Oh what a season!! We waited for several of our girls to give birth for many months. If you visited our farm this late spring 2018 through early fall, we were seemingly on baby watch forever! The babies arrived and all without too much external support, other than my sister visiting from MA who was determined to witness a birth that she was deprived of the previous year. Remembering 2017 when she and I sat in the barn waiting for Julianna to give birth late in the evening one night... only to find out it was just gas! Those girls chew their cud and move the food around from one of their three stomach compartments to the other and how were we to know that it wasn't a baby?? ...we still laugh about staying out in the barn and up too late watching Julianna!
So this past breeding season, we decided not to announce any pregnancies until we had considerable confirmation.
The confirmation process requires some old clothing, the girl you bred and any male alpaca who can elicit emotions from a pregnant alpaca, consisting of a very smelly cud that she spits at anything and everything in her way toward the male trying to breed her again, confined in a small fenced in area with us. It's called "spit testing" and very appropriately named. We got covered with alpaca spit!! We actually hoped we would because if a female spits off at a male 90 days into her 340-360 day cycle, there's a really good chance she will deliver a baby.
By February of 2017 we had enough data (and spit) to support that Julianna, Viola, Tiny and Rambler were indeed pregnant!
Julianna was the first of the girls to give birth on August 23rd at 3 pm in the afternoon. Just as I was telling some farm visitors "..in South America they give birth in the morning, the baby has until the afternoon to stand and nurse and dry off and be ready to run with the herd. So I don't think we will have a baby today, but this is the states...who knows?" As our Stitch and Sip ladies were on the porch knitting, my sister went in the barn to check on Julianna and flew out of the barn screaming incoherently! Afterward she told me she was saying "nose and toes, noes and toes!!"
She found Julianna presenting with her baby's nose and toes coming out! Julianna was laying down on the barn floor, a few other of the girls watching, but not the entire female herd which is how our last two years farm births occurred. We were blind-sighted on all accounts! Julianna was not a first time mom, she knew what was happening and decided the concrete barn floor was cool and wanted to have that baby in front of the fans!
The next two births were also uneventful and exciting all the same. Rambler, the fourth girl we bred, did not turn out to be pregnant after all. A baby alpaca known as a cria is usually born with the nose first and then the toes, the baby stands within an hour or so and are up and nursing. We watch the mama and cria that first day very closely to make sure all systems are working and by keeping them together away from the rest of the girls it supports mom and baby bonding. The rest of the girls in the herd all know well before we do who is pregnant as they can smell the hormones, but they are just as excited as we are to greet that new born baby! After a few visits with the whole herd, with us close by, mom and baby usually stay alone that first night. We wean them back into the herd over a course of three days to resume their place within the herd hierarchy and to show off their little one. Some mothers are more protective than others, but for the most part, the herd is respectful of the new baby, and we can get some rest knowing that they, moms and aunties, take over from here.
Its been an exciting summer and fall waiting and waiting, and now they grow so fast! We are fortunate to have two males and one female. The boys, Max (Maximus) and Bert (Umberto), will stay together with their moms until they start imitating their male herd mates and being able to reproduce... But for now, they and Dany (Daenerys) are enjoying running around the paddock, chasing each other, running from us, and sniffing and exploring as little baby alpacas do! My favorite part of having baby alpacas in the herd is the training I do to socialize them to us humans. I find that if I get real low to the ground, they tend to be less intimidated....sometimes I have to lie on the ground next to them and work on being very quiet....curbing my desire to reach out and touch them so as not to scare them away. Someone has to do it!
We enjoy watching these three new additions to the farm grow! Hopefully you are following us on Instagram or Facebook and enjoying the pictures! Our Instagram pictures scroll onto our front website page for those of you not on social media. Hope you get to meet one of our new babies on your next visit!
Anne, Mike and the all the Herd
Spring 2017 has finally arrived at Cape Newagen Alpaca Farm. It was a really great, productive winter for us! Plenty of time knitting, spinning and embarking on a few new adventures! However, we are excited to see the leaves bursting with green and to hear the lobster boat motors humming out from Boothbay Harbor past Southport. Windows have been open for a while to let in the fresh air, but coffee on the screen porch is really the sign of warmer weather. While most around the country have been enjoying the warm air, we have just begun.
In anticipation of warmer weather, the alpacas, still full fleeced, are ready to be shorn the second week of June! So excited to see the luxurious fiber drape off into our arms as it is sheared into one solid blanket. It’s harvest time for us! Visions of custom spun yarns from our beautiful, naturally colored fleece awaits my spinning wheel….hmmm who to spin and who to send off to the mill this year? In the shop you will find hand spun yarns that I created this winter and a few mill spun yarns in skeins from our last harvest. If you desire one of our alpacas’ yarns, let us know and we will create a beautiful hand spun yarn for your next project!
What a time we have had over the last few months looking for signs of baby movements! We conducted three breedings last July on our farm with Viola to Tidal Surge; and Phantazia and Julianna to Tornado Warning. Miss America had a previously scheduled date with a stud from Little Creek Alpaca Farm, in New York. An alpaca gestation is 353 days on average! Our watch indicates that we have at least 2 cria (baby alpaca) due to arrive!! Viola is due in June and Miss America is due in August!! We will know for sure about Phantazia and Julianna once we shear them and see if either is hiding a baby under that entire fleece…stay tuned!
We so appreciate everyone who bought our alpaca socks last summer and fall and hope that you and/or your loved ones enjoyed them as much as we did ours! We wear our crew socks in winter and ankle socks in summer! Alpaca fiber has both warming and cooling qualities. For those that missed out, we continue to sell Altera Alpaca Socks made in the USA. You won't want anything else on your feet once you have tried ours!
We are now carrying body lotion made from 100% organic essential and natural oils, locally created on Southport Island, from one of our alpacas’ biggest fans! We call it Body Butter because it soothes and melts on your skin like butter!! We are selling 3 types: Rambler’s Rosemary, Berry’s Orange Spice and Louie’s Lavender in 4 oz. jars. Come in and check it out or look online at our website under SHOP!
Another new item is our own handmade, organic soap made on the farm. We have been sampling it this winter and will share a limited amount for sale. The soaps are made from scratch with organic goat’s milk (alpacas don’t share their milk!!) and felted with our alpaca fiber. The fiber exfoliates your skin naturally! This will be a pilot product. Who knew making soap was such an experiment? Soaps are made with lye. The lye mixes with the oils and a chemical reaction occurs called saponification. The first time I made it, the fireman in the house was present to keep everyone safe. I have mastered the process now and no longer need the support of the fire department.
We added laying hens to the farm last May. About twenty-five chicks arrived 2 days old at the post office…J from a hatchery in the Midwest. What a sweet adventure that was to see how fast they grew! We built a coop to give them a home with a much-needed roost and nesting boxes to lay their eggs. Since June 2016, we have had nineteen hens and one rooster. We have enjoyed frittatas, quiches, homemade waffles, pancakes and of course breakfast eggs of all kinds! We continue to enjoy fresh eggs daily and you will too if you stop by – farm fresh eggs for sale!
You may have met or heard our rooster, who at a very young age was named Matilda by my nephew. That was before we found out he was a rooster, now he is called Mattie. To date, all twenty chickens made it through the snow, cold and rain! We had one sighting of a coyote in February, but the alpaca girls “alerted” and scared the scout away. We have not seen another coyote. The chicken coop is next door to the boys who probably scare away the other predators while we sleep…The ladies and Mattie free range, into our back woods and sometimes over to the library for a good bug or two…we usually call them home when they have been out of sight for more than 45 minutes…free ranging chickens need to roam! They also have a job to do! They eat the slugs and ticks to keep both the alpacas and us safe. Our flock consists of 5 Barred Rocks (named Top Chicks), 8 Aracaunas (Hope, Gracey…) who lay the pretty green and blue pastel eggs, 2 Brown Leg Horns that lay clean white eggs, 2 Buff Orpingtons, who were named Sunny by one of our visitors, 2 Rhode Island and New Hampshire Reds, and Mattie, who is a Salmon Faverolle, a very protective, gentleman rooster. He keeps his ladies safe out in the woods! If you have ever raised chickens, you will know what a mess they can create. The benefit of a beautiful array of colored, fresh eggs, definitely outweighs the smelly poop clean up that I am in charge of on a daily basis. It’s a win-win for everyone!
We continue to hold our Stitch and Sip every Thursday afternoon from 3-5 pm. There is no requirement to hand stitch, come and join us and meet some community folks! We have a lot of laughs and learn from each other. There is always something new going on! Peg Loom classes are set for two dates this summer. Judy Mullins, from Thistle Dew Alpaca Farm in Phippsburg, ME and I have 6 spots available for each session. Every participant will leave the class with their very own alpaca rug! More info is listed on our website under CLASSES. Pictures are posted of the last class and their very own alpaca rugs!
Lastly, we are piloting half-day workshops for young children! We have the opportunity to provide fun, safe, farm experiences with both the alpacas and chickens. If you are interested in more info, please email us. We will tailor our workshops to specific dates of our visitors if there are no other conflicts on the farm.
We hope to see you this summer to enjoy a little piece of our farm! We are open Tuesday - Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. If you can’t make it in person, we usually share a daily pic of the farm on Instagram, which also posts to our front website page at www.capenewagenfarm.com - by the way check out our website - we changed that this winter too!
Anne, Mike and all the farm critters!
Spring is here and I am wondering with amazement where did my winter go? Wasn’t I going to nestle in my cozy chair covered in blankets and catch up on books to read and knitting projects I had been dreaming about? Oh well! Everyone I talk to has said the same thing. Where did the winter go? What happened to all of my projects I had planned?? While we are like most of those hardy northern folks that actually relish in the winter months and maybe one or two really good snowstorms, we also really look forward to spring!
What moments of winter bring to us all are times to reflect and unwind. After 30 years of work in education and raising a family, I now have a great opportunity to care for our family of animals and our woodlands in nature. I also have the opportunity of building my calendar for daily and weekly check off items– things to do…etc. but what is most important as I work through my list, is the enjoyment of staying in the moment while I am completing my work. Finding time to put away the electronic devices that keep me connected to the world at large is really what keeps me connected to the world at large. Just the simple outdoor pleasures of building a paddock, creating a woodland path, taking care of our alpacas, spinning their fiber into yarn and then creating patterns and final pieces of knitted pleasures keeps me connected.
We have met so many wonderful people in this new adventure, only a half year old. There are so many amazing communities of people if you look for them. But to reach inside yourself and ground yourself in your passions of who you are helps to build those communities. We try to stay true to ourselves to follow our dreams, sharing with others that care. Creating the time to reflect and unwind, regardless of the season is first on my list. Being on the farm and working with our animals within nature is an ideal setting. Our friends and families have grown to understand why we chose this path…the only question is why did we wait so long!!
Happy Spring everyone! This spring season, we are watching in amazement both Emalyn and Winterberry continue to grow; enjoying our hound, Louie, frolic in the woods untethered; planning our “breeding dates” for 2017 babies and working the alpaca manure into hopeful gardens of herbs, vegetables and flowers and oh yes, adding to our farm some chickens!! :) Hope you find a quiet moment in your day to unwind and enjoy what you’re doing!! Sweet kisses from our alpacas to you!
Anne and Mike
Ms. Maddens Pk/K class is observing in their community how animals and plants change their environment based on weather changes and patterns. On their visit to Cape Newagen Alpaca Farm on 11/10/15, we talked about how alpacas change to keep warm when the weather changes. The children were able to feel Jackpots soft fleece. They also felt Caliente's fleece from last year that was on the skirting table. They worked together to crank the carding machine that aligns the fiber in order to prepare it to make yarn. They saw how we use the rougher fiber as nesting material for the birds in order to help the birds keep warm during the colder weather. They had lots of fun feeding hay and apples to the alpacas and a few children received some alpaca kisses (almost). Everyone had a great time! Thanks for visiting!
Its mid August and we are enjoying the warm summer air. Soon the humid weather will be just a memory...so for now it is to enjoy. The water buckets get filled a little more, the fans and the flies are moving fast. but more importantly, we have had so many wonderful farm visits from people of all ages. The alpacas are now quite used to being introduced to all our visitors. They are enjoying the extra grass, leaves and water sprays! All of the alpacas are quite a hit, but there is one that has stolen the show and hearts of all our visitors (and us)...Emalyn Alice. She is our little fighter! She has had help from EVERYONE who has visited our farm. From the girls who helped me gather up the spit,...ewww...for Emalyn to help with her digestion, to her cheering crowd from Bayberry Lane and Newagen, to those that helped bottle feed during one of her quarterly feedings and to our visitors from our next door peninsula, Damariscotta...we thank you! Many kind words and strong positive thoughts have been helping her grow stronger every day. While she is not able to stand for long periods of time unassisted, she is cushing more on her own and using the communal poop pile with my help to stand, as well as eating hay and grain on her own with the girls! So a big THANK you to all of our Emalyn fans! She is still with us fighting to build her strength! Enjoy the rest of your summer days!
Anne and Mike
March 2015. While the snow continued to blanket the island in what locals say is the most snow they have seen in seventeen years….our farm progress continues.
We "threw" the snow away from the work site so Ben and his crew could continue to work. This is a picture of our studio with a loft above. Wait until you see the view from inside looking out back to our pastures and woods. We wanted to create a space that felt like you were outside. I think the alpacas will be jealous looking in at us! We are continuing to prepare for our move full time in July 2015 - a little more than 3 months time.
January 2015. We just finished setting up a wall for our tack room. The planks and doors used to create the wall in our new barn were saved from the old barn built in 1900 on our property.
After many barn repairs over the years, and mixed emotions...we decided to tear down the old barn and rebuild a new one that wasn't smack in the middle of our narrow plot of land. The original barn housed the owner's horse and buggy as he was the local mail carrier for the island's south side (Cape Newagen). He went to the west side of the island to pick up the mail and delivered to all his neighbors.
Most of my requests to save any wood that looked good - were met with disdain….but a few years later after saving some of the wood it is put to good use again! It feels good to keep the old with the new.