the chickens but………

Chicken Manor House

Mr Rob built a really great chicken coop down at the lower barn. It’s taken a few weeks as the rest of the farm still needs looking after, but he finished yesterday.

The new girls really needed a different place as they had definitely outgrown their current home. So…..

Once they had put themselves to bed, we (Mr Rob) had to carry them down 2 to 3 at a time. In theory once they are held upside down by their feet, they should go very calm. The reality was a little different and some were clearly unhappy about being carried.

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Once we let them go in the new home they calmed down and seemed really impressed with all the space and roosting areas that they have. They will have to stay in for a couple of days so that they recognize this as home.

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FAMACHA Certified

Mr Rob and I signed up for a training course, it was being held by the UGA small ruminants group up in Athens.

We had some excellent instructors and started the day with a seminar on the different parasites, effects and treatments for ruminants including our Alpacas. We were then taught to be able to use the FAMCHA scoring system in order to check for anaemia ( which is an indicator for parasites )

Some goat and llamas had been brought in for us to practice on. Luckily the Llamas were in a good mood and were okay with us peeling back their lids to check for anaemia.

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After being treated to a slap up lunch we moved on to the afternoon sessions, where we were taught how to look for parasite eggs in a fecal sample. Not everyone’s idea of a fun afternoon, but very interesting for us and extremely useful in making sure that our animals are healthy.

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Before we got home we tried a pizza restaurant near to our house that we had been meaning to try for a long time. It’s called Oz Pizza and it was really good. I am sure there will be many more trips there in the future.

The circle continues

A few months ago we bought some day old chicks that arrived via the USPS service. They were supposed to be all hens but at least 2 have turned out to be roosters, one of which is very mean and we will be finding a new home for him very soon.

Based on the breeds that we had, I calculated that we should start to see them laying eggs in September but today we found these eggs in the nesting box.

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The blue and 2 brown eggs are from our older girls but judging by the really small size of the white one, that’s the first egg from one of the new girls. It will be interesting to see if this is a fluke or if they are starting to go into production mode.

Mr Rob is building them some new luxury apartments down in the old barn, looks like he will also have to step up production.

 

Voyager – Rest In Peace

Let’s first celebrate an all too short life. When we first moved to Georgia we started a new chapter in our life by taking on 5 Alpacas, 2 girls and 3 boys.

The boys were all born around the same time and we initially had great trouble telling them apart and linking them to their real names. So they got nicknamed, Brown Spot, Quirky and Stumpy. Voyager was the one we had called Stumpy as he was smaller than the other two.

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We thought maybe he was the runt of the litter, imagine our surprise when he first got sheared and the shearer told us what a gem we had. He was always the quieter of the three boys and a little shy. It took months before he got used to us and would eat out of our hand

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The two girls were his mother and grandmother and it was so funny this year, although the herd had expanded to 16 all three of them howled like crazy when they were sheared this year. Just goes to show the power of genetics.

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Sunday, when we went out to feed them, I noticed his neck looked funny. Seemed swollen on one side. We checked him over and could not see any broken skin or bites. He seemed ok in himself, he was eating drinking and walking around. This, by the way, is one of the biggest challenges with Alpacas, they are incredibly stoic animals. They seem to have a high threshold for pain and do not let on when they are ill. One of the only indicators of anything wrong, is that they will let you stroke and comfort them.

Anyway we gave him Banamine and sent pictures to the vet, the vet asked us to bring him in today. That is when I really started to get worried for him, as we led him to the trailer, he started to shake a little and just wanted me to cuddle him. He was staring into my eyes and started to calm down as I talked gently to him

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Rob took him to the Vet and they gently sedated him so they could get him up on the table to X Ray him. He had a very bad dislocation on the second vertebrae from the base of the neck.

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Heavy sedation and the Vet manipulated it back in, but warned us that if it popped back out then our best option would be to put him to sleep as he would have increasing severe pain and start to lose control over his body. They all waited patiently for him to come back around and he started to walk out to the grass. The thing we most feared quickly happened, the bone popped out again and Voyager turned and laid down on the grass with his head next to Rob. The Vet gave him the injection and he passed peacefully on, while Rob held him.

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Tough, tough day he will hold a special place in our hearts.

From alpaca to yarn

So after the shearing and the removal of second cuts and guard hairs ( thicker fiber around the outer edge of the blanket) I wash my fleece in the bath. This is on rinse three and is supposed to be white 🙂 you can only imagine how much good old Georgia dirt came out in the prior washes.

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After washing and then air drying I use my Pat Green Triple picker to fluff out the fiber and pick out some more of the dirt. Then I put it through by Strauch manual drum carder this creates my first Batt

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I then break this batt into strips and put it through my electric Pat Green Supercarder.

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After that I either keep them in batts or I use a diz to pull off roving from my carder.

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Using my Hansen E Spinner i spun a thin single then created a ball to then ply it into lace weight yarn. Wind it off onto my niddy noddy before washing it and getting even more dirt out. I then hang it up to dry with a weight hanging in the bottom of the skein to help to set the yarn.

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Bits and Bobtail

Well the progress with our Alpaca boy is a case of one step forward and two back, no pun intended. He seemed to be progressing really well then on Friday he was struggling to stand again. By Saturday he had started to rally again but clearly this is going to be a long recovery.

Friday morning one of the kittens, Bobtail, could not stand on one of his front paws. A quick inspection showed a bite on his leg and a lot of swelling. So off to the vets, where we single handedly seem to be keeping them in business at the moment. He released the infection and gave him an injection and a course of antibiotics.

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Clearly good stuff as he was running around with his brothers by the next morning. While I was at the vets they asked me if we would look after 7 baby possums that had been abandoned but luckily someone else said yes before I had chance to check with Mr Rob.

I keep forgetting to talk about the great homemade soap that Hal gave us when he came to visit. Not only does it smell really good ( Thai lemon) but it also leaves your hands feeling nice and soft – which given how many times a day we need to wash our hands, thats a great bonus

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Saturday I decided to thread the heddles and reed on my rug loom so that I can get started on my first rag rug. This is the really lovely Red Oak Kessenich loom that I bought from Miss Penny.

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Saturday night we were invited to join friends at the Shakespeare Tavern to see Midsummer Night’s Dream. Although we had seen it last year it was well worth the trip to see it again. Our friends daughter takes the role of Peas Blossom, not only a great actress but also a really good singer and musician.

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Today I was able to get started on my rug, not bad for a first attempt and I think i will like this one.

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One man went to ……. meow

There are certainties to my life here on the farm:

  • The sun will come up tomorrow.
  • There will be more ‘paca poo to scoop.
  • The grass will need cutting again.

Some days I deal with all three. (it’s a hectic life) There is a lot of grass to be cut but I find the task quite relaxing. However the last outing nearly turned to disaster. I was just completing the first circuit, coming up the hill towards the barn, when I became aware of an unusual noise from the mower deck. It’s funny how you can get used to a piece of machinery and quickly recognise the smallest abnormality  in sound or vibration.

I stopped the engine and jumped off to look for the problem. To my surprise, the the strange squeaking noise continued. I instantly knew that the sound was one off the new kittens. At least he was making a noise. I opened up the grass collection basket to find a dazed and confused kitty covered in clippings. I will have to be more careful when I start up the mower in future.

No little pussy cats were harmed in this reconstruction

No little pussy cats were harmed in this reconstruction

Rag, Tag and Bobtail

A couple of weeks ago a friend gave us 3 little kittens that had been abandoned under his deck. We took them to the vet and he confirmed we had 3 boys and apart from a few fleas they were healthy.
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They have taken up residence in the top barn and are slowly getting used to living in peace with the Alpacas and the chickens. It has taken them a little longer to understand that Cagney ( our golden doodle) just wants to love them. Just for the purpose of full disclosure, it also took us a week to get her to understand that we had not bought her some movable chew toys. _DSC6877

They have very different personalities, Rag the slightly smaller grey one likes nothing more than to be picked up and carried like a baby, he cant get enough strokes. The other end of the scale is Bobtail, he skedaddles the minute you get close to him and last but not least is Tag and he will let you stroke him but not keen to be picked up.  I do hope they have a long and happy life here on the Farm……….and no they are not coming into the house!

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