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Monday, December 24, 2007

In Memory of my Beloved Tango

On Friday, December 21st, I lost my beloved horse, Tango, a beautiful Peruvian Paso gelding. He was only 11 years old and we still don't know what happened to him. It was only 6 hours from when we found him covered in iced sweat to his death. We rushed him to the vets and they assured us that we had done everything we possibly could to save him and that many people had spent thousands of dollars trying to save their horses with the same outcome. That was some consolation but still heartbreaking. They tested for several infectious substances, which so far have came back negative and we're still waiting on the results of other tests. We suspect that Tango may have had Colitis X, which is almost always fatal and the horse dies within hours of onset. We have meticulously cleaned out the trailer and the pasture to ensure that our other horses and llamas do not meet the same fate.

Here's what they say about Peruvian Paso horses:

This horse, one of the world's last remaining naturally gaited breeds, is becoming a sensation among American horse enthusiasts for several very good reasons. There is "something for everyone" in this smooth, elegant animal; riding comfort, strength and stamina for the avid trail rider; calm tractable disposition so important in the family mount; arrogant, flashy presence and action which set the exhibitor and parader apart from others, and investment potential solidly supported by its relative rarity and increasing popularity.

Today, the Peruvian transmits its smooth gait to all purebred foals. No artificial devices or special training aids are necessary to enable the horse to perform its specialty - a natural four-beat footfall of medium speed that provides a ride of incomparable smoothness and harmony of movement.

In addition to an easy gait, the Peruvian's creators desired their new breed to retain brilliant action typified by lift as the knee and fetlock flex, combined with "termino," a movement of the front legs similar to the loose outward rolling of a swimmer's arms in the crawl.

Perhaps the most misunderstood of all traits that distinguishes the Peruvian horse is "brio," a quality of spirit that enables this tractable horse to perform with an arrogance and exuberance that can only be described as thrilling. "Brio" and stamina give the Peruvian its willingness and ability to perform tirelessly for many hours and many miles in the service of its rider.

Tango was with us for almost four years. He had so much energy (they call it Brio) and was so full of life. He taught me so much in those four years: he taught me that respect and trust are earned; and respect and trust are easily lost if you're not careful; he taught me that love is unconditional; he taught me that patience and hard work are rewarded with results; he taught me that sometimes just being together is enough.

I am convinced that the four years Tango spent with us here at Split Rock Ranch were the best four years of his life. He came to us a nervous wreck with a short mane and tail and no trust - he was impossible to catch in the pasture. I worked with him in the round pen to build his confidence and to earn his respect and his trust. He was a quick learner and a willing partner. He soon learned that when in the round pen he knew exactly what to do: he would run his laps around the round pen, first one direction, then the other and soon he would stop, swivel his hindquarters away from me, drop his head and come straight to me in the center of the pen. At that point I could brush him, pick out all four feet, and walk around the pen with him - eventually doing all of this without a halter or lead rope. We worked hard on building confidence and went from coming unglued at slight movements to spooking in place - barely flinching a muscle when I threw a lead rope over his back and around his legs. I was eventually even able to kick a soccer ball between his legs without him even flinching. Now there's progress! His mane and tail grew long and gorgeous and he was ever protective of "his girls". One night this past summer, a bear went through the pastures, spooking the llamas and the horses. Tango refused to leave the side of our 28 year old POA mare, Puff, who is blind in one eye. He carefully herded her to safety, never leaving her side.

So, Tango, if there is a Horse Heaven, I know you're there. A piece of my heart goes with you. Here's one last hug and a kiss on that soft gentle nose of yours.

Suri Cria Named - Shimmering Sands

We decided on a name for our beautiful little suri cria. He is Split Rock Shimmering Sands - we call him Shimmer. And he is a pistol. He has an amazing energy to him that we find mesmerizing. I uploaded a few more pics - almost newborn - less than 24 hours old. I will try to get some new pics taken of him soon. His color is gorgeous and the luster of that suri fiber is stunning.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Final Cria-tion of 2007 - A Suri Cria!!

Here's the final cria at Split Rock Ranch for 2007 - a gorgeous male suri cria! We haven't named him yet - anybody have any suggestions? His Dam is Charisma and his Sire is Suri Solution ( a suri mini male owned by Stage Stop Llamas). We were hoping for a mini llama - Suri Solution is a mini and Charisma is a foundation mini (she was a mini until she reached 3.5 years of age and then she grew another inch, making her a foundation mini llama). But this boy weighed 25 pounds when born! He has the most unusual coloring - his face is definitely gray - his ears are gray with white on them, his feet are gray with white hairs overlaying - and the rest of him is... I hate the use of the color "taupe" to describe this llama - that is soooo dull and boring and his coloring is anything BUT boring! I'm thinking it is more of a rose gray color - and the luster is spectacular! This is the first cria we have had born at night. Charisma was in labor all day long and didn't deliver him until about 7:30 PM. We rushed out with towels and a cria coat that I had tumbled in the dryer to warm them up, and whisked mom and baby into the warm enclosure of our stock trailer (fully enclosed except for open at the top of the back doors), dried the cria off, put on the cria coat and put a dim nightlight in one of the mangers so they could see, filled a large bucket with fresh hay for Momma and left them to bond overnight. The next morning, Mom and Cria were resting and it was snowing so I left them in the trailer all day. When I got home from work, it was nice and sunny and warm so I put them back into the girls' pasture and all the girls and other crias welcomed the new cria into the herd. The new little guy jumped and ran and stretched his new little legs. These photos were taken the next morning.

Jackie at Miss Colorado USA Pageant

Here are some photos of Jackie in her evening gown taken on Saturday evening, October 27th at the Miss Colorado USA pageant in Loveland, Colorado. She looked absolutely stunning!

The pageant weekend was exciting, emotional, educational... and very draining! Jackie and Jim traveled to Loveland Friday evening and got Jackie registered for the pageant. Jim's sister Marsha and her husband Gary live in Loveland so Jim and Jackie stayed at Marsha's house Friday night. Orientation took place starting at 9:00 AM on Saturday - family and friends were encouraged to attend this session of the pageant. There were over 500 applications for the Miss Colorado USA pageant and 49 ladies were selected to participate this year. Congratulations to these ladies for making the cut to the top ten percent of applicants! The orientation session was followed by the individual Interview portion of the pageant where each judge had just two minutes to spend interviewing each contestant. The rest of the day Saturday was spent in rehearsal for the public portion of the event Saturday night from 8 to 10 PM - Pageant Preliminaries - where contestants were judged in swimsuit and evening gown competition. Contestants were allowed time after the event Saturday night to spend time with family and friends in the lobby of the auditorium. Jackie had to wait at the auditorium over 1-1/2 hours that night for the bus to take her to her hotel. They didn't have enough buses or room on the buses for all of the contestants (poor planning!!!) Then she got a dismal 2 hours sleep before waking up Sunday at 4 AM to start getting ready for that day's events - rehearsals all day long, followed by the Pageant Finals that started at 4 PM Sunday. She got a total of 5 hours sleep that weekend...boy was she beat Sunday night! I was able to make it to the Pageant Finals Sunday evening, thank goodness! I stayed home to feed the animals and take care of the ranch (I figured Jim should spend time with Marsha over the weekend!) I was so disappointed when they didn't announce Jackie's name for the 15 Semi-Finalists but it certainly made the rest of the pageant easier to breathe! Jackie realized early on in the competition that this was a dog-eat-dog world that she really didn't want to be a part of. Jackie is such a positive, happy person with such a great sense of humor - this was all waaaay toooo much trauma and drama! The winner of the pageant competed SIX TIMES IN A ROW (in this very same pageant) before winning!!! And now Future Productions owns her until the crowning of Miss Colorado 2009! Jackie, on the other hand, is now free to enjoy her senior year at high school and is looking forward to graduation next May, followed by a move to Florida to attend the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale where she will study Fashion Design.
Congratulations Jackie on a job well done!!! We're so proud of you!
Love Mom and Dad

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Jackie - Nails, Pedicure, Haircut and Style!

Jackie got a new haircut and style, along with some awesome highlights! Thank you to the ever talented Lynne Tatro, our stylist, at Studio West Salon in Woodland Park. I have been going to Lynne since Jackie was a toddler!

Jackie also got a pedicure and manicure with french nails - they look beautiful.

Tomorrow we pick up the custom made earrings purchased from Charitable Treasures in Woodland Park. Many thanks to Sandy D. for her beautiful custom work on the earrings. We will post photos of the earrings and contact information for Sandy here on the blog page when they are available.

We're on countdown now - only 3 days and 12 hours until registration begins for the Miss Colorado pageant! Thank you to everyone for your words of support and encouragement!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Jackie wearing her new Tony Bowls Evening Gown!

Here's Jackie wearing her new Tony Bowls evening gown! It needs to be steamed to remove the wrinkles caused by shipping but it fits her perfectly. Only two more weeks until the Miss Colorado pageant - we're all getting really excited. What an opportunity!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Jackie's Miss Colorado Pageant Evening Gown

We finally found everything for Jackie's Miss Colorado Pageant wardrobe. Whew! For her introductory outfit, we found a stunning short black halter dress with a rhinestone bar accent at the bodice - and beautiful black high heel sandals with a very similar rhinestone bar accent on the strap. A turquoise swimsuit - specifically made for competition wear; Strappy silver high heeled sandals. An interview outfit - mix and match Jacket and Skirt suit pieces from Victoria's Secret - with awesome coordinating Steve Madden shoes. And, the crowning glory - her evening gown! A Tony Bowls silk charmeuse gown with Swarovski crystal accents - a stunning dress! Now we can relax and the Big Weekend will be here before we know it - October 27th and 28th in Loveland. I just had to include a picture of The Dress.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tempis Fugit wins Grand Champion Medium Wool Male @ Rocky Mountain Regional Llama Show

Stage Stop Tempis Fugit

On Sunday, September 23rd at the Rocky Mountain Regional Llama Show, our male llama Tempis Fugit won the Grand Champion Medium Wool Male award! This is his 3rd Grand Champion award, added to 6 Reserve Grand Champion awards. He has now earned the prestigious ALSA Halter Champion award! Tempis has now been retired from the halter showring and will be standing at stud at Split Rock Ranch and Stage Stop Llamas.

We bought Tempis Fugit from Jeff and Sally Rucker at Stage Stop Llamas when he was a cria. We fell in love with his beautiful silver color, his amazing style and extraordinary presence. We showed him once as a juvenile but he didn't show well so we put him in the pasture and let him do some growing. Two and a half years ago, I was doing ranch chores and started watching Tempis in the field and quickly realized that this young man had grown up into a stunning two year old. I had Jim come out to help evaluate Tempis and we decided to start showing him again. Our first show was Estes Park Wool Market in 2005 where Tempis placed 1st and 2nd and Reserve Grand with BOTH judges! He earned his ALSA ROM within one year and now two years and three months after his first show, he has earned his ALSA Halter Champion. Last year Jeff and Sally were so impressed with Tempis and his offspring, they bought back a half-interest in him. So Tempis will be available for stud services at both Split Rock Ranch AND Stage Stop Llamas. Contact us for additional information and pricing on stud services.

The photo was taken at the 2006 LOCC Fall Classic where Tempis earned two Reserve Grands and one Grand Champion award.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Jackie in Miss Colorado Pageant

Okay, I know this isn't really ranch, llama or fiber related BUT we are so excited that our daughter, Jaclyn, aka Jackie, has been chosen to be a contestant in the Miss Colorado/USA pageant in October! The pageant is being held in Loveland Colorado on October 27th and 28th.

A BIG Thank you to her sponsors:

Scott Homes, Ltd.
Earthworks Land Development
Split Rock Ranch
Stage Stop Llamas
Hawes Plumbing
Richard & Darlene Larson

Now we have to go shopping for "the perfect evening gown", the "perfect swimsuit" and the rest of her wardrobe. This is Jackie's first pageant so it will be a big learning experience for her. She wants to become an actress and/or model so this will be a great introduction into that world. She plans to attend the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in Florida next year - fashion design, fashion merchandising and interior design - we told her she needs some "real world" skills to fall back on and she has an amazing talent for these areas and is a very talented artist.
We will post an updated blog as more details evolve.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Gorgeous Eyelash Novelty Yarn - Stunning!

Fruit Salad Eyelash Novelty Yarn - HandDyed and HandSpun!
Today I finally put the Jumbo Flyer on my Ashford Traveller spinning wheel and handspun some absolutely stunning eyelash novelty yarn. First I handdyed 100% domestic 56s wool roving in golds, burgundy and oranges. Then I kettle dyed some beautiful Border Leicester locks in the same colors. I listed these items in both my eBay and my etsy stores. When everything didn't sell, I pulled one roving and the remainder of the BL locks from inventory and decided to try my hand at spinning up an eyelash novelty yarn. First, I pulled the roving into long strips ready for spinning. Then, I hand picked the border leicester locks - some of them I hand picked completely open, some of them I hand picked into intact locks. I separated each of these types of locks into a different stack. Then I spun the roving into a singles and left it on the bobbin. Next, I spun the opened BL locks into a thick and thin, lumpy, bumpy singles and left it on the bobbin. Then I put the Jumbo Flyer onto the spinning wheel and started to ply the two singles. While plying them, I added the intact BL locks at an angle and let the ends flip and curl as they were encased into the plyed yarn. Then I wound off a 10 yard skein of this yarn and had an 11 yard skein remaining, which I skeined off, too. I'm posting photos of the resulting eyelash novelty yarn, along with photos of the roving and border leicesters locks in my Fruit Salad colorway. These two skeins of yarn are listed in my etsy store. I have plenty more fibers that I will ply and encase more locks to make additional 10 yard skeins of this gorgeous eyelash novelty yarn.
Making this yarn was an absolute blast!!! I am going to do more eyelash novelty yarns in the future. These yarns would be perfect for that special touch on a hand knitted or crocheted garment - Trim on a pair of gloves, a hat band for a felted wool hat (add buttons, shells, leather, beads, etc. for additional texture and interest), a neck band on a sweater, etc.

Let me know what you think of it!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Photos of Penstemon Flowers, Pikes Peak & Dome Rock

I wish the colors of the Penstemon had come out better on these photos. Photos just cannot do justice to how the field of flowers looks when you can view the entire thing in one frame! The lighting isn't the best as the photos were taken late afternoon. And the flowers took a beating from all the rain we've been getting lately. We had about 1/2 inch today, about an inch on Saturday, and 2.75 inches last Thursday! The flowers like the rain but the hail was a bit rough on them.
I don't know what the yellow flowers are - I just know the plants really stink and the llamas won't touch them. The llamas and horses won't eat the Penstemon either - which is great! Flowers that the animals don't eat - what a concept! Wish the deer could grasp that concept and leave my flower garden around the house alone! They always wait until the flowers are just ready to open up and then they eat them. I snagged the lone rose growing in the garden and brought it in the house in a little bud vase before the deer had a chance to gobble it down. I was so thrilled to see that a rose bush made it through the winter this year. I have tried for 10 years now to get a rose bush to grow here without success. I finally planted the rose in a sheltered location under a pine tree on the north side of the house, tucked into a little area just off the deck and stairs. And then after the first hard freeze I mulched it really good with a big pile of llama fleece that was too dirty and matted to use for anything else. Finally, a good use for those nasty llama fleeces that have been on the animal just a little too long! Unfortunately, clover has taken over the flower bed this year. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get rid of clover? I need to find out if it is poisonous or noxious or if I can safely feed it to my bunnies. The bees love the clover and it does smell nice but I would prefer the yarrow, clematis, rose bush and sweet william I planted in the bed!
The first photo is of Pikes Peak in the background. The second and third photos have Dome Rock in the background.
At any rate, enjoy the view!

Updated Cria Photos 7-23-07

Here are updated photos of our crias taken today 7-23-07. At top is Argentum, Mr. C (Chocolate Chip aka CUTE!) and Dusty Rose. Next is Mr. C, followed by Moonbeam, followed by Dusty Rose (front, then next photo is side), and last but certainly not least is Argentum.
Moonbeam has put on a lot of bone and has incredible crimp and wave in his fiber. These photos were taken after a rainstorm so the fiber is still damp.
Mr. C remains absolutely adorable - a 10 on the Cuteness scale for sure!
Dusty Rose is such a petite and feminine little thing. I wish you could see how beautifully silky her fiber is.
And Argentum - he really is an awesome young boy! Beautiful color, lots of presence and style, strong level topline, nice heavy bone structure - we wouldn't change a thing about him. He's on our roster for the showring next year!
Notice all the beautiful Penstemon flowers in the photos? I'm going to post flower photos in another blog post.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Updated Cria Photos

As promised, here are updated cria photos taken Friday evening, July 13th. These little guys are growing like weeds! And they're as cute as the day they were born, actually probably even cuter. :o) Enjoy!

Top: Dusty Rose (L) and Moonbeam with Nimbus (our gelding babysitter)

Second: Mr. C (center) and Moonbeam (R)

Third: Moonbeam (L), Argentum (middle), Dusty Rose (R) - adult female to R is Diamond's Crown Jewel

Fourth: Moonbeam

Bottom: Dusty Rose

Photographing llamas is next to impossible in the field sometimes. When I squat down to take a photo, the llamas all come rushing up to see what I'm doing. The crias are fascinated with the camera and sometimes all I manage to get shots of is their little nose as it zooms in on the camera lens. If I wait long enough, they will eventually forget that I'm there and go off to graze or play and then I can get better photos, until I move and then they're back focused on me and the camera. I'll keep trying to get good photos of them to post.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Peacock Yarns

As promised, here are photos of the Peacock Custom Fiber Blend yarns, also shown with the alpaca/silk yarn in coordinating colors. This yarn has such wonderful drape and is silky soft. I am going to snag the last Peacock wool and silk rovings from my eBay and etsy stores so I can card more of this delightful blend up and spin more yarn. This will make an incredible shawl - with hopefully enough yarn to make fingerless mitts and maybe a spiral scarf.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Here's what is currently on the spinning wheel. I blended some custom dyed domestic 56s roving and some custom dyed tussah silk and blended them 50/50 on my Ashford hand crank drum carder to make this awesome batch of custom fiber blend (I named it Peacock - bright blue, turquoise, purple and teal), which I offered in my etsy store for a month and when no one bought it I pulled it and started to spin it. It spins like a dream and the resulting yarn is gorgeous! I'll take photos of the yarn in a day or so and get them posted. The yarn came out DK weight (a little over 1200 yards per pound). I still have a 1.7 oz roving of tussah silk in this same colorway that I'll probably pull and spin very thin to coordinate with this custom fiber blend yarn. I have some black/turquoise/teal alpaca/silk roving that coordinates very well with this colorway so I'll probably mix and match skeins to make a shawl of some sort - maybe a matching spiral crocheted scarf and some fingerless mitts if I have enough yarn.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Day Two for New Boy Crias

Our two little boys born yesterday, 6-16-07, are doing great. They are already running around the pasture playing with the two older crias, born 5-25-07 (Moonbeam) and 6-03-07 (Dusty Rose). Winona's little charcoal gray cria isn't quite as adventurous as Geni's little appaloosa boy but then Geni's little boy is 4 hours older. Here are some updated photos of the crias, taken early evening today, 6-17-07. Isn't the photo of Winona "kissing" her little boy cute?! Notice that Geni's little boy is already "grazing" with his momma.

I could sit for hours in the pasture with a camera, watching the crias play and the herd interact with each other, just waiting for the perfect shot. I hope you enjoy the photos I managed to get today!
I've posted an updated photo of Dusty Rose, too. She is two weeks old today.

Tune in again soon for updated photos of the babies.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Final Cria for Summer 2007 - Born 6-16-07

After taking the photos of the first cria born this morning and downloading them and posting them to this site, I went out to check on a second female who had looked like she might be in labor at the same time as the first female. When I got out to the pasture, there were two front legs and a head out. The baby got stuck at the hips so I helped to pull him and gently laid him down in the hay. Another beautiful charcoal gray cria sired by our Champion male, Tempis Fugit. These photos were taken a few hours after birth - both mom's and crias are resting - they have been shut into the small pasture right behind the house surrounded with no-climb mesh fencing for safety. Tomorrow we will turn the female herd and their crias out to the larger pasture. Watch for more photos to follow. Enjoy!

Another New Cria 6-16-07

Miss Congeniality, aka Geni, gave birth to a stunning male cria on June 16, 2007. This "little boy" weighed in at a whopping 30 pounds! Geni's first cria (born 20 months ago) weighed only 19 pounds. Average cria weight on the ranch is around 20 to 25 pounds. This boy was up within 15 minutes of his birth and the photos were taken within an hour of his birth. We think he is absolutely stunning. Another male to add to our show string next year! Enjoy!