Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Llamas on guard

We just could not figure out why the llamas have been 'on guard', on and off, for the past two days. Today, I think I figured it out!

Meet the female moose (cow) that was hanging out in one of the summer pastures. Unfortunately, I am unsure how she got in there - either over or through the fence. Looks like I may have more fencing repairs to do this spring!!

Just to end the day on a nearly perfect note - this was my view from the front window this evening. I LOVE the sunsets here, they are lovely!! The sunrises can be beautiful too.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Rescued Llama

A week ago my husband spotted a lone, stray llama roaming the countryside just west of our farm. When he stopped to investigate, another woman was looking at the llama and stated she had seem the poor thing for over a week roaming around. The husband decided he wanted to rescue this poor critter.

So, we rescued a llama. We named her Lucky, and when you hear her entire story, you will know why she earned that name. The best thing about Lucky was that she was so easily caught. She has been haltered and trained to walk on a lead! This is Lucky:

As you can see, she has scabbing (and scarring) around her entire neck. The vet seems to think this was either caused by a barbed wire fence she was caught in, or she was rubbing her neck while trying to get food. It could also have been caused by sticking her head through a metal bin for oats. We'll never know for sure. She also has not been sheared for 4-6 years, maybe her entire life?!

She also has frost bitten ears and will lose most of both of them, poor thing. Perhaps we should have called her "Stubby"?

This is a picture of her, now healing, canine bite (it was a gaping hole at one time the vet states) on her left rear flank. She also had a touch of frost bite between one of her toes and all of her pads were scrapped & cut (two were bleeding when we got her) due to the crusty snow she had been walking through.

The vet estimates she was on her own since mid-December. This time line was concluded by the amount of freezing rain we had in December. The odd thing is that Lucky is obese. My vet rarely uses that word, she rather say things like, "...on the heavy side..." or "...should lose weight..." or "...over conditioned..."!

The husband, the vet and I decided we do not want to know who owned this lovely sole because we think she was either starved on their farm or let loose because they could not afford to feed her. Regardless, the owner would be reported to SPCA if we find out who they are, so it is best that she is here and safe now.

So, Lucky is lucky to have survived on her own for at least 2 months (or more). She is lucky to have found a home where she will be loved and spoiled for as long as she lives. Oh, and because she survived not becoming dinner to these:

These three cougars (1 male & 2 females) were trapped 1 mile west of where we found Lucky. That is approximately 6-7 miles west of our farm. The county was snaring coyotes as we have an over population of the little buggers here and lo and behold this is what they found instead!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Windy Grange made the paper!!

Fabulous! Our farm was the feature article for The Peace Country Sun, a local newspaper. I cannot tell you how excited we are!!

World of wool at Windy Grange

Erika Sherk –Special to Peace Country Sun

Posted 8 hours ago

Vicki Foster with two of her favourites: Anu on the left and Blanche. Foster started out with six sheep and now has a herd of 50 purebred Shetlands.

Move over cyber pets, bring in the fibre pets. For those not in the know, fibre pets are animals that not only provide their owners with a cuddly companion but literally the coat off their backs. Think llamas, rabbits and sheep. Vicki Foster grew up with a love for fibre arts, which led her to a whole new world of wool three years ago.

"Until I moved up here I never lived on a farm but always wanted animals," she said. It was her lifelong passion for fibre arts – spinning, especially – coupled with her childhood dream of living on a farm that brought her to where she is today: Shepherdess of 50 sheep.

She didn't start with 50. Three short years ago, she bought six sheep – two rams and four ewes. Where did the 50 come from?

"A few additions and lot of lambs. They keep multiplying!" laughed Foster. This spring, they're looking at 15 to 30 lambs and even more, if any of her ewes have triplets. "It's going to be crazy," she said, obviously relishing the thought.

Moving to Windy Grange Farm near Elmworth five years ago, Foster says she and her husband Stuart talked about sheep for years.

"I finally said, 'either we're going to do it or we're not!'" said Foster and so they installed some fencing and she settled down to research. She knew an ancient breed was in order, to fit in with her interest in textiles of the Bronze and Iron Ages.

Shetland sheep fit her bill perfectly.

"What I want to do eventually is reproduce the ancient textiles the way they made them then," she said.

For now, she's got her hands full with her 50 woolly critters. Walking into the ewes' pen, they treat Foster like a celebrity, rushing over to get a bit of her attention. It was a pretty steep learning curve at first, she said.

"I'm just happy I picked a small breed. They're easy to handle, but there is a lot of work, like trimming toes. Who'd have known you have to trim their toes? I had no idea," she laughed.

After three years, Foster has it mostly worked out. The main seasons are breeding in early winter and lambing in the spring. Shearing comes just before lambing. The Shetland fleeces, known for their softness and wide variety of colour, almost always sell out, she said.

It is a business as well as a hobby. The fleeces sell, Foster plans to sell sheep to other farms and the ram lambs that don't live up to the breed specifications are sold for meat. Of course, Foster keeps a few fleeces for herself. She's having an outbuilding turned into a studio for her spinning and other fibre arts.

"I've outgrown my house," she said. Once the studio's done, she plans to invite the other spinners in the area over.

"We can just sit around and do our thing," smiled Foster.

Foster's first six sheep came from Linda Wendelboe of Fibre Works Farm in Sundre, Alta. Though Wendelboe hasn't yet been up north to see Foster's operation, she's heard good things.

"It sounds like she's doing very well in the sense that she's got a good lambing record and the sheep seem to be thriving," Wendelboe said.

Out at Windy Grange Farm they do indeed seem to be happy and healthy and come spring, Foster will have her hands even more full of sheep, thriving all over the place.

"I can honestly say I'm never grumpy about it," she said of all the work. "I just love it. They keep me active and they're fulfilling a dream I had when I was a kid."

Article ID# 2437583