Francis Farms/Alpaca Corner - John, Mary & Sally Francis

Diary of John Francis – Alpaca Corner

Friday, April 1, 2011

Hello folks, how’s everything “Down On The Farm”?  I remember listening to a gentleman from Indiana (Boss Johnson) who had a radio show and when he came on the air he asked that question.  So, starting today and for the month of April, I will be telling you about things down on the farm!  Our farms are located at Shandon, Ohio, and you will be learning about raising alpacas because that is what my two daughters, Mary, Sally and I do.  It keeps us out of the pool hall!  Today I got the mail and received two packages.  They were from an alpaca show that we had entered in Missouri.  The girls had sent two samples of fiber to the show about three months ago.  It was entered in a “spin-off” class.  The fiber is judged on how it spins and ten other points.  Magnolia Blush received a green ribbon.  (sixth out of ten in the class and Jitterbug was third out of five.)  Not too bad since it was a large show with a lot of entries.I met with our neighbor who is a fence builder.  We need to erect some additional pasture fencing for the alpacas.  Through the years we have built six pastures that are about one half acre each.  As the herd grows we find that small enclosures fit our needs rather than containing them in just one or two large pastures.  We need to keep the boys separate from the girls so we can control their breeding, some males are more aggressive and some males need to be divided.  Also, when it is time to wean the crias (babies) another pasture is needed.  (We take the cria away from its mother but preferably where they can still see each other.)  They do miss each other and do a lot of humming.  Tell you about their humming at another time.Tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 10:30 a.m. the ladies of the Shandon Congregational Church will be visiting Alpaca Corner.  We do enjoy having groups see and touch the animals so we have been cleaning up the barn and the alpaca office today.  Quite a job!  We need to dust the panels before they get here so the ladies won’t soil their dresses.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Today we three were down at the alpaca barn at 8:00 a.m.  We needed to get the feeding done a bit earlier today since the ladies from the church were due at 10:30 a.m.  Also three pots of pansies needed to be planted to spruce up the barn door entrance.  As the ladies arrived we took them over to our farm office where we provided an hour seminar about raising alpacas, shearing their fleece, the steps that the fleece goes through from after it is shorn to the final product.  The final product are the sweaters, gloves, socks, coats and hats or whatever the craft person/mill wants to make.  Alpaca fiber does not contain lanolin so many people can wear clothing made from alpaca fiber rather than wool.  Thirteen ladies came to see the farm and we also went to the barn and gave them a touchy feely visit with the herd.  We have a total of eighteen with seven boys and eleven girls.  Our cute boy, Riggs Williams, is almost a year and has great coverage of fiber.  His brownish red coat goes down to his black hooves and he is adorable.  Everyone fell in love with Riggs and wanted to take this brown bear home with them.We belong to the Southwestern Ohio Alpaca Breeders (SWOAB).  In fact, I have been president of the organization for three years and have attended monthly meetings covering this corner of the state.  Our farm is still a member, but I recently gave up the title of president.One of the (SWOAB) farms has gone out of business and is selling their alpaca equipment.  This afternoon they delivered an electronic scale to our farm.  We have never had a scale such as this so it will be a treat to be able to weigh the alpacas and know what is happening “weight wise”.  It is so important to know if a cria is gaining weight each day.

Sunday April 3, 2011

It is Sunday, the Sabbath, the day of rest.  I believe the girls felt sorry for me today since we (me) had worked so hard getting ready for our visiting friends that I did not have to go with them to feed and care for the animals this morning.  But I did need to get up early and go to Sunday School as per usual, to make the coffee for the early crowd at church.  If I say so myself, “I do make a mean cup of coffee”.The rest of the day has been “normal”.







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