Do you have a passion for making things entirely by hand or appreciate it in other people? In my teens and twenties, I got a thrill out of being my own mechanic on my old '75 Mustang. Yep, I've changed a few water pumps and brake pads. I have sewn every stitch of handmade rag dolls with a needle and thread (no machine stitching), and I prefer to cook from scratch. Isn't it much more rewarding to gather family and friends to put in fence posts, and raise barns? So naturally for me, prepping the fleece, learning to spin, and then making things from the alpacas' luscious fiber is my idea of happiness! -Kaylen

Friday, May 28, 2010

Taming Of The Shrew

Jolene was my first alpaca crush.  Four years ago she just captured my heart with those big big eyes. So we started out with one alpaca and  boarded her at a friend's farm while we increased our herd size and made our farm ready. Besides being an emotional purchase Jolene has been a wonderful mom. She has easy births...perfect for our first experiences.

All was fine until we brought her home last May.  Then we discovered this one issue. When we'd get too close she'd stand her ground and spit at us instead of moving along in the direction we were guiding her. Hey!  She isn't supposed to do that!  Alpacas typically spit at each other, not so much at humans unless they are really annoyed.  Hmph.  I think she was saying "ROOKIES"!

After a year of improving our handling skills Jolene has been much easier to halter and lead. She has been much easier on shot day each month, too. I've forgiven her for pulling my hair with her mouth and squealing in my ear and the spitting after her most recent cria was born. But I really didn't know she'd forgiven me .... until today.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hummingbird Feeder Recipe

My mom asked me for the hummingbird feeder solution I make and it occurred to me that you might want it, too. I boil 2 cups of water for a few minutes and then add 1/2 cup of sugar.  Let it cool and fill the feeder.

Basically: 4 parts water / 1 part sugar

I love the Stokes Birding Blog and they have a nice post about it. You can see it by clicking here.  The Stokes have wonderful field guides and bird identification books which helped me to identify my first Blue Grosbeak earlier this month.  I, also, took a tip from another one of their posts about filling a suet feeder with fiber for birds to use for nesting material.  Lovebug and I did that together this morning.  It was fun mother/daughter time.  She took a couple of pictures for you...

Maybe I should make up some nesting balls using alpaca fiber for the Etsy shop.  Or maybe kits for families to do together... hmmm... off to think...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Farming With Disabilities

I found a neat resource from the National Ag Safety Database.  As a person with disabilities I am excited at all the ideas and suggestions here.  You'll find ideas and resources for farming with back problems and arthritis, to modifications for those of us with mobility issues, and health and safety articles.  Handsome Hubby has made many modifications for me already so I have to give him big kudos for that before I give him my next "wish list".

Here is the link: 

I hope it helps!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Did I really just do that?

Well, I'm in for it now. I stopped to get gas for the mower this morning and dummy me put the can in the trunk. Yep, it fell over. Yep, it leaked. Yep, it is my hubby's car. Do you think "Barn Dry" will help? 

I asked my facebook friends and Brad suggests I leave the trunk open and just let it air out.  He went on to suggest that tonight may be a good night for a "Steak Dinner" !  

So, right after I mow EVERY ACRE, taking care of as many of HIS farm chores as I can, and quickly thawing out the best beef I have in the freezer, I'll be setting up the hammock, firing up the grill, and popping the top on a cold one for my very patient guy. 

Now my next question is... Does anyone know how to get the mower out of the fence?   

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oh My - Pie

I got the new Southern Living Magazine and it highlights PIE.  I LOVE PIE.  Pie Pie Pie! I have an awesome Open-Faced Fresh Blueberry Pie recipe...and it is almost blueberry season! I won a blue ribbon at the county fair in 2007 with it! But to confess...there were no other blueberry pies in the competition!  LOL It is still an awesome PIE.  Here is the recipe if you want to give it a try...  It is from the Pie and Pastry Bible. 

Open-Faced Fresh Blueberry Pie
4 cups fresh blueberries (I use 5) rinsed - and take off any little stems you find
1/2 cup water
2 tbls water
2 tbls cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch of salt

Bring 1/2 cup of water and 1 cup of blueberries to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer stirring constantly for 3 - 4 minutes.  Whisk together cornstarch and 2 tbls of water. Stirring constantly add cornstarch mixture, sugar, lemon juice, and salt.  Stir 1 minute.  Remove from heat and quickly fold in the rest of the berries.  Spoon into a pre-baked pie shell and let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours.  Serve with whipped cream (optional)

And if you need it:

My Basic Pie Dough Recipe 
Double Crust   - make a second pie for a friend or put in the freezer for next time!

Now I can't find a good pastry flour here so I have to make my own by mixing all-purpose with cake flour.  It works.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1 tsp salt
1 cup very cold unsalted butter
5 - 6 tbls ice water (only use what is needed)
1 egg white
1 tbls water

Mix the flours together.  Add the salt.  Cut the butter into small pieces and then cut it into the flour using a pastry cutter or two knives.  Add ice water one tbls. at a time until you get the right consistency.  Chill dough before rolling it out.  Roll out the dough to the right size.  Chill after rolling.  Keeping the dough cold and keeping the butter from melting while you handle it is important to having a nice flaky crust. Put the crust in your pie pan and flute the edges or pinch them or somehow make the edge pretty.  Weigh down the pie shell by using a piece of parchment and beans if you don't have pie weights. Bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Remove parchment and beans.  Use a fork to prick the crust around the bottom and sides. Not too deep... you are just keeping the crust flat and not puffing up in places.  Bake another 5 - 10 minutes.  Cool 3 minutes.  Whisk an egg white with a tbls of water and brush bottom and sides of pie to seal the pie before adding fruit.  This "moisture proofs" the crust.  There you go!  Ready to use.  Once you make it a few times it is very easy.

Now you will be the queen or king of pie!

I have to make one for the neighbor that always drags the driveway after each rain, and the neighbor that watches the alpacas when we go away, and the neighbor that I share a birthday month with... ahhhhh PIE.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Trash Day

Trash Day.  Seems like a funny thing to post about.  But.... we have a long driveway...  It is about 1/3 of a mile long.  See the cedar house with the green roof?

We can't just roll the trash to the curb here.  We have to strap it to the van.  Handsome Husband rigged it up so I can help bring the empty container back after dropping the kids off at school.

I do get to see the irises that finally bloomed and cross the little creek.

Transitioning from the sound of pavement to crunchy gravel is one of my favorite parts about coming home.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Rain, Rain, Rain

Many across the region have had a tough time with a flooding emergency here in Kentucky. We have been very fortunate to only have a bit of a mucky mess. The creek we couldn't cross yesterday has receded.

My neighbor has a pond where there wasn't one before and there are some pretty big ruts we'll have to repair in the driveway.

My friend Tami teased that perhaps ShamWows might come in handy to dry the alpacas.

Eight inches of rain is a lot for one weekend. However, the sun is shining on our house this morning.

The irises are about to bloom.

The water buckets are full.

And I had plenty of time to work on my alpaca bowls and pouches for my new Etsy shop - to be open soon.

Oh, and note to myself: Don't wear garden clogs when the mud is a few inches deep in the pastures. I think I'll have to throw those socks away!