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wpe5E.jpg (4970 bytes) Fibre Works Farm: November Step By Step Journal

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Alpacas    Buhunds    Fibre Works Gallery    Shetlands

Limerick Link

November seems to lend itself to paperwork.  The approaching year end means renewals of this and that, registrations of stock born in 1999 and of course, reviewing and updating the breeding program goals for the next year.  On top of this, we are still working on the barn and the landwork and the fencing.  Never a dull moment.

Fibre Works Alpacas: all of the alpacas have a nice fibre regrowth from shearing, so next year's harvest should be bountiful.  We are especially looking forward to the fleeces from the crias.   Now if only we can improve the feeding methods so that the fleeces stay cleaner.  This is a major goal for both the alpacas and the sheep.   The alpacas seem to enjoy taking a mouthful and then lifting their heads to look around while they eat.  The result is hay litter all over their eating companions and the ground.  We have been experimenting with different style feeders to try and reduce the mess.  The style we are using now has very small horizontal openings on the sides and a slatted top with 4" holes between each slat.  The idea is that the animals reach through the top holes to pull out a mouthful of the hay, reducing waste and fleece contamination.  We will see how the fleeces hold up over the winter hay feeding season.

Fibre Works Shetlands:   November has been very exciting as we integrated our new sheep into the flock and set up our breeding groups.  Combined with the Baker's flock, we are using four rams in our main breeding groups and may use one more ram in a smaller group and for backup.   As usual, we do not have one perfect ram with everything in one package.  The philosophy of our breeding groups is that each breeding must have the potential for significant improvement for one or more of our primary breeding goals.  One of the rams we are using is a very rich, non fading black with a longer fleece and a bold crimp style.  Two of other rams are musket, not one of our colour goals, but have good horns and soft, single coated fleeces.  They also carry a recessive solid colour gene so can give us solid colour lambs, depending on the ewes.  The fourth ram is a nice black with a crimpy, soft, uniform fleece style but whose horns are not really wide at this time.  The fifth ram we are considering for a later ewe lamb group is a dark moorit, single coated and crimpy but not as soft as the crimpy black.  We also try to maximize our genetic diversity in choosing rams.  This year we are using rams with bloodlines from Alberta, Washington and Ontario.  We are hoping for a lamb crop that includes nonfading rich, solid colours, soft, fine fleeces, crimp and good horns.  We will have to see what April brings!  All of our sale breeding stock have now found new homes.

Fibre, Yarn and the Fibre Works Gallery:  Most of our efforts in this area are now focused on getting the next batch of fibre off to the mills.  Unfortunately, picking and skirting fleeces has taken a back seat to fencing and other chores that have to be done before the weather turns.  However, we have some wonderful fibre blends in the works and should have some spectacular yarns ready for the new year.  The cria and silk blend was so popular, we will repeat it, this time in white and cultivated silk.  The present priority fibre works project is finishing a commissioned Rya rug.  The yarn is a wonderful balanced blend of alpaca/wool/mohair.  The yarn has been custom dyed in varying shades of rose-burgundy and sage-cyan to combine with white, greys and blacks in beautiful colour progressions.  The inspiration for the piece was the northern lights.

Bergen Norwegian Buhunds: Treva had her hip x-rays this month and the film has been sent off for evaluation.  So far things still look good for breeding on her next season.  We still anticipate that will be December or January.  The Dogs in Canada Annual Puppy issue is now out and we have had a really positive response to our placement in the breeder's directory.   Lots of questions about the Buhunds in general and the planned litter in particular.  At present, we are looking at various construction plans for a new whelping box.

Farm Stuff:  The metal ceiling is going up slowly in the workshop portion of the barn.  It is a tricky process to install it as it is 12' up.  We decided to use the metal ceiling as it will not require finishing and is not as cumbersome to install as heavier materials.  It is more expensive however: always a trade off.  Once it is in place, we will finish the ceiling wiring and blow in cellulose insulation.  Then we can get the in-floor heating hooked up and get busy on more of the interior work.  It will be nice to be able to work in our shop areas with heating, especially when the winter winds and temperatures hit.

Limerick Link for November:

Fine fibre so soft there's no itch,
To weave, to knit and to stitch.
When all's said and done,
Alpaca's the one
To deliver this high fashion pitch.

Canadian Alpaca Breeders Association