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Dawn Campbell & Melody Macdonald
Hastings, Ontario

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That's Life! at Twoloom Alpacas

Thursday November 22, 2012

The Task:
I was to drive my Mom to the Via Rail station in Cobourg for the 10:30am train to Montreal, then to drive myself to work in Colborne.

The Background:
My Mom has been through some traumatic things in the last 2 months, first her husband, Mac, passed away and then a very dear friend.

The Story:
When I got up in the morning to drive my Mom to the train station, it was an extremely foggy morning. The radio was announcing multiple accidents in the area. I thought that I should get going and get the morning farm chores done, so I could leave a little earlier to compensate for the lack of visibility in the drive.
Chores accomplished, I headed to Campbellford to pick Mom up. I arrived just before 9:00am, plenty of time to get Mom to the train station and myself to work. Mom was just finishing a phone call, and was pretty much ready to go. I loaded her two small suitcases into Mom’s car, as she insisted that we take it rather than my truck. “It’s easier on gas.” She said. “And I’ve already filled it with gas”. And so, we drove off, Mom insisted that she go through her checklist, she did this while we were driving out of Campbellford.
Got to the hill just past my farm and the fog completely disappeared! I thought, great this will be an easy drive. Got to talking about family things, and the next thing you know, we were coming down the hill just outside of Cobourg. Mom got her ticket out to be ready and let out a big breath. She looked in her purse and made that OH NO! Sound that you hear when there is something wrong. I asked, “What’s wrong?” She answered, “I don’t have my Via Rail Pass.” For those that don’t know, Mac was a CN man after the war. He was given a life pass to ride the rail for as long as he lived. Mom, as his wife was entitled to this same pass but it had to be presented to the ticket agent and the conductors in order to get on the train. I pulled over to the side of the road, while Mom went through every corner of her purse. Nope, no pass was found. Mom decided that we should carry on to the train station to see if there was any way that they could help her. It was now 10:05am and the train was due at 10:30am. We continued on to the train station, where Ray, the man in charge of the station window was working. Mom went inside to speak to Ray and Ray let her know that he would vouch for her as he has been of service to Mac and Mom many times on their adventures through Via Rail. But he told Mom she would have a problem at the other end in Montreal, on the return trip, as no one knew her there. So, we had to make the trip home to get the passes. Before leaving the station to head home, I made a quick phone call to Jen, another worker at the farm where I was to work for the day, to let them know that I would be late and the reason for this. I put my phone down on the middle console of the car, as I prepared to drive out. As we were pulling out, I thought of a way to get the passes to Mom, without going all the way back to Campbellford. I could Purolator the passes to the hotel that she would be staying at. That way she could get on the train now and everything would be fine. I turned the car around and dropped her off at the door once again. Mom went into the station, while I pulled her suitcases out of the car, oh and by the way, there was absolutely no parking available, except a handicap spot. So, knowing that I would be literally minutes, and that anyone with a Handicap Sticker would already be at the train station by now. I pulled into this spot. I checked the time; it was 10:22am. Picked up the suitcases, locked the car and went in to give Mom her suitcases and make sure all was well. Mom was standing at the window talking to Ray. I brought the suitcases up to her and listened while she got her ticket to get on. Mom had a few papers on the counter and came across a phone number that I would need to be able to get the Purolator package to her. Ray, being the helpful person that he is, handed Mom a note pad and pen, so I could write the information down. I put everything down and wrote the number on the paper and deposited it into my jacket pocket. Ray told Mom to go to the “F” for Fun sign and wait for the train. I assisted Mom out to the “F” sign and made sure she was organized to get on the train. Within minutes the passenger train pulled up. I said goodbye to Mom as she attempted to get on the train. I say attempted, because she almost fell backwards off the train steps as she was going up the stairs, both myself and Julia, the conductor, caught her and helped her gain her balance. Up the steps Mom went and I followed her along the outside of the train as she found her seat. I then waved goodbye and headed for the car. As I was walking to the car, I was digging in my pockets to find the keys to the car. I pulled out the garage door opener to Mom’s house, as she said I would need it to put the car back into the garage once I got back to her home. Then I pulled out my set of keys to my truck still sitting at Mom’s house waiting for me to reclaim it when I got back there. There were no more keys in that pocket, I searched the rest of me, patting down every inch, thinking all the while, where are those keys. I went through the happenings of the last 10 minutes, I parked in the spot, I got the suitcases out, I hit the lock button on the remote to lock the car, I went in to see if all was well and Mom could still get on the train, I put down the keys on the counter, I wrote the phone number on the notepad, I went to the washroom, I helped Mom get on the train.....
I went to the car, yup it was locked, and then I checked the area around the car. No keys to be found on the ground. I went into the station and checked the washroom. No keys. I went over to the counter where Ray was assisting another customer. No keys. I went outside where we stood waiting for the train. No Keys. I went back to the counter and waited patiently for Ray to finish with the customer. I asked Ray if he found a set of keys on the counter and he said no. But there were lots of keys turned in. My hopes flared as I thought that I was going to get the keys back after inadvertently dropping them somewhere. Ray came back with about 7 sets of keys; I scanned them quickly and knew they were not there. Ray asked if I had searched everywhere, I said that I had already made the rounds. I went back outside to check in the car, even though I know I locked the car with the remote control unit. Ray was checking around the station when I got back in. That’s when it hit me; I put the keys on the counter, as I needed my hand free to write the phone number on the notepad. My Mom had scooped the keys into her purse in her hurray to be ready. It was a natural thing. I didn’t think a thing about it at the time. Ray must have seen the look on my face as the realization of what had just occurred, hit me. I was stranded at the train station, my phone and purse were locked in the car and the car was parked in a handicap zone! Yup, it was one of those days!
I looked at Ray and told him my thoughts about where the keys were. The formation of a smile was about to break on his face, then he got control of it and told me that he could call the conductor on the car to ask my Mom if she had the keys. I waited patiently as he called Julia, the conductor. Apparently, Julia had no problem identifying my mom. She was the one that was very disorganized and needed help. Julia asked my mom if she had the keys to her car. Mom answered “No, my daughter has them, I left the car with her.” Julia then, replied to Ray, “No, she does not have the keys.” I looked at Ray with confidence and said, “She has the keys.” Ray told Julia again to ask my mom about the keys. This time mom checked in her purse and found the spare set. At which point, Julia gave my mother the phone and Ray gave me the phone. My mom was talking a mile a minute, telling me how I’d left the car running and that I had the keys. I asked mom to please be quiet and listen to me. I then asked her to give Julia the spare set of keys, mom said, “Why!?” I answered, “Because she can get them back to me, so that I am not stranded here for the duration of your trip.” “Oh!” mom replied, “She can do that?” I said, “Yes, she can give the keys to the station agent at Montreal and the agent can then put it on the next train to Cobourg.” “Okay, I will do that,” she said. I then handed the phone back to Ray. Ray confirmed with Julia that she had the keys and would be sending them back to Cobourg. Ray asked me to be back at the station for 2:30pm to pick up the keys. I then asked Ray if I could impose on him one more time. With my phone locked in my mother’s car, I had no way of contacting anyone. I asked Ray if there was any way to Google the phone number of the farm I was supposed to be working at. “Of course,” was Ray’s reply. He took out his own phone and typed in the name of the farm, got the phone number and dialed it for me. I spoke to the farm owner and she laughed when I told her the story. I asked if there was any way for me to impose on them to come and pick me up. She said she was on her way. Well, what a relief, I would not have to sit at the station until 2:30pm. I was picked up by the farm owner and her sister-in-law. We drove to the downtown core of Cobourg; they took me to lunch, we ate as we laughed about the incident. After lunch, we still had about an hour to kill, so we stopped at a book store beside the train station. We sat there and looked through several books, laughing at some of the crazy ideas in the craft section. We were just about to leave when I heard the train whistle, looked outside to see the passenger train coming in from the east. Oh great!! The train is arriving and I am not there to accept the keys. I ran out the door, across the field between the book store and the train station, ran into the train station and out the door where the train was stopped. I looked everywhere for the station agent. Found the guy with the light blue shirt and asked him if he had a set of keys for me. I guess he figured I was the right person for the keys, as he never hesitated and said “I’m sure the keys are on the cart.” I was holding my breath as I waited for him to get the pouch, he opened the pouch and held it for me to take the sealed package from it, I hesitated, and the agent grabbed the sealed package and opened it for me, again holding it open so I could take out another small envelope. This time I took the envelope and tore it open. The keys were inside! I was so happy, I could have cried. I thanked him and left to open the car. I started the car and drove back to thank the farm owner and her sister-in-law, but as I was driving along the street, they passed me and headed into the train station. So, I turned the car around and drove back. Found them, thanked them and headed for home. I was to go back to Mom’s house and look for the passes and get them into the Purolator office in Campbellford before the 3:30pm deadline. When I got to Mom’s, I called her to let her know that I was at the house and where was I to look for the passes. We went through a number of places before finding the passes on the dry sink in the living room. I then told mom that there was no way that I could get over to the Purolator office to make the deadline, that I felt it would be better to take the passes back to the Cobourg train station and ask Ray to once again assist us. We both agreed. I then went to the beer store to purchase some beer and headed home. I got in the door and poured myself one of those well earned beers.
I then shared my story with Dawn, while she laughed, we drank.
In the morning, I drove back down to Cobourg and went in to see Ray. He of course, remembered me, heck, who wouldn’t. I asked if he could send the passes to Montreal for Mom to pick up when she checked in at the Montreal station on Saturday. Ray was kind enough to look up her ticket and write her return train ticket number on the outside of the envelope. He then added the envelope to the pile that was to be loaded on the train. I thanked him again for all his kindness.
I received a text from Mom letting me know that she had found the keys in her knitting bag and that she was very sorry for all that had happened to me.

Special thanks go out to the Via Rail employees without whom a bad situation could have been worse!

Wednesday November 7, 2012

We have all of our cria registered for this year, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I need to go back to last year near the beginning of July when we started breeding. Now before I start, you need to know that I am completely anal when it comes to keeping records – I track date, start time, stop time and behaviour every time we introduce a boy to a girl. The introductions are determined well in advance and are done individually away from all the other alpacas. That way, I am absolutely certain of who the father is.

So, back to July 2011. We had the opportunity to bring in an outside male, Misty Waters Chipper, to do some breeding. We had 3 females selected to breed to him. We had 3 females selected to breed to our newer black boy, Arriba Sebastian. We had 1 female selected to breed to an outside male, Ring Ranch Travolta, off the farm. 7 breeding’s, we had 7 babies born this year, so what’s the problem?

One of our younger males, Twoloom’s Matrix Thunder AKA Houdini, is an escape artist. He can wiggle his way under just about any fence that isn’t buried in the ground. During his second escape, August 10th, he got in with the girls. He was happily eating when we found him. We tried him later on an open female and he completely ignored her so no harm done, right? We thought nothing of it until late spring. Silhouette was looking rather large and I kept saying to Mel, ‘I think she’s pregnant’. Sure enough, Mel finally checked her and there was movement in there! She had a lovely grey girl on July 19th and if I work it back, August 10th fits perfectly as the breeding date. There was no doubt looking at the cria as to who the father was. As she was technically a mystery we named her Mistique.

No problem then, all the other breeding’s were in a controlled environment, one didn’t catch, 7 cria, all fathers accounted for. Papers carefully filled out and sent. You can imagine my indignation when I get the papers back and there is a note suggesting that Arriba Sebastian is not the father of Sabrina’s cria. No Way! He looks like Sebby, he’s a dark silver grey so the colour fits (black x silver grey) – the lab made a mistake! I went back to my records. Checked the birth date against Houdini’s break in – cria would have been very premature at 320 days and that wasn’t the case. Checked my notes. Sabrina was bred to Sebby on July 10th, July 13th, and July 23rd. She spit off Aug. 2nd and Aug 14th and was ultrasounded on October 3rd. The birthdate matched the breeding dates and I was present at all the breeding’s. The only other males on the farm during the first 2 breeding dates were Oreo and Matrix and it was definitely not one of theirs. Chipper was there for the 3rd breeding date but he wasn’t used on Sabrina and had never escaped. I was perplexed. The lab had to have made a mistake! I sent an email back asking that they check Sebastian again; that the only escape was Thunder, and just for reference here were all the breeding age males on the property at the time.

The lab came back with Chipper as the father. What the …? How the ….? It was either an immaculate conception or he had to have hopped Peekachoothe fence between July 26th and August 1st and then hopped back in to his pasture with us none the wiser. It would appear that where there’s a will there’s a way and so much for careful planning! Either way, he is an absolutely gorgeous cria and the first grey offspring from Misty Water’s Chipper. 2013 should bring some more interesting results as Houdini once again managed to get through several pastures and in with the ladies and babies once again. The moral of the story? Keep the males and females well separated and in our case bury the fence.

Tuesday September 25, 2012

PANIC! is the word of the week. There still seems to be so much to do to get ready for our first "Alpaca Farm Days". On checking facebook, we seem to have lots of company.

After almost 4 years I am finally getting around to updating my own website. I will be moving the "Week in the Life" section of the website to some "blog" software before the end of the year in order to make it easier for Mel to post and to allow comments.

Wednesday January 7, 2009

I would like to start off by wishing everyone a happy and prosperous 2009. May all your alpacas stay healthy and your sales be better then expected.

We spent the first few days of the new year brain storming and planning out the year. It’s always somehow inspiring to see everything laid out in front of you on paper. It’s too early yet for the reality of the tasks to have any effect so, we are both now, full of new hope.

sock fabric It will be an exciting year with Mel ramping up her knitting business. We expect it to be busy as there is a definite demand for Canadian made product. Just think what it would be like to offer not just socks and mitts made from your own alpaca but sweaters and other clothing as well. Not only will your product be Canadian content but it will also be Canadian manufactured – a truly 100% made in Canada product. Look for the Twoloom Alpaca Boutique site to be up in March and for Mel’s products at the Alpaca Ontario Show in April.

I on the other hand will be busy creating more work on the farm, working at Capella (my daytime job), designing websites, and creating marketing material for all our and others varied businesses.

It is nice to have order in our life again. The month of December can only be described as chaotic. The beginning of the month saw us without water for 3 days and then without any pressure for about a week after. We finally found someone that would tackle our water problem. Our well, pump, and pressure tank were located outside in a metal shack, called the “pump house”, down in a cement bunker that was 5 ft deep. The well head was below ground level which made it susceptible to contamination. The well head had to be raised above ground level, the pump replaced and put down the well, the pressure tank moved into the basement of the house, the plumbing changed, and a line run to the barn for the hydrant taken out of the pump house. We conveniently added a challenge by shovelling 3.5 ton of gravel into the basement at the point were the water line came in. The water system is currently suspended from the ceiling awaiting the spread of the gravel and pouring of cement.
stove Just about the time the guys were getting done with the water system, the other guys came in to install the wood cook stove. This involved putting down a ceramic floor as well as putting in the chimney system. This meant we had to clear everything out of the entrance way and part of the kitchen. We were walking around piles of things for weeks. They were still working at it the week before Christmas. We are happy to report that they did get it done and it works extremely well – Mel has had the house as warm as 85 degrees F.


During the 3 days without water, Katie had 11 puppies born to her female chocolate lab. They are now a month old and are really cute. The puppies will be ready to go on January 23rd. If anyone is interested in a quality CKC registered Labrador, let me know. They are a steal at $600.00 each.


At the end of the month Mother Nature proved once again that she was boss. We woke to the shuddering of the house as it was blasted by greater than 100 km per hour winds. That was followed shortly by a thump bang which ended up being the greenhouse parting ways from the garden shed. It promptly rolled down the hill jumping 3 fences to land in the middle of the field on the next farm over. It sat quietly until we were within 10 feet of it and then it launched straight up in the air. You will be happy to know that the force of gravity still applies and what goes up must come down and it did, shattering into a thousand pieces. So much for the green house. We will have to build a new one out of glass and wood and anchor it well.


We had another tragedy at the end of November. We lost another alpaca – Paxton. The vet figures it was pneumonia as it was prevalent in the area and we had a second alpaca that had a temperature. Looking back we can determine that it started with Oreo near the end of October. He had a 3 day period where he would not defend his food if one of the other boys challenged him for his dish. He showed no other symptoms, no runny nose or eyes, no cough. He was eating hay, drinking water, and moving around fine out in the field. A few weeks later Paxton was a little slow coming in on a Saturday afternoon and ate some of his food but didn’t Paxton's fleece dive into it. He looked to us like he was a little cold. We put more bedding in the stall and he was fine the next day and for the remainder of the week. The following Saturday he did the same thing. He seemed to be a little colder this time but wasn’t shaking. He ate some of his food but showed no other signs of anything. We assumed that it would be the same as last weekend and left him for the night. Paxton passed away sometime overnight. The next night Matrix came in and was shaking uncontrollably, had his eyes at half mast, and refused to eat. We threw a coat on him and called the vet. Two hours after the vet gave him the antibiotic he inhaled his kibble and was fine. He has been fine since and we are happy to report that no other alpacas have shown any signs of having anything.

Oh, did I mention that I was happy a new year has begun!

Wednesday November 12, 2008

Aaaaaaaah! That’s the sound of me finally breathing. You think after all these years I would have learned something. Every year in January/February we sit down and plan the year’s projects. Spring and then summer come and we become complacent thinking that the warm days will somehow last forever. Near the end of summer we start to think that we really should have gotten a little more done as we hurray to buy the material we will need to get that next project going. And then, we get that that first snowy day causing utter panic to set in. We then crank it up a couple of notches, pull all nighters, and come screaming in under the wire. The latest projects being the garden shed and the back porch.

back porch

Mel built the porch platform as the snow was flying last year and we swore that we would not go through another winter with the north west winds blasting our entrance door. We started the porch last Thursday, worked on it Friday after work until after 10:00pm and managed to get the walls up and secured and the roof trusses in place. We spent Saturday putting the plywood and then the shingles on the roof. garden shed Both of us were popsicles by the time we were done. We were back at it Sunday morning putting plywood on the walls, plastic over the window areas and a door in the opening, and, voila! We have a covered porch.

The windows will go in the upper part of the garden shed today to completely close that in as well. The siding for both will have to wait until next year. We made a concentrated effort in October and cleaned up the barn, garage, and house area. We removed the skeletal frame attached to the front of the barn and then removed all the debris. We cleared the area between the garage and driveway. Mel managed to spread some of the manure pile on the back field. Did about half the five acre field and barely made a dent in the pile. The area under the pile was so soft that Mel had to quit before she buried the tractor. We are hoping that we can at least get enough to finish the field before the snow covers the ground. It’s kind of weird driving in now as there appears to be so much space.

clean up

We are finally getting our water system fixed. It currently resides in a concrete bunker about five feet underground. The well head, pump, and holding tank are all in the pit and the hydrant empties into the pit. It’s never good when electricity and water mix especially when one has to go down into the pit every time something breaks. It has broken a couple of times a year since we moved in and froze up during one of the winters. We had a break in October. Mel was in the middle of cooking supper, Katie was trying to have a shower and I had just come in from bringing the alpacas in and poof no water. The clamp on the pipe to the barn broke and the pipe came apart. There is no shut offs so we had to unplug the pump and then get it clamped before the system lost pressure while in a pit after dark. Mel does good work…

Our alpaca visitor from New Brunswick went home near the end of September as did Fiji, the companion animal that Garry had brought with Darby. Garry was very pleased that we had handled her and taught her to lead. He was able to go in the stall, put the halter on without any fuss, and lead her to the trailer. He offered to leave some of the alpacas on his trailer with us so that we could halter train them as well.

All of our ladies have been bred and have spit off. We are looking forward to six babies next year, 3 from Matrix, and 3 from Oreo.


We got the results back from Guelph on ‘Junior’. It was a miracle that he lived as long as he did. His eyes, brain, heart, thymus, and lungs had serious problems. The eye damage put the time frame that the feotus was effected between 90 – 120 days. The left and right eyes were affected differently suggesting a viral infection as opposed to a hereditary problem.

‘Tira’ on the other hand is completely healthy and growing like a weed. She should be pretty close to her mother’s size when she is done.

Sunday September 14, 2008

No, we haven’t fallen off the planet. OK. So I was a little optimistic thinking that I could do updates once a week, especially in the summer. Time certainly flies when you are having fun.

The herd has increased but not through births which is another story. We have gained 3 more females, 1 more male and sold a male. We sold BH Nibbs to Salem Alpacas and bought Hallie, a CPeruvian Rafael daughter. Darby, a black WA Black Magic daughter arrived with Ring Ranch Matrix. Recently, we added Bonita, an Alpamayo daughter and Victor Vaccoyo grand daughter. Prince William, a PPeruvian Javier and Victor Vaccoyo grandson, came with Bonita. Prince William is light fawn and doesn’t fit into our breeding program so is for sale.

We have had births this year. The first one was a heart breaker. Junior “Junior” went full term but was born very premature with evidence of oxygen deprivation causing brain damage. We looked after him for almost 9 weeks before we made the difficult decision to take him to Guelph for research purposes. Our second birth happened this past Sunday. We have a healthy baby girl. She is out of a solid brown mother, RE Katie, and by a black father, RFA Oreo, so we expected either a black or a brown cria – not what happened! She is mostly white with black, caramel and brown patches. It’s the most extreme tuxedo pattern I’ve ever seen! Apparently, breeding for black is not as easy as you’d think.

Over the summer we put up another 2 fence lines to give us a 4th pasture. We have 3 more lines to go in to finish the pastures to give us a total of 6. A shelter went up fairly quickly to provide shelter for the horses so we could leave them outside. We decided to foster a horse from Heaven Can Wait equine rescue to keep Brew company. Leaving the horse outside freed up a stall in the barn that we could use for the ever growing alpaca herd.

Had to run between the rain drops to get anything done outside this summer. We put forth a concentrated effort and with the help of a bin and a local scrape yard we got a great deal of the property cleaned up.

siding We have siding! Did I tell you we have siding? No more lovely house wrap.

Our most recent project has been a garden shed. In order to clean up the shop, basement, and move the broken green house, I needed somewhere to put my stuff, so we are building a garden shed. I took time off work during the third week in August, in the middle of the week when the sun was actually out, to get it started. One day to get the gravel base in and levelled, one day to put patio stones, deck blocks in and level them to make ready for the floor, one day to put the floor on (Mel did this by herself), and one day to build the walls and put them up. That is how it currently stands as it has been raining since then. Looks like we can get back at it this coming weekend. I am taking Friday off so am optimistic that we can get the roof on and the sheeting started.

We really lucked out on weather when it came to haying. We managed to get our hay cut, baled, and in the barn during the only 4 day dry period between mid June and September. The hay was cut on July 4th, raked and baled on July 6th and in the barn by the end of day July 7th. A very special thank you to the people that showed up to help – David & Trixi Lloyd, Lori Jones & Tom Vanhanen, Jeff Macdonald, and Norm Stephens. The rain and the spring fertilizer worked as we got 532 bales off a 5 acre field. Last year with the dry conditions, we got 250 bales and the year before around 450 bales. Later this year we plan to spread the 5 year collection of well aged manure on the field and then seed it.

Hail Storm "In early August we got hit by a hail storm. I had called Mel at home to warn her that it was coming and the small amount of time that I spoke to her on the phone was her window to get the alpacas under cover. She ended up with all the alpacas in the round ring cushed with her holding an umbrella over them as best she could while she got pelted with marble size hail. Downed Maple Sorry, no, I don’t have a picture. She did eventually get them in. The hail came down so hard and fast that we had ground cover. The tomato, zucchini, and carrots did not fare well. The swiss chard was OK as the chickens had eaten all the leaves leaving only stalks. One of the Manitoba maples did not fair well either and dropped one of its main trunks down beside the barn.

There has been lots of alpaca and alpaca related activity since the spring show.

May 10th and 11th saw us at Arriba Linea for a shearing clinic with Cathy Merkley and Trudy McCall. Shearing alpacas is a little more difficult then shearing (body clipping) horses which is where my experience lies. Alpacas have a much finer skin and more awkward areas to get to. Everyone had the opportunity to shear a couple of alpacas and to sort fleece. I sheared Oreo. It was a success because I managed to not cut him. Black is not an easy colour to work with as you really can not see what you are doing. Apparently I was very intense while shearing and had a propensity to throw the fleece instead of putting it on the table. Mel started shearing Rev but gave way to Trudy because he was so tiny and had so much loose skin. Mel did carry on and shear a couple of Arriba’s alpacas without incident. Kudos to the Arriba crew, Cathy and Trudy for putting on a very well run and entertaining weekend.

We were confident enough after the clinic to shear our own alpacas. Special thanks go out to Arriba Linea for lending us their shears, Cedar Ridge Alpacas for lending us their table, Amazing Graze Alpacas for lending us there sorting table and assisting with the shearing, Lori and Calvin for helping with shearing and giving us insight into a different method from another shearing clinic, and to Gentle Glade Alpacas for their help with the shearing. Whew! Just like the Juno’s!

We sent Rev’s fleece out to Olds College for their fleece competition. He won 1st place and impressed the judge enough for her to make the comment “it was a beautiful fleece, good quantity for his age and she sure hoped it was a male to reproduce more, just like him!” It came back from Olds just in time to send it out Navan where it won reserve champion in his colour class.

Alpaca in Sub compact carWe were back at Arriba Linea June 28th and 29th for a Camelidynamics clinic with Marty McGee. We had been to the one day Camelidynamics clinic with Marty put on by Alpaca Ontario several years ago but had not had a chance to put anything into practice. Marty was sensational! She is always learning new things and constantly adapting her training so you can always learn from her. We certainly have made use of what we learned. Once again, the weekend was well run and entertaining. For those of us that stayed Sunday after the clinic there was a special lesson from Marty on how to put an alpaca in a sub compact car!

I gained additional responsibility in July when I assumed the presidency of Alpaca Ontario. That hat was in addition to Alpaca Ontario webmaster and active member of the marketing committee.

The Alpaca Ontario education weekend has just passed and once again it was a great learning experience. Dr. Tibary has such a wealth of knowledge that he could probably speak for a week and still have more to pass on. Melody did her first ever presentation on the Sunday. She spent 2 hours letting people know the process and procedures to setup a farm, where to apply for grants and how to go through the environmental farm plan, and how to get your books ready for your accountant. Dr. Erin Wilson spoke about parasite control in your alpacas and Tyler Allair did a brief presentation on taking pictures of your alpacas for marketing purposes. The weekend event was hosted at Guelph University. We where given a tour of the facilities by Dr. Whitehead who is Alpaca Ontario’s contact at the university.

Thursday May 8, 2008

First off, I have to apologize to all those that anticipate my weekly dialogue, I have been tardy of late. Spring is a busy time and it seems that everything needs to be done at once. The gardens need tending, the fences need mending, and the money seems to flow out the door faster than it comes in.

The gardens are a constant ongoing battle but the yard is slowly starting to resemble the image in my head.

Campbellford Farm Supply dropped off the fertilizer for the back hay field on Monday. Mel was able to get it spread after a slight modification to the tractor; she had to cut the ball off the back because she couldn’t unscrew it.

Framed Barn Opening The big barn doors on the back of the barn have been deteriorating for years. Last fall, after dropping out of the track numerous times, the larger door jumped its track and attempted to take Melody out. Fortunately, it caught and she was able to escape. The roller had broken so it was doomed for all eternity to remain on the ground after that. The replacement of the doors was a fall ‘roundtoit’ that we never got ‘round to. It topped the list this spring after we had to keep chasing the chickens out. They had decided that the straw bales were better nest boxes and they should lay their eggs there. The framing required more expertise then Mel felt she had so we called on my brother, Warren, to come and help and he graciously accepted. It’s amazing what promising to feed him will do. We got a bonus in two more helpers, Shawna and Walker, my niece and nephew, although Walker ate us out of house and home. New Barn Doors Warren showed up on Friday afternoon and he and Mel got the door framed in and the header started. We were back at it on Saturday morning after breakfast. I added my expertise in custom demolition and disassembled the old barn door so that we could reuse the plywood. All was going well until Warren and Mel put the header up. Warren had been careful to make sure the header was square. He soon discovered what we’ve known all along – the square and the level are new inventions and neither of them existed when the buildings on this property had been built. The buildings were built using the ‘close enough’ guidelines. The header had to be rebuilt to match the opening. This, of course, delayed the door installation just enough so that Mel and Warren had to put them up in the pouring rain.

Tuesday April 22, 2008

It was a pretty quiet week; I was on autopilot for most of it. I finally caught up on my sleep by Friday, just in time for the weekend. I’m off to Toronto today for my ‘one month later’ check up at the Low Back Clinic.

Forsythia Certainly can not complain about the weather, it’s been beautiful, but I’m going to anyway. It got so warm on Saturday that it caused my mini irises to wilt and the flowers to die. I didn’t even have time to get a picture of them in bloom. The other spring bulbs are beginning to bloom and the forsythia should be a brilliant yellow soon.

Flowers I spent the weekend outside. We had several cord of wood dumped at different locations in the fall and 3 of them never made it into the drive shed before winter snow buried everything. I got the one pile into the shed before the show and put a second pile in the shed over the weekend with Mel’s help. The last pile will be in the shed before I go to bed tonight. I spent the remainder of my weekend time in the garden reclaiming what was lost last year when I blew my back out. It doesn’t take long for the crab grass and wild phlox to reclaim what I had previously stolen. I am optimistic that I will win the battle this year.

Senor Ruff Mel spent most of the week doing all required paperwork left over from the show. She did take Wednesday off to go out to Salem Alpacas to help shear. She took the trailer with her so that she could stop at Cedar Ridge and pick up a young Suri alpaca. His name is Senor Ruff.

The Alpaca Canada Futurity Stud Auction has started and it will be exciting to see who the lucky person is that ends up with the breeding to Matrix! You can bid at

Tuesday April 15, 2008

I’m a little slow this week as I’m still recovering from the show. Yesterday was a complete blur – I don’t think I actually gained complete consciousness at any point during the day. Today is only marginally better.

Tacoma TruckSeveral days of shovelling snow away from the pile into the driveway and breaking up the ice underneath cleared the way to the trailer and we were able to get it out. The new truck was ready on time and we were able to pick it up on Wednesday night. The truck ended up being ‘beige’. Mel wanted ‘white’. The second choice was ‘silver’, the third choice was ‘beige’. Just for the record, I actually like the ‘beige’. Apparently I’m alone in my colour class. The most popular question over the next couple of days was: Why did you get a ‘beige’ truck? I pointed out to Mel that we didn’t have a lot of time to get a truck which prompted the response that we got ‘beige’ because no one else wanted that colour. Enough said.

Oreo at Show Rev at Show We were a little late leaving for the show on Friday; I slept in. We got there in good time without any problems. It was a very busy weekend with Mel helping out in the office and me helping the photographer.

The lack of the second testicle did cause us to get knocked down in the placings and subsequently knocked out of a championship placing. The judge liked his fibre so much that he quite literally took about 10 minutes trying to find the second one. We were really not disappointed with the results as the judge had confirmed what we already knew. I’m sure he will be fully endowed in the next month or so.

Saturday April 5, 2008

Cassio's Trim It’s finally starting to look like spring although I still maintain that it will be June before all the snow completely melts.

We had our first adventure in toenail and teeth trimming last Saturday. Mel had her daughter, Katie and Katie’s friend, April to help as I am still recovering from a herniated disc. My job was to take pictures of the action. We were anticipating something along the lines of a rodeo – April kept referring to it as ‘Alpaca Wrastling’. It ended up being a rather quiet morning. All the alpacas, including the 2 baby boys, stood to have there feet trimmed with the exception of Sabrina who cushed – no panic, no rodeo. The same went for the one set of teeth that needed trimming; we expected a fight and got none. The tooth trimming was pretty cool! We borrowed a Tooth-a-matic from James and used that. Getting the device on the teeth is a little awkward but once you have it set it takes less than a second to actually trim the teeth. The angle of the device is important and it would be best to do it while the alpaca is cushed. Unfortunately for us, the boy we were trimming insisted on standing so his teeth ended up slightly off angle. He still has a nice smile! Oreo's Trim

We have been obsessed with testicles. One of our little boys, destined for the Alpaca Ontario show April 12th, had none 3 weeks ago and 2 weeks later had one. Did the other one go on vacation? Did it take a peek and decide that ‘hay it’s too cold out there?’. I really hope the other one shows up before the show this coming weekend.

I think the saying goes ‘it never rains but it pours’. We took our old GMC pickup truck in to be serviced last week and we still had not heard anything by Friday. Mel gave our mechanic a call and teasingly asked if it was a ‘write off’ and he said YES. The oil had antifreeze in it which is bad! It would cost more to repair the engine then the truck was worth and the truck was falling apart anyway. The mechanic’s recommendations had the word ‘wreckers’ in the sentence. That brought a ‘deer in the headlights’ look and then a complete sense of panic. We needed a truck for next Friday. The Show is on Friday!

I ended up taking off work a couple of hours early and going with Mel to the local Toyota dealer to buy a Tacoma. I think we made the sales persons day. I doubt the typical reply to the query ‘Can I help you’ is ‘yes, we need a truck and we need it by next Thursday, I don’t care what colour it is as long as it pulls a trailer’. We bought the Tacoma or rather leased it. I have no idea what it looks like but we should have it on Wednesday.