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

Diary of John Francis – Alpaca Corner Week 2, April 4-10, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hello folks, it is Monday and the start of a new week.  In order for me to wake up each morning I set my clock radio and let it buzz for awhile.  The weather was nasty with a lot of rain predicted for the day.  Mary went off to teach school and left Sally and me to do the alpaca feeding.  After being around them for ten minutes or so they tend to make you happy and glad you are alive.   I have mentioned the cute male, Riggs Williams, who was on his good behavior today.  If you come to visit, please ask to see Riggs.   It was warm today and I must remember to turn the electric water fountain heaters off, for the entire summer, I hope.  We installed four automatic Nelson bowls two years ago and they are worth their weight in gold.  Course, gold is high now and I don’t know if that statement is exactly correct.

Mary teaches half days at school.  Some days she teaches in the morning and some days in the afternoon.  Today she was off after 1:00 p.m.  I always tell them that since the Periwinkle House is closed on Mondays and she does not teach we usually go someplace for lunch.  Today we, through the rain, rowed our way to the dining room at the Hollywood gambling boat.  (We only go to eat!)

To sum up the day, I always feel better when I leave the barn than when I step into the barn.  I have had that feeling since I have worked with alpacas and it has created our motto………”Discover and Enjoy Alpacas.   They make you happy”. I think I will send a couple of them up to Washington.  A few of those folks could certainly benefit from knowing about life, down on the farm!!  Alpacas come in 22 different colors.  Some people are studying alpaca color genes and trying to predict the color of the next generation.  To me, it is pretty much of a guess as to the color of the cria.

Tuesday  April 5, 2011

It was sort of a slow day today.  Sometimes I have “large” days but today it was a slow one.  I got up and did the usual mundane things such as making and eating breakfast, dressing and then I met Mary for the barn chores.  Sally needed to skip the barn work as she had a doctor’s appointment scheduled.  Then I too had to see my doctor just after lunch.  No wonder we all have high blood pressure.  I wonder if all doctor’s offices are similar?  They have a communication problem. I would think that after the first hour that you sit in their front waiting room someone would appear and give you an update concerning the “wait”.  If I did send a couple of alpacas to Washington to graze on the south lawn, they too would have a communication problem.  Alpacas communicate by just “humming”.  It is a low hum that is sometimes almost inaudible. The politicians would be shouting at one another so loud that the animals could not get anything across to them.  Alpacas have no real means of defense.  They only hum and spit.  Like a llama, the alpaca spits when it is upset by another alpaca or a human.  I have been caught in their “cross fire” many times.  Some alpaca farmers use “guard animals” in the pen to guard the alpacas from predators. An example would be using a donkey, a llama with alpacas or a dog that has been bred to protect animals such as a Great Pyrenees.  We have built high fences around the perimeter of the pastures.  This is another way to provide safety for the alpaca against the intrusion of the fox, the coyote and the neighbor’s dog.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Today was a “small” day at Alpaca Corner.  It is time to build a new fence for our last (seventh) rotational pasture.  I contacted our neighbor (Roy) who is a professional fence builder.  I wanted him to give us an estimate to install our seventh one half acre of secure pasture.  It is to be similar to the other fence that he has provided for us.  It will be 5 feet tall, using a “no climb welded 2”X 4” inside liner and four boards high.  We need to keep the deer out of the pen.  Alpacas are susceptible to the meningeal worm and the deer are part of the worm’s life cycle.  Today I started mowing grass around Alpaca Corner.  It seems early to start that never ending job, but it needed to be done.  I have a Toro 62” mower that I purchased in 1996 that has never given me any problems.  I do mow a lot of grass as I mow three house yards as well.  I did have a bit of good news today.  My accountant called and said my taxes were finished and ready for my pick up.  So, I retrieved the papers and no additional tax is needed to be paid.  Hoorah!!!! 

Thursday, April 7, 2001 

As we all were cleaning out the barn and feeding the animals, Mary and Sally reminded me that today is Magnolia Blush’s birthday.  She is two years old.  (In last week’s picture section, she is the one on the right that is eating a snack off their bar.)  When we give farm tours, someone always asks, “How did she get that name?”  Her coloring was very white with a brilliant pink around her eyes and mouth.  All of the magnolia trees were in blossom at that time, just as they are now, and she actually reminded us of the trees in the neighborhood.   She has a wonderful fleece.  It is white and very dense.  It is fine and the staple length is very good.  (Needs to be three inches in length.)  She has won ribbons in several “spin off” shows around the country.  At last year’s alpaca fest in Columbus she won first in her class of white alpacas and the grand prize of first over all the white fleeces that were in the show.  We are quite excited about her potential. Today I tried to get all my future dates in order.  Things I need to be ready for.  This coming Saturday, April 9th, we need to attend a South West Ohio Alpaca Breeders meeting near Versailles, Ohio.  (Darke County, Northwest of Dayton, OH).  There will be about 10 alpaca farms represented with about 15 to 20 people attending.  The meetings are informative for the folks and this month the topic will be “Shearing Day”.  One of our member farms has approximately 90 alpacas and each one needs to be shorn.  Even though they have a professional shearer come to the farm much needs to be done in preparation of their arrival.  They will be giving the group some hints as to how they handle the big day.  The group likes to eat so Mary and Sally will be taking something scrumptious. On Wednesday April 13th a den of cub scouts from Ross will be coming to visit the farm.  There will be eight boys and a parent with each of them.  The big day to shear our eighteen alpacas will be April, 25th.  (Monday after Easter.)  We will be getting our barn and equipment ready and will be reporting our progress to you.  Oh yes, must not forget my birthday,,,,,,,,,,April 26th.  You can send cards and letters!!!

Friday, April 9, 2011

Today, after the usual one hour of morning chores, I sat down and had a meeting (with myself).  The subject was:  What am I going to do today?  Farmers are business men/women who really have a great deal of freedom.  With the exception of the planting and harvesting season we can choose the day of the job.  So today I chose the job of “burning brush”!   I have been putting off the job of burning a big long pile of brush that I have been adding to for the last five years.  It has grown to be about 300 feet long and 20feet wide and becoming an “eye sore” to the community. 

The day is perfect for having a burning party, of one.  There was very little wind blowing, the green grass was all around the pile so the fire would not spread, and I am in the mood!!  I decided that with my tractor and loader I would pull the brush out of the large pile and pile it in a small pile, set the small pile on fire and then keep adding to it.  I could control the fire size and not be too concerned with the fire spreading.  I started the fire with the help of used paper feed sacks and fuel oil.  It burned extremely well and I sat back and watched the fire burn for most of the day.Watching a controlled fire burn is sort of like watching grass grow, but for me today, it was my day and I did what I wanted to do.  Freedom!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I awoke early, ready to go out and place more “trash” on the bonfire that was doing so well yesterday.  Before Sally and I completed our chores the rains came and the fire was out.  There will be another day?  I hope there will, before I get out of the mood.This was the day that the SWOAB group had their monthly meeting at the Woodsview Alpaca Farm just north of Versailles, Ohio.  It is about a good two hour drive from here and we needed to leave at 3:00 p.m.  We always take a “covered dish” and so Mary made cookies and Sally prepared a dish of green beans.  Six farms were represented and we had the informational portion of the meeting before we ate.  The subject was “Shearing”.  A farm near Sidney (Mystical Acres Alpacas) was in charge and they touched on “Barn Preparation”.  In other words, what does the farmer need to do before the shearer arrives?  Need number one……keep the animals dry before shearing.  Number two……have 3 or 4 “helpers” on hand to handle animals and fleece.  All in all it was a great afternoon and we all learned much.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday is a “slow” day here on the farm.  Church attendance is always included as very important in our live.  I think the animals get an extra bite or two of grain and hay.  That makes the caretaker feel like saying, “have a good day on us.  It is Sunday!!!”   I wonder what the Lord has in store for us next week?  







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