Tuesday, December 10, 2019

2019 is coming to an end.

2019 is coming to an end. I had 5 big things I wanted to try to improve about my self last year.
Here they are;
My big 5 that I need to work on!

1. There are things I do too much. This stems from being insecure I think.
2. I sometimes come off as an insensitive know it all in a moment of try to help someone.
3. I can be super pushy and don’t really consider what other people have to tell me.
4. Too many excuses.
5. I have a hard time seeing past my own problems and looking at the big picture around me.

So how have I done?

1. I have really tried to listen more and speak less. I think I have improved somewhat. I conciencously tell myself to back off, listen, let them finish. Sometimes I am pretty good. Sometimes I honestly suck. I commit to keep trying!

2. A year ago it was pointed out that I come off as a know it all. This is a hard one. I am a person that is opinionated. Big suprise??. I am a compulsive studier, I love learning and researching. When if find out great information I want to share it. What I have learned is that if I give people a chance in a conversation or in a class the thing I wanted to say usually comes up eventually. Then I can simply agree. The patience of this excersize is where I struggle. I mean I really struggle. Again sometimes I am great and sometimes I suck. I will keep trying.

3. This ties in with number 2 in someways. I really try to listen better. I have found out that my brain spins really fast with information and you know what, it is hard to listen when your thoughts are loud. I have to push my thoughts down and really focus, FOcus, FOCUS! It is hard but I am improving. So I will keep working on this one.

4. I have learned that in many cases, it really doesn’t matter what my reasoning is behind it. I am one of those people that REALLY wants you to know why I did something. But you know what it does not matter many times. In a way this has been an amazing and freeing realization. If I screw up I try to own it, learn from it and move on. Learning from the missteps is valuable, moving along little doggie is also important.

5. I have learned that there is a certain sanity in stepping back and viewing our problems from a far perspective. Hold your hand right in front of your nose, do you see it clearly? Now look at it at arms length. Do you see your entire hand? Yup that is how I now deal with pain or difficult problems, from arms length. It doesn’t seem so impossible with bit of perspective.

In conclusion this has been a really great year. I know who I can count on. I know who my real friends are. I know who I can live without. I know I can work through issues that designated me in the past. All in all I am so thankful for my blessings. I am thankful for my faith and my relationship with my Father in Heaven. I am thankful for my amazing partner and husband. I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for tender mercies and for challenges that make me better.

Cheers to 2019 and to what lays in front of me next year.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019



Let’s talk dehairing. Let’s explore all sides of this process. There are many different trains of thought on dehairing. So I think it would be beneficial to hear from YOU on both sides and talk about, what people think, what people have experienced and why people think what they do.

Some questions I would like to explore are;
Does dehairing work on alpaca?
When is dehairing needed?
When is dehairing NOT needed?
What are some of the pros and cons of dehairing?
If you dehair, why?
If you do not dehair, why?

This is something that I have been very interested in for a long time. When I first entered the alpaca world, I took a course with the Certified Sorters. This was a training process that taught us to grade fiber in Grades 1-6, according to micron ranges, taking into account the presence of Primary and Secondary fibers. Fleeces with a lot of Primary fibers were deemed “Hairy” and went to the rug pile. Dehairing was not considered an option at the time because of Ian Watts Histogram work. I was always kind of uncomfortable with putting so many fairly nice blankets into the rug pile.

Recently I have taken a course through, Sorting, Classing, Grading (SCG). This is a collaboration of several experts in the field. This grading system DOES take into account dehairing as a value added option that brings value of fleeces that would otherwise be deemed “HAIRY” and sent to the rug pile. I like this train of thought because it brings value to many alpacas across the country that would otherwise produce lots and lots of rug yarn. And it makes alpaca fiber farming a more sustainable option.

This next part is what I have come to believe through my own study. This is my personal opinion, take or leave it but let’s talk.

My current belief on this matter is as follows. This is over simplified so please think in broad terms and bear with me. I did not want to write a novel.

1. Not all alpaca fleeces need to be dehaired. If your fleeces are uniform, dehairing may not be needed. Uniformity to me, means that the fibers across the blanket are relatively close in size. If your fleeces are grades 1 with stronger fibers being grade 2, you may not benefit from dehairing.
2. If you have a nice fleece that has strong primaries present, dehairing may be a good option for you. For example a Grade 3 fleece with a bunch of Grade 5 primaries. Dehairing can turn a lower quality fleece into something desirable. IMHO and from personal experience.
3. If your fleece has a bit too much veg in it. You may benefit from dehairing.
4. Dehairing can bring value to fleeces and alpacas that would otherwise have little value.
5. Dehairing strengthens the sustainability of alpaca in a natural fiber producing environment.

Your feedback and opinions are encouraged and appreciated.

Friday, February 1, 2019

What is this hen thinking?

So 2 weeks ago, my husband called me to the barn to see what he had found. It was a hen that had hatched out 3 chicks.

IT’S JANUARY! What is this hen thinking? We are in Utah and we are experiencing single digits for Pete’s shake. Well we decided to see what would happen.

We set up an infrared heat source with a thermastat in the corner of one of the horse stalls set water under the heater and food near by. AMAZINGLY hen and chicks are doing great. I guess this must mean that spring is just around the corner, right?

Well my brain thinks that spring is around the corner. I am obsessing about all the things I need to do as spring approaches. I must say I am really excited about this year. I think it is going to be a fun one. ??

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The poop stops here...

While cleaning the nursery this morning I spied with my little eye some runny poop spots. None of the crias will claim it. I wandered around for quite a while and can find no evidence of who is the owner.

No mess on anyone’s legs, no mess under anyone’s tail, nothing to give me a hint to who the little plops belong too.

Now what? I guess I become a super duper poop detective. Not my idea of fun! With 12 little crias running around there are lots and lots of suspects.

Do I have a game plan? No not really.

I could glove up and investigate each little suspect, up close and personal......not fun for anyone.
I could lock each cria up with its mom, one at a time and see what drops.
I could go out before dawn and turn the lights on and then try to watch each paca poo.
Hmmmm I guess the poop stops here...... Stay tuned I give you the scoop on the poop.......

Friday, January 11, 2019

AND THEN............

As I worked through my chores this morning it dawned on me that there is no end to the AND THENS. I love Alpaca farming, caring for my flock and doing farm chores. Being outside working is my happy place, but the AND THENS can get out of control sometimes.

My day usually goes something like this;
First, at dawn I start by letting the moms and crias out of the barn, where they have been safely tucked away for the night.
AND THEN, I clean and tidy up the baby barns, as I call it. This is where the nursing moms and their crias live who are on special diets.......
AND THEN, I fill the water buckets.......
AND THEN, I check the hay and put out pellets for the mommas and babies........
AND THEN, I check on and feed the grandmas. These are the really old girls that need special care. These are the old girls that struggle living in the larger female herds..........
AND THEN, I check on and feed my old men. Wolfden Wolfheart who is 18 and gets to wander the farm and his buddy CoCo a 25 year old llama that we adopted when his mom had to go to additives living. These 2 old friends are darling, but struggle to deal with the younger males.........
AND THEN, I let Stella out of her night time kennel. Stella is my LSGD that won’t stay home at night, so she gets to sleep in the straw stall. But it’s okay because Greta and Diesel have the night shift handled..............
AND THEN, I clean the 6 stall barn where our open girls live..........
AND THEN, I fill the feeders in this barn, fill the water and put out the pellets. All the while looking at each animal to make sure they are okay and happy.

AND THEN, I have the boy barn, the dogs, the horses, the laying hens AND THEN, AND THEN, AND THEN!

You get the idea, a farm can fill your day, because no matter how much you get done there are always the AND THENS.............. I guess life is the same way isn’t it....

That is why we need to look at our lives from the outside........in, or from an earthly perspective to a heavenly one.

We can fill up our lives up with so many busy, good things, that we forget the really important, essential ones...........

Keep your eye on the prize, enjoy your life, but don’t forget the important essential things for all the AND THENS.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Why Alpacas?

People ask me all time, Why Alpacas? I always think in the back of my mind, Why Not?
I thrive on working with animals, I thrive on working outdoors on the farm.
And you have to admit they are UNIQUE, curious, darling, funny, gentle, MAGICAL, SPIRITUAL, challenging and rewarding.

When I stand in the middle of my farm with visitors I tell them to listen. Listen to the silence or sometimes the sweet humming sound they make. I tell them to feel the atmosphere that permeates the farm. Sometimes I tell them to notice the smell or the lack there of, as far as livestock goes alpacas don’t have an overpowering nasty smell.

Have you ever noticed that it is hard to stay upset or sad around these wonderful, intuitive creatures. When I have been sad or devistated about something in my life, I can go out and sit quietly in one of the alpaca pens and before you know it a soft nose will brush my cheek or a tiny cria will start nibbling on the hem of my coat.

Sometimes it can be heartbreaking when you loose one but for the most part it is a wonderful life style.

I have had to learn many new things and make hard decisions owning alpacas. Many vets are not super knowledgeable about them, they are just different enough that you need to Empower yourself and learn everything you can. But even with all the challenges they are worth every minute of your time.

So honestly, Why Alpacas? I say Why Not??

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

What does Guarantee mean?

We all have been required to take a company up on their guarantee from time to time. How often is it a complicated mess that leaves us frustrated and dissatisfied in the end.

Have you ever guaranteed something, an item you produce, a breeding animal, a live birth? What happens when all does not go well and you need to honor that guarantee. We all have been in this situation I think.

My question is how do we handle it and in what spirit do we honor it?

I have a Patagonia Down Coat that I wear to do all my farm chores in when it is cold. It has taken a beating and I have loved this jacket and patched it many times. I am wearing it in the photos that you see. You can even see one of my patches on my upper sleeve in the picture.

Patagonia has this amazing policy and will repair their products for their customers at no cost to you. It is am amazing service.

I had decided to send my jacket into Patagonia and have it repaired so I wrote the letter you see below to include with my jacket. I wanted them to know that I appreciate their products. As chances have it I was near their store in Salt Lake City yesterday and I had my jacket on. I ran in the store to exchange a fleece jacket I had just purchased on line. The person helping me spotted me in my beloved coat and said, "I see your coat has seen better days". I shook my head and said yes, is has, with a laugh. A conversation was begun and before I new it I was the owner of a brand new coat. They were looking to be of service. The spirit in which they do their business was really amazing. One funny thing that took me by surprise was at the moment I gave them my old coat, I got tears in my eyes. I really loved that old coat I guess......

Anyway, WELL DONE PATAGONIA! I will be a customer for life.

Dear Patagonia, Jan. 5, 2019
I am sending you my favorite coat, that I am wearing in this picture, in hopes you can give it a little more life. I am a natural fiber farmer that raises alpacas. Alpacas are the most ecofriendly of all livestock. The fiber from our animals is turned into wonderful hats, scarves, gloves, drier balls and many other wonderful things. I wear this coat most days, 3 seasons out of the year.
As you can see the seams along the sleeves are falling apart, which I can live with, but now the zipper has started to fail. If I am careful it will zip, but it is now having problems more times than not.
As a farmer we use repair, patch, and repair and patch again, before we give up on a useful piece of clothing. And this coat is by far my favorite and most valued piece of outer wear. I even wore it skiing the day after Christmas this year in the wonderful mountains of Utah. I did receive quite a few looks ?, as people looked at all my patches. I just smiled and told them how much I love my coat.
Please see what you can do with it. I appreciate your company and this wonderful service that you offer.
Best Regards
Suzie W. Radtke
Uinta Alpacas

Monday, January 7, 2019

How We Live

I heard something today that really resignated with me and I have been thinking about it non stop.
“It doesn’t matter WHERE we live, but HOW we live.”
That statement hit my heart and stuck.
How do we live, how do we move through our lives?
Does it matter if we live in a shack or a mansion?
What kind of person are we?

What about our space? Whatever our space is, how do we fill it? Do we live with purpose? Do we fill it up and make it our home, make it personal? Is it our haven from the world? Or it is a wasted space? Is our life a wasted life?

For me there are 2 sides to this thought;
1. How do we live our life?
2. How do we occupy our space?

I want to live my life looking outward in an expansive way. I want to serve others. In the past several years I have been in a very small place, always looking inward, at my problems, at the things I missed or were hurting me. I want to matter and be missed when I am gone.

My space has also been cold and empty, I haven’t been filling it up.
I want my space to be mine, to reflect me, I want to miss it when I’m gone, and I want to be excited to return to it when I have been away.

There is this lane that you must drive down to get to my house. That lane fills my soul and makes me excited to get to my place. It’s like this gate way welcoming me to back. But back to what? I have to admit that I have not done a very good job of making my space mine in recent years, I have only occupied it. I also have not been living outwardly and filling my life with expansive energy and love. I love where I live but have not slid into that personal place to make it mine. You don’t look around my home and see me. It’s a nice space and that is about it.....

That is about to change! I have finally come to terms with the things that have been holding me back in all aspects of my life, the things keeping me a stranger in my space. I can’t really describe it but it feels good and right, and time.

I know these first few blogs may seem a little heavy but they are actually hopeful and a kind of arriving at a peaceful purpose.

I am so grateful for my many blessings and for my father in heavens love. I am grateful for my trials and for my opportunities. I am grateful for this little farm and for the alpacas and chickens and horses that fill it. I feel like I am stepping through a door and I am so excited.........

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Downside to Farm Tours

A wonderful day with visitors.

A wonderful day with visitors.

Today I was very excited to have 2 ranch tours scheduled. I always look forward to these visits because I love sharing our passion for alpacas and natural fiber farming with others.

Today turned out a little differently however. Not only did one tour fall through but both of them did in the form of no shows. We put a lot of time and effort getting ready for these tours. We have hot coco and cookies ready for our guests and a fire in the fire pit since it is chilly.

We understand that things come up and plans change but no shows with no heads up are frustrating. We plan our day around these visits and feel that our time is valuable too.

We have decided that from here on out we will require a 50% deposit fee to schedule a farm visit. This fee will be non refundable unless you call to reschedule or cancel your visit at least 3 hours before your scheduled time.

We promise that your visit will be wonderful and that you will leave with amazing memories.

On the farming side of things today we had to check all the boys for fighting teeth. Somebody in the group has been causing trouble so we really needed to get to the bottom of it. We found the offender out took care of the issue. Who doesn’t love a little impromptu dental work!

Tomorrow will be another day and another adventure.

I am grateful for this wonderful life and all the wonderful experiences it has brought into my journey. Until next time happy farming.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Ready Set Go!

We have so much energy at the beginning of a new year. We have identified the things we want to work on, set our goals and taken our first steps toward our goals. I found myself in an interaction with a person today and since I am trying to develop my listening skills I sat and listened........ I found myself just telling myself to shut up and listen, to just listen, to not interject. To be patient, on and on. NOW I don’t really remember the conversation very well because I was trying so hard to listen. Something to do with retirement planning and the S and P 500. It felt like that scene from Charlie Brown when the teacher is talking and all you hear is wa,wa,wa,wa,wa. Clearly I have a lot of work to do In developing this skill.

Then later I was in the nursery pen with the mamas and babies. I was body scoring some of the cries to see how they are doing. One little girl is thinner than I would like, I need to take a closer look at her. She is not to bad, just not quite where I would like her be. All the crias for the most part are doing great and growing well. I am very grateful for this because sometimes fall crias struggle a bit. This is the first year that I have had so many fall births, but so far so good. One thing I will say is that this group of babies all have really wonderful fleeces. Great fleeces are a joy for any alpaca farmer.

Today I am grateful for all my blessings, it has been a really wonderful day.