Sunday, May 30, 2010

In Memory of my Heroe(s)

Today my siblings and I visited Fort Custer National Cemetery in Augusta, Michigan for the first time since December when we laid our father to rest.  For years, I have visited the cemetery during Memorial Day weekend because it is a breathtaking sight to see all the American Flags at each and every graveside besides all the big flags along the route but this is the first year I went the cemetery with a purpose. 

Dad, thank you for providing service to our country during Vietnam which ultimately took your life forty years later.  One day our government will admit that Agent Orange caused your lung disease.  I never heard you speak negatively about our government which is something more Americans should do.  You were proud to vote in every election and proud to serve our country.
Dad was an airplane mechanic for the F-9 (?) in the Air Force
I watched you walk in Memorial Day Parades as a member of the VFW and the American Legion on many occasions when you weren't with your Brother Masons. 

I am not only thanking you for serving and protecting our country but also all of the other Americans who have in the past and are currently serving.  There is a strength and bravery you have/had that I never could find in myself.  This Memorial Day, Dad, you will be honored along with all the other Veterans who have served our country.  when I hear taps at the cemetery...I'll cry.  How can I not?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Alpaca Stripper Pole

Many members of the Zombie Prom Date Knitters assisted in the Shearing of Wonder on Tuesday and they presented a whole new view and terminology of the shearing process.  For instance, they have been calling the shearing restraint an Alpaca Stripper Pole.  I thought it was hilarious but thought I'd take a moment to explain to those who may not share our humor.
 You see, Alpacas are attached to a pole and sheared to their naked self...

Much like Strippers who will dance on a pole and undress to their naked self...
Isn't that funny? 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday - Got Fiber?

Fiber rules my life these days and I'm not talking about the cereal, I'm talking about the fleece on Alpacas. I took two blue ribbons with my Handspun Suri Alpaca Yarn at Nationals last week. One skein was processed 100% by me and was 100% Suri Alpaca from my beautiful Confetti Reign.  The other skein was my fiber blended from a couple of Alpaca then processed at the mill into roving the handspun by me.  Both skeins were entered into the Beginning Spinner Category since I have only been spinning a year.  Yes, I know that's hard to believe.
I spent the first three days of this week either sorting or shearing some of the most beautiful Suri and Huacaya Alpacas you will ever see.  Yes, that's a fact!  They aren't called the Wonder Herd for nothing.
On Monday and Wednesday, I sorted a total of 49 Suri at Wind Walker Ranch.  My foundation Suri females come from their farm and I am not shy about saying that their breeding program and the owners are beyond amazing so sorting their fleece for production feels more like play than work.  Well, it would seem that way if the last three days hadn't been 90 degrees with extremely high humidity, that is, but I won't let sticky unbearable weather get me down when I have beautiful fleeces to sort.

On top of their herd, I have been able to sort my own and those Alpacas grazing out in the Pastures of Wonder have done a great job producing my farm's harvest for the year.  It's amazing how many pounds one herd can produce. I have a bunch of rugs being shipped to me this week just from the 3rd/Other fiber that came off our herd last year.  That is the fleece full of guard hairs or coarser fiber.  There is a mill that magically weaves it into beautiful rugs that are soft and luxurious.  Really, when I say we have a yearly fleece harvest, I'm not kidding.

When I say that I've been playing in fiber this week...I'm not kidding.  As much fun as I have knitting the yarn or spinning, there is wonder to be found in the raw fleece.  I invited my knitting group, the Zombie Prom Date Knitters, and the Kalamazoo Weavers Guild to come see the Wonder of Shearing and I think they all found a new respect for the process of raising an Alpaca and shearing it's fleece so we can create the beautiful yarns and roving they love.

I'm taking this weekend to rest before next weeks marathon sorting continues.  I will sort at four farms. What have you been up to this week?
Fiber Arts Friday Blog Carnival!

To participate:

  1. Submit your blog article to the next edition of fiber arts friday using our carnival submission form. Remember to submit your current blog address NOT your complete blog  i.e. you would submit  
  1. Link back to Fiber Arts Friday from your post so that your readers can come and see everyone else’s projects! Text link to  WISDOM BEGINS IN WONDER!   
  2. Visit as many of the other participants as possible and leave comments! That’s what helps us all connect!
Check out these cool blogs:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - June Bug

We sheared the Wonder Herd yesterday and our little June Bug lost 9lbs of fleece for the first time.

Monday, May 24, 2010

FYI: Funky Llama really is Funky

What a weekend!  Where to begin?  Well, I'm not beginning with Nationals because that can wait until Fiber Arts Friday so I'll begin with the Zombie Prom Date Knitters first ever Wine Party.  Our friend, Linda aka FatCatCrochet, flew up from North Carolina to spend the week with the ZPDK and see her first ever Alpaca Shearing.  Yes, I know North Carolina has Alpacas but do they have Alpacas as awesome as the Wonder Herd here in Michigan?  Nope! 
My Wonder Interns-Yes, I have more than one.
Of course any trip to the Wonder Why Alpaca Farm has to start in the barn...yes, even before wine.  Linda's favorite Alpacas were two of my fiber boys, Buddy and Dude, which leads me to believe that she's a Huacaya person.  We also visited the Chickens of Wonder and Linda got to hold one of the newest members.
 It wasn't long and everyone else arrived and the party began.  We started with the whites then moved around to the reds. We had food galore including our favorite, Timbits.  Canada really does know how to make the good donuts, eh?

Drinking wine without knitting or spinning just doesn't seem right...

Our younger members of the group brought the non-alcoholic wine or as Sister Bear calls it "kid wine"
Blah!  I'm not drinking that!  Here's the good stuff...well, some of it wasn't good.  FYI, Funky Llama Pinot Grigio has an awful favorite wine of the night was Naked.

I always say that I can't cook/bake without a box or can but I forgot about my french toast.  I served those who spent the night my Wonder French Toast from a recipe that my dad gave me years ago.  After everyone's bellies were full, we went out to prep the barn and pool house for the Wonder Shearing on Tuesday.

I have to say...again, that my knitting group rocks!  We have fun no matter what we do.  Really anything from drinking wine, saving the world to scooping poo.  Smiles and fun abound.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday - A Little of This, A Little of That

Whew!  What a week!  Who needs the hustle and bustle of Christmas when you own Alpacas in May.  This month has been full of Alpaca Shows and shearings. In a few weeks, my beautiful Sugar Breeze will have her second cria based on my breeding decision so I am excited about that.  This week I didn't have any Live Sort jobs so I focused on sorting fiber out of bags for another farm.  I have to admit that I prefer sorting behind a shearer because you are forced to stay on task.  When I sort here at the farm I tend to find too many distractions. These are four of the distractions.
 I've managed to get some spinning in this week...finally.  The last two weeks I was so tired from the various sort jobs.  I plyed 8oz of Whirlwind.
I also started a new yarn using my NAAFP roving.  It's beautiful to work with.

Last week I had interviewed Tracey Koehler and she gave us an easy wet felting idea so I tried it.  It was fun...I used some Huacaya I had dyed.  I haven't decided what to do with it...maybe a place mat or a decoration on an end table.  It was fun to get creative with what I can make.

I'm writing this super early this morning because I am heading to Fort Wayne, IN to the AOBA Nationals where I will show my herdsire, Midnight Magic's Mystery plus at noon they will announce the winners of the Fiber Arts Competitions.  I submitted two skeins of my handspun and I'm curious to see how I did. Whew! So what fun projects have you been working on this week? 
Fiber Arts Friday Blog Carnival!

To participate:

  1. Submit your blog article to the next edition of fiber arts friday using our carnival submission form. Remember to submit your current blog address NOT your complete blog  i.e. you would submit  
  1. Link back to Fiber Arts Friday from your post so that your readers can come and see everyone else’s projects! Text link to  WISDOM BEGINS IN WONDER!   
  2. Visit as many of the other participants as possible and leave comments! That’s what helps us all connect!
Check out these cool blogs:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Alpacas Males At Play

 Spring has Sprung and the young males are deciding who's going to be the boss of the pasture.
For more great pics, check out Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Career Day - Own an Alpaca Farm

I spoke to seventh and eighth grade students at Harper Creek Middle School on Friday for Career Day about being a small business owner, particularly being an Alpaca Farm owner.  There were four separate groups and by the third or fourth group I couldn't remember what I had said to which group.
 I started each session spinning Alpaca on my SpinSanity drop spindle.  I asked the students to tell me what I was doing and my favorite answer was that I was spinning Alpaca on my dreidel.  I told them about Alpacas giving a bit of history and terminology.  After they learned that Alpacas are in the Camelid family and that they are related to Camels and Llama but are not Llamas were were able to proceed to learning what country they are from.  Most of the students thought they were from Eastern European countries or Australia.  Out of all four groups only one student guessed Peru and no one answered Bolivia or Chili.  Good thing there was a world map in the room so I could show them.

I gave the students my educational background and a bit of my work history to set up why I made the decision to become an Alpaca Owner/Breeder/Fiber Artist.  How does one explain how happy you can be walking into a barn and scooping poo?  I really do look forward to my barn chore time.  How do you explain why without listening to the gentle hum of their communication or letting your hands get buried in fleece that is so soft, fine, dense and utterly beautiful? How do you explain that you didn't learn to knit or spin until after you had a herd of Alpaca on your farm?  How do you tell a group of students who don't understand household budgets that you have built a barn and bought a herd not knowing how long it will take to bring in an income, make a profit, or pay yourself?
 I did it...four times.  It was a lot of fun. I also brought a bunch of samples of goods made from Alpaca and even raw fleece so they could see the difference between Suri locks and Huacaya fiber.  I had some groups that asked a lot of questions and other groups that didn't ask anything.  Two students were hesitant to ask if an Alpaca had ever died on my farm.  I have never had that happen but I told them about my fiber boy who had a thiamine deficiency.  A couple of kids asked about Alpaca poo and of course I could talk forever about that.

I explained that my farm isn't just about breeding Alpacas, it's also about the fiber, fiber production and education.  I explained that my farm, like many small business', will take time to grow and make a profit so I continue to work with my husband to bring income in.  I talked to them about my business plan and tried to convey that starting any business is a risk and you have to put a lot of work into it.

Fortunately I have started a business where the hard work is also beyond enjoyable, where the industry I'm in is an amazing community of farms, where every day I learn something new which makes it all worth it.

Wisdom does begin in Wonder...I wondered why and now I know.