Is it me or has February been a strange month of weather?
In our part of New Hampshire, most of the month has been dry with mild temperatures in the 40's, and a couple of times we reached the mid 50's.
The alpacas, now in their thick winter coats, take the warmer days in stride and seek the shade of the barn and their outdoor shelter -- they especially enjoy the latter since we've lifted the wind panel to allow the breeze to pass through.
Lifting the wind panel also allows more light to the shelter, and (amusingly) the alpacas immediately took advantage of having another way to access their hayracks.
Thea and Ace enjoying the brighter space, shade, and cool breeze blowing through the shelter
But as I write this, Old Man Winter seems to have realized that Spring is coming soon and has decided that he's been delinquent in dumping snow on us this season.
Next week's weather report shows a lot of snow activity.
Hopefully, this will be winter's last hurrah this season! (fingers crossed)
The herd won't be bothered at all by the change in weather or the snow because, heck, they are dressed for it.
Since the alpacas have the freedom to go in and out of the barn and shelter at will, some prefer to be inside and some prefer to be outside and coated in a blanket of white.
If you are wondering why they would choose to be outside in the snow and cold, it's because alpacas' coats are made of individual hollow fibers that trap and hold heat that becomes a warm and protective layer to their bodies.
So just because you see a layer of snow on their backs doesn't mean that the cold is penetrating through their coats and down to their skin; in fact, much like a house with snow on the roof is an indicator that the home is well insulated, the same is true for an alpaca with snow on their backs.
This feature is just one of the primary reasons why people love wearing alpaca.
Works in progress
These cold winter days are the only time I don't feel guilty for spending my time indoors. Is this true for you too?
It gives me a great opportunity to work on a handful of projects.
Currently, I have tufts of Stormy's fiber waiting to be hand-felted into dryer balls.
There is a scarf on my weaving loom that I am designing.
I have three hats that I just completed that are in the final stages of blocking.
I also have several bags of raw fiber in the barn that still need to be skirted, graded, and sorted for processing for the fiber mill to make into yarn and batting.
These projects are so therapeutic, enjoyable, beautiful, and satisfying to make -- especially when I know which individual alpaca(s) contributed to the construction of each finished piece.
And I love seeing a person's face light up when they discover that the hat they just bought came from Summer, Raspberry, Thea or one of the other alpacas' yarn.
farm tours are back!
It's finally here!
Opening day for 2023 farm tours begins on March 11.
Come alone or bring a friend or two or three or eight.
See for yourself how big Baxter and Ace are growing.
Feed our pregnant girls, Stormy and Thea, treats (they're eating for two!)
Feel their soft mouths as the alpacas eat from your hands
Plan ahead and schedule a visit this summer when you, friends, and/or family are vacationing in the area;
we're very convenient to area attractions or a great place to take a break while on a long road trip to your final destination
5 minutes from Applecrest Orchards & The Orchard Grille
7 minutes from Smuttynose Brewery's Hayseed Restaurant
10 minutes from downtown Exeter
15 minutes from Cider Hill Farm & downtown Amesbury
15 minutes from Hampton Beach & Salisbury Beach
20 minutes from Portsmouth
60 minutes from Portland & Boston
Pepper lost a tooth - yes, a tooth!
Pepper's two front teeth are one of her most distinguishing features.
How could this have happened?
We have not experienced this on our farm before, so it took us by surprise.
She was fine yesterday, with her toothy smile, but today, one of those big pearly whites is now missing.
I tried to recall if I had overlooked something that might have happened but nothing came to mind.
Did she get into a fight with another alpaca?
Not likely - she gets along with everyone.
Did she eat something that broke the tooth?
Possibly, but what? A twig? A rock?
Where is the tooth?
It could be buried in the hay, embedded in the ground, etc.; I looked around but of course, like a needle in a haystack... it could be anywhere.
I am a little sad because her big teeth are part of what makes this little alpaca endearing.
But is Pepper okay?
Is she going to grow a new tooth?
The answer to both is "yes."
First of all, Pepper is fine. She is not in pain and actually seemed unbothered by the whole thing. (always a good sign).
Next (because we had not experienced tooth loss on our farm before), I did some research on the matter to learn 'how?' and 'why?'.
Diving into the books, I found: Caring for Llamas and Alpacas, A Health Management Guide, by Clare Hoffman, DVM and on the Internet: Farm Animal Report's: Alpaca Teeth, the Exhaustive Guide, by Gregory Gaines - with my commentary.
Here is where it gets interesting:
With this new information, I wanted a closer look at Pepper's mouth so that I could familiarize myself with this situation and understand what a healthy, normal baby tooth gap looks like.
Pardon the green grass in her mouth, but there is a new tooth coming in where her baby tooth used to be.
This was a learning opportunity for us because before 1-year-old Pepper arrived in 2021, we had not had an alpaca on our farm that was under the age of 3 and never noticed any of our alpacas missing teeth before.
Pepper's new tooth will probably fill the space before we know it, and it will be less of a shock when it happens again with her or the other alpacas.
Another year has come to a close, and I am so glad that you've been a part of it in some way.
Whether we are already friends, you've visited us on the farm, we met at an event, follow me (or each other) on social media, or via this newsletter, I am glad you're here.
I love to share videos of the alpacas with you, their activities and antics during everyday life. As you already know, they are beautiful creatures with amazing (and goofy) personalities and mega-soft coats.
While I make videos all year long and share them on social media, I make one video at the end of each year highlighting the fun and adventures we've had with the alpacas over the past 12 months.
I've been doing this ever since we adopted our first alpacas in December 2014, and this year is no different.
In fact, if you need to keep someone entertained for a while (i.e., little kids), need an escape, or want to watch alpaca videos all day, visit my youtube page (@gsalpacas). There are 100+ alpaca videos to keep anyone busy.
For now, go make some popcorn, grab a beverage, sit and enjoy the below montage of alpaca fun.
I hope 2022 has been good for you and 2023 is even better.
What's ahead in 2023
While it may not be a white Christmas on the farm this year
were are still full of holiday cheer
The alpacas are nestled inside their barn
nice & warm growing next year's yarn
They are still and quiet, waiting for eight pairs of tiny hoof beats,
hoping Santa will fill their stockings with their favorite treats
(carrots, apples, & alfalfa hay)
Amity, Ace, Baxter, Genny, Lady, Melody, Olly, Pepper, Sparrow, Summer, Razzie, Thea, Stormy, and Tia
wish you a joyous holiday filled with alpaca kisses and nose boops.
Thank you for being on this paca adventure with us!
Winter is settling in on the farm as we received our first blanket of snow this week.
I've been curious to see how Baxter and Ace would react to the change in weather even though the transition from summer to autumn has been gradual, and their coats have been growing longer.
I did not witness Baxter or Ace's reaction to the first fallen flakes since it happened overnight, but neither seemed phased by it.
Baxter & his mom, Summer, and their holiday bowls
We've watched the boys walking around with a light blanket of snow on their backs - likely they don't even know it's there since they are so well-insulated.
And it was a surprise to already see the boys eating snow.
I saw them eating it, but I wish I had been there when the baby boys took their first tastes.
Did their moms teach them?
Did they see their aunties eat it first?
Did they wonder what it was and decide to take a taste?
I am simply left to wonder.
Baxter eating snow
Last Holiday Market for 2022
Is it me or are the holidays closing in fast?
If you have a little more shopping to do, we will be in Portsmouth on Sunday at Cisco Brewery for their holiday market as one of 30+ vendors offering an assortment of local and handmade items.
Live holiday music, food, and beverages are provided by Cisco Brewery.
Cisco Brewery Holiday Market
35 Corporate Drive
Sunday, December 18
12:00 - 5:00 pm
Can't make it to the event or you don't live locally? Visit our online store to view all our products.
I hope this email finds you well, among family and/or friends, with warm smells coming from the kitchen and gratitude in your heart.
If you've just subscribed to my newsletter - welcome! I'm glad you're here.
If you've been reading my emails for a brief time or longer - I'm sending you a big smile and waving at you.
I want to take the opportunity to express my gratitude to you -- yes, YOU!
To all of my email subscribers both new and long-time readers: THANK YOU!
Thank you for being here, for reading, following, your friendship, and your love for alpacas.
Alpacas Meet Turkeys
In honor of today's holiday, below are videos of our alpacas encountering turkeys over the years.
How would it end?... We didn't know.
For the most part, everyday life with the herd goes along swimmingly, yet suddenly, one of our alpacas was on the ground.
Did she trip? Did she get bumped while jostling for food and knocked off her feet?
We didn't see what happened. It occurred while we walked with the herd to feed them their evening meal and then we heard the thud.
We both looked back and found Amity on the ground, struggling to get up on her feet. With a little help, she did.
We thought the situation was odd and tucked it into our minds to keep watch in case it became more than just a coincidence.
The next day we noticed Amity favoring her right rear leg and limping. We also observed her struggling to stand up from a cushed (lying down) position.
Amity favoring her right rear leg.
Granite State Alpacas
Alpaca farm news from Joe, Sandy and the herd