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

Diary of John Francis – Alpaca Corner Week 3, April 11-17

Monday, April 11   

Dear Diary……..Today is the start of another new week.  I looked at the weather map on the television and it looked like we can expect rain all day.  Did not do much today other than the “usual”.  Mary, Sally and I did go to Hamilton and got a few errands accomplished.  I don’t seem to handle rain like I did at one time.

Tuesday, April 12   

Today was a bit better than yesterday but it turned cold and windy.  Morgan Township is 200 years old this year.  It was established in 1811 and it was formerly a part of Ross Township.  Our residents have been planning a big celebration and it will be held on Saturday, May 21st.  The new 1858 Morgan Township Museum will be open, a parade will be held going from Shandon to Okeana and fire works will top off the event that evening.  I must save the date and attend.  I am afraid I’ll miss the next centennial.  I am a member of the Shandon Civic Association and the group is providing a “town banner”.  I went up to the sign shop today and ordered the banner.  For the background, it will have a picture of the village taken in front of the post office circa 1910.  At that time Shandon had two rural routes served by the post office and this photo has the two horse drawn wagons ready to deliver the mail for the day.

Wednesday, April 13th

It is “Hump Day” here on the farm.  Bet you haven’t heard that expression lately?  It is the day that once it is over, the rest of the week is all “down hill”. Today was both good and bad.  At 6:30 pm the pack of scouts from a den in Ross came to see the alpacas.  The scouts now have a rule, which I did not know about, states, for every cub scout that goes out on a field trip, the scout’s parent must accompany him.  Thus we had seven scouts and at least seven parents.  We brought them into the farm office and talked about alpacas before we went over to the barn for the actual “hands on” part of the visit.  We talked about the alpacas and about their fleece and the end product of their fiber.  We showed them samples of socks, gloves, sweaters, etc. Today just before lunch I was working with my utiliity tractor at the brush pile I am attempting to burn.  I ran the loader into the pile, lifted the loader and had a good amount of brush in the bucket.  When I was backing up I saw a small tree stump with little stubs from its limbs sticking to the front tire.  Woe is me!!  (As Amos and Andy used to say.)   There was nothing to do but pull the limb loose from the tire and then the inner tube appeared.  Yep, we had an explosion!!  It was now a flat tire, along the creek, away from the farm shop.  I got the wheel and tire off the tractor and took it to my friendly tire store in Shandon.  He looked at it and said, “What size tire is that?”  To make the story short, he started calling around the tri state area and when I left the store he had not located a tire.  Woe is me!

Thursday, April 14th

OK.  We are on the down hill side of the week and I hope we don’t have many curves that are coming up to meet us.  This morning during our chore hour we three trimmed Tussah’s toe nails.  She is a white animal and usually the white alpacas have toe nails that grow faster than any other color.  Mary held her head while Sally picked up her foot and I did the trimming honors.  When the shearer comes on the 25th he will be doing the toe nails on most all of the alpacas.    I didn’t hear any news from the tire store so that may be a curve coming up for a day later in the week.  But don’t they say, “No news is good news”?  We three had a nice surprise today.  Mary and Sally were at the Periwinkle House Antique Shop this afternoon and our long time friends came in.  Werneth and Betty Avril were up from Texas and were visiting some friends.  It was such a treat to see and talk with them.  To me – they are good people.  We need a lot more good people in this world and it could become a “better place”.  (Mary and Sally were in the same high school classes with the Avril girls.)       

We had some other errands to do and we didn’t get down to the alpaca farm to feed them until 9:45 pm.  Of course it was dark and just as we pulled into the barn yard a car/truck lights were coming into the barn yard also.  Sometimes if we are late a Butler County deputy will come in and check if things are OK.  That is very much appreciated and welcomed in these times.  It was one of our neighbors who was just getting home and saw our car lights and wondered if things were normal.  Good neighbors are appreciated more than they know.  We need more good neighbors – more good people.  (Did I mention that the tire store did not call?)

Friday, April 15th    

Today when I woke I had an amusing thought.  Remember the TV ad where the oversized man pulled up in the back alley and was changing the magnetic sign on his truck door to read…”Windows Installed”.   After he got the sign in place he put one hand inside his suspenders, took a draw on his cigar and said, “Today,,,   we do windows…….!!!!     That’s what I am thinking of….  What do I do today??    I went over to the tire store to talk with the proprietor to learn what he had learned about locating a tire for my tractor.  He was busy with several customers but when he got to me he said, “Better sit down before talking about your tire”.  Once again, “Woe is Me.”   I learned that the only tires in the world that would fit the front wheels of my tractor that was manufactured in 1973 were in St. Louis.  He did not order them until he talked with me as they were a bit pricey.  I ordered them and they should be in Shandon next Monday or Tuesday or it could be Wednesday.  Who wants to bet?    Earlier this week I had ordered a 3 X 10 banner for our Morgan Township Historical event.  The sign shop, which is nearby, e-mailed me a picture of the banner for my approval.  Need to get back and change some wording around but it is going to be a sign to behold.      Tomorrow is the regular monthly meeting of the Morgan Township Historical Society.  I will be in charge of the business portion of the meeting and we usually have around fifty people of the surrounding community present.  The organization is ten years old and has become a great interesting group of historians.

Saturday, April 16   

I attended the Historical meeting at the Administration building.  Today we had about 40 people attending and the topic was concerning the Japanese Concentration sites that were in the United States during World War II.  A lady was in attendance that was taken to a camp with her parents when she was six years old.  There were ten of these camps out in the western states but only a few of us here in the Midwest knew much about them.   Mary and Sally did the chores this morning so I wouldn’t be late to the meeting.  They said the alpacas were on their good behavior, went in their designated pens and ate their cereal very well.  (That’s what we have nicknamed their alpaca pellets that they get each day).  We feed them twice a day.  Most farmers feed alpacas once a day but we like to visit them twice just to make sure that all are hungry. If they are hungry they are feeling well and not likely to be coming down with a stomach problem.  That doesn’t happen often but it can happen.  As I was leaving the barn all of the alpacas that were outside the barn were looking in the same direction and were standing at “attention”.  One alpaca gave the warning call, which sounds like a donkey braying.  The sound is so loud that everyone including me rushed out to see what the animal is looking at.  Today she saw a coyote crossing the farm field just about 500 feet to the south of the barn.  When the coyote heard all of this uproar he/she turned and ran back from whence it came.

Sunday, April 17, 2011   

Today was a “no rain day”.  It was sunny with  blue sky and a good day to catch up on some odd chores.  I did get myself to church as it was Palm Sunday.   As I was typing this today I had a telephone call from a man who lives in a neighboring township.  He had been by the alpaca farm and wondered if we sold alpaca socks at the farm.  His wife had bought two pair of socks in Columbus and has just about worn them out and needs more socks.  She likes them since her feet sweat and the socks wick the water away.  I told him about the girl’s antique and gift shop (Periwinkle House) that is in Shandon.  He was so excited and was at the shop before the girls closed for the day.  Alpaca clothing is a big selling item, even in the summer time. 





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