Autumn on the Farm

With the weather staying warmer and only two light dumpings of snow, we’ve managed to get quite a lot accomplished around the farm this fall. Work on the house continues – new doors are in and we’re waiting on windows. Some of those small, yet surprisingly annoying, items are being crossed off (like being able to finally push the fridge back into its space after our contractor refitted some upper cabinets) and the main bath wallpaper has been removed with new paint in its place.

We’ve fenced in the winter pasture for the girls and winterized the chicken/duck coop. We’ve had new water lines installed to the chicken/duck coop and big barn with an automatic waterer for the girls. We’ve started stacking the woodpile that Brian just had to bring from our house in Waterloo and have burned brush. Brian has also built a new deck off of the back of the house so the dogs have an easier time of getting outside and the goats can see in the door (not planned, but they’re liking it!).

Fourteen of my 33 hens are laying eggs and all five of my ducks are laying beautiful eggs as well. Rooster is having the time of his life – so many hens, so little time! The goats are doing well, although they’ve gotten a little chubby, so we’ve backed off on the animal crackers until they lose a little weight. The rabbits are doing well – Moo Moo is off to the vet today to get neutered. We’re hoping to find him a rabbit friend, even though he seems quite attached to Boris (the cat) we feel he might like to have one of his own kind for companionship.

All-in-all we’ve settled into a nice routine and everyone is healthy and happy. So now, of course me being me, I have to stir things up and introduce a new critter to the mix. Introducing “Finnegan” our newly adopted miniature pig. He’ll be coming to the farm around December 9th all the way from California. I’m looking forward to this little piggy!

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Enjoy the reprieve from winter we’re having (at least here in Wisconsin). Until next time . . .

Living Alpaca Loca,
Teresa

Where’d summer go?

Even though it feels like we had a very short summer, it was a good one. We spent a lot of time outdoors either working on one project or another, or lazing about . . . after all, isn’t that what summer is for? Well, it is if you don’t live on a farm.

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Here’s a flashback of all that’s happened this year . . .

Purchased seven alpacas.
Purchased 16.5 acre farm with oodles of space.
Purchased three rabbits.
Purchased 10 ducks.
Purchased 15 chickens, but ended up with 34.
Purchased two goats.
Purchased one Maremma – livestock guardian dog.
Had a friend come from Canada to help with new fencing for the alpacas – thanks Richard!
Mowed more lawn in one summer than I’ve mowed in my entire lifetime.
Planted and harvested a garden.
Planted 10 maple trees, three blue spruce, three cherry and two apple trees.
Sold my Reiki practice in Madison.
New pavement from driveway to barn.
New water lines to big barn and chicken coop.
New doors and windows are going in the house along with a new front porch.
Repainted and upgraded main floor bath.
Installed farm sign and landscaping.
Hosted five Open Farm Days and National Alpaca Farm Days.
Learned how to trim Bijou’s beak and nails (saving money and an hour’s drive!).
Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

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It’s small wonder that I feel so exhausted . . . but in a good way!

I’ve enjoyed getting up at the crack of dawn to prepare food for the rabbits, ducks and chickens. To cleaning out the coop and filling water buckets. To treating my goats and Loki to animal crackers and dog biscuits. To learning how to halter and lead our alpacas and cleaning the pasture. But mostly I’ve enjoyed the presence, and the antics, of these amazing creatures. All of them! They’ve all imprinted on my heart and I’m pretty sure Brian feels the same.

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And now as we move into fall, we’re making preparations for winter. This, my friends, will make us or break us. We’re pretty tough though because in our hearts, we were born farmers!
 
 
 

Living Alpaca Loca,
Teresa

Whirlwind Romance

Wow! This last month or so has been a whirlwind of activity! We brought the girls home to the farm on July 25th without too much trouble. However, Alice did not fair well in the beginning, showing signs of extreme stress. We managed to situate her in the front of the trailer which seemed to help the rest of the way home. It’s a blessing that we thought to stop and check on them or we may well have lost her. Once home, we unloaded them and because it was so hot, decided to give them a good spray from the hose, which they thoroughly enjoyed!

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20150814_072128We managed to integrate the first flock of chickens with the second flock without too much ado. We can still see the separation in the flocks, but the second flock is growing fast and soon we won’t be able to distinguish them by size. It’ll be all in the feathers! I hadn’t planned on having 34 chickens, but it’s not much more trouble and for now, all is well. We did end up with one rooster and I’ve decided to keep him . . . as long as he doesn’t cause any trouble and doesn’t become aggressive.

The rabbits, ducks and goats have all settled in nicely. The only real trouble comes when the ducks decide to take a bath in the water in the chicken coop creating quite the mess. Yesterday I had to clean out the chicken coop three times . . . not my idea of a good time.

On August 1st we welcomed “Loki” our livestock guardian dog to the farm. He is a Maremma, a breed that originated in Italy. He is already showing signs of “guarding” . . . when he’s not in puppy mode! LOL!

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Tomorrow we’re hosting our monthly “Open Farm Day” and we hope that you’ll join us. You’ll have a chance to see the farm and all its inhabitants running through their daily activities. See the Events page for more information.

Living Alpaca Loca,
Teresa

It’s a farm life for me!

Brian said to me the other day that never in a million years would he have thought to have seen me on a tractor. Nor I him, truth be told. In our almost 25 years of marriage, we’d talk now and then about how much we’d like to live on a farm and now, we are living our dream. Someone pinch me (but not too hard!).
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We’ve been on our farm just a little over two months. In that time we’ve welcomed rabbits, cats, ducks, goats and chickens. In just over a month we’ll be bringing our alpacas to the farm. Five out of six of them expecting crias (baby alpacas) next spring. We’ve also purchased a Maremma puppy who will be coming to the farm at the end of July. As much work as it is – and believe me, it’s a lot of work – I am really enjoying our farm and its inhabitants. I’m in my element, grateful each morning when I rise and in the evening when I lay my head down, that the Universe saw fit to grant us this wish.
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Our farm is open to anyone who wishes to visit. Bring along your water bottle and camera and stay while.
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Living Alpaca Loca,
Teresa

Guardian Dogs

heidi and maxHaving decided that we wanted livestock guardian dogs I started doing some research on them. Our mentors, Kim and Linda, have a Great Pyrenees and a Maremma. Both beautiful, big, white, friendly dogs. I thought I had decided on the Maremma. The Universe thought otherwise. Kim emailed me with a link to a farm that was re-homing two of their dogs – a bonded pair. I called up Laura (Kissin’ Coussens Alpaca Farm) and we had a nice talk about the dogs. I emailed her a few days later, and after much consideration, she decided that we would be a good home for the dogs. I’m so excited to welcome Max (short for Maximus) and Heidi!

Laura is going to keep the dogs for us until we move onto the farm. So now we have six alpacas and two Great Pyrenees as part of our growing farm family. I understand that April is chick month . . .

Living Alpaca Loca,
Teresa