Sunday, April 20, 2014

In which I feed alpacas and buy yarn, because I can't not buy yarn.

Lately I've been thinking about how big the world is, and how many things there are to learn how to do - mosaic tile, stained glass windows, masonry, woodworking, welding....and how there are so many opportunities to go out and learn some of these things. 

So this weekend I was fortunate enough to have a bit of a learning-related adventure!  On Saturday morning, I met a group of fellow yarn enthusiasts (read: knitting nerds) for a tour of the Bluebonnet Hills Alpaca Ranch in Navasota, TX.  We had a great tour of the ranch, and got to pet and even feed some of the 70 alpaca that live there.  The area where the ranch is located is so pretty - hilly, lots of trees, and right now covered in wildflowers (including, yes, bluebonnets - the national flower of Texas).

The ranchers were super nice and showed us all about the caretaking of alpaca, which is in the camelid family (think llamas) that come from the Andes in South America.  They're known over the world for the awesome softness of their fleece.  And they're really cute too!

We saw some funny ones with derpy-derp haircuts:

And some whose fleece grows in wavy locks:

There were also BABIES.  I LOVE THEM.  And Noel is very proud that I did not, in fact, bring one home with me.

This one is called Sweet Talking Man.  He was a charmer.  :)   

The ranchers raise these alpaca to both sell to breeders, and for their fleeces for yarn (they shear them - no worries about alpacacide!)

There might have been some yarn for sale there.  I might have accidentally bought some.  It's hard not to, when you just fed the little guy whose fleece made the yarn!

So we had lunch there, and then went to a gorgeous yarn shop in Navasota called WC Mercantile - such beautiful stuff in there!!  And they have lots of supplies for spinning yarn as well, and that might be something I'll do in the near future (since I don't have any other hobbies - sigh).

Anyway, we spent the afternoon there learning how to dye yarn!  It was really fun, and honestly much easier in some ways than I imagined.  I can see how people get addicted to it.  We got to keep the skein of yarn we dyed, and I was so happy with the way mine turned out:

(Purple, blue, teal.  Of course.  I am in a very happy rut).

Now to find patterns to use for all this gorgeous alpaca fluffiness!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

April Showers = Good Excuse To Stop Weeding

Happy April, and welcome to my newest readers!  Glad you decided to join us!

We've had an exciting week here at Chez Hairball, or should I say Chez Cat Indigestion That Mysteriously Only Happens In Carpeted Areas.  It's not been pleasant.  And here's one place where life with pets varies from life with children (as my sister pointed out): when you have a sick child, you can normally figure out pretty quickly which one it is.  When you have a sick cat, unless you only have 1 cat, it's hard to figure out which one is having the digestive issues.  Thus we had to take dramatic action yesterday by separating the boys into different rooms, feeding them, and waiting for...nature to take its course, by which means we could determine which of them had been having the problem.  (Side note:  You know you've gotten to a very special point in a relationship with another person when you can have lengthy, serious conversations about cat poop.)

And here's another thing about cats - when they feel like it, they can apparently hold in anything they want.  So while we never got a definitive on Samson, we think Poe is the one with the problem.  I'll take him to the vet this week to get him checked out.  Poor guy.  Also poor carpet.

Also about cats?  They do NOT like being locked away from each other if they're used to being around each other all the time.  Poe wouldn't shut up with the dramatic whining, and when I'd go in to see him for a while, Loki would start up.

Meanwhile, Samson was totally chill in the other bedroom, just hanging out all day.  Didn't hear a peep out of him. 

In other exciting news (because we all know you come here to get more than just riveting cat/litterbox stories), the garden is doing quite well, except we have lots of ants (bug powder coming out tomorrow - they're eating the spinach before it can grow!) and I've had to replant a few things that just didn't take from the (leggy) seedling stage, including cucumbers and squash, which most people will recognize as veggies a child could grow in an egg carton full of dirt from the side of a highway.  So.  I'm not going to take that personally, and will just keep on planting.

So here we go, picturama time!

(Please ignore the weeds in these next few pictures.  I really did weed today for a while, but then it started raining and I got lazy and went inside and watched some stupid movie on Syfy about these teens caught on top of a Mayan pyramid that was covered with some carnivorous vines that were trying to eat them, and then weeding seemed like an even worse idea.) 

So this is how the garden looks right now - kinda hard to see stuff, but it's there!

Our salad mix is doing really well!  This is arugula, raddichio, and spinach.  (And potentially carnivorous weeds, just sayin').

Our lima beans are doing great! 

Here's Gottfried at his post by a sad little okra plant that is actually getting stronger, despite looking anemic right now. 

On Friday we were looking at some of the plants in the rest of the yard, including our cacti (who are growing too!), the lantanas that are coming back nicely, and our sad (dead) hibiscus.  And then I noticed something - down at the bottom of the hibiscus, close to the soil and partly buried underneath some old leaves, was a glimmer of green.  I dug through the dead leaves and found some bright little green leaves sprouting out of the very bottom of the hibiscus!  Apparently that part of the plant survived the hard freezes we got this year because it was insulated.  So I dug it all out and chopped back all the dead wood.  It looks really sad right now, but hopefully now that it can get more sunlight, it'll grow fast. 

Yay!  i was worried we'd lost the hibiscus forever, and it was so pretty with its humongous red blooms. 

In other updates, my job continues to go really well!  Except my boss just took a new job in the corporate office.  Which is great for her, and I think may open up doors for me as a trainer to do more work in the corporate office, which would be cool.  Funnily enough, the same exact thing happened to my last manager too - I started the job, 2 weeks later he told me he was getting promoted!  But other than this little minor hiccup, my job is going extremely well.  I'm really happy there. 

Next week will be more exciting adventures as I tour an alpaca farm!  So excited!  Will try not to get bitten.  Happy April everyone!  Enjoy the springtime!