2012 was our first full year on the farm. We closed on the property in August 2011, worked on shelter and fencing and were able to have our alpacas transported to their new home in November, 2011. I’m sure you can imagine that 2012 was a year full of fun, excitement, challenges, mistakes and even a heartbreak or two. Below is a recap of what went on at Parsons’ Prairie Farm in 2012:
I have to say, I was a little surprised that we did not already have cats living around the barns when we purchased the farm. But since we didn’t see a cat anywhere the first few months, we adopted Willie & Nillie to be our barn managers.
They settled in quite nicely in the hay barn and endeared themselves to the alpacas almost immediately. It was not uncommon to find one of them resting comfortably in the alpacas hay trough or snoozing on top of the hay bales. Nillie has always been very social, but Willie was a little on the wild side. Willie, named after Willie the Wildcat, (yes we are K-State fans!), was never quite able to completely call it home here. He would wander and sometimes we would not see him for days at a time. When he was around, he tended to be very territorial, particularly in the garden so you had to watch out that he wasn’t waiting to pounce. Eventually, he went on one of his “wanders” and we haven’t seen him since. We hope he is ok and has found a home that he felt more settled in. He is a beautiful cat!
I had such big plans for our first season of gardening, but the heat and drought of the summer changed our plans a bit. We had such a large garden, so many berry bushes and fruit trees that it was just impossible to keep it all watered. We got some wonderful onions, snap peas, lettuce, radishes and spinach before the horrible heat set in. Our tomatoes did pretty good, but our peppers suffered a little bit. We had some nice green beans but probably not as many as we could have had it not been so hot and dry. We planted a nice strawberry bed, and while we lost a few of those plants, I believe they will be fine and fill in for next year. We had wonderful blackberries, but lost all the new blueberry bushes we planted. Our corn did not do nearly as well as we had hoped, but what we did get was delicious. I told myself last summer that I had bit off more than I could chew, at least more than I could keep watered in the horrible heat. Despite it not being the best year for a garden, we have had plenty of blackberry cobber, blackberry jam, apricot jam, sloppy joe mix, stewed tomatoe mix, rotel, and corn this winter.
We survived our first shearing day at the farm. Jeff and I have worked at many shearing days at other farms but this was the first for us at our own place. I will not lie and tell you it was a perfect day, nor even close. But we got it done and learned much in the process. We had some wonderful help and I can’t even tell you what a relief it was to look out in the pastures and see all those naked alpacas! I know with the heat we had last summer that they were happy too.
In September we came home from our local feed store with 8 chicks. I had been studying for months and desperately wanted hens for eggs. I really wasn’t planning on doing anything until this spring, but the opportunity arose and we jumped at it. We lost one of them the first night but otherwise they all made it just fine. Unfortunately 2 of the 7 chicks have started crowing in the last couple of weeks, so obviously they won’t be laying me any eggs. We remodeled the old chicken coop in our backyard and added an outdoor space for them. In a few weeks, we plan to start letting them roam the backyard while we are home and hopefully, if they can get enough daylight, will start laying eggs soon.
In November, 6 more alpacas arrived from Oregon. Alpaca Jeff, Cordelia, Mari, Buttercup, Alcatraz, and Sweet Pea all got off the transport and have just fit right into life on our farm.
Parsons’ Prairie Farm Fiber CSA was officially started although I still have much marketing work to do. I have started with the 2012 clip and will shortly announce the plans for the 2013 clip.
We lost Wrigley in 2012. I don’t know if it was the heat, if there was something else going on that we weren’t aware of, or maybe a combination of the two. But on a very hot day, Jeff found Wrigley already passed in the barn. It broke our hearts.
Wrigley was, in many ways the alpaca face of Parsons’ Prairie Farm. He was a beautiful fleeced animal, handsome, and with the sweetest temperament in the world. Many of you who have bought roving from me, dyed or natural, received Wrigley’s fiber. Wrigley loved nothing better than to be dirty! If there was a puddle to be found, he was in it….any loose hay to be had, he was wearing it. I searched and searched for the best picture of Wrigley and honestly, the picture above is about as clean as Wrigley ever was as full grown alpaca. The picture below is Wrigley as a cria. This is how I will always remember him.
We had our first annual “Open Farm” on December 2nd and it was a wonderful day. We did not intend to have it that late in the year, but we had so many personal obligations during the year, it just never seemed to fit in. I don’t know how we got so lucky, but we were blessed with a beautiful 60 degree day. It was a wonderful day to be at the farm. Those that came were able to get up close and interact with the alpacas (Alpaca Jeff stole the show), wander about the farm, check out the chickens and take a look at the farm products that come from our beautiful fiber animals. We are already planning and looking forward to our 2nd annual farm day in 2013. We hope you will join us.
We hope you had a wonderful 2012 and thank you for allowing Parsons’ Prairie Farm to be a small part of it.
Jeff & Kim Overbey