Archive for June, 2011

Pinky Progress and Chicks

I understand the inventor of the bagpipes was inspired when he saw a man carrying an indignant, asthmatic pig under his arm. unfortunately, the man-made sound never equaled the purity of the sound achieved by the pig.

-Alfred Hitchcock

The pigs have grown. They’re now too big to both eat out of the feeder at the same time, so they’ve taken to scrabbling over it. Walter, who’s successfully increased his size margin over Flo, eats first. She fights him the entire time, standing off to the side screaming and squealing, until he moves to finally let her in. Sometimes the noise reaches such a fevered pitch that I haul a few handfuls of grain out of the feeder and make Flo a pile. And then they fight over that.

Walter’s growing hams.
 
The chickens have arrived…
 
 26 meat birds. We’re currently keeping them in a large cardboard box. At first it was in the sunroom of Cory’s parent’s house, but by the second morning they smelled so foul they had to be moved to the garage.

Because the chicks are so fragile they give you 1 or 2 extra in your batch, in case any die. Cory is categorically against losing even one, so he’s been diligent about keeping them warm and watered. Fresh water is important to prevent constipation; a chicky killer!

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Pack-A-Alpaca!

Tuesday morning I headed down to The Weaver’s Shed  in Fairfax, for alpaca shearing day!
 

Waiting for his Haircut...

This, I believe, is Tonka (there was such a flurry of alpaca activity, I’m not 100% sure of names!). He was getting ready for shearing when I arrived.

Ron, the professional alpaca breeder and shearer, travels far and wide each Spring shearing nearly 1,000 alpaca. When I saw the huge shearing table I wasn’t surprised that more people don’t shear their own alpaca.

The table has an attached blue mat that can be raised and lowered to hold the alpaca in place. The table flips into a vertical position and the alpaca is led into the space between the table and the mat. The entire alpaca sandwich is then turned horizontal and the alpaca is strapped into place. While the animals probably do not find the process particularly pleasant, most of them took it in stride!

Tonka, Side #1

Ron starts by shearing the back, sides and neck on one side of the animal. This is where the highest quality fiber is found.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tonka

 
Next, the legs are  done. The fiber quality is lower on the legs and head. All of the fiber is separated into different plastic bags labeled with the alpaca’s name and body part.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Flipping Tonka on the Table

 
 
Ron expertly flips Tonka so his second side is available for shearing.

Dancer Legs!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A Little Moral Support

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alpacas are extremely social, herd animals. This guy’s very interested in what’s happening to his buddy! 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Alpaca Sandwich!

 
 
The blue mat is lowered so the hooves can be trimmed easily.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

All Done!

 
 
Tonka is unharnessed and the table is flipped up.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Ta-da!

 
 
Phew! 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Cool as a Cucumber!

 
 
Already enjoying his cool Summer coat!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  

The Boys Enjoying Their New haircuts!

 
 
 While a couple of Sally’s herd weren’t quite as compliant as Tonka, they all came through quickly and easily and are now ready for summer! 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

My Souvenir

 
I got to take home a bag of scraps raked up from the barn floor. My broccoli is now mulched!

Adventures in Pink: Photo Shoot!

I took these pictures about a week ago, but the piggies are more or less the same size… 

“I will follow hiiiim…follow him wherever he may goooooo…”
I can’t imagine only having one pig. They’re soooo social. I think it would be downright cruel to have a solitary pig. As it is, they get completely riled when they see anyone coming and follow their visiter in a frantic little herd.
 
Good Lookin’ Pig
I realize it looks like he’s smiling, and that could be a little disconcerting, but I’m pretty sure I just caught him mid-chew.
 
Rubbin’ Tummies, Makin’ Bacon!

Flo flops down immediately when she sees a tummy-rub coming. Soon after she arrived, she developed tiny red bumps on her belly and scratched against anything she could find. For several days in a row I rubbed her down with Bag Balm (The Farmers Friend!). The bumps have disappeared, but she still loves a rub!