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Carolina Pride Pastures, LLC

Specializing in fine fiber and education

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

So many updates....

Carmel's blanket on the skirting table.

Carmel's blanket on the skirting table.

I have been terrible at keeping our blog up-to-date. So much has been happening at the farm!

We FINALLY finished our boy barn. We moved two juvenile boys into their new home the first of April. We were worried about protection for them about we have had a few coyote encounters. We are on the waiting list for a rescue llama. In the meantime, we are borrowing my sister's donkey, Juanita! She is so sweet and keeps a watchful eye on the boys.

We sheared the herd in the middle of April. Boy the fleece! We will be shipping our fleece for processing within the next week. We hope to have finished yarn within the next 8 weeks!!

We have wrapped up our field trip season. It is always busy but fun. We are already making plans for the fall season. We try to have something new every time a group comes to visit. On our plans for the fall are picture cutouts and a walking tour of the farm!!!

We will be offering two summer camps this year during the month of June. Keep checking back for more details.

And speaking of summer camps, Newberry's Camp Conservation will be visiting with us in July. If you are interested in the week-long camp, please visit their website at http://nswcd.com/camp-conservation.html.

I promise I am going to get better at this blog thing!!
All the bags of fleece!!

All the bags of fleece!!


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A busy few months and more to come!

It has been a very busy few months since my last blog about the farm.

We made it through our first field trip season! It was a success and we hope to build it even more this fall. We are very fortunate to be located only 4 miles from Lever Farms. They are a pick-your-own strawberry patch in the Spring and pumpkins in the Fall. We work will together helping schools plan science related field trips incorporating plant and animal science.

This summer we offered a few summer camps. We hope to expand this part of the farm next summer. It was tons of fun having 4-Hers and more here at the farm learning about the alpacas, taking great pics, and making yarn crafts.

This summer was also a rough one. Not sure if it was more rough on the farmer or the animals. We have had almost a record number of over 100 degree days. The humidity has been out of control too. This means three to four trips to the barn daily checking on the animals, refilling water buckets, giving cool showers to the herd, and of course, tons of poop/pee clean up! The cooler weather seems to be on the horizon! As much as I love the pool and the beach, the turning of the fall leaves will be welcomed.

Hope to be better at my updates the rest of the year!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Guard Dogs

Big Girl

Big Girl

Let me introduce you to our guard dog, Big Girl! Big Girl has a great story and continues to give us more laughs and surprises every day. Here is Big Girl's story...
Big Girl had been seen throughout our neighborhood for about a year. She would travel about a 5 mile radius. She was like a ghost, people in the neighborhood would see her quickly in the backyard and then she would be gone. We actually saw her once or twice at our house before she became our forever dog.

Big Girl visited my mom's house which is about 300 yards from our house in the early summer of 2013. My father had just passed away and my mom was in this "save something" mode. She began to feed Big Girl from her from the porch. It didn't take long for Big Girl to realize from where her daily meals would come. Within a few weeks, Big Girl was coming in the house at night for a short time. Mama was worried she was going to get hit in the road so she got Big Girl to stay in her back yard. This was a good idea in the beginning but turned bad. What mama didn't realize was Big Girl was a Great Pyrinees. She loves to dig. Not a great idea in a nice backyard with a pool. Oh and she loves to bark....all night! Mama couldn't take it anymore. She let her out.

Big Girl continued to come "home" to be fed each night but would explore all night. Mama would find her on the front porch each evening. Big Girl then started following mama's car to our family business. Mama just knew she was going to get hit in the road. We live on a major highway that is traveled by large trucks regularly. It was only a matter of time. So we convinced mama to call the pound.

Mama thought she knew who Big Girl belonged to but wasn't sure. After asking around, we found out she lived only about a mile from us in a pen. The guy had goats and he wanted to use her to protect them. He was gone on a regular basis and she would escape from her small pen. The neighbor's dogs would harass her and taught her to kill chickens. Mama found out her real name was Meagan.
The pound came. Because mama had been feeding her, she was now like an owner. And since she knew who she belonged to, he would have to surrender her to the pound or be fined. It was all kinds of issues.

While all of this was going on, we had been thinking about getting a donkey as our guard animal for the farm. We had planned our alpaca fields for a donkey. We had started our research to find one to buy. Can't remember what changed our mind- my mom or how sweet and loving Big Girl was.
We had not taken delivery of our five pregnant females yet and told mama we would give her a try in the pasture. About two weeks later, the alpacas were delivered and the true test began. Big Girl passed the first test. What was next?

It was a rough first few months. She liked to escape at the sight of an open gate or even a crack. She would get out on a regular basis and we couldn't find out where. We finally saw her escape New Year's Eve. We figured out she hated fireworks. She would climb halfway up the cattle gates and slink out. Nothing a little cattle fencing couldn't fix. She pushed past me one time in the middle of a terrible cold spell of less than 10 degree temperatures. Our other rescue, George, followed her. No big deal but George is a Boston Terrier. We found her but couldn't find him. The next morning, we did find George at our church.

It has been over a year since Big Girl made our house her forever home. She knows her job. She has a love hate relationship with the alpacas. I have seen her bark at them when my sister's dog came for a visit. Her bark must have told them something as the herd went to the barn and stayed until she came in. She loves our other dogs but will put herself between the dogs and the herd.
When the crias were born this past Spring, her bark would change when the crias were being delivered. We instantly knew that crias were being born. Her instincts are great. She is silly but knows her job. You will see her napping in the middle of the day, upside down against the main gate. She loves visitors to the farm. When field trips come, she steals the show from the alpacas.

She still has her hiccups- barks all night, likes to hide her food bowl in the middle of the pasture, and loves to dig holes in the barn and near the fence line. Her barking doesn’t bother us. The pasture is about 100 yards from the house and our closet neighbor is far enough away that she doesn’t bother them. She knows when my mom visits. She goes crazy for the attention. She knows my mom will give her a treat. Her escaping has stopped. I think she has learned, she is ours now.

She has turned out to be a good dog....no a great dog. Well worth the chance.
George

George


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Six CRAZY Weeks

The past six weeks at the farm has been a little on the crazy side. Here is what has been going on:

We have spit test of two spring bred females. Results are mixed. Keep your fingers crossed they are both due this spring. In hopes we have atleast two spring births, we purchased a bred female from another farm just outside of Atlanta. It was an adventure but we made it through Atlanta traffic. We have bred our three other females for Fall crias.

We had several vendor events to sale our handmade items. We are down to the final few things. It has been a great yarn season.

And the biggest event of the past six weeks was our first field trip. We had over 40 students and 10 adults visit the farm for a 4 hour educational seminar, visit with the alpacas, and lunch. We were very worried about the rain in the days before the event but the weather turned out great. A little windy but great! We are hoping this field trip will lead to many more this spring!

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Farm in Booming!!!

We had our first call for a farm visit with interest in purchasing animals. We hope that they will be able to visit us soon. Even if we don't sale an animal, it is great to help someone else make their decision on getting started in the business.

The field trips are rolling in!! We have a large group coming for a visit this month. We also have a school group coming next month for an educational class and tour. We are so excited about this part of our business. We hope that is continues to expand next year and for years to come.

This month includes planting the winter fields, building a barn in a bag for the boys, weaning the crias, fall breedings of three of our females, and Saturday trips to our local farmers' market to sale more alpaca items. I thought spring was busy but fall is looking like it will be busier!! Busy means growth. Growth means success!!!

We are so excited that the farm is growing and becoming a success. I will try to be better about updating our blog so that everyone knows what is happening at the farm!!!!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Some much has happened!

It has been several months since our last update. It has been a very busy summer.

First, we took out fleece to Echoview Fiber Mill to be processed in May. We got back our final product last week. Very pleased with the results. Can't wait to see the magic my sister-in-laws are going to work!!! Ready to grow the farm so we have even more yarn and roving.

Getting ready for alpaca farm days. My sister-in-laws are knitting like mad, I am working on craft kits and dryer balls, and our tea bags are being made. Excited to see what kind of turnout we get this year, our first farm days!!

Water and heat. Our summer has been out but we have been fortunate that the heat has not be too terrible...until now!!! It has been miserable for the past 4 days and the alpacas and not liking it. We have fans on high and the water buckets are being refilled three to four times per day. The best sight the alpacas see is the sprinkler turning out. They run to the oasis and fight over the best spots!!!

The cooler weather is coming soon which means it is time to start getting the winter fields ready and the crias need to start weaning. All this means long weekends of work!!! We have another pasture to fence, a barn to put up, plus winter wheat plowing and planting! Anyone interested in volunteering to help?!?!?!?!?

Keep checking back for pictures of finished alpaca knitted items for sale and pictures from Alpaca farm days!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Spring has Sprung!!!

Katherine getting her blanket removed!

Katherine getting her blanket removed!

Three crias down, one to go!!! Katherine had her male cria on Palm Sunday morning. We were all dressed to head to church. Needless to say, Eric changed his clothes and stayed behind to make sure all was well.

Misty still has not had her cria. We checked her while shearing her this weekend. The shearer feels like any day now!!

Shearing was completed this weekend. We were tired by the end of the day. We learned that next year, if we have more animals, we will be in for a long day!!! Our fleece has been bagged and tagged. Now it is time for the real work to begin....skirting!! Once that is complete, we will head to the fiber mill in North Carolina to have our harvest turned into yarn and roving. Excited to get the finished product.

Keep checking back for updates on Misty!!!
Mocha getting a pretty haircut for the boys!

Mocha getting a pretty haircut for the boys!

All cleaned up...now have that cria!

All cleaned up...now have that cria!


Monday, March 24, 2014

CRIAS HAVE ARRIVED!!

Carmel's Cria

Carmel's Cria

To our surprise, two of our four crias have arrived. Carmel had a beautiful female cria on March 19, 2014. Marissa had a beautiful male on the same day.

Now that is the easy part of the story.....Here is the rest!!

The farm we bought the girls from told us their due date was the end of April. We knew we needed to start preparing for births around the first of April...making sure our cria kit was ready, getting trash bags and towels to the barn, and reading like mad. I had started my reading and we had a cria kit on hand but that was it.

Coming up the driveway from our usual long Wednesday, I looked to the field. To my surprise, there laid two crias!!! I throw my groceries inside and started calling people. It was like I had my babies all over again. I was literally running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I had some many things I knew i needed to do but couldn't get focused.

Fortunately, my farm hand had asked to work that day and I said yes just minutes before my discovery. He didn't know what he was walking into either!! The sun was not out, the wind was blowing, and it was barely 45 degrees. I got our two cria blankets out with two old towels and got in the field. I got them dried off and put the blankets on each cria. The male was much smaller than the female.

Marissa, mother of the male cria, was not doing well. She would stand for a few minutes, walk a few feet, and then drop to the ground. She would roll and then just lay. She was not standing long enough to let the cria nurse. This went on for two hours. I decided to call our mentor farm for advice. After a ton of phone calls back and forth, I decided to drive to Spartanburg to get a pain shot from them as well as some frozen goat colostrum to start nursing the cria. He needed to get colostrum within 4 to 6 hours of birth.

Within a few minutes of me heading to Spartanburg, they called back to say they were coming to us to help. Thank you for a huge blessing!!!

A little prayer and a glass of wine later, Marissa stood long enough for the cria to nurse for a few minutes. She would then drop back down in obvious pain. Thank goodness, our mentor farm arrived here within an hour. After watching her for 10 minutes, we decided to give her a pain shot. I had only found one afterbirth in the field earlier. She seemed to still be in labor trying to pass it.

Once Marissa stood after they arrived, she never laid back down!!! The cria nursed well, Marissa ate well, and we all went to bed sleeping easier.

We did call our Vet the next day as no afterbirth had shown. He came out with some antibiotics and checked the crias Igg levels. We are not sure where the afterbirth went. One theory was buzzards since I did since a few in the area. Another was the dog. The vet stated some guardian dogs will eat the afterbirth to prevent predators knowing there is fresh meat in the pasture. Other dogs eat it just to eat it as it is a great source of protein. Whatever happened to it, not sure. We checked Marissa’s temperature for two days and she was normal.

Our mentor farm did say Marissa’s last birth was breach. He had to turn the cria in the womb. This could have caused scaring which caused the additional pain. With this knowledge and the pain she was in, we have decided to rebred her in the fall instead on this spring. Hopefully her body will rest and health.

The crias are growing. They are gaining about 4 to 6 ounces each day. They have started playing with each other which is so fun to watch.

Now we are on cria watch for #3 and #4!!! Might need more wine for the nerves!!!!





Sweetie

Sweetie

Rudolph

Rudolph


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Great Weekend!!!

It has been a long Friday and Saturday but it was filled with adventure.

A fun Friday hanging with family. We then headed to get ready for the CABO show. This was our first alpaca show. We looked at the seminar beginning offered and made a plan.....Eric would take the girls around the show and arena while I took 4 classes.

Plan worked for the most part. One of my classes was canceled but the rest were super informative. The girls were excited to see all of the alpacas and Hannah loved getting all of the "kisses" from the young alpacas. Grace only had one and a half meltdowns.

We were always told to go to an alpaca show before we started the farm. We never had a chance before the alpacas arrived. It was always clearing the land, barn buildings, beach trips, football games, barn building (had to say that twice to sandwich it between work and play!!!).

My advice to exploring or new farmers...go to a show before you buy!!! Lesson learned. I learned today that I spent money on a microscope when I should have waited a few more months or years. Now this was a $500 lesson learned. If this is the only mistake I make while owning this farm then I am a business genius!!!

Here is what came from one day: new ways to market the fiber, talked to our feed company, found an alternative to the hay we have, decided we needed a trailer with sleeping quarters, saw how much we can make with good breeding and feeding decisions, and saw how much more marketing material we need!!! With some research and patience, we learned today, we will be a success!!!

The only bad thing from the weekend is our submission into the humor category photo contest did not win a ribbon!!! We saw several people laugh at it but maybe tomorrow we will find out we won people's choice!!!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Long Winter

It has been a long winter for us in the South we were are not use to this cold wind, snow, sleet, and freezing rain. Our pastures are not enough for the pregnant girls. They are eating more hay than ever. Ready for the green pastures of Spring.

As a new alpaca farmer, I have learned a few things quickly over this long winter. First, do your research and be prepared before the weather comes. I have found that AlpacaNations website and community forum is excellent for advice and tips.

Secondly, water is key. Since we don't get freezing weather for days on end normally, so we initially did not buy heated buckets. Before the first cold snap, my husband bought us one. It has been a great investment. For about a week, the only bucket that would stay thawed was that one. I would boil water in the morning to thaw the buckets but by evening, they had frozen again. The girls were using the heated bucket almost solely. I was refilling some times twice a day. The dog liked it too!!!

Another key element with water is temperature. It is cold so you would assume the girls would drink less. In fact, they drink as much on a super cold day as they would on a super hot day. If you want keep health alpacas in the winter, keep water available. The key is the water needs to be between 50 degrees and 80 degrees. I observed their liking of lukewarm water first hand. I had one bucket that was thawed by the sun. I had another bucket that I had thawed with boiling hot water. That bucket was emptied first.

Extra hay is not going to hurt them on cold days. I have found that giving them a little extra before the super cold weather comes helps in their ability to stay warm. They may not eat it all but use the extra as bedding. Sure it makes for a messy barn but Spring will arrive soon.

If you want, to invest in some bedding straw, that is great. Our barn floor is red clay. It gets cold if the sun does not hit it. A cold floor makes a cold alpaca. Leftover hay or bedding straw is a great item to have down to prevent a chilly animal.

Finally, our biggest battle is the wind. I was so worried about the cold temperatures that I did a lot of research on the weather. The biggest thing I found is an adult alpaca can hand the cold temperature as long as the wind is not screaming. Their fleece is at almost full blanket so they are very warm. If the wind is blowing, the cold weather can penetrate the blanket and make them cold. A shivering alpaca is not good!! Get an old sweater on them ASAP. We have wrapped our open area of the barn with plastic so that when we put the girls up at night, the wind is off of them. A cheap solution to a dangerous issue.

Spring is coming soon Thank God! We have a filled ready for planting and are starting to see a little green in the pasture. The crias are due April 30th. Watch our website for updates and pictures!!!