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

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Garage Visitors

Rescuing critters from the garage seems to be a summertime 
farm ritual.  

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Hummers are a routine rescue.  Some say they might be attracted to the door's red emergency release handle. This little one got tuckered out trying to find his way. I was able to take him to a feeder.

American Toad

Then there is Mr. Toad.  For three summers we've found him making himself at home under things like pool rafts.  Last week I opened the garage door and there he was sitting on the other side waiting to come in again!

Rat Snake

Last year it was this friend that caught us by surprise.  It was our first encounter of the snake kind and Handsome Husband was a real trooper.  I'm okay with the toads and birds, but I think I'll leave the big 'uns for the tough guy.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Oreo & Fudge Ice Cream Cake

Here is a great summer cake using ice cream sandwiches!  This recipe gets 5 stars from over 1300 people at the Kraft Kitchen website.  I found it a few years ago in Southern Living Magazine. It is easy and no heating up the kitchen! The kids and I made it for Father's Day yesterday and the biggest problem we had was not eating all of the ingredients along the way.  Slice it thin; it is rich! 
Serves 12

What you need!

1/2 cup hot fudge ice cream topping, warmed
1 tub  (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed
1 pkg. (3.9 oz.) JELL-O Chocolate Instant Pudding
8   OREO Cookies, chopped
12 vanilla ice cream sandwiches
24-inch long piece of foil

What to do!

POUR fudge topping into medium bowl. 
Whisk in 1 cup of the Cool Whip. 
Add dry pudding mix; stir 2 min. 
Stir in chopped cookies.

ARRANGE 4 ice cream sandwiches, side-by-side on the foil.
Top with half the fudge and cookie mixture.
Repeat layers.
Top with remaining 4 sandwiches.
Frost top and sides with remaining Cool Whip.
Bring up foil sides, double fold top and ends to loosely seal packet.
FREEZE 4 hours or until firm.
The consistency of fudge topping can vary depending 
on what brand you purchase. If the fudge topping mixture 
is too thick to spread easily, stir in 1/4 cup milk.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fishing with Daddy

Circa 1968

Since Dad checks out my blog every morning, I'd like to take a moment to wish him a Happy Father's Day!

The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of that which is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.  

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Is it Trying to Tell Me Something?

Tawny Emperor Butterfly

We are working on our Backyard Wildlife Habitat certification.  A fun summer project with the kids and very educational.  Our first step is to document what we already have like nesting areas, native plants, water sources, and trees.  While taking a photo of a bat house that is on the back of our barn this lovely butterfly landed on me.

I got a close-up view! 

When I got back in the house I grabbed our Backyard Wildlife Habitat notebook and looked up the butterfly.  Aha! It is a Tawny Emperor...attracted to rotting fruit and dung.  I'm not sure what this says about me! I WAS in the area where we compost the alpaca manure.

It would not fly away. Here it is crawling on my arm.  
I thought I was so special.

There are many links in mythology between butterflies and the human soul. Butterflies also represent love, long life, and marital bliss in other cultures. I think I'll spend time on that thought instead!

I did get a picture of the old bat house.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Keeping the Critters Cool

This time of year we have to watch the alpacas for heat stress. Some of the things we do are to provide a few extra buckets of cool drinking water vs hot water that has been sitting in the sun, electrolytes, plenty of shade, fans and.....

Sprinklers!  Woo hoo!
The boys come running when they see one of us with the hose.
An alpaca's "thermal window" is underneath so fans and sprinklers should be used down low to cool them.

Handsome Husband setting up the fun.

Ahhhh....They also like to cush in the cool mud!
That is our new boy, SSF Peruvian Mystery, on the right.

For further reading click here for a Heat Prevention Top 10 List from Dr. David E. Anderson.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tree Swallows Find a Home

Tree Swallow Waiting for Partner

We have a pair of tree swallows nesting in one of our birdhouses.  We first noticed them when they were competing with bluebirds for a nest box. Bluebirds and tree swallows nest in cavities they find.  They are unable to make their own. The bluebirds won the first box and the swallows moved into the second.

Back with Food

A couple of days ago we saw a little head peaking out and both parents chirping encouragement.  Finally the fledgling took flight and floated to the ground.  Mom and Dad swooped down and helped it find its way into the tree. The kids had so much fun watching as the birdhouses are the ones they made me for Christmas.

Parents Ready to Help Fledglings 

If you have a bluebird nest box and get frustrated by swallows taking up residence just put up a second home.  Bluebirds defend a larger area from other bluebirds but will live close to other species of birds. Tree Swallows are great to have around for insect control.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My New Wonder Washer

It was suggested to me to try a Wonder Washer for my felting process. Perhaps other fiber artists have already discovered this but it is new to me and I am pretty excited about it. A Wonder Washer is a small portable washing machine.  When I knit a bowl or pouch, I then have to wet felt it.  Which is like shrinking your favorite sweater.  I usually use my full-size washing machine, but it uses a lot of water and is harder to control the outcome.  So I gave the Wonder Washer a try over the weekend.  I am really happy with it but will need a little practice.

The first thing I had ready to felt was one of my pouches.  

I can tell you without a doubt that the washer did an excellent job at felting but it is supposed to look more like THIS...

Not THIS.... (Laughing at myself here)

I left it in a little too long!  No matter.  I found a home for it as something else and will definitely try again.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Casting On - Baby Kina

This is my current project. It is a Muriel Agator pattern called Baby Kina.... PRECIOUS!!!!  I discovered it on a blog I like called caffeinated yarn. I'm testing the pattern with inexpensive yarn before I dedicate it to alpaca.  I think I'll try some of my handspun yarn, too, to give it a different look and texture with organic, natural colors.  Here is a link to the pattern if you want to purchase it. It cost me $5.  You do have to be enough of a knitter to interpret the pattern as it is not spelled out for you row by row.  For example it says "8 rows in garter stitch", and "continue in stockinet stitch until it reaches 9 cm".  If you understand that then you'll do just fine.  You need to join Ravelry! It is free and a great knitting resource.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Can You Tell Me What This Flower Is?

I'm trying to identify this flower. It grows along the side of the house and comes back each year. It spreads like crazy, blooms in May and June and then it is done for the year. Can you help me?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

SSF Peruvian Mystery Joins Our Herd

We have a wonderful addition to our herd! SSF Peruvian Mystery is an outstanding Jr. Herdsire that we believe will bring excellent qualities to our breeding program. He comes from Seldom Scene Farm and you can read about our visit on their farm blog.  Lindy snapped this great picture while we were there.  They also have llama trekking available if you are looking for a neat way to spend some time with your family or group.  Look for SSF Peruvian Mystery in the show ring this fall!