Saturday, June 30, 2007

Gone but not forgotten...

Photograph copyrighted by: Wyatt Black

Okay.... I am here! I was gone for a few days, now I am back. And you all certainly are NOT forgotten!!

The next brilliant and inspiring (HA-HA excuse me while I choke!!) post will manifest itself this weekend, I promise!

Till then, I leave you with a photo taken in Yosemite by my wonderful husband.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Motherhood is easy and fun

Okay Sarah, I stole this idea from you..... yup, I'm a thief.

I keep telling myself this over, and over. It's a breeze! Being a mom is the best job in the world!!
It's so rewarding/fullfilling/heartwarming..... whatever.
Ya, and if I click my heels three times the Good Fairy will give me a million dollars.
More likely the Wicked Witch of the West will break out her flying monkeys.

Which by the way is my new saying:

"Don't make me break out my flying monkeys!!!"

Most of the time I feel like that green lady up there on the top, without the green makeup. That no matter how hard I try to be a good mother, I always end up coming across as the Wicked Witch of the West, or, is that Lebec...?

Sometimes I wonder why my kids aren't ax murderers or living under a bridge somewhere talking to their imaginary cat. That's not to say that they won't eventually....

With a not so great example of parenthood to draw from, my limits are constantly being tested. I determined before I ever had children to NOT raise them the way I was raised. No whippings, no verbal abuse, no yelling and screaming. Not making THEM be the parent while I had a breakdown. Well, okay on numbers one, two and four, but the yelling? Not so much..... I think my kids are ready to install a mute button on mom!

How do those people do it? You know the ones, they always maintain their cool, never raise their voices, never lose their tempers.
Personally I think they aren't real. Maybe they are super advanced androids, that's my theory anyway.

Perhaps it was just my week of having 5 teens in my home that brought this all on, who knew teenage girls could eat so much?? Or talk so loud?? Or squeal like that??

I don't know, it's my opinion that any mother who has more than one teenager living in their home at one time should get a 2 week paid vacation. Let's make the government pay for it. We'll call it "No Mothers In Institutions". Kind of like the "No Child Left Behind" program, right?
Only we get an all expenses paid vacation. With a "No children within 25 miles guarantee".

Sounds great, I'll start the petition.

Seriously, I have great kids, but they are 15 and 13, and even the best kids at those ages cause their parents to go bald. From us yanking out hanks of hair.......
Between the brain cells lost during pregnancies, and the hair loss from the teenage years, then the sleep deprivation when they start driving and dating, we'll all be senile, bald monkeys by the age of 50. Oh, joy..... something to look forward to!

I know, I know, probably my kids will turn out just fine despite my lack of perfect parenting skills. But until then, anyone gotta banana? What were we talking about????
*muttering* where's my wig............

Ha! Love you kids! :))

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Alpaca Shearing- a blessing or torture??

All photographs copyrighted by: Rachelle and Codi Black

Ha! Well, we here at Black Magic Alpaca Ranch have been very, very busy lately. All about shearing in a bit but first... After Wyatt, myself, Cameron and Codi worked for two days straight stuffing cds- ta-da! Their second edition printing of The Rosebuds cd is officially finished! Last weekend my children had a huge gig they have been working towards all year. In front of about 500 people from all over the country at our cousin's BMW motorcycle rally. Check out his website here: for a really cool idea. Jim and Steph are great people, and now they have a cutie patootie little girl in their family! It was a great time, and here are some pictures:

They did great! They played along with the help of their teacher's 50's band (who just happened to be able to fill with a little Celtic music) since two of their band mates bailed out at the last minute...... ARGH don't get me started. Anyone else out there think personal responsibility and committment have gone into the toilet? A show of hands - - - I thought so, I couldn't possibly be the only one out there who is seeing this disturbing trend. Nuff said.

The kids both play multiple instruments. In this gig they got to shine! Cameron played the guitar (his usual instrument for the band) and the Irish whistle. Codi got to play her flute as well as her Irish whistle. They got to sell some of their cds and had a good time.

Now, on to shearing! We shear our alpacas once a year, and in some circles of our industry, shearing day is known as "Hell Day"- and for good reason! We have 17 alpacas and two llamas right now. We also had two alpacas and two llamas that came up here for shearing. Last year we had two separate days because we had so many, but this year we did it in one.

It is hard, grueling work shearing. We start at about 8:30 am, and it isn't over till about 5 pm. It helps if you have a good shearer, and we do. Brett and A.J. work together when they come up, and we are so glad to have them. It is great when your shearer is also a friend, and has a great sense of humor! You can't get through the day without a good laugh or ten. Brett is a great guy and we love him. You also need baggers, sorters, herders and servers. And someone who can keep my head from exploding. Enter Cathy, my veteran helper, Vickie, and Darlene- Brett's grandma. With help from the kids Jonathon, Austin, Cameron, Codi and Matt as well- we have a good team.
Thanks guys, we couldn't do it without you!!

So, here's how it's done. The night before, I make out 3x5 cards with all the paca's names, and "P" for prime fleece, and "L & N" for leg and neck fleece, or what we call seconds. I also draw up syringes with worming medicine, and their annual vaccinations according to their weight and age. Imminently due pregnant females, or those in their first or last 30 days of pregnancy do not get anything. Too risky. Everything gets documented in their files later.

Brett and Aj work together to lay the alpaca gently down on it's side, then stretch them out and tie one front and one back leg. One person takes the head down and hold the head and neck while AJ takes the middle. You really need to hold their heads well, because with those long necks they can get the leverage to really cause some chaos! I don't have any wrestling matches on film this year, but sometimes getting the really scared and larger males down can be challenging to say the least. Then Brett shears off the 'trash fleece' around the tail, butt, tummy and chest, and then takes off the blanket on that side as seen in the photo above of my Hally-Boo.

That is quickly gathered and then the leg and neck fleece comes off. With that bagged the paca is flipped and the whole process is repeated.

While they are down, I trim teeth, use my alpaca hairstyling skills (shown below on Arwen) to trim up their topknots, and generally check them over physically.

Everyone gets their hands on the preggo's bellys for a quick feel of a foot, or elbow and we are careful to be quick and gentle to minimize stress.
Spit rags over the nose for those of the more cranky persuasion get nice and green before the day is through! And if they slip, or we aren't fast enough, whoops! You get green and stinky too! This year it was Cameron's turn :))

Llamas like my Angie shown above, are shorn standing- unless they really fight it. They are really too big to take down. Angie is a really good girl :))

Lastly I give their injections, one more kiss and they are up and back to their pens!

Here are a couple of before and after shots:

Earendil before ( this is last year)

After! No more fuzzball. Long skinny necks abound, and everyone looks much, much erm.... smaller!

This is Heathertoes this year. Brown on the outside.....

Beautiful dark gray (picture doesn't do it justice!) underneath! I love it when that happens!
Us oldies have pains in places we never even knew we had. Muscles sore, brains fried- we put on a big barbecue for all our great helpers. And we feast!
Then, after the up and down, up and down, wrestle and bend, pull and slip, trip and fall of shearing- everyone is ready for a nap and a long shower! The pacas run right out and roll, roll, roll! Then they lay in the sunshine and soak it all up. Happy to have all that hot scratchy fleece off, they pronk merrily in the evening twilight and enjoy a feast of their own.
Hope you enjoyed this day in the life of an alpaca rancher!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

to sleep...... perchance to...???

I am living life. It is not too exciting, nor too boring. I have a new husband and we have two children. There is the fun of discovering each other and ourselves, and everything seems to be fine, just fine.

Soon I find myself sinking. I ask my new husband, didn't we....? How many times have we ................? Didn't we already say/do that? I begin to do things that are out of character. I remember parties, wild parties. Dark events swim to the surface, did I REALLY do that? No one sees me, am I really here? Am, I crazy?

My children begin to look at me oddly, as if I am there, but not really there. I am heavy. Once, I am at the sink peeling something with a knife when I simply stop functioning properly. I begin to peel my finger instead, and my child beside me starts to scream. I watch the blood spiral down the drain with indifference. Could I hurt my child?? Getting heavier.

Hard to remember, I find myself in the corner a lot. Staring at the wall. My family drags me to their various functions muttering about how I'm not trying, (why doesn't she snap out of it? She's just faking it...?) and then, not caring... or, unable to see me any longer?

Heavier, heavier.... until the weight is unbearable and I bow to it. My body bent, I stand in the corner with my arms drooping down nearly to the ground. Eventually the effort required to hold my mouth closed is too much. I begin to drool. ((help me)) Doesn't anybody see??

Time passes, I wonder how to shed this burden, this unbearable weight that presses down upon my shoulders and causes me to lose my dignity, my humanity, my...... ((help me?))

Finally my husband SEES me. He discusses it with my children, as if it were only recently discovered, this MALADY of mine. Concerned. Desperate.
He makes a phone call, and I feel..... relief.

This was the dream I had last night. So many interpretations. Depression, fear, the weight of the world, sadness? Perhaps.
Strangely enough, I didn't feel particularly depressed or sad, or anything this morning after the dream.
Just another one of Rachelle's weird dreams I thought... :))
Wow, tonight- to sleep.... perchance to.... forget that, just to sleep- please!!