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Spinning Cria Fleece

Beautifully spun yarn from the hands of artist Carolyn Penny

Beautifully spun yarn from the hands of artist Carolyn Penny

Most people will tell you that a cria fleece is usable only as a fiber sample placed in a zip-lock bag and given away to farm visitors as a memento.   Not true! With lots of patience and the skills of a master spinner, you can turn your cria coats into gorgeous yarn. Because this is a labor-intensive process, you must have some kind of emotional attachment to these crias or have seen the end product to be driven to such lengths. Although I have an emotional attachment to all our Rita Dee Farm crias, the real incentive is the high-end designer yarn that can come from careful processing. After all, this is the best micron count these animals will ever produce, so make it special.

First, you must send this Velcro-like stuff through a picker or hand-pick it into a semi-clean state. Per Carolyn Penny, fiber artist, she doesn’t care about staple length, but check with your spinner to see what their staple length requirements are. Also, don’t worry too much about the cria tips at this point. They will turn up on the small drum (also called the licker-in) along with dirt, short-cuts and other “nubbies.” Keep this drum clean, because it will fill up quickly. You will need to feed small amounts of unwashed fleece directly onto the main drum for the first run allowing the teeth to grab from your hand. This fine, fragile fleece tends to be extremely “fly away,” so work with small bundles, moving your hand back and forth along the drum. I have a brush on my carder that keeps the fleece tight in the teeth, and my hand protected. Run this fleece three or four times through the carder making sure to use the tray for the final run. At each doffing (taking the fiber off the large drum), I pick any visible vegetable matter out as I break the batt into small 6-inch pieces. My fourth run through the carder is from the tray and when I doff this stuff off, it is a well combed batt that looks like silk. Now you are ready to hand it off to a master spinner who will, no doubt, thank you for making their job a lot easier. They too will be seeing some “nubbies” as they spin and will have the option of removing them or making it a part of their designer yarn.

 

Watch for more amazing work from this fiber artist or contact her at:  cpennyforyourthoughts@yahoo.com

Girl Scouts Work Their Magic To Get To Their Silver Award

Rita Dee Farms has been very fortunate to have three young ladies working at the farm–Kayla Chambers, Addyson Messick and Claire Aft.  These girl scouts have worked hard grooming our animals for pet therapy.  This includes halter training, lots of tactile stimulation and just acclimating the animals to other people.  The first day they all three arrived was a real eye opener with trust levels high, Carte decided to cush down in the middle of the girls just to make sure she got all the attention.

Going for the Girl Scout Silver Award—the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn—gives girls a chance to show that they are leaders who are organized, determined, and dedicated to improving their community. After all is said and done, the girls will each spend (50) hours with our animals.  But all is not fun and games.  They have hauled mulch and dirt to build a nice observation mound for our guardian llama, scooped poop and slung some hay.  One of the highlights was their participation in shearing day along with their family and friends.  Our grand finale work for earning the Silver Award will end with a visit to a local nursing home where the girls will be the primary handlers for a pet therapy session with the residents at Silas Creek Manor.  These residents are already looking forward to the therapy and to seeing these amazing girls who are preparing to visit them.  Tentative schedule for this will be June 28, 2014.  Gentle Spirit, a miniature llama from Borderline Farms will be the guest of honor, and what an honor it is for to have such enthusiasm from both the community and three loyal girl scouts!

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Rita’s Choices

The following are the products and books we can recommend. Click on the image for a full write up at Amazon.

It will take us some time to fill this list out completely, so check back often.

Books

Small Scale Haymaking: Written here on this farm, it has proven to be a best seller for Motorbooks and has stood the test of time. If you think you would like to begin raising your own hay for forage and for the local market, this is the book for you.

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Kindle Fire

For your convenience, we include a link the Amazon Kindle Fire, which is the most popular of the e-readers out there. If you haven’t used one, now is the time to take the plunge. While I prefer reading hard copy, e-readers make it handy to take ALL of your reference material to the barn or a trip to the alpaca show!

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Farm Technology

Many folks want the convenience of cameras in their barns, yet cannot make heads or tails of hundreds of cameras and devices out there. If your barn has wi-fi, here are the two products we use to to keep tabs on our little crias. While there are a few more details than this; it is, fundamentally, as easy as plugging the switch into your wireless router and then the camera into the switch. And there you go – AlpacaTV from your house or on the go with your mobile phone!

 

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Farm Store

Rita Dee Farms has started an online store for you to be able to purchase our alpaca items. Only $4.95 for shipping and handling, you can have your unique Rita Dee Farms item within 1-2 weeks. Check back frequently, for we are constantly updating our store and adding new items for you and your loved ones to enjoy.

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