Saturday, July 4, 2020

In A Pickle?

My cucumbers are producing like gangbusters!  Everyday, it seems, I fill my sink with new ones.  I mean, how many cucumbers can a girl eat??

Soooooo…. I’ve started making pickles!  What fun it is to see the jars stack up.  Dill pickles, sweet pickles.  There’s something so satisfying about filling jars with goodies to eat later when the season is long since gone.

Here it is, 4th of July again.  I think of pickles and picnics and barbecues.  I remember my father and uncle gleefully setting off fireworks in the back yard when I was little, and being afraid of sparklers and big booms.  And it seems to me now that our world is in a bit of a pickle, with big booms and earthquakes and rumors and plagues. 

In times like these, I am so thankful to be on the ranch.  Somebody posted a meme to Facebook  that went something like this: "If a world-wide plague happens and you find that your life doesn't change, you must be in the right place."   I think they have a point!

The peaches have all decided to get ripe at the same time.  I discovered an easy way to peel them, though.  I used a slotted spoon and dunked them in boiling water for a minute or two. The skins just slid off like nobody's business and made nice neat slices.

This was the week to send in my fleeces for the AOA Fleece Show.  It was wonderful to spend time going through my 5 fleeces and skirting them for the show.  I have learned not to obsess on skirting.  Now I discard the coarser fiber around the "skirt" of the fleece that represents the lower edge of the blanket, then pick as much vegetable matter out of it as possible.  The last step is to roll the fleece back up in the same paper or plastic that it came in so the judge can see the logical layout of the alpaca's body when they runroll it.  It makes it easier for them to judge when they can see where the neck and the tail used to be.

This fleece is Kalino's 3rd fleece.  We've started breeding Kalina this year.  Based on his show and fleece records, he should sire some really nice crias for next summer.

On Wednesday Dr. Patty Temple came to see us.  Dr. Patty is my chiropractor, and she also works on animals.  She is very adept at diagnosing the spinal and muscle problems the alpacas have.  She has been out many times over the years for various alpacas.  This time she came to see Archimedes,
a 2-year old suri who has had some issues with weight and parasites that we couldn't completely resolve, as well as a stiff hip/lower back.  Since Dr. Patty treated him, Archimedes has been walking better and eating better.  He is also getting a different medication for the parasites and some natural remedies as well.  He looks brighter every day.  She will be back to see him once more this weekend. Lucky guy!

Walking across the ranch today I noticed that Meadowlark was standing off by herself and appeared to be restless, maybe caught on the fence.  When I got there I discovered the reason why-- she had pushed her head through the fence to reach what appeared to be a bowl full of fresh grass.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Ranch Is Hopping!

The Ranch Is Hopping!

A lot sure has gone on this week!  As you can see, One Enchanted Evening had her baby making Troy and Kim "GranPacas"!  Congratulations, you guys!  Their first baby is a GIRL by Max and they are euphoric.  Such a great outcome!  Her name is Amazing Grace.

We had 2 other crias this week as well.  Qasani had her Jeremiah cria--and it was the first time in a long time I was immediately excited about a boy!  He is a gorgeous champagne color with that glowing, deep luster we all hope for.  He was on his feet in 12 minutes flat!  His name is Quantum.

Lucy also had a lovely boy--he is medium brown.  "Medium Brown" according to the AOA Color Chart.  Really?  How about something more poetic like....Chocolate Brown or Mahogany?  Ah well...such are the rules.  But we can make up for it with a nice name.  Because he was born really early in the morning and needed warming up, I called him Sun Up.  He's a real cutie.

Summertime at Windy Hill is birthing season.  And since gestation is 345 days (almost a year!) that means that we breed in the summer also.  In our climate that means that we have births when it's not so cold, we don't need to put coats on the babies most of the time, and the crias are well-grown before winter.  Our summers are mild and the sea breezes make sure that we cool off considerably once the sun goes down.

We breed in the evening as soon as the temperature drops below 70ΒΊ F.  Nobody seems to mind breeding, even after dark, and everyone gets to cool off as night falls.  This group was falling all over Suton, he's such a handsome guy. A week later they all spit tested well, too.

I keep my breeding records on a clipboard in the barn.  It's easy to carry out to the breeding pens.  Once the records are on the chart I can enter then into AlpacaEase, my herd software.  Someday I'll really get with the times and move AE over to my iPad so I can put records directly in the program.  Maybe next week.

I have some wonderful friends who are terrific spinners, and they have been spinning some of my roving for me.  Wow!  Hand spun is really special yarn.  It has such character compared to machine spun yarn.  I'm loving it!  I'm even considering selling some of it.  Let me know if you are interested.  Right now I have black and brown suri, and beige huacaya.  It's delicious.

We have several friends who come to help us do things around the ranch.  They are all special people, but Blue and Maui thought Linnea and Analina were particularly special last week.  I would have to agree.

The cherry tomatoes are starting to produce and they are delicious, but I think maybe we have a new variety growing-- "berry" tomatoes!  lol

And Farmer Don got a new toy-- an LED light bar on his Kubota.  Molly and Zeke say "Hi" and "Good night", and "We can't wait for the lights to go out!"

Have a great week, Everyone!


Speaking of females and crias, we have pregnant females and females-about-to-get-pregnant FOR SALE this summer.  

Not all of them are on the website yet, but I'll be happy to show them to you.   I am offering a FREE 1-HOUR BUSINESS CONSULTATION 
on how you can Start Your Own Ranch...
even if you don't have your own property yet.

Copy this into the email: 
"I want a FREE 1-HOUR BUSINESS CONSULTATION on How to Start My Own Ranch."
We can consult in person at the ranch or on the phone, 
whichever is better for you.
Let me hear from you soon!  

Cindy Harris ~ Alpacas at Windy Hill ~ Somis, CA ~ 805-907-5162

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Crias by Day, Crias by Night

As the sun was sinking slowly in the west, the buttermilk sky was glowing.  Little did we know that Kristianna, first time mother and voted least likely to deliver first, was preparing to deliver her cria.  We had all gone home for the night, eaten dinner, and settled into evening activities when Tracy decided to take an twilight stroll.  She wandered over to watch the expectant moms eating and noticed that one of them was calmly eating out of the feedbag with a cria head and legs dangling out her backside!

All Hands On Deck!  We grabbed the novalsan solution to dip the umbilicus with when it emerged, got a coat for the cria and a towel to dry him off, Don bedded the warm room so mom and baby would have a place to stay warm all night while baby was wet, and cheered Kristianna on while she finished a beautiful, classic delivery (which I caught and moved to the grass before he hit the dirt). 

BTW-- no self-respecting alpaca delivers a cria on grass if they can help it.  Dirt is much preferred.  I've learned this over the years.  Never mind the 1/2 acre of grass we keep alive for them!

Here's Kristianna and AWH Hurry Sundown by Max under the heat lamp for the night.

And here is Sundown the next day!  What a face! And look at that fleece!

Nancy came by to see him the next day and visit with Italia.  She is so excited about Italia's Max baby coming later this summer.

Sundown is lucky we were there!   Mothers who deliver in the cold hours of an Andes night or morning don't replicate themselves because the baby can't survive the cold.  Natural selection over the centuries has created the natural pattern of birthing mostly between dawn and noon.

A couple of Sunday mornings ago, Hillary Duff and her family came out to visit Ivan, their alpaca.  Their almost-2 year old sweetie, Banks, was fascinated by the alpacas and the chick that Farmer Don showed her.

Ivan was a model alpaca.  He came over to see them the minute they arrived.  I think he actually recognized them!  He ate out of their hands and gave kisses.  What a sweet boy.

Alpacas love babies and children.  Last time Banks was here she was 4 months old. For those of you who don't remember, Ivan joined their family a couple of years ago when Matthew surprised Hillary with an alpaca for Valentine's Day.  Such a romantic gift.  They hope to have their own farm someday with more alpacas.  Maybe Ivan will even get to be a Dad someday. πŸ’

We have had 10 crias altogether since Sundown was born (all in the daytime, thank goodness!).  Here we are helping Lilac Rose with her first cria--a gorgeous rose gray female by The Admiral.  And then there was Evangeline's little girl by Fromage.

The cria I am most excited about at the moment is the one that Qasani is carrying.  She is a Torbio granddaughter who has exceptional luster.  I sent her to Sue King at Big Timber Alpacas last summer to breed to Jeremiah, and she is due any day.  This is one of those times I am hoping for a BOY!

Tina brought her grandkids out to visit Almond Joy the same day Hillary was here.  They got to pet some of the babies, and take Almond Joy for a walk.

Here is Kallie sitting with me while I watch the girls in OB.  Rat Terriers apparently have a talent for catching flies-- who knew??  She's really good at it, so I take her with me when I'm going to sit anywhere for awhile. 😊 She just turned a year old-- hard to believe!


Speaking of females and crias, we have 
pregnant females and females-about-to-get-pregnant FOR SALE 
this summer.  
Not all of them are on the website yet, but I'll be happy to show them to you.

I am offering a FREE 1-HOUR BUSINESS CONSULTATION on how you can 
Start Your Own Ranch
even if you don't have your own property yet.

Just copy this into the email: 
"I want a FREE 1-HOUR BUSINESS CONSULTATION on How to Start My Own Ranch"

We can consult in person at the ranch or on the phone, whichever is better for you.

Let me hear from you soon!  

Cindy Harris ~ Alpacas at Windy Hill ~ Somis, CA ~ ~ 805-907-5162

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

June Gloom Is Upon Us-- not the political kind...

No, June Gloom isn't the melancholia that falls on us when politics and viruses and riots in the streets happen.  In Ventura County (and much of LA County as well) June Gloom is cause for CELEBRATION!

Just as summer starts to heat up at the end of May and we start to think we will all die of the heat, 3-4 weeks of overcast mornings and days in the high 70's arrive.  June--a blessed state-- one to be savored.  The alpacas especially love it.

Here are some lovely ladies with big bellies taking a nap on the damp ground 
where we just ran the sprinklers.

We did have ONE cria already!  We only have about 8 overdue, and this one made his appearance 2 weeks early.  He was a little "floppy", with a curled ear and lax tendons, so he had trouble for a day standing long enough to nurse well.  Here I am giving him a little bottle of colostrum I milked from mom.  Ilsa is a maiden mother, but she was spectacular instincts and tons of milk.  The little girls next door were VERY interested to watch. πŸ’—

June is also the season for mustard.  When the hills turn yellow we know that summer is almost here. Remember when Jesus said that faith the size of a mustard seed could move a mountain?  Mustard seeds are REALLY LITTLE, but the plants could take over the world!

I love this little planter in the yard. It sits next to a bench in the shade under some trees.  It's becoming a favorite spot to sit and reflect.  When Gardener Ellie gets done reclaiming the yard it's going to be the perfect place for a day retreat!

MacKenzie has been out to help us a lot during the down time.  She is helping Farmer Don put together a shelter for the pigs so we can have another litter of Kune Kunes.



Lucy and Pixel all help keep the squirrels at bay.  I have to make sure they spend plenty of time outside everyday so the vegetables can grow!  We have more Zucchini 
than we know what to do with!  
Who has a recipe for preserving squash?

We're getting ready to put lime in our coconut. LOL

Meanwhile, Farmer Don has set up a chick hatchery in Tracy's office.  She watches them hatch all day while she is working from home.  Noella is the chief inspector.  She is deaf, but she always knows when a chick is hatching.

And their granddaughter loves her chickens.  You should see her toddle up and swoop them up in her arms.  It's adorable!

June is almost time for peaches.  I am really looking forward to them this year.  Last year we had so many that I actually got tired of them.  Imagine that!

Last week some friends brought their boys out to visit their alpaca.  They had such fun feeding him hay and playing in the dirt.  Here they are walking up to the gate so they can see Chachi.  Mom said she loves to come out because the boys enjoy the ranch and the alpacas--that it's almost a "magical" place.  We love it when our boarders enjoy the ranch.  Owning alpacas has so many rewards.

Cindy Harris ~ Alpacas at Windy Hill ~ Somis, CA ~ 805-907-5162

Saturday, May 23, 2020



This coming Monday, May 25, if our first set of DUE DATES at Windy Hill.  Not that any crias will be born that day--our girls have their OWN ideas of when they will give birth. LOL

About a month before the first due date we move the first month's group into the OB Pasture-- the one closest to the barn-- so that we can put them under a visual "microscope".  It's the first place anyone looks when they come out in the morning, and the last place we look before going in at night.  As the days get longer, we have to be sure to look just before dark.  Not often, but 3 or 4 times over the years I have had one born at 7:30 PM instead of AM!  They can be such sneaky girls!

Our first girl is Chanel.  You can see her round belly from the side because she is so close to her due date.  Sometimes it's hard to see from the side before 10 months gestation.  Alpacas birth somewhere around 345 days during our summer.

Notice Evangeline below.  She is bulgy on both sides.  That's how you can see the pregnancy earlier.  And notice that her left side bulges smoothly off the spine, but the right side has a slight indentation before bulging.  That's because the baby is almost always in the left horn if the uterus.

In the picture, Indi is showing us a big fat baby belly, and her friend Ilsa is laughing at her.  Ilsa's belly is hidden, but we can see it from the front in the next picture.

Here's Indi from the front.

Kristianna was embarrassed to show her pretty face, but here is her baby belly.  Kristianna looks a little more pregnant because she's a little bit smaller girl.  It's her first baby, so we call her a maiden, like a Maiden Voyage.  Sometimes these girls do get as big as a ship during their last few weeks!

Here is little maiden Lilac who still seems able to trot across the pasture with no trouble at all.  I think she saw someone with treats...

The BIGGEST FATTEST BABY BELLY AWARDS this month go to 2 maidens:
Nightengale, and 

Petra.  My goodness!

It's Savannah's first baby too.  I'm really excited about her baby because I started a new male last year who has a lot of promise.  Here you can see the bulge from the side...

and the back.

Scheherazade is nonplussed by my picture-taking fun.  She's a very tolerant soul.  Her baby doesn't show quite as much as some of the others because she is a larger girl than some of the rest.  She has such a pretty face, doesn't she?

In the evenings, Tracy puts out lactation herbs for the girls in OB.   They are a collection of herbs designed to help the expectant moms develop the milk supply.  Since we have been using these herbs, we have had extra-great milk supplies and bigger babies.  It's pretty wonderful to see those big heavy udders.  (I'll show you what I mean when we have our first ones)

The hardest part about birthing season?  WAITING!!!!

STAY TUNED.... They are on their way!


Meanwhile, find out how you can have your own alpaca ranch-- 
even without having a ranch of your own!
Call me (Cindy) at 805-907-5162

Cindy Harris ~ Alpacas at Windy Hill ~ Somis, CA 

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Home AgainHome Again Jiggidy Jog

What a fun adventure we had!  My friend Ellie took the Navigator seat, and off we went.
 We left home with 10 alpacas and returned with 4 (none of the same ones we left with).  The trip fit neatly into a week.  We had 4 alpaca stops, and 2 relative stops.  We ate junk food and didn't gain any weight (how did that happen??), and had a jolly time.

The first day we headed for Alpacas of El Dorado to drop off 3 girls for breeding.  Laurie Findlay is a great lady and she has a beautiful ranch in the foothills of the western Sierra.  We drove through gorgeous terrain, including several vineyards.  The hills were still green for the most part, so the scenery was lovely.  Here is a particularly beautiful vineyard we passed.

Ellie's brother Bob was our first and last stop in Anderson, CA.  They put us up and fed us dinner.  It was great.  Along the way we had great views of Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen covered with snow.  Lake Shasta was VERY full of water!

The next stop was Big Timber Alpacas in Oregon.  Sue King met us as the barn so that we could take Dare Me Wingman in, weigh her in, and leave her to breed to Fyre Dancer.  Fyre Dancer has knocked  it out of the park in the show ring the last 2 years, and Dare Me is hot stuff herself, so I'm excited to see what we get from this breeding.  πŸ˜Š

After going through Portland, we turned east and headed for Kennewick, Washington.  The drive across the Columbia Gorge is something everybody should see, I am convinced.  Just wait until all the parks open again.  You could probably spend days exploring Lewis and Clark's path.

Mount Hood

Mount St Helens (see how the top isn't pointed anymore since it blew off?)

On the east end of the gorge, the mountains get really bare like a desert.  Where they have water, they grow a lot of hay, and where they don't, they make lots of wind power.

Next stop, Sand Dollar Alpacas where Nikki and Collins showed off their beautiful farm.  Collins is a whiz at farm layouts and irrigation!  Along with suri alpacas, they raise white doves for releasing at weddings, homing pigeons, bees, and soon they will also have Great Pyrenees puppies!  They have a great view of the farm from their comfortable porch, have a beautiful retail space, and a Bed and Breakfast.  If you are ever in Kennewick WA, look them up!  It was a luxury to stay with them for 2 nights.  We also had a visit from Nola and Sienna Graham while we were there.  

One of the reasons for visiting Nikki and Collins was to get a good look at Commander's Archangel Michael, a young male that I own in partnership with them.  It was the first time I had seen him, and I was thrilled!  He is fine and dense and lustrous and placed 2nd in stiff competition at the National Show in March (the only show there was this season πŸ˜–).  Michael came home with me so I can show him in the fall.  I sure hope we get to have a fall show!

Back to Portland to visit my son and daughter who live there.  Amy is the photographer of the family, so she was in charge of setting up this shot of all of us.  She's on the right, and Brennan and fiancΓ© Jessica are on the left.  Brennan is a chef, and while he is out of work at the restaurant, is streaming some pretty impressive cooking on Twitch. Twitch.Tv/BBBubbz  Look him up-- it's pretty fun!

On the road home I parked between 2 giants at a rest stop.  I always feel like my trailer is huge when I'm driving it, but these trucks put it in perspective. LOL

Looking out at the highway, I set the course for home.  You know how that last day of the trip is longer than any other?

The trip up the west coast was a lot of fun and a fine adventure, but as always, there's no place like home.  Now for Cria Watch πŸ’—πŸ’™πŸ’šπŸ’›πŸ’œ

Cindy Harris ~ Alpacas at Windy Hill ~ Somis, CA ~ 805-907-5162