Life on the Farms
Getting ready for Spring!by Jane Levene on 04/02/13
Hi All, again, the blog is written in my head every day but never gets to this point! I've been on the road quite a bit. A few golfing trips, and most exciting of all we drove out to participate in the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Show mid-March. This is a wonderful event, full of beautiful yarns and finished items as well as irresistible gear. My thanks go out to all the other vendors (check out StevenBe-Yarn Garage for wonderful yarns and great ideas on home design. As a definite fiber fanatic it is my version of heaven to see all the wonderful textures and colors all in one space. The wonderful Fiber Revolution is still going strong! So, after a non-stop drive home from Pittsburgh its' time to do some routine vaccinations and herd health care as well as start thinking irrigation. Which means cleaning and/or burning ditches, replacing pipe, checking and setting pumps, spreading compost, aerating fields, and get ready for shearing. Clean fields and clean barns equals cleaner fleeces. So from now on, the barns are swept out at least weekly. Many friends, Master Gardners, large community gardens and best of all the Denver Botanical Gardens at Chatfield Aboreteum are all coming out for their loads of the beautifully composted manure. A nice bonus for us to keep moving the compost out and the gardeners really value it for the low ammonia/lower nitrogen levels so it never burns or over fertilizes a garden.
Yesterday I was again struck by just how fortunate we are. My nieces came over for the day, to help with gardening, think up great names for the crias coming this spring, and helping my parents out a bit. If you remember, we have their house at the front of the property and we live towards the back. Couldn't be better! So I had a great day with family but not so great getting paperwork done. We make a concious effort every day, to savor the moments, manage the stress and keep priorities straight. A few minutes in the barn really helps me stay calm and appreciate all the good things in life. I will always have to make more of an effort to do the website chores, and facebook? Seems like a better venue for all those I've friended on my space, ha! But that too will happen at some point.
"I have found that all ugly things are made by those who strive to make something beautiful, and that all beautiful things are made by those who strive to make something useful" Oscar Wilde, 1885
Finally a moment to reflect!by Jane Levene on 01/25/13
We've gotten through the holidays, and went straight into the National Western Stock Show! From January 8-27, I've been attending the show each day, running the Natural Fibers booth. We (a wonderful core of volunteers-both sheep and alpaca people) have worked with the school tours teaching kids how to turn fiber into yarns. Its' been very entertaining, and a very special thank-you goes to the sweet brothers age 8 and 6, who loved learning to spin. When we were done, the older boy thanked me for being nice to kids, cuz' not everyone is nice to kids. I was so touched and told him that everyone should always be nice to everyone else. All the hard work and long days can be made worthwhile in the space of 5 minutes with such wonderful kids. We live in the best state with so many great shows to attend. Swing by for the final weekend if you have a chance! So for now, work hard and be nice-especially to kids! Take care, Jane
Dramatic weather day between shearing daysby Jane Levene on 06/15/12
Hi all, it's been a very busy few weeks here. We sheared most of the animals in Salida end of May, then followed with shearing the herd the first weekend of June, then Estes Park Wool Market, and now finishing up with about one and a half more days in Salida. Its' all gone very well, tremendous excitement over the PVs and the fleece and products. So on the right track! I've put a photo of the farm today, impressive sky. But not much rain, considering we were clobbered last week by a storm of near-biblical proportions. Hail, buckets of rain and lightning that would not stop for even a minute, lasting 2 hours. Biggest rain storm of my life. Now blizzards- we seen bigger! Once I get all the fleeces together, I will sort and grade and get them to the mill ASAP. Babies are coming about 2-3 weekes late so far this spring. Will post photos as soon as we get a few more on the ground. Take care, and hope the weather treats you all well. Jane
Getting ready for Shearingby Jane Levene on 05/16/12
Hi All, we are in full swing here, getting ready for shearing at both farms, and anticipating the Estes Park Wool Market. The list of "to-do's" gets longer every day, and is so daunting at times that I just want to go pull some weeds in the garden and forget about everything else for a bit! Speaking of gardens, we have had nearly all of our compost picked up by Botanical Gardens and master gardeners as well as Perma-Culture experts. This pleases us tremendously, as we like to be as green as possible, and to watch the manure piles dwindle down to nothing. The alpaca manure compost is perfect, breaks down quickly, is never to hot to apply safely to gardens, and is low ammonia/low nitrogen. I have a real fan club here that comes back every year. The Salida Farm is only allowed to sell a limited amount of compost as we want plenty for our own pastures and fields. Now on to shearing- major organizational efforts there, labels, accurate record keeping, vaccinations, fleece grading and sorting, and determining uses per each fleece then combining as many like fleeces as possible for the mill.... lots of jobs, never enough time, and then there is the garden calling me! Our crias are running a bit late so far this spring. But after having more than 200 deliveries here, I have learned not to worry. It all happens when it is supposed to and tends to happen more easily and with better outcomes the less we interfere! We are also in irrigation season, so that adds another layer to every day. Del has really fine tuned the system in Salida, and with great efforts on his part. So, we will end this week with a nice party thanking all of our friends and fellow medical folks for their great volunteer work replacing hips and knees in patients in Panama City, Panama this past April. As usual, I will take a deep breath and resolve to enjoy each day and to notice all the little miracles and beautiful things that happen all around us. I hope you will take the time to do the same! Take care, Jane
FUll Moonby Jane Levene on 05/03/12
There is a full moon tonight, the biggest of the year? One of the pleasures of having a farm is going out that last time of the day/night to check on the animals and top off the water. Usually everything is so nice and quiet in the barn. Of course, in the wintertime I sometimes have trouble cnovincing myself that the last check is actually necessary, but I am always happy I go out there. The alpacas and PVs have excellent night vision, so even with a strong flashlight I can't see what they are so focused on! It is the weekend for GWAS, the largest alpaca show in the country. I will be teaching children about fiber and showing them how to spin their own yarn. With such a large herd, it has become impossible to effectively quarantine here post-show, so we keep our critters home, and just give talks and demonstrations. Most of our dams are ready to deliver crias around this time, and I don't want to take the risk of bringing home any viruses. So I invite you all to come down to the National Western Stock Show complex, and visit us. Take care, Jane