Posts Tagged ‘llamas’

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Update after a long hiatus

October 21, 2012

It has been over 6 months since I last posted.  I give no excuses; it just happened.  But here’s a bit of a catch up.

One of our llamas died in the spring.  She ate some hemlock.  That left us with just Serendipity – and a lone llama has a propensity for getting into trouble.  SerendiptiySerendipity kept finding ways to escape our field.  One day a woman pulled into the driveway to tell us our llama was in the park that borders our property.  It took my husband, this woman, and 3 more passers-by to herd her back into the field.  She had so much fun!

And then the first day of school she did it again.  I got a call from the high school principal telling me he’d let my son out of school to help wrangle the llama.  She clearly needed friends (and we needed to upgrade the fencing).

Acci and Cheetah

The fencing was upgraded and my husband found a local llama farm that needed to downsize, and that is how we ended up with Acci and Cheetah.

Acci and Cheetah are older than Serendipity.  We don’t know for sure, but think Serendipity is about 4 years old.  Acci and Cheetah are 8 and 6 years old.  All three get along quite well, not super chummy, but they hang out together (but also spit at one another for the slightest offense).

No pictures of the flower or vegetable gardens.  We had a severe drought and very hot temperatures and everything was just fried.  Finally, in September, the tomatoes started to fill out and ripen – but not at anywhere near the rate we are used to.  We still have plenty of tomatoes, but also occasional frosts; we eat what we can.  Tonight, my husband made some green fried tomatoes for dinner, and oven roasted potatoes (also from the garden).  Mmmm.

The honey bees had a time of it too.  I obtained two swarms in May.  One I put in a Langstroth (the rectangular boxes) with some old comb from previous inhabitants, and one I put in the topbar hive.  Those bees, though, had to start from scratch, with no comb.  The drought was too much.  The couldn’t bring in enough nectar to both build comb and store honey, so eventually they left in search of better digs.  I hope they found some. 

The other hives, however, are doing quite well.  My husband and I put mouseguards on the hives today (so mice don’t winter in the nice warm hive) and rearranged boxes as we saw fit.DSCF1276  I like to have the bulk of the bees and their honey start at the bottom of the hive so they can work their way up during the winter.  I also moved a box of honey from one very strong hive to a weaker one.  I’ll feed the two weakest hives also so they can store more honey until it’s too cold for them to move about.  Fingers crossed this will get them through the winter and early spring.

That’s the short version of the last 6 months.  I’ll try to write more before another 6 months slip by.  Until then, enjoy the Autumn!

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Signs of Spring

March 20, 2010

March 20, 2010 – the first day of spring.  It is presently 39 degrees and that threatens to be the high for the day with a rain/snow mix expected later – but by Tuesday it will be back in the 50’s – so it really is spring.

cropped cardinal in a treeYesterday (when it was still officially winter but the high was in the upper 60s) I took some pictures of signs of spring around the property.

 

The cardinals have been out all winter – but I think this one was in search of a mate yesterday.  He was singing up a song.

  DSCF7511 DSCF7510

The llamas were enjoying the sunshine and the increasing amount of green grass – much preferred over dry hay.

 

 

 

assorted pollen

I, of course, spent some time with the bees.  There were plenty out on the porch, cleaning the porch, bringing out the dead (I watched two bees fly off with dead bees – I was surprised how far away they would take the body – further than I could see them), and bringing in pollen.  The pollen is in the pollen baskets on the sides of the bees back legs – they look like little yellow flotation devices.  Look carefully in this picture and you’ll see two types of pollen – a light yellow from the maple trees and a bright orange from the crocuses.  [You should be able to click on the picture to see it bigger.]

 

Here’s a maple branch in flower. maple flower

 

 

And crocuses.crocus

The daffodils are starting to bloom too.  DSCF7521

These are my early bloomers.  They start short but will grow while blooming.  

 

 

 

 

My friend at Nyack Backyard knows garliceverything that is coming up in her garden (or she fakes it well).  I know this is garlic – because I marked each clove I planted (note the orange flag). If I’m too slow to harvest the garlic mid-summer it is very hard for me to find the heads if I haven’t marked their location when I plant them.  

 

 

DSCF7518And finally, the surest sign of spring…  No, not huge moles, a project involving dirt. We (that would be my husband and an electrician friend) are running a new electric line out to the barn.

 

 

 

 

 

Has spring sprung for you yet?

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Dang Cold!

December 9, 2009

I tend to be a hold out for the calendar version of seasonal change (it isn’t winter until the Solstice) but even I must admit that it is now winter. 

We are experiencing the brutal aftermath of the winter storm that swept through the country yesterday and today.  Yesterday it rained; it was miserably chilly and damp and just rained and rained and rained.  This morning, when I awoke it was about 27 degrees and there was a dusting of snow, and the winds had picked up.  It was all down hill from there.

Now, at 4:30 it is 16 degrees with below freezing windchills.  If you walk face into the wind it takes your breath away.  I have the faucets dripping in the bathrooms to keep the pipes from freezing and am tempted to hole up in the laundry room because it is on the opposite side of the house from the wind and is relatively toasty.

I hope the bees are cozy.  I’ve checked on the hives with binoculars from the house and the top covers seem to still be on – that’s about all I can do for them at this point.

The llamas ventured out of the barn but stayed out of the wind.  We should have closed the doors on the north side last night for them.  I wonder if my husband has shut the water off to the hydrant by the barn?  It is very inconvenient to have it off, but not as inconvenient as broken pipes.

The furnace goes on and off, on and off.  It is set at 64 but it is still taking a lot of natural gas to keep the house there.  I’m glad the kids aren’t squawking about being cold.  The upstairs is warmer so one is there, and the family room also seems to stay warmer – despite 2.5 exterior walls.  The insulation is better there than in the rest of the house I guess.  That would be because I don’t believe there is any insulation in the walls of the rest of the house (it’s 90ish years old – insulation will come with new siding in about 5 years I reckon).

I learned a bit about furnaces today.  We had a recurring wet spot on the floor near the furnace.  At first I thought it was from water coming up from the ground through cracks in the cement floor, it has been so rainy this fall.  Then I was afraid it was from the furnace and coming out the bottom – that maybe the drain pipe was clogged – although water was dripping from the pipe quite steadily.  As I pondered the puddle a drop dripped from above.  The water was coming from the vent pipe. 

I did figure it was condensation running back down through the pipe from the opening.  I was afraid it was building up at the elbow and so full it was leaking from a seam.  But, no, the condensation is suppose to run back down through the vent pipe back to the furnace where it then goes into the drain pipe and down the floor drain.  The only reason it was dripping was that one connection hadn’t been glued when it had all been assembled 10 years ago.  

That’s all that is new from this winter not-so-wonderland (snow would make this much more bearable).  Now it is back to grading final papers.  If I burned them I could heat the house…

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School Year Begins and Blogging Slows

August 21, 2009

Summer vacation is over.  My husband and I are officially  preparing for classes that begin next week, and Friday was the first day of school for both of my kids.  Does that mean our green advances are over?

No, but I do think that everyday life and the day job will interfere more with my documentation efforts.  There are just too few hours in the day or even the week to keep up with all my responsibilities on a daily  basis.  I’m afraid first priority goes to mothering, then “wife-ing” (my husband will be surprised he rates this high), then the day job (college teaching) followed closely  by school board member and president of the school’s education foundation.  Blogging and writing my column for the local paper comes after maintaining friendships, but probably before cleaning the house.  And that doesn’t even deal with maintaining the yard and garden or petting the cats.  And don’t forget the bees and llamas (although frankly I pay much more attention to the bees than the llamas, primary responsibility for which has migrated to my husband.)

For me not only is the summer is over, but so is my sabbatical.  One of the perks of a career in academia is that every 7 years you can apply for time off from university responsibilities (including teaching) to conduct a project of value to your professional development.  I spent the Spring semester learning about Environmental Psychology.  Environmental Psychology started as the intersection of Psychology and Architecture, but has now evolved to include the environment broadly defined – that is both the built (man-made) and natural environment.  I developed a course on Environmental Psych to be taught at my university as well as an area of research that I can do with the help of students.

I am looking forward to getting back into the classroom, but I will miss my days at home too.  I was remarkably busy, but my hours were my own.  Now my time is increasingly being scheduled by other people.  What does it mean for the blog?  Probably fewer and shorter posts; but I do plan to keep posting about moving my family greener and greener.

And today? I picked tomatoes and carrots and potatoes.  I was wondering how much money we save by growing a garden?  Do we break even? Save money?  We spend about $100 or less on seeds and such – do we save that much?  I suspect so – we have a heck of a lot of tomatoes, potatoes, and carrots already and we’ve barely dented the number we’ll end up with.  And they’re organic.  Someday I’ll crunch the numbers, but for today I think I’ll just enjoy my roasted potatoes and carrots (prepared by my dear husband as I type).

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Quick Change

June 2, 2009

Yes, I changed the look again. I found I needed a side bar and the other version wouldn’t allow one. Since I was at it I thought I’d show off the llamas. That’s Hummer behind the letters, Penelope, Serendipity with her back to us, and Ogden, the old man (13 this fall).

UPDATE: Since this post is now lower in the file and not right up next to the header I thought I’d add the picture of the llamas here:the herd