Saturday, October 6, 2012

Stepping Back

All good things have to come to an end, and it is time for me to end this blog.
I am selling the farm.  I am stepping back from the alpaca community.
I will always spin yarn from alpaca fiber, and it will remain my fiber of choice.
I succeeded in my business as an alpaca breeder, but that time is over and it's time for me to move on.
I hope any visitors to this blog will find it informative.  I always intended for it to be educational and helpful for other alpaca breeders.
May you all enjoy these endearing critters, and I hope for success in your ventures.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Lost River Announces Alpaca Farm Sitting

I am missing my alpacas so much, that I have decided to start a new business.  I will babysit your alpacas for you while you attend shows, conventions, or EVEN, take a vacation for yourselves.

My experience is intense, and I have the recommendation of the large animal vets at Kulshan Veterinary Hospital in Lynden Washington.  Stay tuned, as I will soon post a letter of recommendation from them.

I am experienced at delivering crias in all presentations.  I have kept crias alive after a vet has said they would never make it.  These crias have thrived and are having crias of their own now.

I will see to the herd's daily care, scoop poop, and give you daily reports if you need.

I haven't set up a price rate yet.  It will be between $75-$100 a day depending on the size of your herd.
Cats and dogs will get free care.

These services will only be available in the Western Washington area.

Feel free to contact me with any questions.  Keep a watch on this site for testimonials and recommendations, as well as the final price list.

Lost River's Eve gets a prodedure formerly only done on dogs to cure an acute ear infection.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The End of an Era

It seems like just yesterday that I met my first alpaca and fell head over heels in love with that endearing creature.  That was in 1997, and in 1998 we purchased our first 6.
What a wonderful lifestyle it has been, and what a whirlwind of activity.  I remember saying that I didn't want to work with the fiber, I just wanted to enjoy the alpacas and their husbandry.  HAHAHAH.  I got my hands in that first fleece and knew I had to learn to spin.  Today I design and spin my own line of yarns:  Calliope Yarns from Fiberfabrications, which I sell at the Bellingham Farmers Market.  I am also going to get my Etsy site up and running again.  It is listed under ALPACALADY.

So, today I look out my window at the barn, and there are no alpacas there.  At one time, I had 60 out there.  When my husband died last year, I had 27.  I had to make a decision about my future.  At the age of 61, and living alone, did I want to put in all that work?  Did I want to risk getting hurt in the barn and no one knowing I was missing for a day or so?  Did I want to spend my retirement in a scooter chair?
Nope, not me.
Suddenly, the alpacas became a liability.  On top of that, my grief prevented me from giving them the care they deserved.
I guess I have accomplished the impossible:  I have retired from the alpaca business and sold all of my alpacas.  Well, sold is not entirely correct.  You've heard of Creative Financing?  I employed some really creative sales techniques.  One female went for comparable services at a local Beauty Salon!  Now who doesn't need that?  Another for marketing materials.  The rest have been sold or bartered or given away.
Fortunately, the last 14 went to some wonderful people who have become the dearest of friends.  They have done so much work for me around the farm, and will continue to help me when I need them.  And, they are only about 8 miles away, so I can go visit them whenever I want.

I am writing this with a very heavy heart.  I've had a long time to prepare for this, and the time is right.  However, it's not just the alpacas being gone from their fields.  It's a part of me that has been sliced off and sent away.  I was so good as an alpaca breeder.  I watched the quality of my herd improve each year as I made breeding decisions.  I had always wanted to be a Veterinarian, and through the alpacas, I was able to almost reach that goal.  My vets knew that I was very self sufficient, so when they received an emergency call from me, one of them would leave what he/she was doing and race to my farm.  One day, during a very difficult birth, 4 vets arrived!!!  I miss my friendships with those vets.

In town, I'm still known as the Alpaca Lady.  When my husband died, I made another decision to close my store.  Being alone, I did not want people dropping by any time, wanting a tour and to shop.  This summer, people still arrived, getting out of their cars with their cameras, and then being so disappointed when I told them we were no longer in business.

Well, I'm going on a bit too much here.  What I'm trying to say is, this has been a huge part of my personality.  It proved that I could take on a farm business and make a success of it.  And now it is over.  Yes, I have new bridges to cross and lands to explore.  I was darn good at what I did, just as I was in the business world.  So, World, what's next for me?

Monday, March 7, 2011


I am going to continue posting to this blog, but it won't be very frequent. I have sold all but three of my alpacas. Well, sold isn't exactly the correct word. Placed, bartered and sold. Eight of them are going to some folks I have been mentoring, and in the meantime we have become really good friends. I just love them. Their farm is Muddy Waters Farm. They also raise goats and chickens, and make the most amazing wine and beer.

I am going to stay "on" as their consultant/midwife. Since all three of them work, I have offered to be on baby watch whenever a cria is due. I would miss that so much.

So, I'm very excited. I will have the pleasure of still being a part of the alpaca community, yet have my freedom from caring for animals. I can take off for a visit whenever I want, go on trips, vacations; wow.

I'm making plans to lease the land to organic farmers so I won't have to maintain the pastures.

This year, I am going to grow flowers and lettuce. Maybe a blueberry plant.

That's it.

Hmmmmmmm. We'll see.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Memorial Service For Alan Bylsma

A Celebration of the Life of Alan Bylsma will be held here at the farm on Februry 26, at 12:30 p.m.  This would have been
Alan's 61st Birthday.  Nothing would make him happier than a party in his honor, and in the place he loved most.
I hope you can all join us.  It might be  cold day, but the barn will be clean, and we will have heaters.  My friends will be preparing a warm and sumptious meal of soups and breads to nourish the body and soul.
Please bring a memento that reminds you of Alan, or a story to share.

The address is 601 West Third Street, Nooksack, Wa.  98276.
Do NOT trust Google Maps or Mapquest to get you here.  The directions are on the sidebar of this blog.
Plan to come early and stay late.

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.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Farwell to Eve and Sancho

It was a melancholy day at Lost River Alpacas Sunday when two of our favorites left to go to new homes.  But hey, you can't keep them all.

We acquired Sancho through a trade, and he came all the way from Ohio.  Sancho is the sweetest gentleman.  He was always the last one to leave the barn in the morning, and kept me company until I sprayed his legs with the hose.  I always wondered if he just liked my company, or was he waiting for that spray.  Then again, he spent most of the time cleaning out the grain feeders for those last morsels.
This is Eve on drugs.  She had just had a procedure done on her ear to correct a chronic ear infection.  She was definitely a favorite, having been bottle fed for three months, and very friendly.  After I loaded her in the trailer I gave her a hug and then started crying.

So our herd is down to 27 now.  Both the girls and boys are feeling a bit disconcerted, a bit apprehensive.  They know one of them has left, and they will be a little at odds for about a week, and then their new positions will go into effect.

Sancho and Eve have gone to live with some wonderful people in Eastern Oregon, and I know they are going to be well cared for and happy.