We woke up this morning to a lovely blanket of white all over the farm. It snowed about 2 inches during the night just enough to create a winter wonderland. Of course, being the Pacific Northwest it won't last for long. The alpacas went out into the pasture to enjoy the snowy landscape.
Aster (on the left) is jumping with delight in the new snow.
The girls look for grass buried in the snow.
TWO UPCOMING EVENTS! Valentine's Day is this Friday. Soft and warm alpaca gloves, scarves, hats and accessories make memorable Valentine gifts. Give us a call or send an email and we'll help you find the perfect gift.
And, Mystery Weekend in Langley is February 22-23. This is a classic event. Amateur sleuths come from all over the region to figure out who did the "Deadly Deed". All of Langley gets into the act with locals playing the mystery's characters and giving out clues. And when you're not sleuthing you can drop by the farm and visit with our friendly alpacas.
This time of year on many mornings the fog rolls in and sometimes stays all day. Thankfully, temperatures are milder than what we experienced a few weeks ago. No more having to break the ice on the alpacas' water buckets!
Aster is getting a lot bigger and we've started her halter training. Just getting used to the halter is a big deal. Today she actually went out into the pasture on the lead. There was a bit of bucking at first but she managed to calm down to get her picture taken. Such a lovely young lady!
When we start them young they quickly get used to being haltered. That makes all of us a lot happier when we need to have them on a lead. Another big girl accomplishment: she has been eating her pellet feed right alongside mom for many weeks now. And this is very good. When mom weans her from the milk bar she won't really miss the nutrition. She might pine for the comforting feeling of nursing from mom, but she'll have all the calories she needs from her pellet nibbles and hay. Way to go, Aster!
Even though January isn't high season for visitors to the island, we've had lots of folks come to the farm. Whidbey is a great day trip from the mainland and many stay the weekend at the local B&Bs and inns. There are breathtaking views, country roads, quaint towns, restaurants to try, wineries to visit and our alpacas waiting for you to stop by!
Give us a call or send an email to tell us when you'll be on the island.
The holiday season is in full swing! Shoppers have started coming to the farm and checking off their gift lists. One visitor said she and her friend came over from the mainland to shop at the "Whidbey shopping mall". I love the idea of finding everything on your gift list at one of our local retailers. Just on south Whidbey you can find fused glass, pottery, fiber arts, sculpture, handmade chocolates, wine, alpaca clothing and more at artist studios and small shops like ours.
Our newest item in the farm store is hand dyed yarn in 2014 spring colors. This is high quality alpaca yarn that is certified sorted (by me) and grown by a friend of ours in the Puyallup area. We've hand dyed these beautiful skeins of 100% alpaca in seafoam, plum, alpine blue and golden yellow. Hey, the plum and gold are perfect for a knitted gift for the Husky on your gift list.
I've just finished weaving several 2x3ft alpaca rugs from our fleece. They are heavenly soft under your bare tootsies. Perfect for the bath or by your bed. For larger spaces we have several 4 ft x 6 ft alpaca rugs made from our fleece by our Texas hand weaver. All of our alpaca rugs are durable, easy to care for and will become a treasured family heirloom.
Next Saturday, Dec 7th we will be participating in the Clinton Holiday Bazaar. Over a dozen vendors will offer their handcrafted jewelry, hand carved wooden spoons, health and beauty products, artisan gifts, cupcakes and more. Plus, we'll have great music from the Tim Donovan Band and a chili feed. There will be activities and a chance to win a gift basket. It will be a lot of fun. Drop by the Clinton Community Hall on Saturday, December 7th from 10 am to 3 pm.
It was a wonderful weekend with delightful and intrepid FiberQuesters. We met knitters who drove all the way from Montana just for FiberQuest. Now that's true fiber love. I did hear something about them needing an ocean view fix, too. We met a gal who was doing FiberQuest by public transit and bicycle. She made it to all 11 locations...what an accomplishment. And we were able to chat with several repeat FiberQuesters. Glad to see them still finding treasures at our Whidbey fiber farms.
Then on Saturday there were the high winds, the 12 hour power outage and the trees downed across the road. But the farmstore in the yurt was cozy and warm; and our spirits lifted by the great fiber loving friends we made during during the weekend.
Our fiber artist friend, Lydia Christiansen, spent Saturday with us in the yurt spinning and making fiber art. We still have her handspun yarn and other fiber crafts available for sale in the farm store. She is teaching some classes this November. Check out her website www.abundantearthfiber.com And, we enjoyed our "Guess the Fleece Weight" contest. Nineteen FiberQuesters gave it their best guess. And the winner is: (drum roll please) . . Sidney Sparks! whose guess was just 3 tenths of an ounce off the actual weight. Way to go Sidney.
For all who brought home Fern Ridge alpaca yarn we would love you to email us pictures of your finished product and we'll post them in our customer gallery.
Happy knitting! And thanks to all our FiberQuesting friends.
We are delighted to share a photo of this beautiful shawl that our friend Becky created from Hermes' yarn. Congratulations Becky, we know it was a challenge but your perseverance was well worth it. We wish you a soft and warm winter wrapped up in this lovely shawl. Thanks for sharing!
And this is a reminder to all of you who have Fern Ridge Alpaca yarn on your needles: We love to share the wonderful knitted, crocheted and felted pieces that are created. They are all so unique and reflect the talent and creativity of our alpaca loving friends.
Hmmm. . . this is a good time to remind you of Whidbey FiberQuest. It's just around the corner... November 1 - 2 - 3. Along with our alpaca yarn and roving we'll also feature the talent of 2 of our fiber artist friends. Lydia Christiansen, AbundantEarthFiber.com, will have her handspun yarns and wool batts available in our farm store during FiberQuest. And she'll likely be spinning while I'm weaving on the loom in my fiber studio in the yurt. We're also featuring hand-dyed yarns and roving in a variety of fiber blends from Heidi Price. We also have in stock her hand-dyed, self-striping sock yarns. I can't wait to make myself a pair of socks from her yarn.
We're the closest FiberQuest farm to the Clinton ferry. We're looking forward to greeting you. We'll have the fire warming up the yurt and hot cider and cookies to get us in the holiday spirit. Plus, you can meet the alpacas. . . especially our cutest alpaca, Aster. . .just a couple of months old.
It took us quite awhile to decide and we had several great suggestions came from our blog readers... but the one we thought fit her perfectly was Aster! It means star in Greek. Thanks to Debra Moore for that suggestion. In one month Aster has grown from nearly 17 lbs (at birth) to just shy of 35 lbs yesterday. And that's just on mother's milk. Way to go Aster and mom Electra! Aster delights all who come to the farm . . . especially our youngest visitors. If they stand really still (the hardest part) Aster is so curious she'll come right up to them to investigate. Then they are truly, as we like to say, nose to nose with a sweet alpaca.
Recently we had a dozen delightful summer campers come to the farm. They timed it perfectly since a new baby alpaca had just arrived a few days before. Alpacas love children. They come right up and the kids can truly get 'nose to nose with a sweet alpaca'.
End of summer activities always include hauling hay. Our 4H friend and tractor driver extraordinaire, Kristen, was on hand to help move the 75# bales of hay from a flat bed trailer into the barn. Here she (on left) is showing her Swiss friend, Lottie, how to drive the tractor. Thanks to help from the girls, Kristen's dad and Lottie's parents the job was done with ease. . . well easy for me since I didn't arrive until it was time to sweep up.
Last Saturday Electra gave birth to a charming little girl. She needed a little help coming into the world, but now that she's here . . . there's no catching her as she pronks around the pasture. However, she still has no name! If you have a good suggestion, please email us or post your ideas on the Fern Ridge Alpacas Facebook page.
Another Whidbey Island Fair is over. Here's a last group photo of our alpacas and llama, Pippin and their 4H handlers getting ready to load out at the close of the Fair. The kids have a good time sharing the animals with fairgoers and competing for ribbons in handling, obstacle courses, fleece showing and animal husbandry knowledge. It's great fun and we love talking with all the families who come through the Alpaca Barn during the four days of Fair.
With our unseasonably hot weather, the fluffy alpacas seem grateful to have been shorn in early June. This hot weather could be really uncomfortable wearing all that wonderfully insulating fleece. Some of the fiber has been sorted and sent off to the mill for spinning.We're looking forward to this year's harvest coming back as soft, shiny yarn.
It's been a busy June here on the farm. The sunny weather brings people out to the island and we've had a steady stream of visitors. We've been getting great reviews from our visitors... they all say they love how much they learn and the chance they have to interact with the alpacas. The alpacas love it too! So come on by. We're open most every day. It's always good to give us a quick call or send an email first... just to be sure we're here and can give you a personal tour. 206-510-0434.
We have been enjoying a beautiful spring and have had carloads of international and local visitors during April and May. FiberQuest weekend was great fun. We love talking with fiber friends. The Model A owners drove up in style. Some took a tour through our farm store in a yurt and others enjoyed feeding the alpacas. We enjoyed seeing their fancy cars.
Important Farm News Flash! We will be CLOSED the weekend of MAY
17 - 20th for a family celebration. You are welcome to come and see the
adorable fluffy critters after May 20th . . . while they are still fluffy.
Shearing Day is just around the corner. There are only a few more weeks before the big day. The first week of June preparation for shearing gets underway. Since we usually have rain that week, we have to keep all the alpacas under cover to keep their fleece dry. After June 7th the alpacas will be sporting a slimmer, new look.... minus all their wonderful fleece. Ah...but just think of the luscious yarn we'll have for knitting.