Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sunday, December 17, 2006

What do you do with an alpaca??

This blog is dedicated to my friend, Cozmic. Because long ago I was asked what I do with my alpacas, and all I can say is, the internet ate my answer....

Seriously!! I wrote out this lovely answer that took me about an hour, and then after I hit the publish blog button, it said it couldn't find the connection and the blog disappeared into cyberspace.

So, here it is my friend!

Hay Cozmic!
I get to name the ones born on my ranch. We have a herd identifier: BMAR (Black Magic Alpaca Ranch) and all of our alpacas are registered with our national registry ARI- Alpaca Registry Inc.
We name all our 'characters' after the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit books- my very favorite books growing up. With the exception of Fanny Bryce- my daughter got to name her! So far we have had: Elrond, Pippin, Bilbo Baggins, Mithril (one of our llamas actually) Tinuviel, Elanor, Nenya, Lady Galadriel, Arwen Undomiel, Gil Galad, Faramir, Heathertoes, Mithrandir and Earendil..... I think that's it. I have one white male who doesn't have a name yet. Sometimes they just pop out and we know right away. Other times it takes a while, hmmm, that one isn't a Hobbit, is she Elven royalty? No.... what about an Ent, or a Ranger? LOL.
Not all alpacas are registered, but most alpacas are. It isn't a requirement, but it is good business, and reputable breeders always register. Registered alpacas cost more, for good reason. Their ancestry can be traced, and they are all DNA typed, making them more desirable. The Alpaca Registry just recorded their 100,000th alpaca registered! So our industry is indeed growing here in North America.
There isn't anyone who says which alpaca is 'okay' and which is not. A good breeding program speaks for itself, and good stock is easily recognized. There are books out there by industry experts that are all known for their recognition of what makes an alpaca an alpaca, like correct conformation, ear shape, topline and body structure. Some alpacas look "cuter" than others, but I have had older, less attractive alpaca ladies here on my ranch that provided me with the most spectacular offspring when the right breeding decisions have been made. Conversely I have seen some really great looking alpacas spit out some not so great looking crias. It is all based on phenotype and genotype and the hallmark of a good male or female is in the progeny they create.
There are two types of alpacas, the suri- which has long locks that are very lustrous and silky and hang down from the body, and huacayas- that have crimpy fleece and look like fuzzy teddy bears. We have two suri males, one gelding and one breeding male, and the rest of our herd are huacayas. Someday I want some suri females!

There is a funny video out there of someone spit testing with a snorkel on :)) I think it is an Aussie production LOL. I suggested rain gear because yellow and green are so festive together.... ha-ha.

Yes, alpacas produce one of the finest natural fibers in the world, 22 natural colors, very, very soft. And we shear them every year, once per year. I send out my fleece to get it processed into yarn and my mother in law crochets it for us. Above here are pictures of some of the wonderful things she makes. Not me, give me a crochet needle and I will poke my eye out with it.
I can spin, and do have a wheel- what I don't have is the time to do it! I want to learn how to weave, it is a dream of mine. Anyone wanna get me a loom for Christmas?? --wink-wink--
In our first three years of production we bred solely for black alpacas, and were successful at it 100%. Now, we want them in all colors! We have had crias in black, white, three shades of fawn, various grays- including rose gray, and next year are hoping for more gray and fawn.
We make all the decisions regarding matings. The boys and girls are kept seperately, and we move our little boys out from their mommas and girlfriends before they turn 1 year old.
Breeding decisions are based on several things, like- what color we would like, fiber characteristics, density of fleece, desirable dispositions, and overall conformation of the animal. If princess to Die For needs more density, and we would like to see straighter front legs, we will choose Prince Charming based on those characteristics.
If Lady Fire Breather needs an attitude adjustment, we will factor this in our decision when deciding her mate- with a gentle temperament in mind.
The future of our industry is indeed in the fleece. Building a viable and sustainable North American fiber industry is what every breeder is contributing to at this time. There are a few coops out there, the largest being the Alpaca Fiber Coop of North America- AFCNA where the members send in a portion of their clip every year and in return get shares in the coop and product at wholesale.
I hope this has answered some of your questions! If you want to know more about anything, just let me know okay?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Cats on Tuesday, erm, okay, on Monday!

So, here I am with my first Cats on Tuesday post! Sorry it is on Monday, but I will be out all day tomorrow so....
I thought I would share first, a story about my mother. My mother, who has a double wide mobile home, and enough stuff in it to fill a 6 bedroom house.

She collects stuffed bears, and has enough of them to furnish an entire store.

My mother who loves cats, has 4, and also has everything related to cats. She has the fattest cat I have ever seen in person, Salem. A black kitty (of course) who is 'small in stature' but wide as a semi truck. He is very funny. She has Sassy, a gray and white striped fluff ball. Joy-Joy, a calico beauty, and Princess, a Siamese cross.

Fast forward to Christmas... what do you get a mother who has a house chock full o' stuff??

And got her this stuffed cat above. Last year I got her the "Fourth of July" cat, and I thought it was the silliest thing I had ever seen..... she LOVED it. Keeps it out all year long.

So, then I found this one at my local pharmacy. It is actually cute, and different from all the rest.

For her birthday I am going to get her the "Chili Pepper Cat" tee-hee

Now, on to my cats. Today we will feature Jack. AKA, Jack the Dog.

There is Jack, the cat who thinks he is a dog. Comes when you whistle, goes on walks with you- and the dogs, and 'talks' to you. He is also the bully. He fights with everyone else (meaning all my other cats ha-ha, oooh! with the exception of Shadow he-he), chases them all off the property if he can. And is the biggest lover you will ever find.

He snuggles with you, and is safe with even the smallest child handling him... go figure he is such a butt with the other cats!

Jack knows his name and comes when you call him. He is the one who stands at the door when the dogs start barking, ready to go out and "kill" the imagined intruder. Really he is just the official greeter of the place. Killer indeed, if you could be killed by leg rubbing, he's your cat!

Jack gives new meaning to the term- "revolving door". All day, in and out, in and out, in and out. We thought we would just give him an automatic 'door opener' to use at his leisure, but he would probably find some new way to torture the other cats with it.

Above (since I STILL can't figure out how to insert pictures where I want them... they always post at the top) is a picture of Jack with his dog, Fatty Lumpkin, AKA- Lumpy. (who is really my dog)

They are best buds. Lumpy is very good with Jack, tolerates him even when I think he is annoying. Much better than Lumpy's mom, who growls and chases him away. But she is a cranky old lady dog.

Only once did I ever think of sending Jack away. He chased off my Frodo cat a few years ago. I was devastated. Frodo was a feral cat I found in my garage as a very small kitten, just after 4th of July when we lived in Downey. The first time I tried to pick him up, he nearly tore my hand off. He was so terrified that he hid in my garage for 5 months. It got to the point that he trusted me, and would let me run my hand down his back briefly as he ran under it back and forth. Frodo desperately wanted love, but was terrified of it.
He would only let me touch him, and he and I shared a special bond, typified by a touch of his nose to my index finger.

To get Frodo here to our new house, I had to drug his food three different times. The first two times he ate the food and ran up into the rafters of the garage and slept it off. Finally I put the food into a crate and closed the door quick. He spent 4 days in the crate, lightly sedated for his safety. Then we released him into out new garage safely, and he adjusted to life on the mountain.

We had a Bassett Hound then named Miss Pouncible, and they were fast friends.

Well, Jack and his sister Diane were kittens when we brought them up here, and Jack took an instant dislike to everyone.... especially Frodo. Frodo, being the timid cat he was, eventually just didn't come home one day. It broke my heart, and only the pleadings from my kids saved Jack from going to live with his vet (who, by the way, adores him- as does the whole staff).

So, Jack is still here, and I do love him- annoying as he is. We refer to Jack as the "Million Dollar Cat" because he has cost us about that. His family was inbred, owners of his mother never fixed her, and she bred indiscriminately... a loose woman with low morals, we believe Jack and his sister Diane are the product of incest.

When we moved up here, we also brought their two brothers Sam, and Bilbo. Sam and Bilbo both died from bladder complications- genetically inspired. To our dismay, Jack too soon developed symptoms like his brothers. We caught them early and took him to the vet. After about 5 months of expensive treatment, it was determined that Jack needed 'corrective' surgery. My husband put his foot down. After many hundreds of dollars, dare I say thousands?? He had had it. So I explained the situation to our vet, and she, who had seen Jack basically living there at the vets- all the staff knew him and he had the run of the place- found a surgeon in Los Angeles who picked up the surgery for free for us.

So, Jack had all of his plumbing re-routed, and has to be on special food for the rest of his life. About a million dollars later, he is still here! And, I have forgiven him for Frodo, but.... I still miss my little cat.
Next week, Diane- AKA- Queen of the World.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Winter on the ranch

Here is a picture of my kid's Celtic group, The Rosebuds. This was at the Scottish Games in Bakersfield two years ago, where they have been invited to play for three years in a row now. The beat out several adult groups for this honor. Cool beans. I can't find the picture for this year, I think it went the way of my crashed computer :((

Tonight, snow perhaps! Not here probably, but up higher into town.
I love snow, and hate the rain.

Winter brings additional challenges to alpaca ranching. Frozen waterers, ice on the fencing and silly pacas who stay out in the wet until they get soaked and start shivering are just a few things that come to mind.

Every morning I go out with a hammer and break the ice, and sometimes I make them all a 'hot cup of cider'.
Their special cider consists of nice, warm Gatorade with apple slices on top!

Like people, alpacas don't like to drink water that is really cold, and dehydration is a real possibility in extreme cold. So we always make sure they have access to tepid water.
They love their 'cuppa tea' and the bucket is always empty at the end of the day.
Alpaca coats take care of the silly pacas who don't know enough to get in out of the cold, wet weather.

My son's "favorite" thing is the fact that the pacas poop pile grows exponentially the wetter the weather. Alpacas poop all in the same spot. Usually they average two piles per pen, but when the weather gets wetter, all bets are off! Some of the boys HATE to get wet! They will run for shelter the minute the first drop of rain comes down, and don't leave except to hang their butts just barely outside the shelter to go poop. Thus the pile grows...
Crias on the other hand, don't learn the rules of the poo pile until about 3 weeks of age. They go wherever, including IN the shelter and right next to the hay feeder.... okay, they ALL go right next to the hay feeder. We have to move the feeder about twice a season to get it away from the poop pile. Then, they start going right next to the feeder again. Why do we do it? Because we keep hoping we will prevail. Silly humans.
Lazy pacas!
Well, got to go sing in our Christmas program!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

what do you do all day?

Hi there,
well, so much for posting every day!
I thought I would give you a glimpse into my daily life..... okay, so I'm not the president, or anyone important, so it may be boring, but.....

All the same it is my life and sometimes just laying all out on the table helps me to not lose my mind. You know, all moms think they should be -- cue hero music -- "Super Mom"
So here it is:

4:30 am- I get up and try to savor the only quiet time I will have all day.
okay, really I snooze my way to....

5 am- where I then spend 1/2 an hour attempting to drag my 15 year old son out of bed. I used to be able to literally drag him out of bed, but since he is a good 6" taller than me now, that is a lose-lose situation these days.

5:30 am- I am dripping water on his forehead in a desperate last ditch Chinese Water Torture effort to get him up.

5:45 am- we are rushing around to be ready to leave for Seminary, which starts at 6:30 am. Then we leave and I drive 15 miles to the church- one way. Sometimes we can hook up with a carpool, but not if we are running late- which we are more times than not. He takes the bus from there to school.

Back home I go, to wake up my daughter at 7 am for school.

7 am- feed the cria.

8 am- off to take my daughter to school- 4 miles one way.

then I am back home to take care of various ranch chores and do as much business online as I can. Right now I am on the BOD of a national rescue and education organization for camelids that is just getting started, and on the development committee for the Alpaca Research Foundation- another national org. This year I am in charge of the "Super Stud Raffle" which means I coordinate and logisticate, and all that good stuff, the event which will be featured at our National conference in 2007. Of course I am supported by a fabulous bunch of dedicated paca people.
We started working on this project right after the last one ended... in May of this year. This year broke records for attendance and number of alpacas in shows. It was huge! It is held in Kentucky and attended by thousands.

I love it! It is so much hard work, but for such a good cause it makes it worth it. My only fear is that I will screw up somewhere and forget something vital! LOL, last year and the years before this event was run by a true Super Woman- and she is not here this year so it is up to little ol' forgetful me.... holy cow we are in such deep doo-doo.........

Anyway. So usually before I know it, it is 4 hours later and time to feed the baby again. Then I try to do laundry or some other paltry chore, but really, lets be honest. My housework is usually the last thing to get done. If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it's that the house will wait, and wait, and wait to get cleaned. And what the heck, living on a ranch, it is sure to get dirty immediately after I clean it anyway, so what's the diff?? I mean, seriously, I vacuum on Saturday, and by Monday it looks like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir tromped through here with their galoshes on after a rain storm.... why bother I say?

So, before I know it it is time to pick up my kids, or, one of them.
2:30 pm- back to pick up my daughter. then to the post office.
3:30 pm- Home again, home again jiggity-jig... until..
5 pm- off to pick up my son from any one of the following: Drumline practice, basketball practice
fill in the blank practice..... feed the baby.

Monday nights are family night.
Tuesday this time of year is choir practice at 7 pm at, you guessed it, the church that is 15 miles one way.
Wednesday night is youth night, at the church at 7 pm. (well, 7 for everyone else)
Thursday night is Cameron's guitar lesson at 5:45 in town- 10 miles away one way- then we have choir again at 7.
Friday is Celtic group music lessons from 3:30-5:30 (in town too) I am the promotional manager for the group and right now we are trying to get the CD out before Christmas. Ha-ha (she laughs weakly)
Feed the baby- ha-ha.

Sometimes I think I spend my whole life in the car- a sentiment I am sure many mothers can totally relate to. Sometimes I wish I lived on a paved road. 2 & 1/2 miles on a dirt road just to get to pavement, times at least six times a day = a sore neck for me. Since my last car accident I can't even tell you what trouble it has given me. Waahhh... poor me.... nuff of that.
Never do I wish I lived in the city again, even though my mileage last year rivaled the National Debt.

For fun, add this to the schedule- Wednesday after school I take my little autistic friend home with me for a day of fun before I have to pick up the crew at 5pm and be at the church by 6:30, then Friday afternoons I go to his house for Social Recreation Therapy. Sometimes I work at the school with him for a shift.

Sundays I used to have to be at church at 7:30 am for leadership meetings, but now I don't. I just have to be there at 9 am as I am the secretary of the young woman's program. (my new church calling hat) Ha!!! What were they thinking?? Me?? Organized enough to keep track of 20 something young women's activities?? LOL, OL, OL......... Oy.

So,,,,, by looking at the above schedule, I am sure you can see that, yes, I can indeed be in two places at one time. I have mastered time travel, but as of yet cannot be in more than 2 places at once. I am working on it. Once I do I expect the royalties to come pouring in as every mother in America jumps on the time dilation bandwagon.
Feed the baby.

You may ask, what about dinner? Well, Jack in the Box is a family favorite. We eat in the car a lot and they know us by voice.
"Will it be the usual ma'am?" Comforting, yet, somehow disturbing.

Throw in the every weekend sleepover from a friend, Saturdays where we try to do everything in the house and on the ranch we didn't do all week, hey! I get to sleep in till 6 am!! Drumline competitions & the football games they play at, basketball games for both kids, their Rosebud Celtic gigs, and all the educational events we attend every year with our alpacas, and well, there you have it.

We try to fit in visits to Grandma's house, doctor visits (especially for my daughter who sees a specialist in Fresno for her tummy condition- this requires an overnight stay usually), dental exams, visits to the vet and ranch visits in between in all our spare time. Parades like the one we were just in up here on the mountain, and press events are squoze in somehow.
I can be heard asking frequently: "Just how late are you open?" And: "Do you have appointments available after 7 pm?"
Hubby is working second shift right now, which means he is gone for work at 11:30 am, starts his shift at 2 pm (drives 80 miles one way to work) and gets home after midnight.... when:
HE feeds the baby.
Then he sleeps till about 8 am and tries to finish his honey do list in two hours before leaving to do it all over again. Soon he will start third shift and I will truly be a single mom again.
So, welcome to my life. I hope you enjoyed a glimpse of it. and here is where I admit my one weakness ( because as we all know chocolate doesn't count) Some days I just vegetate in front of the PS-2 and play video games, ignoring the phone and only getting off my tush to feed the baby. Sigh.... guilty pleasures indeed.
The alpaca in the picture above is my little Lady Galadriel- who is now away for her very first breeding. They grow up so fast!
Take good care of yourselves!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Freezing here today!! 2" of ice the last three nights, and snow yesterday, but just enough to dust the ground. No school for the kids yesterday.

Here's a picture of the road to our house in the spring- this was a particularly beautiful spring with just loads of wildflowers.

Here's a fun questionaire I found on the illustrious Quilldancer's site. She graciously sent it to me to use.

I like it because it is different from all those other "get to know you" lists. This one actually is fun!

The ones I have done are in bold, with comments of course because I have a twisted sense of humor :))

Let me know which you have done!


01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink (yup... many times)

02. Swam with wild dolphins (in Hawaii)

03. Climbed a mountain (define 'mountain')

04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive

05. Been inside the Great Pyramid

06. Held a tarantula (are you crazy??)

07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone

08. Said "I love you" and meant it

09. Hugged a tree (a lovely sweet smelling Jeffrey Pine)

10. Bungee jumped (yea.... right....)

11. Visited Paris

12. Watched a lightning storm at sea

13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise

14. Seen the Northern Lights

15. Gone to a huge sports game (Go Dodgers!!!)

16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa

17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables (every year)

18. Touched an iceberg

19. Slept under the stars

20. Changed a baby's diaper (too many times to count)

21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon (again I ask,,, are you serious?? Queen of Acrophobia here))

22. Watched a meteor shower (each August we watch the Leonid)

23. Gotten drunk on champagne (is this a trick question?)

24. Given more than you can afford to charity

25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope

26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment (once while giving a business presentation..... yup)

27. Had a food fight (my aunt was finding tomato seeds for weeks)

28. Bet on a winning horse

29. Asked out a stranger

30. Had a snowball fight (yes, but who won, that is the real question)

31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can (um.,... I still do that on occasion)

32. Held a lamb (how about a baby alpaca??)

33. Seen a total eclipse

34. Ridden a roller coaster

35. Hit a home run

36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking

37. Adopted an accent for an entire day (I tried that once and almost got arrested)

38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment

39. Had two hard drives for your computer

40. Visited all 50 states

41. Taken care of someone who was drunk

42. Had amazing friends

43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country

44. Watched wild whales

45. Stolen a sign

46. Backpacked in Europe

47. Taken a road-trip (our family's favorite thing)

48. Gone rock climbing

49. Midnight walk on the beach (this time I actually did get arrested...)

50. Gone sky diving

51. Visited Ireland (oh, how I WISH!)

52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love (coming soon to my blog)

53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them

54. Visited Japan

55. Milked a cow

56. Alphabetized your CDs (I can't even keep them in their cases.....)

57. Pretended to be a superhero (what, I'm the only one??)

58. Sung karaoke (um, I think this goes along with the champagne question....)

59. Lounged around in bed all day

60. Played touch football

61. Gone scuba diving (Can't scuba, ears won't let me. Does snorkeling count?)

62. Kissed in the rain

63. Played in the mud (every winter I slip and fall in the mud, then the kids ask me if I've been playing in the mud again when I come in the house....)

64. Played in the rain

65. Gone to a drive-in theater ( I can still remember going to see Pinnochio and having it be sold out as a kid. I miss the drive in- remember your station wagon??)

66. Visited the Great Wall of China

67. Started a business

68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken

69. Toured ancient sites (some day I'm going to Macchu Picchu)

70. Taken a martial arts class ( I do Tai Chi, at home where no one can laugh at me)

71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight (how about Final Fantasy??:))

72. Gotten married (twice)

73. Been in a movie

74. Crashed a party

75. Gotten divorced

76. Gone without food for 5 days (people do this??)

77. Made cookies from scratch

78. Won first prize in a costume contest

79. Ridden a gondola in Venice

80. Gotten a tattoo

81. Rafted the Snake River (um... does an innertube count?)

82. Been on television news programs as an "expert"

83. Got flowers for no reason (note to hubby.... notice this one isn't bold?!!)

84. Performed on stage

85. Been to Las Vegas

86. Recorded music ( my kid's cd is almost done though!)

87. Eaten shark

88. Kissed on the first date (sheepish grin)

89. Gone to Thailand

90. Bought a house

91. Been in a combat zone

92. Buried one/both of your parents

93. Been on a cruise ship

94. Spoken more than one language fluently

95. Performed in Rocky Horror

96. Raised children (currently in the process... let you know how I do later)

97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour

99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country

100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over

101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge

102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking

103. Had plastic surgery

104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived

105. Wrote articles for a large publication

106. Lost over 100 pounds (only 70)

107. Held someone while they were having a flashback

108. Piloted an airplane

109. Touched a stingray

110. Broken someone's heart (oh yes, I was quite the heartbreaker in my younger days *eyelashes fluttering*)

111. Helped an animal give birth (lots of times)

112. Won money on a T.V. game show

113. Broken a bone

114. Gone on an African photo safari

115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears (yuck!)

116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol (all three)

117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild (that's a good way to end up saying yes to #119 IMHO)

118. Ridden a horse (owned a horse)

119. Had major surgery (4 times)

120. Had a snake as a pet (Smaug, how I miss him!)

121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours

123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states

124. Visited all 7 continents

125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days

126. Eaten kangaroo meat

127. Eaten sushi (as often as I can... yum!!)

128. Had your picture in the newspaper (first time when I was a little girl for the P.O.W. bracelets my mom sold, and since then many times with my pacas)

129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about

130. Gone back to school (to study music, my passion)

131. Parasailed

132. Touched a cockroach (eww... not intentionally I assure you)

133. Eaten fried green tomatoes

134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey

135. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school, and read

136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

137. Skipped all your school reunions (oh yea)

138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language

139. Been elected to public office

140. Written your own computer language

141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream (of course, I always imagined my self filthy rich at that point, but hay, can't have everything!)

142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care

143. Built your own PC from parts (I have enough trouble just figuring out my PC)

144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you

145. Had a booth at a street fair

146. Dyed your hair (on a regular basis honey)

147. Been a DJ

148. Shaved your head

149. Caused a car accident

150. Saved someone's life (twice, both children, both drowning. Then someone else had to save my son when it happened to him)

I hope you enjoyed this, I sure did!

If anything catches your eye for a future topic, let me know!


Sunday, November 26, 2006

I'm not really here

But then again, am I?
That is the question I think I have lived with all my life. Am I really here? Is this real?
You may think it's strange, but for me... not so much.

I often find myself sitting somewhere suddenly overcome by the weirdest sensation of unreality, and I'm not just talking about when I fall flat on my face in public.

Long ago bad things happened to me. I was just a kid, and these things ultimately shaped my perceptions about myself. It was much easier for me to believe that life wasn't real. These feelings followed me my whole life, and at times I would be smacked full in the face with my very existence.

Weird huh?! Well, right now I am feeling a sense of unreality due to cold medicine..... :))
But a couple of nights ago I was at dinner with my family when I got that strange sensation that I was floating up away from the table and looking down at myself. A near death experience?? Who knows- that bratwurst was a little off..... All I know is I have to practically pinch myself to make me believe it's all real.

I wonder what it's like to have a normal life. Sometimes I wish I knew, and other times I wouldn't trade my life for anyones. I guess we all feel that way sometimes.
At times I am brought to think of my childhood as a trip through Alice's looking glass. A topsy-turvy, crazy ride. However, where in Alice's world, nothing would ever really harm her, here in my world nothing was quite as it seemed, and peril lay just around the corner, never to be correctly anticipated or foreseen.

What triggered my latest adventure into Unreality Land was a trip to my father's house.
He recently moved back into the house I grew up in in Orange County. I lived there until I was 16, then I moved out to care for a quadraplegic woman- just to get out of that house. I never went back full time after that.
That house is chock full o' memories, mostly of the not so good kind....
I don't want everyone thinking we lived in a pedophile neighborhood, but pretty much that's what it was all about for me growing up.
People weren't open about things like they are now, and abuse (of any kind) that happened behind closed doors, stayed behind closed doors.
I kind of think our street coined the phrase "dysfunctional". The whole block was that way, I am not kidding. It was too weird. I lived on a culdesac and out of the 16 houses on it, I only remember two that were not nutty.

When my stepmother insisted I go next door to see the neighbor lady I have known since childhood, heaven help me, all I could think of was her horrible husband and how hurtful he was to his children and I. I used to have dreams that he was a terrific great hairy black spider sitting on a web in his living room just waiting for unsuspecting kids to drop in. He was truly a dreadful person. So, I got lucky and saw the lady in her front yard, sparing me the trip into the spider's lair. But I was wiping off her perfume smell all the way home. See, she just turned her back on everything that was happening around her while we were growing up. And she had the nerve to tell my husband that she always made a point to invite "little Rachelle" to all her kid's birthday parties.... yea, I have tried to block all those happy memories for years, thanks for reminding me.

So here's where I share a little about my life growing up. My life has been very interesting. Ha!! I laugh at that understatement!! Woo-hoo!

I am really a miracle in the flesh. I was actually the victim of three, yup, three botched abduction attempts. All three times were by a man in a car who tried to get me to get in with him. The last time, the man actually followed me almost all the way home, me yelling at the top of my lungs at him the whole time. That was the first time I ever said a swear word. I told him I'd get in the car when Hell froze over. I was coming home from yet another trip to the pharmacy for my mother's headache medicine.

It scared me half to death. I remember the police coming out for this one, and asking me how my Basset Hound, Tixie was. Everyone knew everyone in the small town I grew up in, and back then, when your dog ran away you could call the police to help you look for it.

Nothing ever happened about that incident that I am aware, and I remember my mother not taking the whole thing very seriously, or at least I didn't think she did. I really have no idea if it was the same man every time.

I was terrified to go to the store after that. And that was a problem because I needed to go there about 5 times a week. Whenever my mom got a headache, I would try to spend as much time outside in my playhouse (mom hated spiders so I was safe out there for the most part) or hiding in my closet as I could, just so I wouldn't have to go to the pharmacy again. Come to think of it, I was in my room most of my childhood! LoL, mom couldn't handle kids too well.

I will share more as time goes on, perhaps some of it is too intense for most of you, but really, I am the person I am now because I survived so much as a child and young adult. I am truly blessed to have a family, children I was told I would never be able to have- I love them so much. A husband who loves me for who I am, and does not hurt me.
A loving relationship with my Father in Heaven. And friends I count dear.
Music in my life, and my precious alpacas.

Life is indeed good!


Saturday, November 25, 2006


okay, now when I tried to place a new picture up, the picture option isn't even there!
All there is in my 'create a post space' is the title and body of post option....

switching to beta

Hi loyal readers,
Today I tried to switch over to beta..... but it wouldn't let me. It said they were only switching a 'limited number' of users over to beta.

What am I, chopped liver??? LOL.....
So, I will try again later.

Meantime, last night the kids and I went to see Happy Feet.
What a riot!!! It was so darn cute, and really funny.
I recommend it highly. Next is Santa Claus 3 (for my hubby, I didn't like the second one)

I am going to try and write every day, even if it is just a paragraph or two of life on the ranch.

Today we breed again..... that doesn't sound right huh? :))
Trying to get my girls all preggo before the 'window' closes and it gets too late in the season. One of them I think has a retained CL, which means the egg is stuck basically.... she thinks she is PG, and her body is producing the PG hormones, but she really isn't- it isn't a viable, fertilized egg.

So, off to the vet today to get some meds to make the egg drop and flush so she can get PG!!

Last night it was already freezing here at 9 pm. Then clouds moved in and it is 38 this morning. I dreamt about snow, and huge pastures, and my crias Heathertoes and Rosie Cotton getting out through a hole in the fence! I ran with them for a while, slipping my fingers through their soft fleece as we dashed along. Then I tricked them back into the pasture! It was very beautiful and peaceful.

Of late my dreams have been troubled. As I mentioned before, I dream very vividly to say the least. And the last few mornings I have awoken with my neck in knots from not relaxing during the night.
How can one expect to be refreshed and vibrant when one has to save the world every night??

I know!! I need a costume! And.... a catchy heroish name!!!
Any ideas?


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

They don't make them like that anymore

Hi everyone,
I just got finished watching one of my favorite movies of all time- White Christmas. I want a dress like Rosemary Clooneys!!
*sigh* what a great movie! Talent, talent, talent.
In those days to be a great actor, you needed talent! You had to be able to sing, dance, and have great comedic timing. Oh, did I mention you actually had to know how to ACT??!!

Danny Kaye is my favorite actor in the world. If I could have met anyone, it would have been him. When life would get out of control, I would always watch a Danny Kaye movie and it never failed to make me smile and feel better. I wish I were that funny!!

Why don't they make movies like that anymore? Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire.... all the greats are gone now, and we lost so much with them.

I love old movies because they are innocent. Where now can we turn to for an hour and a half of pure entertainment without having to cringe from language, close our eyes at indecency, or fast forward through violence. Nowhere it seems.

when I watch a movie, I want to laugh, or cry. I want to have it sweep me off my feet, make me sing or dance.... I want to be moved- not disgusted.

Here are some of my favorite movies:
Beauty and the Beast- Disney- what a beautiful movie!
Up in Arms- Danny Kaye of course, I still bust a gut watching him on the deck of the ship improvising.
Funny Girl- HA-HA!!!! I love this movie- everything about it is fantastic
The Muppets Christmas Carol- yup, I love watching Michael Caine with the muppets, and the story is so well done! I cry every time
The Lion King- Remember who you are....... cool beans
It's a Wonderful Life- what can I say?
Toy Story- come on, who didn't think their toys came to life when they left the room??
Hook- ta! What a great movie!
Calamity Jane- Doris Day, I'll watch anything with her in it! I love the music.
The Court Jester- Danny Kaye again- what a hoot!
The Long Ride Home- Hallmark Movie here- a 2 kleenex box flick for sure. Oh my gosh... then I watched it when my son is 15.... WAAHHHAAA!!!!
The Wizard of Oz- of course!
Sleeping Beauty- the animation is just so beautiful.
Cinderella- because I wanted so much as a girl to have someone sweep me off my feet and carry me away from my cruel home.
The Nightmare Before Christmas- I LOVE Tim Burton- he is as sick and twisted as I am ...... in a good way of course :))
Any of the Bing Crosby- Bob Hope road movies
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy- I was very pleased over all with what they did with my favorite books.
The Paleface- Bob Hope, what a genius
Willow- I do so like Warwick Davis
The Sixth Sense- I love to be scared silly!!
The Village- Cool! I wanna do that!!!!
Finding Nemo- wow, what a beautiful film!
The Incredibles- okay, so I'm a Disney girl!
The Emperors New Groove- LOL!!! I still crack up during this one- and llamas and alpacas? Of course!

Okay... so there are just a few. I love movies- but I don't see rated R movies anymore. The last one I saw was one that I recommend to everyone. A very difficult movie to watch, but ever so important.
Schindler's List- If we will only remember.... always.

Today we got one of our last females bred. Sheesh.... she was so picky! I brought in the male we wanted to breed her to (we'll call him #1), and neither was interested. Then I brought in our second choice, nope... then we brought in a "won't take no for an answer" male just to get her down, and left in #1 so he could "take over" after the other male got her down.... nope. #1 just bit the other male and tried to get him away from her, so I don't know, he could worship her from afar I guess.....
Then I brought in someone we hadn't considered, and voila! She dropped like a rock and a successful breeding took place. So, this will be an interesting combo, I can't wait!

Okay, so Christmas is just around the corner!!! I am so excited!!!! *jumping up and down in her chair* I LOVE Christmas!!!
I am going to set up my village this weekend, and of course the manger is out.
You know, when I lived in Downey I had a teeny-weeny house and all this Christmas stuff. So when we bought this big house I thought; GREAT!! Room for all the Christmas stuff!!
Nope..... still not enough room..... :))
I will put pictures up from the parade we take our pacas in next week- this year it will be at night, so we are looking for battery operated light strings to wrap them in so people can see them LOL.
Till next time- have a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving, and watch Something heartwarming for me, okay?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I'm Alive!!

Just wanted to let everyone know I am still here... just pretty sick. Last time I got this sick I got pneumonia, so keep your fingers and toes crossed for me. Great mental picture there.....
YUCK!! I hate being sick!!!
Here are a couple of pictures until I get well enough to type lengthy prose again LOL.
A sunrise over the mountains last week, and winter last year on the ranch.
I can't wait for snow!!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

o-bla-dee o-bla-daa life goes on.....

Candelo- here with mom who was here for breeding- so shiny!

Ice Princess- one of those who left yesterday. I miss you already honey

Okay, sometimes I think I need two blogs. One for some stuff, and one for other stuff. I mean people are always saying you shouldn't talk about politics or religion on your blog if you want people to read it. Well, I don't buy it. Since my goal in blogging was to share my life with all of you, ignoring something that is a huge part of my life would make my blog a sham. It would be trying to make me something I'm not. Like taking my life and putting into neat little compartments before deciding what to share.
Sheesh, anyone who knows me knows that I am not neat about anything....
So, here we go- but hey! No politics!! :))

This has been a happy/sad week. Yesterday 8 alpacas left my ranch. They were all boarders, and some of them will be greatly missed. Sad.
On the other hand 8 less alpacas means much less work for me, and more time to work with my own alpacas. It brings my total here on the ranch to a manageable level of 14 alpacas and 2 llamas.
Loss of the boarding income is a downside. Sad.
Peace of mind that I only have my own alpacas to worry about on a daily basis. Happy.

Then today, I got released from my calling at church as Primary president. Sad.
........ okay, I am still looking for the happy side of this. I LOVE those kids! I have been doing this for almost 4 years now, and I can't imagine doing anything else. I'm GOOD at this job!

I know this is the Lord's will, but sometimes I wish I could have a face to face with Him- just so I know what's going on! However, that could very well turn into a 20 questions sort of thing, which explains the whole gotta-wait-till-your-dead-to-get-a-face-to-face interview thing.
I mean who has time to answer all of my questions? Certainly not God, he's too busy laughing at my life!! KIDDING!! But seriously, have you seen my life these days?? Sometimes I wonder. I like the plaque that reads: We plan. God Laughs.

I have been in many different places in my church callings. Teaching adults, compassionate services, working with the youth, and of course- with the children. All of these callings have been great. Some have taken me out of my comfort zone... way out.....
Take my calling to be the young women's camp director. Okay, sure...
My teenage years were insane. There was so much abuse and craziness going on in my life that I spent every waking moment trying to numb myself so I didn't have to feel anything. Um, suffice it to say that I didn't spend a whole lotta time at church. It wasn't until I was 25 that I turned into the whole and fabulous woman that I am now. How in the world was I going to lead a bunch of teenage girls in the most spiritual week of the year at camp??
I spent a lot of time with my bishop trying to talk him into the idea that he had made a mistake. He had called the wrong person. He just smiled and said the Lord knew what he was doing, I was in the right place.
Well, he was right... doggone it. The two years I spent as camp director were filled with growth for me. Those girls taught me more about compassion, service, and unconditional love than I had ever known. I even learned that I could be a giggly teenager all over again, for the first time.
I never would have had that personal growth without that calling. When I was released, I cried.
And then I got called into Primary.

You know, it all comes down to this. I don't like change. Change is scary. It means I am not in control of anything, and I don't like it.
Why can't I ever be in control?? It's not fair!! Uh-oh, I feel a tantrum coming on. See!! Primary has gotten me in touch with my inner child!! That's a good thing, right??!!

I also know that another calling is coming to a theater near me very soon. I have been told one is in the works right now. Well, what if I don't like it? What if I'm not good at it?! What if I totally suck at it?!?!
Yup, change sucks like a vacuum on steroids.

My life recently has seemed like a roller coaster. Oh, I know you've heard that one before. But this roller coaster has no brakes and the tracks come to an abrupt end somewhere in the not too distant future. So I know the end of the line is coming, just not when. No control again, see?

This calling was the one constant in my life. The one thing I was certain wouldn't change.
Like I said, we plan, God laughs.

Oh well, time for me to go hug a paca and get over myself. I am as certain as I can be that I will survive this change like I have all the others in my life. At least I know I never have to go back to my childhood and youth. I have a wonderful supportive husband, and two beautiful children. And you.
Take good care of yourselves and I will let you know which hat I will be wearing at church from now on as soon as I do.
Here's hoping it isn't den mother.....

Sunday, October 22, 2006

the future is in good hands

Hi everyone,
Well, in a world increasingly filled with violence, insanity, and generally crazy people, it is nice to know that once a week there is a special place I go with my family that recharges our spiritual batteries.

At church I am the leader of the children's Sunday School. All year my counselors and I work within the established curriculum to teach the teachings of one who knows ever so much more than we do about how to be good, kind, and decent. I am a pretty lucky lady to have this job, I think.

The children learn songs, and each month there is a new theme we follow and lessons that correspond with that theme. In October of each year, the children put on a program that highlights everything we learned throughout the year. And, I am in charge of said program. We don't have a huge production show with lights and orchestra, it is very simple, but we do try to find new ways to improve it each year.

We have about 40 children -give or take a flu- that range in age from 3-11. For lessons they have their own teachers and are divided by ages, and then we all meet for sharing time in which I, or one of my counselors, gives a lesson. These sharing times are divided into to groups, ages 3-7 and 8-11. So each week for sharing time we devise two lessons, because every teacher knows you can't teach the same lesson to 3 year olds that you can to 11 year olds :))

For the annual program, we write up and plan about 45 minutes worth of material, then we attempt to get the children to take it seriously... LOL. So, we have been practicing since the beginning of September. Each week lessons are foregone as we take up the challenge and meet together in the chapel to hammer it all out. Each week we think it will never get done, we worry that kids will not be there, that teachers might not be there, that we might not be there.... oops, not that.

This year was particularly hard leading up to today. Each week we had about 1/4 of the children just not there for various reasons. Scrambling to fill parts, I found myself standing up in front of the podium reading several parts... I don't have a part, but I had 5 or 6 on any given Sunday! Our podium is adjustable, you know, there is someone who makes it go up or down according to the height of the speaker.... but not during the time we practised. I was really, really short there as it was positioned in the 'lower regions' for the kids. :))

While the leaders worry, and the children fidget, we valiantly forge ahead in our quest for the perfect program. Kids get nervous- HA-HA! The older ones skip words and talk so fast you can't understand them, and the younger ones stand there with the deer in the headlights look while you whisper their parts frantically in their ear to no avail. We despair of it ever coming together in a way that can be understood by anyone who speaks English, and trips to the bathroom multiply exponentially as the day draws nearer.

Music is a huge part of the program. The kids learn about 20 new songs a year, and we use at least 12 in our program. Some of the songs the children are really familiar with, and enjoy. Some are more difficult and require more effort from them, and are less enjoyable- read: FUN. If we could sing "Shake my sillys out" or "Once there was a snowman" , or "head, shoulders, knees and toes" for the program- we would be set!

This year there was wonderful music, and the kids really liked just about everything. Only one problem.... when the kids turn 12 they move on to Young Men or Young Women's Sunday School. In the last year we had about 10 children turn 12 years of age. And we had a few new families move in with younger children. Our junior primary out numbered the senior by about 4:1. Wonderful! We love it so much when we get new kids, but boy.... do the dynamics of our program change! LOL, those little children with their sweet, wiggly spirits are delightful.... however learning songs is harder! So the older kids were really pressed to "sing with gusto" Ha-ha

2 weeks ago I just hung my head and gave up. Kids were absent, teachers were absent, pictures weren't ready, songs weren't memorized.... I was going bald.... from pulling out my hair of course.
The older kids are bored, the younger kids are wiggly, no one seems to care at all that the program is RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER!!! Am I the ONLY one who cares???

Then today, the miracle of what it's all about happened. Everything worked. Okay, not everything, but even if it didn't work 100%, it still worked.
The children sang their hearts out, recited their lines like pros- and the tender spirit we worked so hard to portray was there. Their faces were so happy! They taught everyone as only the young can; by showing us the promise of the future. Many a teary eye was present- mine included.

What a joy in my life is my church 'job'. Where else can you hear a child praying for Jesus to bless their teacher to teach them how to love their sister better? Or to help their daddy to remember that "I'm just little sometimes, but I try real hard"?

When I get discouraged and think the world has gone to heck in a handbasket, all I will have to do is remember their sweet faces on this day, and know that the future is in good hands in Frazier Park, CA.
Oh, and the loudest voice to be heard? A 4 year old boy who fidgeted throughout each and every practice. He might not have known all the words, but he sang with gusto! tee-hee

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I am so old.......

Cameron with part of his Celtic group- The Rosebuds- 2006
Everyone loves the man with the water hose- 2002

Okay, favorite line from a movie? Well, one of my many favorites because who can pick just one...
Freaky Friday- the redo:
"Oh, I'm OLD!! I'm like the Crypt Keeper!!!!!"

Today, I'm feeling OLD.

I have always been blessed with just the right "age". When I was young and crazy, I looked older than I was so I could get into places my license said I couldn't. As I have gotten older, I have been blessed with "good skin" so I look younger. But today it is official, I am undeniably old. Is that a wrinkle??? --clunk-- oops, dropped the mouse in shock.

It is my son's birthday, and he turned 15.... 15?! That makes me, um, well, OLD!! Wasn't he just a baby? Didn't I just last year put headphones on my tummy so he could be exposed to Mozart in the womb and be a genius?? BTW, it worked scarily enough... go figure.

A week or so ago I got all weepy and emotional and got out the one and only video tape I have of him as a baby (I almost wrote cria, yikes!) and watched it. Tissue in hand I marveled at how CUTE he was. How little, and, well okay- maybe a 9 lb 14 oz 22 1/2" baby isn't really little, but you know what I mean. He fit in my lap... barely. Now he towers over me, I mean really- at least a foot over me... disgusting that yet again I am the shortest one in my family.

So this blog is for him.
Cameron, you are a joy in my life. No matter how rough your teenage years are, you are a constant source of pride, and belly laughs. I love your sweetness, your talent for music, and your faith. Your inate goodness. And your sense of humor. You make me laugh kid.

When you were 7 months old and could point out Grover in the story book, I was amazed. When you were 15 months old and learning your numbers, and would constantly plop the 'number' book in my lap to learn more, I was shocked. When you were 17 months old and could identify every shape in the shape book (including some I didn't recognize) I was a little terrified.... How could I possibly keep up? Then came the reading of books at 4 years old, and the totally ecstatic kindergarten teachers when you went to school that first day and they figured out that you really were reading the Pledge of Allegiance from the poster on the wall. The look on your grandmother's face when she realized you were actually reading Harold and the Purple Crayon ( I think it was the dream one) and didn't just have it memorized was priceless. You couldn't dress yourself without help, but you could read a mean novel.

Sure enough, in 10th grade you are far beyond me in all things mathematical.... okay, in third grade you were really, but let's not tell anyone that okay? And your memory for numbers, well, that certainly didn't come from me. That selective memory thing you got going on? You know, when it comes to chores and things work related,,,, that you got from me.
Your truly amazing ability to pick up a musical instrument, and in an hour have it down is astounding.

I love how we can still talk for hours, about everything. Love that.

I love you son, I am proud of you, and I want you to know that each and every day with you in my life is a blessing from our Heavenly Father.

To the President of the Paca Poop Picker Upper Society- or do you prefer to be called "Fertilization Specialist"??
This one's for you baby.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A picture of my family taken in 2001
Note the hair.... okay, maybe don't note.....

Saturday, October 07, 2006

I'm ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille....

Okay loyal readers,
In my brilliance, I decided to post just a little bit of my 'story' with each picture, in the hopes of breaking up the "20 pictures with no text" blogs I've been doing lately. Good idea, except for the fact that I should have posted them BACKWARD in order for you to get the story from the beginning to the end.... So, read "Mountain in the Mist" first, then read upwards..... make sense to anyone else?
Hmmmm... actually, when you think about it..... it does in a weird sort of blogging way.... Ouch, I think I hurt myself
Really, life shouldn't be this complicated. I need Tylenol, anyone got any Tylenol?? How about a stiff drink?? Oh, I don't drink.......... well, how about a stiff diet soda????? - sigh-it's just not the same is it?
Okay, now I'm off to direct my next film. Here's the star- BMAR's Arwen Undomiel.I hope this all makes sense, and that I will get a clue, seriously...... soon.

Flowers I love

Side note: when we visited about 6 months after we moved, the whole yard had been dug up and there was only a few scrawny plants left up next to the house.... it was devastating. Our neighbors couldn't believe what she had done. It looked like just another track home. We figure she dug up and threw out about 9 rose bushes.... I never went back, too hard!Then we moved up here- 20 acres!! Woo-hoo!!!!! Room to plant everything I ever wanted! But, we didn't know that our land came with an unlimited supply of gophers too.... so we lost almost all of the rose bushes we had brought up. I say all this not to make anyone feel sorry for us, but to impress how much we love our flowers :)) We learned to plant everything in a cage. I am still learning after 7 years what will grow in our short seasons, and what won't. After living in Downey where if you stuck it in the ground, it grew- It was quite a blow to my horticultural thumbs when things actually died! I never though it was possible, I planted it, it should grow and thrive!! LOL, -- slap-- wake up call!
So, here are my successes, all dewy and fresh in all their early morning splendor.

Codi's Rose

I love flowers, gardening and plants. We have always had a garden, when we lived in Downey we were on a busy street and people used to stop and take pictures of our front yard. The yard was carefully landscaped with walkways between the roses, and perennial beds all around. Roses, bulbs, and annuals filled the front yard. In the back the kids play area was slowly decreased as the size of our garden grew. I grew everything! It was lovely, fresh herbs and veggies....When we moved up here we dug up several rose bushes and brought them with us, they were very precious to us, being part of a test garden- the ones that weren't chosen to market to the public were named after my children. We left the rest of our beloved rose garden there. The lady who bought the house assured us if she was considering digging anything up she would tell us so we could come down and get it ourselves. This is my daughter Codi's rose. An old English variety, it starts out with a pale apricot color, and then erupts into the fiery colors of the sunset as it unfolds. Kind of like my daughter :)) calm on the outside, but don't get her riled up!

Sunset Rose

So, it actually rained a little bit in the morning, just enough to tell us that the roofing patch job my hubby did isn't working... so, it rained in our house as well. -- sigh -- It has been about 2 years now that we have had a hole in our roof. So I got depressed and decided to go outside to take pictures to cheer me up.

Mountain in the Mist

You know, I may not be very good at it, but I love to take pictures. There is something about pictures that is more eloquent than any words. The times I have been most moved in my life all have to do with either something I have seen, like a photo, or something I have heard- like music. I guess that means I don't fit in either the 'audio' or 'visual' group, but both! Maybe I am just strange... er, move to strike that last remark your honor. So, after taking a break from writing, because at times words fail to bring inspiration, I am going to share some photos and then talk about them!

Yesterday it was "Mountain in the Mist" time. This time of the year we here in our canyon get to walk around with our heads in the clouds.... as if I don't do that all the time, but I digress.....We get 'socked in' in low flying clouds and it is misty and wet outside. So, here is a picture of what our front yard looks like. Hmmm, I have a brilliant idea!!! "Alpacas in the Mist".... sounds like a great movie!! We'll get Peter Jackson to direct!!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

power outages totally stink....

Hi there,
So, this post was supposed to be all about why we raise alpacas. In fact, I had a long, very nicely worded post all written out, including pictures! I was in the process of moving my mouse down to the 'publish post' button..... when the power went out.
Yup, it started drizzling, so we lost power. If we sneeze too loudly, we lose power. If the wind blows, we lose power. Yes, even if we slam the door too loudly, we lose power. (okay, not really but it seems like it!!)

That's what we get for being at the end of the PG&E line.

So, here I am, so not in the mood to rewrite right now :))
Here is my Gil Galad ((bad hair alert!!! The 2-legger, not Gil)), fair maven previously written about, and first born on our ranch. My sweetheart on four legs, giving me kisses. This picture was taken by Casey Christie of the Bakersfield Californian. They came out in 2004 and wrote an article about our ranch, and Gil was the star.
This is one reason we raise alpacas, so I can get my fuzzy fix LOL. There's nothing like paca kisses to brighten up your day.

Here is a picture of our stud Mithrandir- The Gray Pilgrim's first cria!! I am so excited, I can't tell you. Her owner has wanted a gray cria for 6 years, and Mithrandir gave her her first one :)) She is beautiful!
And so funny that her owner was all the way down here (from up near Sacramento) picking up another female who was here for breeding when it happened. She told me "I bet Cat's gonna have her baby today, while I'm gone!" and sure enough that's how it went.

Okay, why didn't that insert the picture HERE?? Where I told it to??? -- sigh -- someday I will figure out how to actually blog...

So, our little black baby born on my birthday - BTW her name is BMAR's Rosie Cotton :))- is doing great. Cute as can be, excellent fiber and such a sweetie. And what a comfort to me after last week.

I think I can write about what was hurting my heart last week now. On Sunday September 24, I went outside to do a routine check and found one of our female alpacas dead. It was the mom of the little white cria I wrote about (his picture with his mouth open). So, of course I was totally freaked out, there was nothing wrong with her that we could see, no signs of a struggle- she had hay in her mouth (had been eating last time I looked) wasn't sick, nothing at all to indicate what happened. I tried to revive her, but couldn't. Her little one was freaked out as well, and after resuscitation failed, we had to take her away from him and put her somewhere safe until we could get her to the state lab the following morning for a necropsy. A necropsy is an autopsy for animals.

I couldn't believe it when I saw it, my mind just couldn't comprehend what I was seeing. I thought she was just laying in a weird position, that she was sleeping heavily, that I could easily bring her back....

All her herd mates came over to see what I was wailing about after I found her. I did wail, loud and long. I was so sad, and it seemed to help the rest of the herd to weep with me. Not a lot of time to lose it though, there was this wee little one to take care of. He was only 2 weeks old, and didn't understand what had happened. He needed to be fed, and watched closely to make sure he didn't hurt himself trying to find his mom.

Remember that post about loss I wrote? It was right after this happened. That was me standing in the wind with my soul in tatters asking why....

Remember how I wrote about how some crias will fight supplementation, because they want mom? That you have to literally force it, and then sometimes they just give up? Well, not this guy. It took him a few days to figure out mom wasn't coming back, and food was from now on coming from a bottle, but he DID get it thank God. He is now taking supplementation without a fight, and has maintained his weight, and even gained a little bit in the week since his momma died.

Poor little one, it just breaks my heart... how hard I will fight for him to keep alive and well!

So after the necropsy, we look at the results to see what happened. What went wrong? How do we fix it? God forbid, if we did something wrong, how do we make sure it never happens again?
Well, nothing was wrong. Nothing was abnormal, nothing unusual, nothing....
So, sometimes things happen. The pathologist who did the necropsy said it's like that with people, sometimes they just die and there's nothing to say why they did.
So, it is kind of a weird thing. On the one hand, no disease, no parasites, no toxins. No heart trouble, no stomach trouble, nothing.
Other hand, what happened??

So, sad times. A stunningly beautiful alpaca dead long before her time. A little orphaned cria having to go through life alone.
This is the first time this has happened to us. We have lost new crias in the past- who have been premature, or sick. Lost our Bob the Llama when he got old and sick.... but never an adult, a momma, a healthy thriving alpaca.

Sometimes when something happens like this, the rest of the herd shuns the little one. Especially when all the other females in the pen are moms with newer crias. Little ones who have lost their mommas miss out on that momma lovin they would normally get. They get depressed and lonely and just give up.
Enter my Osita. She has a 4 month old female cria, who is almost as big as her mom now (super Jersey Cow Osita!). Osita won't let the little guy nurse on her, but she has let him join her 'family'. She lets him rub up against her neck, and tolerates his rough housing. Her cria lets him play nurse on her, and isn't jealous of him. He sleeps squoze in between them both. He is able to get that much needed physical alpaca contact so vital to his wellbeing. Even for Osita this is unusual behavior. She doesn't tolerate other crias around her (on a regular basis anyway) at all.... usually.

So, between the 2 leggers feeding him physically, and Osita feeding him emotionally- the little guy has a good chance. As time goes on all of our broken hearts will heal, although with a piece missing.

Thanks for letting me share this with you. As soon as I get another picture of the little guy I will post it.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Picture of our newest arrival! Born yesterday, on my birthday the smart girl- and a lovely little thing she is.
All in all it was a great birthday, I got a female cria- and hubby got a job! Woo-hoo and pass the sparkling cider!!

This is the last cria of the year for us. And just in time for fall- which can get mighty cold up here.
I thought I would share a couple of funny email stories I have shared with others over the years.
As for the sari incident referred to here, that will have to wait for another day :))

This happened last year- seriously...
Okay Kat, so I will share yet the latest story in a series of embarrassing moments in my life...
The other day, the dogs start barking and my daughter says she sees a truck in the driveway. The main driveway goes all the way around our house, and we get lost people at our place all the time. Usually they pull up to the beginning of the drive around, see the house, and say oops! Then back down the road they go. Sometimes they drive up, see the alpacas, and decide to stop and looky-loo :)

This time they drove to "The Blind Spot"- the one spot on my driveway not visible from any windows in the house. So I go out the front door, after throwing on some thongs (in my jammies), and start the walk down the drive. No one there! So as I start walking back, yes, I was just WALKING, I promptly do some strange foot-slip-off-the-side-of-the-shoe thing and down I go.... all the way to the ground. Not one graceful bone in my body have I, and when I go down, it is a sight to see (so I am told, having just done a face plant - literally- off my bike in the stream a couple of days ago riding with my daughter...)

Seeing as how I was really surprised, having let out a whoop that made the machos in the boys pen run away in fright, and not too sure I was all in one piece, I lay on my back just making sure there were no compound fractures, and thinking "Boy, I am sooo glad there wasn't anyone here!" when a shadow falls over me, and this very tall, very handsome guy, trying hard not to smirk too much, asks if I am all right... Seems they got out of the truck after parking around the other side of the house. See, they saw the 'llamas' from the road and just decided to drop by.......

This wouldn't be too bad if I already hadn't lived through the wasp in the sari incident, or the visitor at the sliding door with me in my towel incident....
I have decided I have suffered enough humiliation and embarrassment in my life and falling down is getting to be too hard on my body at my age. My children can't believe I say that! I mean, where will they get all their belly laughs if not from their clutzy mom???

And this one, written last Spring after I quit my job -and in response to someone else who just had- to raise alpacas full time:
Why Chris of course you are a nutcase!! We all are! Don't you listen to/read everything out there about alpaca owners? You have to be nuts to spend every penny you have on a bunch of fuzzball long necked sheep!!!
We are all looney to spend hours laying on the ground just to get a glimpse of a preggo's udder.
Crazy we are to await our cria births with as much anxiety as we (the women) did our first born child!
Bonkers we are to call and write to everyone we know telling them about the birth of our first (or 100th) cria!
Off our rockers are we who, instead of pictures of our own flesh and blood, carry multiple photo albums with 'baby' pictures of our herd!
Wacko are we who, instead of working our tails off at some high paying job drop everything to live the alpaca lifestyle!!
Yep, I quit my day job Tuesday, it is official, I am certifiably a nutcase.

Here is one that was a bit more serious. Asked why we do this by an actual breeder who was going through some trouble at the time, the original email sparked a furious debate among other breeders and wannabe breeders about the pros and cons of alpaca ownership. This was my response- also last year right about this time:

Hi all,
Just back from an exhausting turn at the Kern County Fair. The older I get the harder it gets to hold up well at these long events :)) Reading all of the anxiety and questioning of everything and everyone, so thought I would share some thoughts, forgive me if I ramble a bit.

After setting up our display tables, hooking up electric fans for our displaced mountain pacas (got down to Bakersfield and the heat was back up to 100 degrees, well, they call it Bako for a reason.. LOL) hanging up product, putting out educational literature and the ever present all time favorite editions of Alpacas Magazine, trying to answer attendees questions at the same time, I again get my fix of what this business is all about.

Never mind the drunk guy banging on the panels calling to the alpacas, when he started spitting at them he crossed the line and I had to let him have it, politely of course. Never mind the hundreds of times I had to say: "No, they won't spit at you. No, they aren't baby llamas. No, they don't bite. No, they aren't camels (exactly). They don't like to be touched on the head. Please don't climb on the panels. Please don't feed them anything but our pellets." (the last 2 were lessened a bit by signs we made and placed all over this year)

Never mind the heat, the stress, the expensive food, loud music, rodeo dust, and bleating sheep, allergies and asthma, the losing of one's voice from speaking to thousands of people.... let's get to what it's really all about.

Getting to spend the days hands on with my best group of paca boys, with one new 'trainee' in the mix is worth it. Rebonding with my boy Gil-Galad, first cria born on the ranch, and best PR paca in the world. We share a special bond he and I. He is able to derive comfort from my presence, to calm himself and ease any anxiety he might be feeling, and I too am calmed by his presence. Our routine is for me to ask him to stand still so I may approach him, then he nuzzles my neck until he is ready to go on and be handled by the public. If he doesn't want to be handled, he will turn himself away from me after the nuzzle. Sometimes I am able to turn him around by a series of command and touch sessions (I ask him to touch, he puts his nose in my hand, repeat) but, there are times when he has had enough and it is someone elses turn, I can respect that.

To think that he remembers this routine even though he might sometimes only attend 4 or 5 such events a year is astounding to me. That he respects me enough to trust me totally with his care and handling at noisy, crowded, stressful times like these is something to wonder at. That he is such a good example to the other pacas there, who try as hard as they can, but just can't quite be as good as he is at this, is amazing. That he responds so well that he moves into the exact position I ask him to without even touching him is amazing to me.

Perhaps something rubs off, our new suri boy went to the fair for his first event, he too was able to derive comfort from me and bolster himself for all the attention. By the end of the event he had even stopped being so 'kicky' and enjoyed head rubs from everyone to the delight of all the very young children who really think they are just big doggies. Our youngest 14 month old Earendil was able to stand for me without running 4 out of 5 times, good odds for only his second event. Rewards are offered of course for good behavior. Time outs and a 'talking to' for anyone who gets spitty when it is time for kids to feed.

Sitting in the pen with my boys cushed all around me is one of my most favorite things. Hmmmm............... Better than crias pronking all around me? Hard to top sitting with my home girl Osita and having her labor at my feet and give birth right next to me. The sight of a special needs child so afraid to touch a paca, finally reach out and make that first contact, then the joy spreads over their face at their accomplishment. The toddler laughing hysterically as one of the pacas eats pellets from his stroller tray. That new cria who braves the fierce and wild jungle house cat and chases her out of the pen to leap and dash back to tell mom, "See what I did mom?!" The young man we met at the fair this weekend who came back day after day, asking new questions all the time... he wants to start FFA with a paca, he was hooked. That man who spent an hour perusing through AM, asking great husbandry questions and talking with me about breed standards and the crazy fads the cattle and sheep industry have gone through. "Not that I'm gonna ever have any, but what about....?" he would ask, over and over..... yep, he's caught the fever, he just don't know it yet! Seeing all your moms nursing and clucking to their crias all at the same the dinner bell rang.... pretty cool stuff. Wouldn't trade it for anything, not blue ribbons, not a full page spread in the FRG, not the Binford 3000 sure shot grand champion maker, not nothin.

Someone asked, why are we doing this? I'm sorry you don't know already, and I will rejoice with you when you figure it out.

Okay, enough for now. LOL, this is getting to feel like a "best of" show and I am certainly not talented enough for that!

This has been a very trying week. Someday, when my heart is healed a bit more, I will share the story, but for now, thank you for being out there, and letting me share a little bit of my life with you.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

lost posts and Mondays

Here are the pictures to go with the blog below...
Oy, the blog that was deleted somehow from the drafts file........
For some reason I can't upload pictures in the morning, or when there is text in the box on a regular basis, maybe it's Monday in cyberspace all the time.
It's Monday here today for sure. I will repost the original post (now I'm getting confused!) tomorrow, tonight I need to sleep. Sleep without dreaming of some guy who rubs lotion on my feet while I'm eating lunch.... weird and kind of creepy, but it didn't seem weird in the dream, just a nice thing for him to do.
Hubby got a real kick out of that one!! I told him perhaps it was my subconscious desire for foot rubs that manifested itself in my dream. He says maybe I just woke myself up by rubbing my rough dry feet together and that segued into the dream sequence..... tonight I'm gonna wake him up in the middle of the night, but not with my dry feet, I was thinking maybe an ice cube would do the trick.

So, in case some bug eats my post tomorrow, I will explain who these cute critters are. The little on is Myrdd- means Merlin in Welsh. His paca family thinks hay is great fun to carry around all day. Seeing as alpacas don't have pockets, where else do you carry such a valuable and precious item but in your mouth? Seriously, 2 sisters, a brother and a cousin all did the same thing. Too cute. I have one where all you can see is his eye. I think he was trying to look through the camera lense, the wrong way! He is home with his momma now as he was just visiting whilst his momma got bred. Talk about a farm education....

The other is my Hally-Boo. Born on Halloween and a special girl to me. Had a rough start in life and came to us doing very poorly on account of her momma didn't wanna be a momma. So we bonded and even though she didn't belong to us at that time, she does now. So here she is in all her "after my haircut" glory. Of course that would be the hair on the rest of her body, not her head. She brushes up against the street sweeper brush in the pen and creates this lovely doo. Once I swear she was looking at old 80's magazines because she had managed to get her topknot into a Flock of Seagulls look that totally rocked! She is due to give us a second female (think pink, think pink) the beginning of October. I can't wait for that one, she finally got a date with her childhood sweetheart and that breeding is gonna create a beautiful cria.

Speaking of the 80's, why isn't there music like that now? Okay, I'm old admittedly, but I really miss those cool one hit wonder 80's bands. I am really glad my son who is 15 (in a few weeks!) likes the same kind of music I do. His taste is really as eclectic as mine- but doesn't include Black Flag or the Violent Femmes thank heavens (what was I thinking??) DO you know I once got my hair pulled at a Dead Kennedy's concert? I wouldn't cut it short, so I got it pulled a lot. I had this great friend whose name was Corky and he stood behind me after it happened enough times so I wouldn't go bald! Too funny... witch boots, cammo and gold hairspray... sigh... those were the days!
My daughter would have fit into the 80's perfectly. She is totally related to me, she has the coolest most unique sense of style. If earrings still came one long and one short she would be all over them. :))
BTW, I was wearing them like that before that was even cool! LOL

Well, enough rambling. Take good care and see you tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Pictures of the smoke from the other day... yuck!!

a dog's life

here is a picture taken from my dog's perspective. Fatty Lumpkin on the chair, his momma Tequila (didn't name her don't write me letters) and Jack "The Dog" who's actually a cat.

Don't I wish I could be like them? Laying in a sunbeam, nothin' to worry about. I would trade with them in a heartbeat right now, just for right now.

Note the look of consternation on Lumpy's face, "Should I go down there and lay with mom?" I am mom, his biological mother merely serves as a chew toy and romper playmate. He is the dog of my heart, knows when I am sad and blue, whenever I cry, even if I am at the other end of the house and he can't possibly hear me, he is there. Uncanny really.

Sad I am. Hard life is right now. Yoda I sound like...... a light saber he would smack me with if heard me he did. Okay, totally too corny, but I do tend to sound like the Jedi master when I am depressed.

Life is difficult at the present time, hubby laid off for the second time in 5 years. Getting older and it isn't so easy to bounce back. Also, what do you do? Take the job that pays you 60% less but has health insurance? Or stay on unemployment for a little while longer (which pays better) and hope something better is found? 26 years in the printing industry, and now your job is becoming obsolete. What do you do when you are 48? Start over? Difficult that would be.

My biggest fear in life is that I will wake up and all this beauty and loveliness (read, my life here in the country) will have disappeared and I will be living in the city again without my beloved animals.

--sigh-- depressed I am.... tired I am too, and I hate whiny people -myself especially- so I am off to play Final Fantasy X-2 and forget all about my troubles for a while.
Tell me my friends across the pond; does "woot!" mean the same as our "Woo-hoo!"? Curious in CA....
Love to you all,