Monday, December 24, 2007

A sad loss

Unfortunately, due to a sudden change in weather just after our alpacas were shorn - actually exactly on the summer solstice, we had over 60mm of rain in 24 hours, and our little grey alpaca died (there is a photo of him on the last post). I found him still alive curled up and soaking wet, I carried him all the way down the hill (in absolutely foul weather) to the little shelter shed, dried him up and covered him with hay to keep him warm.

But by morning he was dead. He was unable to move when I found him, and being quite a shy animal, for me to be able to carry him should have been enough of a sign that he was in a bad shape, but I was optimistic... Alas, I was not able to help this little one. I feel so terrible, as he died because he was shorn, for a fleece, for my pleasure... Now I will feel terribly guilty spinning it, but it would be such a waste not to....

Keeping animals is such a joy, and yet it seems lately I'm burying alot of my animals - this year its been 2 guinea pigs, a chicken and an alpaca, plus a rabbit that has disappeared... Fingers crossed the new year will not be so full of loss.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

'.... 3 bags full'. Alpaca shearing day.

We got our 3 alpacas shorn on the weekend. I was starting to get worried, as its been warming up and I was feeling sorry for these boys in their heavy coats. But its all done, one more thing off the list!!! The day went well, my mum came down to help (as we had to take the animals to a neighbour's place as we don't have power or a yard set up at the farm yet).

Alpacas are shorn differently to sheep. The legs are tied up to prevent them from getting hurt and hurting the people around them. You can't help but feel sorry for the little buggers when they are stretched out 'on the rack'. But its all over in a few minutes, and then there is literally nothing left of them!

My 3 animals are all particularly small, they may grow or maybe they are just runts, but that is ok. After a few days I managed to get the time to actually sort out the fleeces. The shearer basically just took off all the fleece in one hit, so I wasn't able to remove the leg and neck fleece, which is shorter and not really good for spinning (we are going to use it for insulation for our shed). He also made MANY second cuts, so that was extra sorting that I have had to do. I hate spinning fleeces with second cuts in it..... Our little girl 'helped' with the sorting, and hence I'm only about 1/2 done.
The grey fleece is sorted, ready for carding, the white is almost done, and I have yet to tackle the dark brown one. I will weigh them all and then decide what I will make from each one. A jumper each, and hopefully a few extra bits and pieces. Now, if only I HAD as much time as I THINK I have......

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

This is the way we bottle the fruit....

A friend tipped me off about some cheap cases of apricots at our local fruit and veg shop. So, temptation took hold and I bought a case, 10kg of apricots. So I set to preserving....

washing, cutting and packing the fruit into jars. Pouring in the syrup, and then into the preserving unit.

and the result is 8 lovely jars of home bottled apricots, which we will enjoy for the remainder of the year, along with other fruits such as the peaches off our own very productive tree.

I also got 7 jars of jam out of the 10kgs of fruit, plus I still had enough to give away and for eating. Not bad for a days work.

Now I just picked 1kg of raspberries off our plants, so I will probably have to set about making some raspberry jam soon..... Ahhh the joys of summer.