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Wide Sky Ranch: A Santa Fe Alpaca Farm

Big dreams, open minds, warm hearts

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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


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Happy Birthday Our Chance

Baby with Mum shortly after birth

Baby with Mum shortly after birth

Yesterday Chance celebrated his second birthday so he is no longer a yearling, but now has graduated to juvenile. (When born and up to just short of a year old they are called cria.) He is the first born to Theresa Marie so we had little idea what type of off spring she might produce. His father is an award winning male so we were hopeful. Well, he has exceeded all of my expectations. Not only is he just as gentle as can be and most certainly cute, this year his fleece has earned him four ribbons, the most prestigious ribbon being the first place award at the Alpaca Owners Assoc. National Fleece Show in Va.

Since our shearing in May, Chance's fleece is growing and looks great. We hope that next summer we will be able to start his breeding program. Right now he is not interested in breeding, but he has plenty of time for that later. We hope he will follow in the footsteps of his father, Altair's Vito.

By the way, Chance's mother, Theresa Marie, is pregnant, due in July so Chance will have a baby brother or sister.









Spring 2016

Spring 2016

Wyatt nuzzles Charm. 10/16

Wyatt nuzzles Charm. 10/16


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

It is Almost September

Whew, the three or was it four weeks of suffering hot weather has ended and now we are being treated to almost daily showers. The pastures are greening up, the breezes are soft and cool, and everyone is happy, including Dave and me. While we continue working on breeding, we have had visitors who, you can see, the animals are very curious about. These photos are of our girls, the first being three of them who we are either actively breeding or are treating for an infection which is preventing success with breeding. The last photo is a pretty young thing who is staying with us until an ultrasound confirms pregnancy.

If you are contemplating a visit, this is a perfect time with the mild weather and loads of work going on in my studio. We are all about fleece now. Hand washing, picking, carding,felting, and knitting. Very soon we will have our 2016 handwoven alpaca rugs on display. I can't wait for their arrival from the weaver in Texas!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

August Muses

Armelle and Lalique

Armelle and Lalique

Is the last month of summer vacation really coming to an end?? With the many tasks we set out to accomplish this summer, it would be just fine with me if our days would stretch out a bit. Like so many others, we are enjoying the company of our daughter-in-law and 13 year old grandson who are visiting us from Paris. Both of these urbanites have jumped right into helping us with our daily chores. A few days ago we rounded up our super friendly Lalique to walk over to another alpaca ranch for breeding. Lalique has given us two beautiful babies so we hope the breeding this summer will take so we can look forward to another of her babies next summer. (Gestation is 11-12 months.)

Our daughter, another city dweller, just visited us so we took her and the rest of the family to a birthday party for some alpaca babies at friends' ranch. Really, the only thingsv cuter than baby alpacas are human babies!!! As you can see from the photo, it's difficult to tell who was more interested in whom!

Returning to the subject of breeding, one of our grey girls has returned to us now that she is pregnant, bringing along another gorgeous maiden, Rosetta, who is being bred to our recent Color Champion, Winston. He is still being bred to one of our white girls so we are keeping him plenty busy. No complaints yet from him.

In the studio I have finished the fingerless gloves mentioned last month and am now half way finished with a natural color alpaca/cotton blend scarf. Lalique donated the fleece. Lots and lots of soap are being felted for the local farmers' market which I attend once a week. These soaps will be one of my featured products at a nearby Harvest Fest the first weekend of October. Delivery of our alpaca handwoven rugs plus our yarn should happen next month for this show. In the meantime, I can show visitors quite a few hand knitted accessories , soaps, last year's yarn, and special bamboo buttons in our studio.

Heading our way anytime? Give us a call at 941-587-4601 so we can meet you and show our alpaca bliss here at Wide Sky Ranch.
Gaylen and Lalique

Gaylen and Lalique

Julianna at the birthday party.

Julianna at the birthday party.

Our gorgeous border. We may never wish her to leave.

Our gorgeous border. We may never wish her to leave.

Good night from WSR.

Good night from WSR.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Hot, Hot Days of July

Although normally June is the hottest month of the summer, this month is proving to be exceptionally dry, hot, and windy. Thank goodness our herd was sheared in May! Everyone is enjoying the windy afternoons and the girls are especially pleased that Dave enlarged their pasture to include our front yard which, despite having almost no rain, has been producing all kinds of yummy greens for them to munch on. As long as we are careful to provide plenty of water they are not complaining at all.

As for us, we have been busy sending fleece off to be made into yarn, while other fleece is in the schedule for being woven into rugs. Our plan is to have the yarn as well as the rugs back in our studio around September so we can take it to shows to sell although some of the yarn I will be using to knit items for our family plus also sell.

This time of year alpaca breeders in our area of the country as busy breeding and we are no exception. Three of our females have been bred although they have another month at least until they are ultra-sounded to prove the pregnancy. Another female is going to be moved soon elsewhere for breeding as we do not have the desired male for her at our ranch. She has produced one grey off spring and we are hoping to see another next year. All the future babies will be born in 2017 as alpaca gestation is 11 to 12 months.

The last task on my to - do list is coming up with knitting patterns for projects which I will begin in about another month. Last night I finished a gorgeous pair of very feminine fingerless gloves, using our own line of hand dyed yarn. Seems odd knitting with this very warm yarn in 90* weather.

If you are in the Santa Fe area, we hope you will give us a telephone call so we can show around our ranch. Until then, sit back in a comfy chair and enjoy a glass of lemonade.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

My Day at the Ranch

Charm and Mitzi

Charm and Mitzi

My days in the month of June have developed a certain pattern. Early in the morning my husband and I wake to feed our animals. But first we need our cups of coffee on our porch which looks out over two of our three alpaca pastures. While coming to our senses we watch our two Yorkie puppies play with Charm, our Great Pyrenees puppy. She along with Josie live with our alpacas, providing 24 hour, 7 day a week protection from potential threats such as coyotes. Just as soon as the ever vigilant Charm sees us on the porch, she runs over, squeezes through the bars of our metal goat fencing, and greets the puppies, sometime us, too. Here she is with our Mitzi.

Once all the animals were fed, today I placed an order for our alpaca handwoven rugs. These are made for us by the talented folks at Ingrid's Handwoven in Paint Rock, Tx. Google them and you will see there is a video tour available for you to see what goes on there.

After placing my order, I went back to the studio to sort more fleece. All month I have been doing this, first sorting out the fleece for the rugs. Now I am working on the fleece with will become yarn, thanks to The Shepherd's Mill in Kansas. This fleece will be gently cleaned and air dried at SM before
being fluffed up (picked), carded, spun and plied. I am sooooo very excited about this year's yarn. It's super soft and will make lovely yarn for me to knit with and my customers.

Well, tomorrow we will start our day pretty much like today. There's more fleece to deal with!!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Summer is Almost Here.

Lalique after shearing.

Lalique after shearing.

In just a few days summer officially arrives although for those watching our temperatures for the past week and the future week, it would appear that summer is in full swing. Those of us living in Santa Fe are most fortunate to have in addition to very low humidity, cool mornings and nights. Having lived in Florida for over ten years, I just love the luxury of sleeping with our bedroom windows open. We are not the only ones loving the cool breezes in the morning and nights. Just witness our alpacas sitting in the open, large pastures taking it all in. All of pastures are now bare since the herd has nibbled away at our sparse vegetation in the fields so we have opened up a new lush area for a few of the girls.

On May 19th all our critters were sheared. Days and days went into planning our big day, from lining up our wonderful volunteers for the day, preparing the area of the barn which would be our shearing area, arranging for snacks, and weighing in all the animals before hand. Once over I thought I could catch my breath for just a little time, but, quite to my surprise, the activity level here is high. Fleece blankets for the annual alpaca fleece show in July had to be prepared, paperwork filled out and the box shipped. Another animal was entered into the spin off at the same show, involving more paperwork and shipping.

What else is going on? I attended a local fiber arts show with a fellow alpaca breeder. We showed my 3 boys for Saturday and Sunday plus sold a variety of the products I make from our fleece. Great weather at an outstanding venue.

Today I finished preparing about ten pounds of fleece which will be shipped to Texas where beautiful handwoven rugs will be made for us. I hope to have the rugs back in time to show at the before mentioned venue in September.

Lastly, tomorrow I host a Knit-In in my studio. Looking forward to sitting around with friends doing one of my very favorite things in the world, knitting!! Now I don't want anyone to think that we are ever too busy to invite folks to our ranch for a tour!!!! We love introducing our alpacas to new people. It helps us keep them socialized and gives us a chance to meet new people. So regardless of whether you live in Santa Fe or are passing through, give us a call!!



Lalique with all her fleece.

Lalique with all her fleece.