Thursday, December 2, 2010

Winter with the alpacas

Thanksgiving Day brought 5 inches of snow after a week of high winds and temperatures in the teens.  This is quite early for this part of the country, and I couldn't help but reflect on how lucky we are to have the family farm as our home.

The girls love the shelter of this 100+ year old apple tree during all seasons.

This farm has been in the Bylsma family since 1949.  Foppe Bylsma was a fine farmer and herdsman.  He added on to the old barn to exactly meet the needs of his dairy cows, and made the barn easy for us to convert to an alpaca friendly environment.  We are very fortunate to have over 3000 sq.ft. in the barn so we have a place for everyone.

Introduced to a new, fresh field, the girls first have to roll in the snow, then run and jump.  I think they are making alpaca angels.
These are our youngsters in 2006.
Snow makes for good wrestling mats!

When we first moved to the farm, we poured concrete in the barn to make the floors easier to clean.  Whenever the temperature is above freezing, we wash the floors down after cleaning up all the poo.
This is done daily.
Another benefit to the concrete floors is that it helps to wear down the toenails.  We rarely have long toenails on our alpacas. 
When it gets really cold, we throw down straw so the pacas will benefit from the insulation.

For the most part, our alpacas would rather be outside than in the barn.  We usually have at least one week stretch in which they choose to be inside.  Snow, ice and high winds drive them inside for food and shelter.
Here the girls are trying to decide if they want to go back outside after their breakfast.  You can see they are soaking wet, having been out all night, but it is now raining pigs and cows.  Decisions, decisions.

Dolly Madison says she is going to find some grass to eat here.

Julia knows the snow sets off the lovely shade of brown in her fiber.

We have had 5-6 foot drifts in the lane, making it difficult to even get out to the barn to tend to the pacas.  Sometimes the wind will blow the snow out of the pastures, but we will still have drifts to circumvent.  One year, the snow and wind were so strong, I could not have found the barn without the fence there to guide me.
And to wrap this up, I had just finished washing down the barn, when one of the boys left me a gift.
Paca Poo, the renewable resource.