Sunday, May 30, 2010

Chris the Alpaca Wrangler...

I spent the day with my wife and our friends at Highland Alpaca in Grove City, PA.  They have a fantastically beautiful farm with over 100 Alpaca.  It is quite an operation.  The main reason for our trip today was to help out with shearing.  Let me tell you this was more of an endeavor that I imagined it to be.  They had arranged for a Shearer to be there and shear 32 Alpaca and we were the assistants (with others who were also there to help).

As some of you know my wife and I have the dream of having Alpaca of our own one day.  So, we are taking every chance we get to gobble up all the experience we can and glean all the knowledge possible to ready ourselves for our next big adventure.

Pictured above is me and one of the Alpaca just after being shorn.  This can be rather stressful for them, as they have to be tied and drawn on the ground so they don't struggle and get hurt, or hurt the people shearing them.  And so, after shearing they usually have to take a minute to get their faculties before being returned to the herd.

The guys that were doing the shearing were very good and rather efficient.  They travel the country for 3 months solid shearing these wonderful creatures.  It can occasionally get messy and the Alpaca, when stressed, tend to spit, which really is just half digested grass and alfalfa.  But nonetheless, it stinks.  The fact of life is, if you have Alpaca you have spit.

One mess that happened to me occurred while I was holding one of the Sires and he decided it was time to pee.  And so he went, all over my leg, which happened to be under him at the time.  You can laugh I did.  It could have been worse.  Spit could've been added to the mix.

Here you can see one of the Alpaca stretched out on the ground during the shearing process.  This does not hurt them in the slightest.  In fact they submit quite nicely and don't really struggle at all.  Minus some of the fussy noises they make and spit they produce.  Spitting and noise is not a constant either.  Some do, some don't.

Rachael and I feel very fortunate to have been included today.  We have learned so much and are very eager to learn more.  And, can't wait to tend to our own herd one day.  There is plenty of information out there on Alpaca for those that are interested.  Also, if inclined, one could browse over to Highland Alpaca's website and take a look at all they have to offer.

I do believe I will sleep like a baby tonight.  I am already sore from all the activity today and know I will sleep great.  There is nothing like putting in a hard day and resting really good because of it.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Next Chapter Begins...

Friday marked the day I said my goodbyes to my grandmother's house.  It really makes me feel old to say that I have known that place for 39 years.  I have spend a lot of time there.  Grown there, dreamed there, cried there, fought there, screamed there, but most importantly, learned to love there.  Grandma may have been many things to many different people (mostly good, mind you) but to me she was one of the purest forms of grace and perseverance through the storm.  She was a fighter and never ever gave up hope.  That home was always filled with warmth and love.  I will truly miss it.

This weekend is the first time in nearly a year that I do not have to leave my wife on Sunday to travel back for school.  What a relief that I can stay here and sleep in my own bed with my wife right beside me (and the dog in the middle as usual).  It feels good to be home to stay.

Getting settled and all of my stuff unpacked will be the next big chore.  It is amazing how much stuff I had up north.  I would've never thought that I had accumulated that much in such a short period of time.

As this next Chapter begins and the blank page lays there before me I can't help but sit and stare at it's pristine emptiness.  Knowing that as soon as I make one indelible mark the new journey has begun.  One Degree down and at the very least, one more on the way.  I will sincerely miss you Pitt Bradford.  I will miss all of the memories we have created together.  I will miss all of the friends and connections made.  It will be hard not to see all of you every day.  In some ways it feels like my safety net has been taken away and I must walk this tight rope all alone.  I just have to make the first step and the journey begins.

The relationships we build must always be cherished.  Never burn bridges they always say.  I now, fully know the truest meaning of that phrase.  The most important thing I have learned while at Pitt Bradford is not to place so much stock in what pen and paper say about you.  But, you should define your worth in the the relationships you have built along the way.  The friendships and alliances you have made will define you more than any grade or title they can give you.  The respect you have earned and the gifts you have given of yourself to aid others in their success will speak louder than any mark on a page.

To all of my professors, colleagues and friends at Pitt Bradford I wish all of you the best in your own personal journey.  I do hope, however, that you will all continue to be part or mine for the foreseeable future.  Because, I am not nearly ready to bid any of you adieu.