We finally got some snow and cold weather this week, and it feels like winter. There is only about 1 inch of snow, but at least it is white. And now we feel like decorating for Christmas! Saturday we plan on getting our tree and trimming it, and Sunday head to Durango to take a ride on the Polar Express. Grandma and Grandpa are coming, too, and everyone is excited. The animals are all set for winter, hairy and lazy. We have had a couple of cold mornings, in the teens, and Powderhorn is having their opening day of skiing this Saturday. A true sign of winter! The girls will ski again this year, and can't wait. Hope winter has finally come to your place, too!
Here's to giving thanks for all our blessings: for healthy and fun kids, room to roam, animals to pet, chickens and eggs, mooing when I walk outside, wagging tails, family nearby, a great husband who puts up with my "big pets", the snow-plowing tractor, newborn baby calves, green grass, humming alpacas, the smell of hay, the crowing of the rooster, the leaves crunching under my boots, the smell of wood burning in the fireplace, the chance to don my winter jacket, great friends, busy times at work, sleeping in the camper with the kids, ice on the pond, sleeping babies and a beautiful view. And actually that isn't even close to all of them, but the ones that came to mind on a gorgeous morning.
With a cold front and snow predicted, we had a mad rush of winter prep. All the water tanks had heaters installed, all the hoses emptied and stored, and hay arranged. The lucky alpacas got to move down to the tree field with Buck, and the yaks will stay in a top pen for a bit longer before being put back on their summer pasture. We loaded up 5 yaks for a buyer out of Durango, so now we only have 9 to feed for the winter. We were more streamlined and prepared in our tasks this year, I guess we are finally getting in a groove! We also moved two of the cows and one steer to a grassy pasture to board for a few months. It is a busy time, but with winter looming it will soon limit our outdoor maintenance. Ski season cometh!
This past weekend was Applefest, the big event of the year here in Cedaredge. It is a fun time with lots of vendors, good music, and of course, APPLES! The whole downtown is blocked off, and about 10,000 people come to participate in the festivities. We have a great climate for growing apples(and other fruit) hence the celebration towards the end of the picking season. We also had company, our good friends Kent and Anna Chavet from Phoenix came up for the weekend. We went to the Applefest Gala Friday night and enjoyed good food, dancing, and great company.
Saturday morning Winnie participated in her first triathlon- which she thoroughly enjoyed and did very well in. Next year I will do it again(skipped this year) and Winnie, and maybe Tori and Alex. It is a shorter one, and the kid distances are perfect.
We also sold our younger Pinzgauer bull and a steer to Rocky Mountain Pinzgauers in Elizabeth, CO, and they left on Saturday as well. The day before we had loaded up a yak steer for a buyer, so our animal numbers are shrinking! We do have a few more yaks for sale that I hope to move before the winter.
All in all a fun and productive weekend,
I can't believe how quickly the summer has flown by. The girls started school last week and Gus already caught his first cold of the season. Cherries, apricots, and now peaches being processed and eaten, apples still to come. Yaks back up at the house (too soon!) after consuming all of their summer pasture. Two goats to get rid of before winter- one great-looking Boer buck for sale, the whether to eat. And work is going great! It has been a fun summer, and I am sorry to see it come to an end. But fall is in the air, cooler days and mornings especially, as well as some much needed rain. If we only had all the hay we needed for the winter I would enjoy it even more! The little chicks are big enough to go out and about with the big ones, and will soon start laying. Buck has been a great addition, the alpacas really like him, and we do too. The girls love having him do chores with us and laugh at him racing alongside the 4-wheeler. In another week we leave for our annual trek to the beach, and everyone is looking forward to it. We will spend a couple days on the front end in Phoenix, and Gus will celebrate his 2nd birthday at Nana's house. Winnie has been training Annabelle the calf, and would like to show her this winter. That will be a new activity for us. Change is in the air!
As we have watched the bulls plow through gates and beat each other up over the past several weeks, we have decided to sell "Gunner", the younger of the two. He is challenging "Shooter" and it is causing problems around here. We are planning on breeding him to two of the cows, so he will be ready to go in a couple of months. We will move the girls and him to a friend's pasture to eliminate the competition. He is a nice guy, just coming into his own. He is a registered Pinzgauer bull, 2.5 yrs old, and has been semen and trich tested last October. His official name is Grit's Gunman. He has a rare cross of bloodlines that is hard to come by. His mama is Diamond Panache (1998 Reserve Grand Champion Female). He has True Grit for his Sire who is out of Tyrol (one of the original import bulls, registration #0000003) and Karman Oak (who was the foundation cow for Diamond T Cattle in Alberta, Canada). Please call for more details, price, etc. (970)856-6058.
2 more yak calves were born last week, one heifer and one bull calf. We are excited that they are all doing so well. The yaks are now down in the corner field next to the veterinary clinic, and we get lots of comments and people slowing as they drive by to check them out. The babies are getting more playful and visible, for the first several days they were hiding in the grass sleeping most of the time. We sell the yak meat at the clinic, and have several regular customers coming in to get it. These two calves were born to a couple of our older girls, Bess, who is a great momma, and Daisy, who was beating up the tractor while we caught and vaccinated her little girl.
This morning when I was out moving sprinklers, Buck found something in the field that he kept sniffing and going back to. I went over to check it out and found a new baby fawn. It was unbelievably small, smaller than Brother, the cat that was out there with me. I got the kids, and they came out and loved it. While we were looking at the fawn, Buck found a second one about 20 feet away. The grass wasn't even that tall, and you almost had to stumble over them to see them. They are so well camouflaged! Tori wants a pet fawn now. After swimming, we went out to see if they were still there, but mom had come back and moved them. Maybe we'll find them again tomorrow!
The first yak calf of the season!
We had our first calf on Sunday, June 10th. It is a little heifer calf, with one white sock on a hind leg. This is Lacey's third calf, and she is a very good mom. We went out with the tractor to catch her and give her a vaccine a few hours after she was born. The calves are very small at birth, and we have never had to assist a birth. This one weighed in at about 30 pounds, and is super cute. Hopefully we'll have several more to come this summer!
Sunday, May 6th, was shearing day for all the alpacas in our neck of the woods. We gathered at Akuna Matada Alpacas in Hotchkiss (great friends of ours), and got to work. The shearer and his helper came from Australia and did a great job. Everyone who showed up had a job. The alpacas are cleaned up(sort-of) by a quick brushing to get most of the hay off of them. Then they are led to a mat and hind feet looped by ropes going one direction, front feet pulled the other to stretch them out on the ground. They are surprisingly calm once on the ground. Then the shearer gets to work. The "blanket" is the nicest fiber and comes from the back and sides of the animal. That is shorn and wrapped up in a large plastic bag. Then the other parts get shaved and that fiber collected and bagged as well. While the alpaca is down, feet are trimmed, teeth trimmed if they need it, vaccines given, and then they are all done! We did about 30 animals before lunch, and the shearers were off to another location after lunch! The kids helped and enjoyed the event. They will use some of the fiber for their 4-H projects. And on the way home we stopped off at another friends' place and picked up two more alpacas that Grand Mesa Alpacas donated for the 4-H kids to show. Such an exciting day!
Susie (and sometimes Jeff) Hirsch, parents, vets, small scale ranchers, and regular people, who must have a sense of humor to survive!