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.  Mustards 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 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 Don put together a shelter for the pigs so we can have another litter of Kune Kunes.


Kallie, 


Klick,


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

BIG FAT BABY BELLIES!

BIG FAT BABY BELLIES ARE EVERYWHERE AT WINDY HILL!


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!

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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 



Wednesday, May 6, 2020

On the Road Again!

Back on the Alpaca Trail.  

Yes, they cancelled all but the 1st alpaca show this season (which I didn't get to go to), so it's been a spring devoid of hauling a big trailer around the country behind my dually. 

But necessities are necessities, and with the first crias due at the end of this month, it was the last available moment to hit the road and take care of all the alpaca errands I would have done if the CABA Classic had been held this coming weekend.  We sorely missed the California Classic in March and the Great Western Alpaca Show in Denver which would have been last weekend (and our annual visit it Symphony Fibers!).

This week it was time to deliver several alpacas for breeding and pick up a couple on the way home.  And see some great friends along the way.

First, though, it's important to pack the right accessories for the trip.  Tracy gave me the idea for this appropriate fashionable face mask.  It's actually a child's t-shirt, but with a few deft strokes of the fabric scissors, it was transformed into the latest in Mask Fashion.  Friends "get it" when I wear it, but strangers and store clerks think I'm speaking of Social Distancing.  Even so, they chuckle.   It almost makes it worth it to wear the darn thing.




After enduring I-5 North as far as Modesto, we were finally able to leave the freeway and head east to the Sierra foothills to visit Alpacas of El Dorado. 
 Trusty Navigator Ellie is shooting pictures out the window.

Spring has sprung in the foothills.  Thanks to the late rains this year, even the lower elevations still have green grass, the wild flowers are still in bloom in many places, and the yucca have started to bloom in the hills.  The mountains in the distance are still covered with a deep layer of snow--good news for the annual water supply and the scenic value.!


The valley floor leading up to the foothills is covered with pasture and barbed wire fence to contain the myriads of cattle the roam the area.    There are places where you can see equipment like chutes and steel gates used to corral and sort cattle.  The land is really ideal, with its rolling hills, grass supply, oak trees for shade, and occasional ponds.


As we gained altitude, grazing land gave way to vineyards-- miles and miles of vineyards, each with its own specialties, some with wineries and tasting rooms, B & B's, and small restaurants.  The roads got narrower and twistier, which tested my concentration...and my courage sometimes...with the big trailer.   


When we got to El Dorado, Laurie gave us the tour, introduced us to her herd, and we left 3 females (2 of mine, 1 of Tracy's) with her for breeding.   It's exciting to plan a breeding at any time, but when there is a spectacular male that someone owns and offers for stud, it's so much fun to imagine what you will get from the cross to expand your herd bloodlines!   I always hope for a male cria from an outside breeding.  A stud quality male from an outside breeding means that I have fresh bloodlines to introduce to the herd genetics once he grows up. Thanks to Laurie Findlay and Dale Davis for the opportunity to breed to Poseidon!


Venturing into the upper reaches of I-5 in California we came across Mount Shasta--Home of Big Foot, Alien Sightings, and creatures my dad used to tell me stories about called the Lemurians. My grandparents, dad and uncle lived in the logging town of McCloud when my grandfather was the principal of the company school.  I personally think my grandparents told my dad and uncle those stories to be sure they would be home by dark.  πŸ˜±


Once we got to Oregon, the scenery changed suddenly from grasslands and volcanic rock to mountains covered with thick forests, green grass, and acres of wildflowers.  The stark difference between California and Oregon terrain never ceases to amaze me.  It is a beautiful state to travel in, AND as a pickup hauling a trailer, I am no longer confined to traveling a maximum speed of 55 mph! Hurray!!

We made our way up to Big Timber Alpacas and were greeted by Sue King, owner of Fyre Dancer, the multiple champion I took my very best female to this year.  I am really excited about the outcome of this breeding!  Sue lives in yet another kind of terrain, filled with meadow flowers, forests that are dappled with light and "fairy dust" that floats through the air, and rhododendrons blooming at every corner.  It was such a pretty drive today!

Tomorrow, we head east to mid-state Washington by way of the Columbia River Gorge.  Stay tuned!

Cindy Harris ~ Alpacas at Windy Hill ~ www.alpacalink.com 
cindy@alpacalink.com ~ 805-907-5162







Monday, May 4, 2020

Love is in the Air!


Love is in the air at Windy Hill.  Everything is green, the weather is warm (but not too warm), and the almost-2 year old girls cush at the slightest provocation.  Walking any alpaca down the center pathway past the adult males is accompanied by wolf whistles and standing up on the fence.  Anticipation is high!

But let me pause for a moment and show you that our safety protocol is in order.   The twins who come to volunteer frequently had a birthday a couple of weeks ago.  Of course, they couldn't come out to the ranch for us to sing Happy Birthday, so instead we sent them a video of their alpaca.  [All safety standards were carefully adhered to]  A good time was had by all!


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We decided to start breeding season a little early this year with some pasture breeding because the weather is so nice.  Yesterday I put 7 girls (4 of them maidens) out in a pasture together, and then last night as it cooled off I introduced Admiral to them.  It was hysterical to see all the girls gather round him saying "Pick me! Pick me!"  After some deliberation, he chose silver gray Victoria.  She plunked herself down, he climbed on and began to sing.  

The happy couple was blissfully unaware at first of the stir they caused (you can only see a small outline of Admiral behind Honeysuckle Rose).  

The maidens began to circle, sniffing and asking questions:  
"What are you doing?"
"What is that song he's singing?"
"Who is he, anyway?"
"Can I play too?"

Some of the experienced girls watched silently out of the corner of their eye.  They knew.  They were just waiting.  One of them left and started eating at the other end of the pasture.  She wasn't interested at all.  It will take her a couple of days to get with the program--her hormones and the stars all have to align.

After I came home, Tracy texted me to say that he had also bred Pepita.  A maiden.  Such good news! This morning they were all happily grazing together. One big happy family.  I find that when I put a group together to pasture breed they naturally fall into a pattern of breeding at night when it's cooler.  I guess that's true Alpaca Romance.


I'm not sure how many pasture breedings we will do this year.  Below is a picture of how we usually set things up.  We breed by appointment.  Because our alpacas are registered, we need to know who Daddy is, so we bring the male of the day to a breeding pen, and put the chosen female in with him.  Sometimes he will breed a couple of girls in a day.  This way with a young male who needs a little coaching (like the alpacas in the next pen) or an older male who has a little arthritis in his hindquarters we can monitor and assist more easily.  We also can be sure that they only do one or two breedings in a day.  Our breeding pens have a carpet of green grass, all the better to stay clean.


With any luck, 11.5 months later, you get a beautiful little cria like this guy from last year. πŸ˜€


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Here is one of those great success stories that we like to celebrate with our alpacas.  Seminole Wind had a big ugly bump growing on her muzzle.  Sometimes these skin issues come up and we never know from where.  It appeared, based on past experience, to be fungal.  In the past, the vet has come out, giving it a name in Latin that means something akin to "cruddy skin", and suggested we apply any number of remedies to resolve it.  Then we spend weeks putting product after product on the spot until it goes away.  It's rarely clear what caused it, or even what solved it.

This time I decided to use a zinc based moisturizer on it and add a couple of drops to pure, water-based CBD to it.  The lesion was twice as big as the one in the first picture (I wish I had taken a picture that day, but didn't anticipate such a dramatic change so quickly!).  I applied it heavily.  The next day it looked like the first picture! I was shocked!  I even have witnesses.  I reapplied the cream and waited for the next morning.  
Nothing prepared me for what I found. The lesion was completely gone!  The skin was smooth, and it was hairless like the day before.  Amazing!  I washed it and reapplied the cream.  By Day 4 I could see no reason to keep her at the barn any longer and turned her out.  
The third pictures shows Semi 1 month later--all her hair completely grown back!

I had thought of using the CBD product on Semi because I have used it for skin issues that I have had-- a skinned elbow, a rough patch, and a suspicious looking bump on my arm.  In all cases the problems resolved very quickly and thoroughly-- much faster than I would have imagined.  I also take this product for arthritis and have almost no pain anymore.  Headaches gone.  Amazing stuff!
If you are interested in finding out more, I sell it and can help you get some.  Just give me a shout!
805-907-5162 or cindy@alpacalink.com
I plan to try it with any other skin issue that an alpaca has, and might even put a smidge in an eye that has irritation or infection.  I'll let you know how it works.  πŸ˜Ž

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I understand California is moving into STAGE 2 as of Friday this week.  Good news!  If you are thinking about raising alpacas, this is a great time to get started.  Give us a call and before long we can invite you out to talk business!
Being at the ranch might also lower your blood pressure.


Cindy Harris ~ Alpacas at Windy Hill ~ Somis, CA ~ 



Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Frogs, Fish and Fun Stuff


Spring has blessed us with jungles full of weeds!  We've discovered that 30% vinegar applied to plants makes them wilt and die really quickly!  Recommendations include cutting the weeds first, then spraying.  And it really doesn't take much!  A little spray and 2 hours later you begin to see the fruit of your labor!  That beats Round Up all to death (pun intended).  

So, let the weed whacking begin!   Farmer Don has been out cutting down thistles and echinacea and fox tails for days!  On one of his breaks he paused by a tree and found this cute fellow doing his best impersonation of a leaf.  I hear them all the time, but have never seen one before, have you?


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I think I mentioned that I had an appointment the other day with the SoCal Fibershed and a new friend named Lesley Roberts.  We did a presentation via ZOOM on how the concept of Fibershed fits into a more responsible, local clothing economy (which seems like an even better idea with current international snafu's).  "Soil to Skin: What's in my clothes?" It was a hoot!  Lesley did her presentation from home, and the other rancher and I did ours with a phone, wandering around the ranch.  There are a few places where the video dropped out, but over all it was really fun.
I'm including the link so that you can join us for our presentation if you are interested.  My part comes near the middle.  Enjoy!

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Don wanted me to be sure to include a picture of his relaxing, colorful salt water aquarium.  Tracy and I asked why.   The answer? Because.  So here you go! (do you see the star fish and the Clown fish?)


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I still have 5 young males who are under a year old who are looking for a home this spring.  They are adorable and well trained.  They've recently been sheared and have had their immunizations.  If you are looking for some little buddies for your yard or your herd or your fiber projects, these guys would be ideal.  Take a look here, and then follow the picture link to their webpage.  Call or email me if you see something you like. πŸ˜‰

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Have a good week, until next time.
Cindy

Cindy Harris ~ Alpacas at Windy Hill ~ Somis, CA 93066 ~ 805-907-5162 ~ www.alpacalink.com