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Wide Sky Ranch: A Santa Fe Alpaca Farm

Big dreams, open minds, warm hearts

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

It Started Out as a Normal Day and Then.....

Ranch Visitor with Cleo

Ranch Visitor with Cleo

June 26th began pretty much like any other day. In the morning I attended a new local embroidery group so I can improve upon my embroidery skills. Following lunch I began the dreaded task of catching up with WSR paperwork/computer work. As I plowed through the tall pile on my desk, I received a last minute telephone inquiry, asking if I could show visitors around the ranch. Sure, I was tiring of the paperwork.

Ranch tour went well. There's always lots to tell new friends about our alpaca world. During the tour I did take note that our pregnant girl, Theresa Marie, was napping in her pasture and later on while going to the bathroom her backside looked slightly different, but not too different. Not her time for another nine days. As our guest prepared to climb into their cars, one of the guests said "It's happening." or something like that. I looked over at Theresa Marie who now was at the main barn and sure enough, a baby was beginning to be born. After running over to her, I noticed that the baby's head and one leg, not two legs. Baby was breathing through the membrane encasing her head. I removed it so she could better breath. Eyes were beginning to open, but what about that other leg? Both legs and head emerge together. Not knowing what to do, I plunged my arm inside and could not locate it. Quickly I called a fellow breeder who lives about a mile away. Fortunately she was home so she came over while another breeder came to see what was going on. Long story, short, my friend was able to turn the baby a bit so that her shoulders would bend forward and pass through the cervix. It was a difficult delivery for Mom, but the baby looked good and was on her feet within less than 30 minutes.

It's been a very worrisome 21 hours as the baby and Mom didn't figure out how to work together to provide her with a good feeding of milk. With the help of my friend as well as my husband, the three of us were able to keep Mom steady while getting the baby to latch on and get a good meal of milk. Now we feel that the worrisome part of birthing and feeding are behind us. Mom and baby are staying in the barn because Mom wasn't keeping her in the shade in the pasture. Babies can't regulate their body temperature very effectively for the first 3 days, but in the cool, insulated barn she is just fine.

As a side note, one of our male alpacas is named Lord Winston. How could we possibly have a Winston without the complimentary Clementine? So baby is Clemmie.

If you are going to be in our neck of the woods sometime soon, this would be a lovely time to have an extra special ranch tour.
Those long wobbly legs!

Those long wobbly legs!

"Hi Mom"

Crias need lots of rest, just like babies do.

Crias need lots of rest, just like babies do.

Success!

Success!


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A New Addition to WSR - Lexie

Good friends of ours in southern New Mexico are in the process of down sizing their once very large herd of alpacas so the timing was right last week to purchase a beautiful white yearling called Lexie. For the past six months I have been keeping my eyes open for a white girl whose fleece we can possibly combine with another older girl we own, Rosetta. Lexie couldn't be better because her hair is bright, fine and lots of it. The herd has readily accepted her as one of their own so we couldn't be happier.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Shearing Day 2017

Rosetta and her girlfriends

Rosetta and her girlfriends

Another day of shearing is in the books now. Having learned much from the previous 3, we planned well and with the help of about 12 people including the shearer and his assistant as well as our hard working local volunteers, in two hours we had all the herd sheared, resulting in over 63 lbs of fleece. A few of the herd had their bottom teeth trimmed and no one complained all that much. We have one alpaca who complains all the times as she is sheared, but we expected it so it was no problem at all.

Currently I am preparing the rug fleece for shipping to Ingrid's Handwoven in Paint Rock, Texas. I handwashed about 3 lbs of white fleece to brighten it up and boy, did it turn out spectacularly. A ton of work doing all that by hand, but I am so very pleased with the results. By the way, the fleece which is designated for rug production is the fleece from the legs, bellies, and neck. This is fiber which lends itself perfectly to rugs, producing a durable product which is still soft to the touch.

Next I am going to be sorting out the prime fleece which can be seen in photo #3. This will be spun into various weights of yarn by our friends in Kansas. Some of the yarn will be sold natural while others will be hand dyed. By the end of this summer it will be available for knitting and crocheting.
Rosetta resting comfortably

Rosetta resting comfortably

Chance's prime fleece being wrapped up.

Chance's prime fleece being wrapped up.

The girls feeling much cooler without their overcoats.

The girls feeling much cooler without their overcoats.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

New Mexico Fiber Crawl - Mother's Day Weekend

About 3 1/2 years ago Dave and I dared to dream about going beyond my lifelong pursuit of knitting and actually establish an alpaca ranch in Santa Fe. Fortunately Dave was raised on a dairy farm in PA so he has the animal know how. Come see how our dream is being realized at WSR Check out exciting new products we are making from our small herd. On both days we will be giving ranch tours during which you will learn all about alpacas, how we care for them, compete in sanctioned alpaca shows, and how we do much of the fiber processing on the ranch.
* Saturday come meet my husband, another local alpaca breeder and myself. Both my friend and I will be working on knitting projects. Bring yours to show us or ask questions. During the day I will be demonstrating the initial step of of fiber processing called skirting. Learn its importance in leading up to superior fiber for hand spinning or for mill yarn production. I will also be demonstrating how I hand wash fleece which I used in my studio for products which I sell. Just like human hair, alpaca fleece looks and behaves best when clean.
* Sunday we are delighted to have Judy Chapman, well known needle felter from ABQ, join us. Come see how she creates human and animal figures from fleece. It is magical. Bring all your questions. Judy will bring some of her finished products to tempt you. Also today, as well as on Saturday, we will demonstrate how clean fleece is picked and then carded. These two steps have proven to be very interesting to children of all ages who visit our ranch.

On both days there will be light refreshments. Additionally, there will be a coloring table for young children. We are open 10:00 to 5:00. For more details on this event, go to https://www.evfac.org/event_detail/new-mexico-fiber-crawl. For additional info on our alpaca ranch, go to https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60958-d10584598-Reviews-Wide_Sky_Ranch_LLC-Santa_Fe_New_Mexico.html. #NMFiberCrawl

Monday, April 17, 2017

NM Fiber Crawl is quickly approaching

A quick reminder for all fiber enthusiasts either living in the area or vising us to check out this exciting event. For full details, please go to www.nmfibercrawl.org

Monday, March 27, 2017

New Mexico Fiber Crawl


Sponsored by Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center

Crawl: Saturday May 13, 10am - 5pm
Crawl: Sunday May 14, 10am - 5pm

New Mexico offers a wealthy textile tradition that is steeped in its diverse culture and enriched by its extensive history. The Fiber Crawl opens doors to work of local Fiber Artists, cultural centers, stores, farms and museums offering an unforgettable experience for everyone.

The tour spans locations and artisans from Taos to Albuquerque. It is a two-day event for fiber enthusiasts — knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, and felters — to explore the many sights to see in Northern New Mexico.

Wide Sky Ranch is proud to announce that we will be one of the stops for the Fiber Crawl. We are busy dyeing yarn, felting soaps, and making finished items for sale. We will have raw alpaca blankets for spinners plus dyed, picked fleece as well as 4 oz alpaca batts. For more information on the Crawl, go to www.nmfibercrawl.org

At Wide Sky Ranch we will offering complimentary ranch tours where you will learn where alpacas originate, proper care for them on a daily as well as monthly basis, meet the alpacas in the pastures, check out our fleece picker and electric carder, and demonstrations of proper skirting of alpaca blankets, a very necessary step for further processing and spinning. On Sunday Judy Chapman will demonstrate needle felting of 3 D figures. Judy is very well know in the Albuquerque-Santa Fe area.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

My Daily Ranch Chores

This morning started out pretty much like any other except the weather was warmer than usual plus the air was still, very unusual for Santa Fe. After feeding and the 3 boys in their pasture (plus cleaning up after them), I did the same for our 3 girls in the next pasture. Pretty uneventful for the most part.

Now the pregnant girls were another matter. Let me explain why they are not with the other girls, but away in their own area. Alpacas are a lot like us humans, including when pregnant. The old fashion way we figure they are pregnant is to get them together with a male, not necessarily the male they were mated with. Any male will do. Just as soon as that male gets close to them, they spit away, preferably right in his face. The sweetest girl becomes an amazon woman.

Well, my girls were primed for me. I feed them their pellets in individual bowls, with space between the bowls. Both love pellets. Lalique (brown) dove into the first bowl When I put the second bowl down for Theresa (white), Lalique dashed over for that bowl, because it just had to have more than her bow. Well, Theresa went crazy, spitting like mad at her. Then Lalique began spitting at her. I just backed away. Alpaca spit is particularly horrible after they eat. Finally they stopped spitting and just looked at me. Notice Theresa has her lips parted. That can only mean one thing - lots of green spit still in her mouth. I did take note of this.

Next I loaded the feeder they both feed at with hay and alfalfa. Lalique went right up and began eating with gusto. Pregnant girls are always hungry, just like when we were "in the family way". It was obvious that Theresa wanted nothing to do with her pasture mate so I put some feed on the ground for her. Everything seemed to be going well. I cut her a break and she appreciated it. NO. She looked up and aimed her spit right at my face. Been down this road before so I was maintaining a good distance from her and avoided having a green face. With that I swore at her and left their pasture!!!!

What a morning!



Friday, February 24, 2017

Our Return from Ft. Worth

As promised in the previous blog, I would like to report on our trip to the TXOLAN Alpaca Show held in Texas. The fiber work shops were even better than expected so the past two weeks have been spent washing, picking, carding and dying fleece. Some of it is for sale on our WideSkyRanch Etsy site, some will be transformed into rugs and some it will go with us to shows.

The fleece from Our Chance did better than I could ever have imagined. Every single award available to him was given to him. In fact, he did so well that now I am taking him to the National Alpaca Show next month in Denver where he will compete in the ring for his conformation and also his fleece. This will be his first show, but I think he will behave just fine. He doesn't seem to mind being on a lead, especially when his buddy, Wyatt, is along side. Wyatt who is only a little over a year, will compete in the ring, too.

While I am away my husband, Dave, will be here for visitors. He like giving tours, too!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Come Visit a Small Working Alpaca Ranch

Guests Christmas Eve.

Guests Christmas Eve.

Once Thanksgiving was approaching us last year people either living here in Santa Fe or visitors began making appointments to visit our alpaca ranch. And it's been great fun for us to share the joy of raising these animals and then transforming their fleece into finished products. Our tour consists of showing the animals we have in three separate pastures, explaining the shearing process which takes place annually in May, and then demonstrating the machines we use to transform the raw fleece into a product we can then use to make items. Along the way cover the background of alpacas as members of the camelid family, how we feed them and keep them healthy, and the lengths we go to in order to assure that the fleece is adequately evaluated to insure quality.

If your travel plans ever include a trip to New Mexico, we hope that you will consider a visit here. Kids of all ages never fail to amazed by our herd. They love feeding them. You will find more info on us as well as photos on https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60958-d10584598-Reviews-Wide_Sky_Ranch_LLC-Santa_Fe_New_Mexico.html

Please note that we will be unavailable for Ranch tours from 2/9 to 2/13 as we attend the TXOLAN regional alpaca show in Ft. Worth, Texas. Two of our males will be competing in the fleece judging. Upon our return we'll post the results.
One of our blue ribbon winners.

One of our blue ribbon winners.

Felted Soap in our Studio

Felted Soap in our Studio

One of our many handknitted items for sale

One of our many handknitted items for sale


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Winter Is On Its Way

Girls checking out the coyotes

Girls checking out the coyotes

but it hasn't arrived yet in Santa Fe where we are currently enjoying daily highs in the low 60's with light breezes. This weather has given us some extra time to deep clean water buckets, take hoses in, put up a new high quail feeder, and whatever seems to need to be done.

All eight of our alpacas are eating more feed to grow their fleeces out faster. Cleo, our youngest, no longer looks like her lean self, but is rounding out. Wyatt,too, our second youngest. Two of our older girls are pregnant, due mid to end of the summer 2017. Both of these gals are a bit grumpy, normal pregnant behavior, so we have given them their own pasture, complete with a shed they can run into if the winds/snow bother them.

The boys are growing so we have enlarged their pasture a lot so they can run and kick up their heals. As soon as they see one of us they run as fast as they can back to their shed in case we are going to feed them. Since their shed is close to my studio I visit quite often with them.

In the studio I am working on special order projects as well as additions to the WideSkyRanch Etsy store. More handmade soaps have been ordered and fleece hand washed yesterday and now drying so soon we will have more hand felted soaps for the holidays. They can be seen on Etsy or on display in the studio. Finger crossed, in about two weeks I will have a new batch of 100% alpaca yarn for sale.

If you are planning a trip to Santa Fe, I hope you will call us to arrange a complementary ranch tour.
Soaps ready for labels

Soaps ready for labels

My most popular fingerless mitts

My most popular fingerless mitts