Welcome to our blog about life with six alpaca "fiber boys" in the Colorado foothills! We post once a week, usually on the weekend, when life slows down to sweet, slow dance. ~ Gib & Lisa

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A New Blog

I just can't stay away.  

Although my life will change when The Boys find new homes, it will be like it was when our children left home:  different, not done.  

In that vein, I have started a new blog, one that you may or may not want to read.  It will still be about life in the mountains, but this time, without alpacas in the starring roles.  

If you're interested, please click HERE to see the new blog.  I'd love to have you visit; if you do, please use the Comments to let me know you stopped by!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


I've made a very difficult decision ~ I am going to give away my "boys."  As much as I love the alpacas, I just don't have enough time for them anymore.  I thought I could do it all ~ teach school, raise alpacas, spin and weave, write a blog, hike, help my husband with his new business venture, save an old schoolhouse, travel ~ but I cannot.

Not only do I not have enough time, I just cannot go through another summer like the last one ~ seeing my friends' homes burn down, and worrying, worrying, worrying about our barn full of animals.  The horse loads in the trailer easily, but how could I get six boys in there fast enough if a wildfire were eminent?  The horse would walk right into the nearby lake if needed, but would the boys?  The horse could take care of herself if we had no choice but to turn her loose ~ what would happen to the boys if I had to turn them out?  

We went through one evacuation fairly easily, but that's because someone was watching over us, and we had plenty of advance notice.  I don't want to risk it again.

So, this is the end of a decade-plus of living with and loving my boys.  I have enjoyed it all, but know the best thing for all of us is to let them have a new home (or homes), out of the wildfire zone. 

That means the end of this blog as well.  To my faithful readers, thank you. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

"Bad Boy, Ben!"

Two for one!  Today, I'm posting twice ~ not because of any burst of energy, but because I (selfishly) needed to write a rather sad post, and I just couldn't let that one be the only post for the week.  So, the sad one follows this one ~ skip it if you wish, and have a great week!

There's a reason Ben is our biggest alpaca:  He's sneaky.  

Who? ME?

Rather than simply using his bulk to bully the other boys off their hay piles...

...which would cause spitting

...which would alert the dog

...which would alert the humans

...who would come in and yell at him...

Ben has developed a nefarious way to invade his buddies' space.

Watch this!

The creep creeps up on them, slowly inching his hay pile towards theirs, until the piles are joined.  

First, a little push...

Get it up to the wall...

Slowly, slowly, turn it...

Munch and nudge, nudge and munch...

One more nudge...

Target in sight!

Closer, closer...

With a quick flick of his head, Ben convinces his victims that THEY have encroached on HIM, and must move along.


Mission accomplished!

You might not like his results, but you've got to admire his style!

Requiem for a Tree

For the past decade, the Thermometer Tree has always been there, a silent sentinel beckoning me to enjoy the warmth of a summer day, or warning me to wear a coat against winter's blast.

It has always been there, through rocking winds and monsoon rains.

It has always been there, watching over the wildlife, with birds in its branches and deer at its feet.

It has always been there, even when we weren't, welcoming us back after a four-day wildfire evacuation.

It has always been there, until now.  

It was too close to the house.  

But it was here first. 

Maybe we built the house too close to it...

Either way, the tree had grown tall enough to fall on the house during a wildfire, and it had to go.

old friend.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

REAL Dog Toys

Our poor dogs.  They have no REAL dog toys, so they've had to make do with what they could find around the barn.  That would be their food dishes. (If you look carefully at the picture below, you can see the two dishes inside the pen, with the boys hiding as I ask, "Who brought THOSE out?")

"What bowl?"

"Oh, you mean THIS bowl?"

"He did it."

It really IS kind of cute, until you have to play "find-the-food-dish-again" EVERY night. Sigh.

So, I was complaining to telling my neighbor Belinda about the dogs' annoying habit, and she decided to play Santa; she brought over P.F. Chang's bagful of used toys she thought the boys might enjoy.  They took turns checking it out...

...then politely waited for me to pull out the toys.

Hank chose his favorite toy right away...

...but Rodeo had trouble choosing.

At one point, Rodeo considered "sharing" Hank's favorite.  That was NOT an option.

So, Rodeo found another toy...for a while.

With the attention span of a gnat, Rodeo was soon on to other things, like irritating Hank.

"Must you? Now? Really?"

"I mean it. Stay AWAY from the toy."

"Mom, can't you please DO something?"

"What a nut job."

Soon, however, Rodeo lost complete interest in the toys, so I carried them to the inside pen, where Hank could enjoy them all day long.

He thought I said "destroy" them all day long.

So, back in the bag they went (the toys, not the dogs).

Now, all I need to do is write a truthful thank-you note to our sweet neighbor Belinda:

"Hank and Rodeo just tore into those new toys ~ thank you!"


"The dogs just loved their new toys to pieces!"


"You shouldn't have. Really."

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Dog food is popular at our house. The horse thinks dog food is a treat. The cats prefer dog food over their fish-shaped nuggets. The mice store it for winter use (please don't ask how I know this).

The dogs?  They prefer plants. 

OK, so I'll confess that we buy "off-the-shelf" dog food (not the really good kind you get from a vet), so maybe the dogs are silently protesting.  You know, like martyrs.

BUT, in our defense, the first ingredient listed on the dog-food bag is meat, not a corn by-product. 

So that's what baffles me. The HORSE, who gobbles those dog-food pellets like they are candy, likes MEAT...but the dogs prefer plants?

And I'm not talking about the typical my-tummy-is-hurting-so-I'm-munching-grass-to-make-me-barf dog behavior.

Nope. This is all-out, vegetarian behavior.  These weirdos crave BEET PULP.

Beet pulp is a "side dish" created by the processing of sugar beets, and the green stuff is high in protein and fiber.  We get it in neat oblong pellets, which we soak overnight, making a nice greenish-grayish-brownish mash (yum!) that gives the Old Brown Mare energy in an easy-to-eat form.  She likes it. The dogs love it.

Here they are, cleaning up the beet pulp after the horse has had her fill.

Hank especially likes this delicacy, and often pushes Rodeo out, as he takes laps around the bowl with amazing speed!

Last night, though, things got even more bizarre.  I found the two piles of hay I'd prepared for Chocolate and EB's dinner inside the barn scattered and mostly gone ~ with Chocolate and EB still outside, and no other animals but the dogs in sight. 

But dogs don't eat hay.

Do they?

As I pondered that question, images from some photos I'd taken of the dogs and Lucy last weekend came into sharp focus. 

The dogs had been loitering outside Lucy's pen, a place they are strictly forbidden to enter. Reason: She's big; they're not.  

But they were pushing the boundaries that day ~ literally.  

So, I did what any responsible adult does when toddler-like beings in her care could be getting into a sticky situation ~ I took pictures!  Aren't they cute, just commando-crawling right in there with that 1100-pound horse?

I thought they were picking up pieces of beet pulp that Lucy had dropped as she ate her breakfast earlier. Gib thought that, too. 

We were SO wrong.

Our dogs have been eating alfalfa.  As in hay. As in $10-a-bale hay.  

Why?  Who knows?  

They're hungry? (No. We feed them the afore-mentioned dog food twice a day, in large quantities; plus they get all the dog treats they want.)  

They're bored? (No. They destroy things in the barn when they're bored.)  

They're hoping we'll feel guilty that the poor darlings are reduced to eating PLANTS, and that we'll cave in and buy the GOOD dog food? (Hmmm...at $10 a bale for hay, vet dog food IS a bargain.)

Or maybe they're just weirdos...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fresh (?) Water

We are among those lucky people who get to haul their water from town...and I don't mean in little 20-ounce bottles.  No, we have a 350-gallon tank that requires a heavy-duty, turbo-diesel Dodge Ram pickup to carry it up the hill.

And on the days that Gib backs up that black Dodge to the barn and starts filling the troughs, you can almost see Ben and EB smile, but not because they're thirsty...watch:

Ben stands innocently near by, as we carry buckets of water to the outside trough.

Ben waits for Gib to leave...

...making sure the coast is completely clear.

Then he gets ready, he's set...


Look at that happy paca smile!

It takes a lot of effort and concentration to make a splash this big!

So, then it's time for a hard-earned rest...

...and a little cuddle. Just Ben, and his water trough.

Ben doesn't seem to realize that there are five other "boys" who might be thirsty.

He does, however, know when Gib returns.

Ben stays still, hoping The Man won't notice the water.

Busted?  Ben denies it.

Nope. It wasn't him.

Innocent until proven guilty.

Then, Gib leaves again, and both Ben and EB take note.

Ben shows EB how it's done; first one foot...

...then the other.

Now it's EB's turn.

Ben promises to keep watch.

EB gets a little mixed up; which leg goes in first ~ the back left?

He soon gets the hang of it...

...and plays until he notices The Woman Who Feeds Me is taking photos.

The other alpacas are not amused...

...but they're really thirsty.

George tries to warn the others, but Ralphie doesn't listen (what's new?).