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.
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.
Just a few days ago a sweet girl we named Freya was born. Now Loki (briefly known as Ralph) has a friend to play with in the pasture. With her markings she is what's known as a tuxedo gray. Loki was ready to rough and tumble right away, but she's a little more quiet than he might like. Nevertheless, an adorable twosome they have become. You might have noted the naming theme this year comes from two of our daughter's current cinematic favorites...The Avengers and the British series Merlin.
As we head into 2012 our thoughts are full of gratitude for all of our farm visitors. We thoroughly enjoy sharing the alpacas and our farm life with others. And without the generous help of our volunteers we couldn't have had such a successful Whidbey Island Farm Tour event in early September. Nearly 200 families came to the farm and enjoyed plenty of photo ops along with weaving, spinning and felting demos and educational displays.
We had 2 beautiful new
cria this year. . .Kuro and Asa. They have delighted visitors with their soft fleece, adorable faces and curious natures. Much bigger than when this photo was taken...they will be preparing to wean from their mom's by mid February.
We had a surprise visit from 2 women on a 5,000 mile cycling trip. They spent the night on the farm and told us about their goal to raise money for an inner-city girl's school through their journey across the country. To follow their blog or make a donation to support their cause go to their website: www.anothermileanotherstarfish.com
This year we also had visits by 2 classes of 3rd grade Waldorf students from Brightwater School in Seattle. One group came in the spring and one in November.Again, our fabulous volunteers made it both fun and educational for the students.
FiberQuests happened twice this year. We collaborate with other local fiber farms for this multi-day event. Fiber lovers from both the island and the mainland visit all the farms and have a chance to win a basket of fiber products. We'll be doing another FiberQuest in spring 2012. Watch for the notice and get in on a fun Whidbey Island fiber event.
4H and the Island County Fair was another highlight of our summer. We had 6 fabulous young people (ages 8 - 16) work with some of our alpacas and a llama on halter training and obstacle course work during the year. Their work culminates at the County Fair during a lively competition open to the public. The Fair is a great community event and we get to chat with many of our friends as they come through the alpaca barn and enjoy the fair.
For the New Year . . . we've been working on an upgraded online store. Please click on Farm Store navigation button and take a look. Products are frequently changing and expanding so it's good to check back now and then to see what's new. Let me know how it works for you and let us know if there's something you'd like to see in the store.
Our family wishes you all a very Peaceful and Prosperous New Year!