A Fiber Farm Blog

Posts tagged ‘alpaca’

Early Spring on the Farm

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We are preparing for spring on the farm and it is a crazy, busy time!  It was an unusual winter here……..warm and dry, with only a couple of inches of snow all winter.  We finally got some rain this past week and are anticipating more this week.  Hopefully we are coming out of this dry spell.  With so much going on around here, I will try my best to keep you updated.

Garden

I got my spring garden planted last week.  Jeff had the garden all tilled and generously spread with alpaca poop.  I planted turnips, beets, spinach, lettuce, onions, carrots and tons of radishes.  There is nothing better than fresh radishes, right out of the garden!  As I was planting, I kept my eye on a slow-moving rain storm coming from the southwest.  Usually my timing isn’t that great, but this year I was able to get that garden in right before the rain kicked in.  We received some badly needed moisture.  My garden and I were thankful!

Strawberry Patch

We have had Strawberry Patch issues over the last few years.  We have tried several different ways to grow strawberries and it seems like we just end up with a big, unruly, out of control weed patch (and, if we were lucky, maybe a couple of ripe strawberries that weren’t rotten, mashed or had been stepped on).  I had strawberries at our first house and it didn’t seem that hard, but here, I don’t know, it has just been a mess.  True, we have had a couple of bad years, no rain at all one spring, then the next, so much rain that what berries we had rotted before we could get to them.  I have had a plan to build a “better” strawberry patch so we are going to give it a try this year.  Last week, Jeff tilled up an area for my patch and placed concrete blocks around for edging.  We ended up with an area of about 2 feet by 20 feet.  It’s not the prettiest thing, but I’m hoping it will be functional.   It is a little early here to purchase strawberries so I am watching for sales and will hopefully have them planted in a few weeks.  My hope is that with my new patch, 1) the strawberries will be controlled and kept within the blocks and, 2) I will be able to weed and pick strawberries without having to walk through the patch itself.  We will see how it works out.  If I can finally get a successful, easy to maintain patch going, we will probably build another one and get it started next year.  I will keep you posted!

Strawberry Patch

Orchard

I am very excited to announce that we will be starting a small orchard on our property.  We have purchased 10 fruit trees that are packaged so that they are good for our location and good for cross pollination.  They should be delivered by the end of this week and we are expecting 3 apple trees, 2 peach trees, 2 pear trees, 2 plum trees and 1 cherry tree.  Since we have a very busy weekend ahead of us, we decided to go ahead and start preparing the holes this past Sunday.  It took a lot of time preparing 10 holes on Sunday afternoon so we were glad that part of the job is out of the way.  We are expecting more rain this week, so also didn’t want to take the chance that it would be too wet to dig.  We want to get the trees in the ground as quickly as possible once they arrive.

MOPACA Show

I am preparing for the MOPACA show this weekend.  The show will be at Hale Arena in Kansas City this weekend and will have lots of alpacas, vendors, fiber and some great competition in the show ring.  We will be one of the vendors and since this is one of the bigger shows we do and with it pretty much being our first show of the year, there is lots of prep work to be done.  I will be setting up for the show on Friday and the show and vendor booths will be open both Saturday and Sunday.

This is just a bit of what we have accomplished the past week and what we have in the works for the farm this year.  Next week, I will update you on how the spring garden is doing, if I’ve found any strawberry plants, the progress of our little Orchard and the MOPACA Show in Kansas City.   Until then, enjoy some other pictures of Early Spring on the Farm!

 

Winter White Sale

Beige Farm Roving

It has been a busy couple of years at Parsons’ Prairie Farm. So busy in fact, that I have not found the time to do a lot of the fiber dyeing that I had hoped to do. And since I have requested an April shearing date again this year, I will soon have another annual harvest to add to my stock pile. So what better way to make room for the 2016 clip than to have a Winter White Sale and offer to you some fabulous undyed fiber at discount prices. This sale will last through March 15, 2016 or until supplies last.  I have listed some beautiful yarns, rovings and craft felt on my Etsy Farm Store at 40% off the regular price.  This fiber takes dye beautifully and is so much fun to work with.  And for those of you that prefer your fiber natural color,  you will find some beautiful white, beige, light fawn and light brown yarn and roving to choose from.

The link to Parsons’ Prairie Farm Etsy Shop is https://etsy.com/shop/ParsonsPrairie

Enjoy!

 

Shearing Day!

Shearing Day is once again upon us! And, this year at least, it can’t come a minute too soon. It has been unseasonably warm and a few days it was downright humid. The alpacas and I will be relieved when they have all that fiber off! Right now we plan for the shearers to arrive around 7:00 a.m. Wednesday, April 15th. As always we welcome visitors. If you would like to participate we can certainly find a job for you. If you would prefer to just pull up a chair and watch, we would love to have you do so.

Watch the blog for any changes to our shearing date and time. We try to be as flexible as possible to accommodate the shearers schedule.

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The boys before shearing

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The same boys after shearing! Always makes me laugh!

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2014 Harvest

Pink Pandemonium – Blended Roving

Get ready for the next batch of blended roving…….Pink Pandemonium.  This is a blend of 70% alpaca (a natural beige) and 30% bamboo (dyed a shocking red/pink color).

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The roving is already up on the website at http://www.naturalfiberfarm.com and comes in 4 ounce bundles.

Pink Pandemonium 1

The alpaca fiber came from Ringo who has soft, fine fiber with beautiful crimp.  Ringo is one of our shy males and can always be counted on as a good & safe buddy when we move the male weanlings over to the “big boy” pasture.

Ringo

So…..do you know who your roving comes from?

 

 

Timna Valley – Blended Roving

We just received the 2014 processed fiber back from Shepherd’s Mill and it has been like Christmas around our place! We have some of the most beautiful 100% alpaca and amazing alpaca/bamboo and alpaca/merino blends to offer this year. I can’t wait to get it all marked and checked in and out on the farm store shelves. I am working very hard to get it all ready to go in time for our upcoming fall shows, but I want to give you a first look and first chance to purchase all this beautiful 2014 fiber. Once I introduce the new fiber here, it will also be ready for purchase on the farm website at http://www.naturalfiberfarm.com. If you see something you want, place your order as quickly as possible. I think this fiber will go very quickly once we start our fall show tours.

I will start by introducing Timna Valley, a beautiful 60% alpaca/40% bamboo blended roving. The alpaca fiber is light fawn and comes from our alpaca Imagine. Imagine’s fiber has been blended with bamboo, dyed a beautiful malachite color. The roving comes in 4 oz. bundles and is $26.00 per bundle.
Timna Valley

As you can see, we have plenty of bundles right now, but I think that will change very quickly, particularly as shoppers get their hands on this incredible fiber.
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Imagine is one of our beautiful males……..fine fleece with a nice long staple length. And that color…….gorgeous!
Imagine

So…..do you know who your roving comes from?

Shearing Day

Shearing Day 2014 was a huge success.  First of all, we couldn’t have asked for better weather….both on Saturday and the few days leading up to shearing.  We didn’t have to put all the alpacas in the big barn until Friday night which made for a much less stressful time for them.  Brian and his team arrived shortly before 7:00 a.m. and got right to work.  We were so fortunate this year to have our niece Briana, as well as Stephanie & Sarah all vet students at the University of Illinois here to help out.  Our daughter Kellie also joined in on the fun.   Not only did the girls do a great job, but they brought a lot of fun and laughter to the morning as well.  Now, it’s time to start working with the 2014 clip.

Below are just a few of the many pictures I took Saturday.  Enjoy!

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Shearing Day 2014

Shearing Day 2014 is right around the corner! Right now we are expecting the Shearing Team to arrive around 8:30 – 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, April 12th. We invite you to our harvest day!

Please check this blog or our website before you come out. We are only 1 of 3 farms that our shearing team with work with on Saturday and we always have to be flexible with their time. I will post any changes to the timing (if there are any) on both this blog and our website at http://www.naturalfiberfarm.com.

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Shearing day is the most important day of the year for our fiber farm. It is our day of harvest…the day we have worked so hard for all year. We will be able to hold in our hands all that wonderful fiber…..and see for ourselves how our breeding decisions, feeding and mineral supplements, attempts to keep the barns and pastures clean and our overall herd health has impacted our fiber harvest. And for our alpacas, they get to enjoy the sweet coolness that comes with a freshly shorn body.

We would love to have you come, but please keep a couple of things in mind:

Please don’t expect the alpacas to be on their best behavior. This is a very stressful day for them. They have often been kept in the barn for a day or so to make sure they are dry. We keep both male and females (in separate sides of the barn, of course) but they are close enough to add even more stress to the situation. When the shearers arrive, the alpacas get scared, stressed and just plain mad. Some will be absolutely quiet, some will hum worriedly, some will screech at the top of their lungs. And yes, some will spit at anything in their path. This is not the best time to observe the typically quiet, gentle nature of the alpaca.

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What you can expect to see is an impressive process. Our shearing team is a group of 4 young men who have tons of alpaca handling and shearing experience. They will set up 2 shearing stations in the barn and get right to work.   We can expect them to shear our 38 alpacas in 3 plus hours. As the shearers are working with the alpacas, we are collecting fiber and sweeping up after each animal is shorn. It is definitely something to see.

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Come prepared to be out in the weather. We will shear in the main barn where the animals and shearers will be dry, shaded and have easy access to the animals and electricity. The barn will be crowded with 38 alpacas, 4 shearers, and several fiber collectors all trying to stay out of each other’s way. All spectators will need to watch from outside the barn, so come prepared with what you might need to protect yourselves from the weather and don’t forget to wear shoes that are suitable for a barnyard!

We will have lunch for the shearing team and our guests after shearing is done. The shearing team has a 3 hour drive ahead of them and will shear at another farm before the day is done. We hope they can stay and eat with us, but if not, we will send them on their way with lunch to eat on the road.  We would love to have you stay with us for lunch. Please send us a quick email (or comment below) if you will join us. That will help get a good number as to how many we might have.

While shearing is taking place, Jeff and I will probably not have a minute free to visit with you. Hopefully you can stay around a little while after shearing, enjoy lunch with us and visit.

Please do not bring any pets to the farm. Our dogs are trained to live with our animals and to protect them. There is a lot going on and we sure don’t want any animals to get hurt.

And finally a word about our miniature donkeys Jelly & Jalapeno. They love attention and it will be very hard for them to understand why the alpacas are getting so much of it…..and they so little, on shearing day. We will have them farther out in the pasture, out of the way of the business in the barn. If you don’t mind, take a minute to give them some love while you are here. They are sweethearts and I guarantee, visiting with them will make your day!