Wednesday, July 27, 2011

All in a day's work!

I have to tell you a little story about what I found while mowing the  pastures the other day.  The alpacas only eat the grass in the pastures. In our pastures we have brome and orchard grass, but we also have some wild daisies, thistles, and queen anne's lace growing. So before all that goes to seed we like to mow them down with the tractor and brush hog.
When I mow the pastures it usually takes me two to three days. I can only ride the tractor for a couple of hours at a time as I usually start getting stiff, but I do enjoy doing it. I love the views, fresh air and sunshine. While mowing I stir up a lot of grasshoppers and other bugs, that the barn swallows swoop down to catch and eat. So while mowing I usually have the swallows following me around the pastures. They like to dive close to my head at times, but they never have "collided" with me. They are so much fun to watch.

When I'm mowing, I always keep a look out for other critters hiding in the grass. I have seen everything from baby rabbits, foxes, and fawns hiding in the tall grass. Of course I don't want to hurt them with the tractor or the brush hog.  When I was mowing the other day,  I caught something out of the corner of my eye. At first I thought it was a big toad that was trying to hop away as fast as it could. I looked again and it was a baby bird! It was not able to fly. I thought, oh the killdeers are having their second brood. We do get a few nests in early spring.  But I didn't see any of them hanging around trying to distract me with their broken wing tricks.  So I got off of the tractor and went to look at the bird.  It was trying to hop away. It was so small that at times you could not see it in the grass.  I didn't see any adult birds hanging around, so I wasn't sure what kind of bird it was.  It was in the middle of the pasture, so I couldn't just leave it there, as I might not see it on the next pass. So I took my hat off, and gently laid it over the bird. I then picked it up.

These pics are a little blurry, but I was trying to take the picture with only one hand using my phone.

As I was looking around the pastures, I spotted two tiny brown birds setting on the fence. I said to the baby bird (and yes it listened) "that must be your parents." So I walked over to the area where I saw them and put the baby bird on the other side of the electric fence. It then proceeded to hop away.  As I walked back to the tractor, I spotted another one!  Again, I laid my hat on it, picked it up and walked it back over to where I released the other bird. It too hopped off into the direction of the other bird.  When I got back onto the tractor and started to mow, I noticed the two birds that I figured were the parents.  I got closer to them to try and identify what they were. They looked like they might be what my bird book says are Fox sparrows. They have 2 broods a year and nest close to the ground.    All in all that day I moved 4 baby birds out of the pastures.  I seen that they were found by the parents as they were swooping down into the grass where I had released them. So for the next two days as I mowed, I kept a good eye out for anymore. I did come across one more, but it was close enough to the fence, that I didn't have to catch it. It hopped right out under the fence. So hopefully they are going to be fine and soon they will fly away.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The lazy alpaca days of summer. Not!

Boy, the time sure flies when your having fun.  Gary & I have been busy here this summer.  We have done 3 Arts & Crafts shows to date and I have 3 more scheduled into the month of August. I have been busy with making more items to sell for the shows. Below is a picture of my booth. I also like to demonstrate spinning at my booth.  I can then educate children about how yarn is made. 
It is also haying season. We also have been putting up our hay bales for the winter.  Between the alpacas and the goats, we figured we will need 700 bales this year.  Here is a picture of Gary bringing more hay for us to unload into the hay building. 

As far as the Alpacas, they are enjoying the summer weather too.  Some of them love to sun themselves. The first time we ever saw one of  our alpacas doing this, we thought he was dead! It gave us such a scare.  We went running into the pen, to see him roll over and get up. We then laughed!

Do you have any sunscreen?

Are you awake?

Well this is all that I have to write about at the moment. I need to go down to the barnyard and help Gary clean up alpaca poo.  I know that summer is a busy time for everyone.  I hope all of you are having a wonderful summer.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Really? A thief here at the ranch?

The 4th of July weekend is here and it is the official start of summer in Northern Michigan. I will be participating in the Dancing Hippo Arts & Craft show this Saturday & Sunday. I have been busy with my dye pots, spinning and knitting in order to have some new items ready for the show. Plan on coming out to visit me and see what I have been busy creating.

Yesterday, I washed a hat that I had just finished knitting and I placed it out on the deck to dry in the sun. 

Last evening after coming into the house from doing the chores, I went out to the deck to bring in the hat and it had disappeared.  I had been home all day, so I know no one was here to take it. It was not a windy day, so it should not had blown away.  I looked over the deck railing to check to see if it somehow ended up on the ground.  No, it was not there.  Then I remembered that Meadow (one of our maremma guard dogs) had been here earlier in the day visiting me on the deck, while I was spinning some yarn.  I came into the house, before she had left as she was napping on the deck.  Well, that explains the mystery as Meadow likes to steal things from the deck and hide them in the woods.  I'm now in a panic thinking I'll never find it and all of my hard work is gone. I grabbed a flashlight (as it is now dusk) and headed down to the barnyard, calling Meadow's name.  When I got there, she was laying outside of the hay building.  When she saw me, she immediately got up and ran into the building and out she came with my hat in her mouth! I said, "Drop it Meadow"!  She had this sheepish look on her face, then she dropped the hat. She then laid down next to the hat and put her chin on her front paws as if to say, don't be mad at me.  (I can't be mad at her, as she has such a cute look on her face).  I picked up the hat and examined it. There were no rips or snags, just some dog slobber and a few pieces of hay to be picked off.  I looked down at Meadow and scolded her by saying "bad dog, you are a thief".  She just laid there looking up at me, with her cute little smirk and wagged her tail.  I then just smiled at her and said,  "you are a very funny dog"!  Well, she then got up and walked me and the hat back to the house.  The hat has now been rewashed and it is drying in my basement where Meadow cannot steal it.
Meadow the thief