Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Now that the hectic holiday seasons have passed, Dave and I are enjoying our very mild weather here in Santa Fe although we most certainly need precipitation in any form. Already we have gone 90 days with any at all and we are beginning another dry stretch. Yesterday we enjoyed mid-60's! Very strange. And to think, our alpacas are rounding out their bodies now that Mother Nature is encouraging their fleece to grow faster and faster. Every time the opportunity arises to check fleece, we take a look and usually snap photos. There will be three more months of growth before we shear on May 9th. It's about two weeks before we like to shear, but judging by the weather we have had so far, by then the cool weather ought to be behind us.
Wyatt gazing at the horizon.
Beginning the end of December have added fiber workshops to our studio activities. What fun we are having with our Nuno Felting Scarves, Felted Flowers, and next up, Needle Felting. Some of our attendees are fellow alpaca breeders and others are fiber enthusiasts. For Type A personalities these workshops have proven to be good workouts for letting our creative juices flow.
The alpaca shows are beginning now for us, this weekend a large regional in Ft. Worth where we have entered Cleopatra's (Rose Grey gal) prime blanket for competition as well as 2 ounce samples of her fleece plus Our Chance's in the Spin Off. Not only will the fleece be judged for how well it is hand spun by a judge, but also how well we have prepared the fleece sample. This will be the first time Cleopatra's fleece is being judged as she is only two years old. Chance took home all the possible ribbons in his category last year, but this will be a different category. We are so very curious to see how they (and I do in preparing the fleece) do. Depending on the results, we may be submitting more fleece of theirs in another regional show in Denver this May.
There's always a lot going on at Wide Sky Ranch. To keep up with the news, one may find us on FB WideSkyRanch. Thanks for visiting our Blog. Let us know if your travel plans take you to Santa Fe. We would love to give you a tour.
Nuno Felting Workshop
Clementine's baby fleece
Monday, November 13, 2017
Or has it?? Our temperatures have been in the 50's and today in the mid 60's. And we aren't complaining at all as now we have some extra time to tend to outdoor chores. Today my husband and I worked at removing tumbleweed aka Russian Thistle from the main girls pasture next to our large barn. Tumbleweeds were first seen in the States in 1877 in S. Dakota. Apparently transported in flax seed from Russia, they are a terrible weed we must deal with every year. Not only ugly, they have razor sharp thorns which hurt anyone who brushes against them and get into the alpaca fleece. We have removed them from the pastures by running them over with the bush hog behind the John Deere, but they still grow against our fences.
This fall I accepted a few custom knitting orders which I am now finishing up. The current one is 2 pairs of mittens from Wyatt's gorgeous fleece. Incredible, a real treat to knit. These are special mittens which have fleece knitted in them to keep the hands toasty warm. The fleece can't be seen very well from the outside, but is felt in the inside.
Almost all our soaps have been felted in anticipation for holiday sales. More can be learned about them in our Etsy shop, WideSkyRanch. Our newest scent, Charcoal Cedar, has proven to be quite popular with men. I love it, too!
Soon the shop will be decked out for the Christmas. If your travel plans take you to Santa Fe, we hope you will call us for a ranch tour. We love to take the John Deere out for those special photos of children behind the steering wheel.
Mom and baby
Wyatt, now 2
Thursday, October 5, 2017
Regardless what time of the year it is, there's always lots going on at Wide Sky Ranch. Lalique gave birth in August to Charlie Brown, her 9th birth over her 13 years. Clementine is so very happy to have a playmate in the pasture! He loves to run like the wind, kicking up his hind legs. And is he gaining weight like mad now that he is eating hay as well as still nursing. It won't be long until he is heavier than Clementine. Tomorrow he will receiving his cria hair cut which will take down his blanket hair on his back, sides, and neck. Often this fiber is damaged while the baby is in the womb so we remove it to allow the healthy hair to grow.
Resting after breakfast with mom.
In just two weeks the local Farmers Market will close, but we will continue with sales at other events plus in our ranch studio. Christmas is closing in on us so my knitting needles are quite busy.
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, only an hour away, is October 7th-15th. Drawing over 30,000 people from over the world, we expect hotels from Albuquerque to Santa Fe to be at capasity. Take a break from this first class attraction by visiting our ranch. Just call us and make a reservation for a complimentary ranch.
Sunning with mom while Clementine looks on.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
June 26th began pretty much like any other day. In the morning I attended a new local embroidery group so I can improve upon my embroidery skills. Following lunch I began the dreaded task of catching up with WSR paperwork/computer work. As I plowed through the tall pile on my desk, I received a last minute telephone inquiry, asking if I could show visitors around the ranch. Sure, I was tiring of the paperwork.
Ranch Visitor with Cleo
Ranch tour went well. There's always lots to tell new friends about our alpaca world. During the tour I did take note that our pregnant girl, Theresa Marie, was napping in her pasture and later on while going to the bathroom her backside looked slightly different, but not too different. Not her time for another nine days. As our guest prepared to climb into their cars, one of the guests said "It's happening." or something like that. I looked over at Theresa Marie who now was at the main barn and sure enough, a baby was beginning to be born. After running over to her, I noticed that the baby's head and one leg, not two legs. Baby was breathing through the membrane encasing her head. I removed it so she could better breath. Eyes were beginning to open, but what about that other leg? Both legs and head emerge together. Not knowing what to do, I plunged my arm inside and could not locate it. Quickly I called a fellow breeder who lives about a mile away. Fortunately she was home so she came over while another breeder came to see what was going on. Long story, short, my friend was able to turn the baby a bit so that her shoulders would bend forward and pass through the cervix. It was a difficult delivery for Mom, but the baby looked good and was on her feet within less than 30 minutes.
It's been a very worrisome 21 hours as the baby and Mom didn't figure out how to work together to provide her with a good feeding of milk. With the help of my friend as well as my husband, the three of us were able to keep Mom steady while getting the baby to latch on and get a good meal of milk. Now we feel that the worrisome part of birthing and feeding are behind us. Mom and baby are staying in the barn because Mom wasn't keeping her in the shade in the pasture. Babies can't regulate their body temperature very effectively for the first 3 days, but in the cool, insulated barn she is just fine.
As a side note, one of our male alpacas is named Lord Winston. How could we possibly have a Winston without the complimentary Clementine? So baby is Clemmie.
If you are going to be in our neck of the woods sometime soon, this would be a lovely time to have an extra special ranch tour.
Those long wobbly legs!
Crias need lots of rest, just like babies do.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Good friends of ours in southern New Mexico are in the process of down sizing their once very large herd of alpacas so the timing was right last week to purchase a beautiful white yearling called Lexie. For the past six months I have been keeping my eyes open for a white girl whose fleece we can possibly combine with another older girl we own, Rosetta. Lexie couldn't be better because her hair is bright, fine and lots of it. The herd has readily accepted her as one of their own so we couldn't be happier.
Monday, May 29, 2017
Another day of shearing is in the books now. Having learned much from the previous 3, we planned well and with the help of about 12 people including the shearer and his assistant as well as our hard working local volunteers, in two hours we had all the herd sheared, resulting in over 63 lbs of fleece. A few of the herd had their bottom teeth trimmed and no one complained all that much. We have one alpaca who complains all the times as she is sheared, but we expected it so it was no problem at all.
Rosetta and her girlfriends
Currently I am preparing the rug fleece for shipping to Ingrid's Handwoven in Paint Rock, Texas. I handwashed about 3 lbs of white fleece to brighten it up and boy, did it turn out spectacularly. A ton of work doing all that by hand, but I am so very pleased with the results. By the way, the fleece which is designated for rug production is the fleece from the legs, bellies, and neck. This is fiber which lends itself perfectly to rugs, producing a durable product which is still soft to the touch.
Next I am going to be sorting out the prime fleece which can be seen in photo #3. This will be spun into various weights of yarn by our friends in Kansas. Some of the yarn will be sold natural while others will be hand dyed. By the end of this summer it will be available for knitting and crocheting.
Rosetta resting comfortably
Chance's prime fleece being wrapped up.
The girls feeling much cooler without their overcoats.
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
About 3 1/2 years ago Dave and I dared to dream about going beyond my lifelong pursuit of knitting and actually establish an alpaca ranch in Santa Fe. Fortunately Dave was raised on a dairy farm in PA so he has the animal know how. Come see how our dream is being realized at WSR Check out exciting new products we are making from our small herd. On both days we will be giving ranch tours during which you will learn all about alpacas, how we care for them, compete in sanctioned alpaca shows, and how we do much of the fiber processing on the ranch.
* Saturday come meet my husband, another local alpaca breeder and myself. Both my friend and I will be working on knitting projects. Bring yours to show us or ask questions. During the day I will be demonstrating the initial step of of fiber processing called skirting. Learn its importance in leading up to superior fiber for hand spinning or for mill yarn production. I will also be demonstrating how I hand wash fleece which I used in my studio for products which I sell. Just like human hair, alpaca fleece looks and behaves best when clean.
* Sunday we are delighted to have Judy Chapman, well known needle felter from ABQ, join us. Come see how she creates human and animal figures from fleece. It is magical. Bring all your questions. Judy will bring some of her finished products to tempt you. Also today, as well as on Saturday, we will demonstrate how clean fleece is picked and then carded. These two steps have proven to be very interesting to children of all ages who visit our ranch.
On both days there will be light refreshments. Additionally, there will be a coloring table for young children. We are open 10:00 to 5:00. For more details on this event, go to https://www.evfac.org/event_detail/new-mexico-fiber-crawl. For additional info on our alpaca ranch, go to https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60958-d10584598-Reviews-Wide_Sky_Ranch_LLC-Santa_Fe_New_Mexico.html. #NMFiberCrawl
Monday, April 17, 2017
A quick reminder for all fiber enthusiasts either living in the area or vising us to check out this exciting event. For full details, please go to www.nmfibercrawl.org
Monday, March 27, 2017
Sponsored by Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center
Crawl: Saturday May 13, 10am - 5pm
Crawl: Sunday May 14, 10am - 5pm
New Mexico offers a wealthy textile tradition that is steeped in its diverse culture and enriched by its extensive history. The Fiber Crawl opens doors to work of local Fiber Artists, cultural centers, stores, farms and museums offering an unforgettable experience for everyone.
The tour spans locations and artisans from Taos to Albuquerque. It is a two-day event for fiber enthusiasts — knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, and felters — to explore the many sights to see in Northern New Mexico.
Wide Sky Ranch is proud to announce that we will be one of the stops for the Fiber Crawl. We are busy dyeing yarn, felting soaps, and making finished items for sale. We will have raw alpaca blankets for spinners plus dyed, picked fleece as well as 4 oz alpaca batts. For more information on the Crawl, go to www.nmfibercrawl.org
At Wide Sky Ranch we will offering complimentary ranch tours where you will learn where alpacas originate, proper care for them on a daily as well as monthly basis, meet the alpacas in the pastures, check out our fleece picker and electric carder, and demonstrations of proper skirting of alpaca blankets, a very necessary step for further processing and spinning. On Sunday Judy Chapman will demonstrate needle felting of 3 D figures. Judy is very well know in the Albuquerque-Santa Fe area.
Sunday, March 5, 2017
This morning started out pretty much like any other except the weather was warmer than usual plus the air was still, very unusual for Santa Fe. After feeding and the 3 boys in their pasture (plus cleaning up after them), I did the same for our 3 girls in the next pasture. Pretty uneventful for the most part.
Now the pregnant girls were another matter. Let me explain why they are not with the other girls, but away in their own area. Alpacas are a lot like us humans, including when pregnant. The old fashion way we figure they are pregnant is to get them together with a male, not necessarily the male they were mated with. Any male will do. Just as soon as that male gets close to them, they spit away, preferably right in his face. The sweetest girl becomes an amazon woman.
Well, my girls were primed for me. I feed them their pellets in individual bowls, with space between the bowls. Both love pellets. Lalique (brown) dove into the first bowl When I put the second bowl down for Theresa (white), Lalique dashed over for that bowl, because it just had to have more than her bow. Well, Theresa went crazy, spitting like mad at her. Then Lalique began spitting at her. I just backed away. Alpaca spit is particularly horrible after they eat. Finally they stopped spitting and just looked at me. Notice Theresa has her lips parted. That can only mean one thing - lots of green spit still in her mouth. I did take note of this.
Next I loaded the feeder they both feed at with hay and alfalfa. Lalique went right up and began eating with gusto. Pregnant girls are always hungry, just like when we were "in the family way". It was obvious that Theresa wanted nothing to do with her pasture mate so I put some feed on the ground for her. Everything seemed to be going well. I cut her a break and she appreciated it. NO. She looked up and aimed her spit right at my face. Been down this road before so I was maintaining a good distance from her and avoided having a green face. With that I swore at her and left their pasture!!!!
What a morning!