The Farmer's Wife OR when the Farmer is a Wife!
I've been busy enough that I have totally neglected the website. Plus re-reading my last post about my dad sent me down the spiral again. But life continues and we have managed to have a productive and busy summer and fall. The shows we have attended (product sales, not animal shows) have been successful and fun for us. Everyone continues to be impressed with the PVs and their fiber. It was still a pretty rainy summer, even after all the spring rains, so it felt like we were just going from puddle to puddle. The FarmStay apartment in Salida has been booked consistently and getting rave reviews from our guests. Dito has done a great job welcoming everyone and I think he is a big reason why everyone has been so happy! Dito is the ideal farm manager-and friend- and I literally cannot do enough to thank him. It has been project after project, from perfecting the farm apartment, remodeling the breakroom to create a loft for storage and making the space so much more useful and comfortable. The main house has been fully remodeled as well, giving Dito some much deserved improvements and his "man-cave"! Our crias have been spectacular, and yes, I am 6 months behind in posting pictures and prices for them. We've sold quite a few animals, and their new owners have already become valued members of the association, contributing great skills and talents to the group effort. I will get those photos!! But every time I have a minute to go out to the barn for photos, it is muddy/snowing/raining etc. and I am put off track by wanting a better backdrop than mud for my portraits. My mistake, yet still I wait. My grief is with me everyday, and I feel our loss everyday but we all enjoy our favorite Tommy moments and memories. Our biggest news is the we have absorbed the remainder of the Switzer-Land Paco-Vicunas into our herd. This group came with some spectacular genetics, our most exciting one is a 13 micron white PV male; Echeon. So he has been put on some of our white females, and we continue to develop greater numbers for our white and mahogany PVs. The suri-PV project is enjoying great results as well. Microns are very low, in the 13-16 range, with good luster and beautiful color. I do have a few photos of that group! Now we are in a new year, so that means the National Western Stock Show from the 9-24th of January. I run the Natural Fibers Display, where we teach all the school groups basic spinning and the process of fleece to final product. We are sponsoring a fantastic "Fiber to Final Product" competition Sunday January 17th. Three teams have been given 4 different fleece types (sheeps wool, alpaca, paco-vicuna, llama) and they have 6 hours to card/spin/weave a shawl, which will be judged for skills with fiber prep, and design. The prize is 500.00 for the winning team! The shawls will then be donated and auctioned off to the National Western Scholarship fund. So a Win/Win for everyone and a fantastic demonstration for the crowds that attend the stock show. I love working the NWSS, even though it is a long haul. The people I meet are wonderful and a few are very entertaining, ha. So with the new year comes taxes, paperwork (ugh) and plans for spring that include gardens and crias. Never a dull moment here and never a moment that I don't feel the weight of the list of things to do. But that is how I want it! To my mind, if you go to bed having accomplished everything you wanted to for that day, maybe the goals weren't big enough or the list long enough. At least that is what I tell myself! Stay warm this winter, I hope your weather is kind to you all, and enjoy planning for spring!
May has been a difficult and now a sad month for us here at the farm. With record-setting rains; I think the final tally was 23 days straight of rain. The norm for the Northwest, but what???!! This is Denver! We did manage to have our shearing done for both Denver and Salida in those narrow gaps between deluges so the fleece is safe in the garage just waiting for enough sunny hours to get busy skirting and logging in the data. But the sad news. On May 19th, on his 90th birthday we lost my dad. Tommy was the heart and soul of the farm, I have many a photo of an animal, event etc, all with Tommy in the background supervising. He was also part of every shearing, actively helping or at least telling us what to do. This year was our first shearing that he wasn't up to coming out and watching. It had been a long cold winter with lots of ice on the ground so not ideal for Tommy coming out to the barn. Then his oxygen system wasn't the right one, it turns out. He needed the high flow concentrators, and we just had the normal one for him. The winter left him deconditioned, and we were hoping spring would make it easier for him to get outside. But then the rains started. We did set up hospice the last few weeks, mostly to add a little help for Tommy, not that we felt the end was imminent. They were all wonderful, and Tommy was home for all but the last 16 hours. He was made very comfortable, and was quite peaceful. I am totally shocked at how devastating this loss has been for me. You know it will happen at some point, and God knows age 90 is a worthy goal, but my heart is broken. I am so lucky to still have my mother here, and all but one sister. I am a total "Nelly", named after my grandmother who cried at everything. I will never stop missing my dad, but I am so fortunate to have enjoyed his company for 20 years here on the farm. My parents have left their mark everywhere, making so much of it much more beautiful than I ever could have.
This is the time of year to try to get caught up with paperwork, friends, cleaning, organizing, etc before the full brunt of taxes/spring to-do lists and babies as well as general farm work. I keep thinking this will be the "down time" we all need so badly but life just goes on! My heart and deepest empathy (different from sympathy cuz I know what you are going through!) goes to those in the Northeast! The intense worry and effort people with livestock suffer through with this extreme weather is 24/7, and very little can compare with it. If you aren't dealing actively with the snow, in digging out, unfreezing pipes, feeding through terrible conditions, you are spending every waking moment worrying about roofs holding up, roads needing to be cleared, maintaining power or getting power back on, food, livestock feed supplies, pasture conditions, crowded conditions due to weather- the list is endless. Very stressful. We've been pretty lucky here in Denver and Salida. Just enough snow to keep pastures fairly wet, but not so severe as to drive everyone into the barns for days on end. We've kept everyone happy and healthy, knock on wood and knock on the fabulous greenhouse enclosures that have been added to the barns in Salida! My never-ending-drive to get these in place over the past 5 years has finally resulted in Dito getting them built in his first year! I fully recommend this addition- adds warm space and solar heat gain to the entire barn, protects from cold winds (far more critical than actual roof area) and allows the animals to still look out. Barns are warmer, brighter and way happier places! The new sliding barn doors are hung on the roof overhangs and feature big clear panels that let the sun in. The doors can be slid open, or the panels removed in summer to let the cooling breezes in. Win/Win. And now- big drumroll- we are adding Farm Stay to the experience! In Salida, we are in the process of converting a section of the house into a spacious FarmStay unit! This will offer space for 4 adults or a family of 4, to sleep, spalike bathroom with soaker tub and separate shower, as well as a kitchenette and living room. You won't have to partake in the chores, but you will enjoy farm fresh eggs, fresh air, and all the farm babies you can round up! There will be a nice deck with barbecue, furniture and we plan on being pet friendly as well. So keep an eye on the site, I'll be posting photos of our progress and the first occupation date! This will make for a wonderful affordable vacation in one of the best recreational areas of Colorado! And even bigger drumroll here- we are a major sponsor for Interweave YarnFest. YarnFest is April 16-19, in Loveland Colorado. This is a huge convention of fiber arts classes with internationally renowned instructors, big marketplace offering pretty much anything and everything fiber related. And in our backyard, practically! Marketplace is free and open to the public, but do yourselves a favor and look through the class schedules. This is such a great opportunity to hone a skill, learn a new technique or open up a new world to fiber arts. We used to have to travel all over the country to get this, and now we have it here! Go to www.interweave.org to get more details. So, now I need to buckle down and get more paperwork, ready samples, and products for the big events of spring! Take care, everyone, and I do hope the melting snow brings relief, not more problems. Jane
I hope everyone had a happy and healthy start to 2015! My resolution was to leave negativity and those who thrive on it behind! So many good people in the world and so little time, that I don't want to waste a minute of it. So onward! The weather is roller-coastering up and down from -5 to nearly 60 within the space of a few hours here in Denver. But as long as it bounces up again, I won't complain. It is a little tough on the animals, but we coat the little ones and the old ones and feed more going into a temp. drop so they can handle it. Today, early January, the air was soft and really felt like there was a promise of spring in the air. I'm sure there will be plenty of extreme cold still, but spring isn't that far away. I tend to be a bit of a procrastinator (not a good trait) and with the size of the jobs here it really blocks me from making the needed progress. The lightbulb finally went on and I realized that the big jobs can get done a little at a time, its' not necessary to do it all at once. So we are going to post a few photos daily or as often as time allows, of the animals for sale here. I will do my best, but expect some gaps, ha! The good part of all of that is you will always have something new to see on the website! Now it is time for the National Western Stock Show. As a Denver native, it is the favorite time of year! We helped start and manage the Natural Fibers Educational Display (not associated with our farm) where we have all the natural fibers on display, we teach the school tours and public how to spin fiber into yarns, and show them the differences in fiber producing animals. The kids love it, and many times the parents tell us it is their first place to stop every year! It all happens with volunteer work and the support of the NWSS and their dedication to agriculture and our farming/ranching heritage. I hope you Colorado people will all stop by, and if possible stay and help out a bit! This year I want to thank Brown Sheep Company and Mill for donating lots of beautiful colored wool roving for our spinning efforts. The colors are gorgeous, and they were very generous in their support. So lets' hope the polar vortex stays north like it is supposed to! And spring will be here before you know it. Take care, Jane
So, running 2 farms and taking care of family leaves little free time. But this week I promised myself some quality weeding and redesign of the perennial garden and berm. So I get to pull tons of grass that really should limit itself to growing in the pastures, and putting in about a dozen peonies and new day lilies. My goal is to keep moving towards that mythical self-maintaining perennial bed that just has lovely flowers and foliage. The focus is on attractive grasses (wait- didn't I just say I was pulling out tons of volunteer grass?? Why can't that be attractive grass??) and nice, hardy, water efficient flowers. One more afternoon of garden then back to the real world.