I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Monday, June 23, 2008

Alpacas and Lunch on the Cosumnes

This is what not working and being retired is all about. I shouldn't say this too loud or too often because I have good friends that are still working and I don't want comments that I might have to take the swear words out of before I post them. But...., this spur of the moment , "Lets take a drive and eat lunch somewhere." kind of day is what we all look forward to in our retired years. I recommend doing this on the weekends, now and then, while your working so the fun of it all doesn't send you into a "Who needs this job?" mode. That might be a mistake, because there is "Work" and there's "work". Some of this "work" can look like fun ( Ok, it was fun.), but it's fun with a purpose.
Which brings me to: Looking for guard animals and checking out gold claims.
We are having an area below the house and garden fenced in a couple of weeks. The goats will have more room to roam and will keep the grass down for us, which is a big deal here in fire season. California is on fire right now. I'm sure you've heard. It's so scary to imagine this beautiful place going up in smoke but I only have to turn on the news to understand that it can happen anytime, anywhere. I see the burnt homes and the folks looking at their ruins. It's so sad. So, we are widening our defensible space every year.

As with every solution, there always seems to be another problem. Now we have these 4 sweet goats that have become "pets" as well as weedeaters, and because we have coyotes and mountain lions in the area, we need to protect these new members of our farm family. So, we are building a predator-proof shelter for them and looking for a guard animal to let us know when there's trouble out there. Yesterday we got up really early to water. Watering in the summer, here, is a big, big deal. After we finished our chores we decided to take a drive to the Alpaca farm in Fairplay and then go check out a claim on the Cosumnes River.
First we drove through Plymouth and the Shenandoah Valley. This is the "new" wine country in Northern California. It's was beautiful but very smoky from all the fires. Then we went north on hiway 16 and east to Fairplay to see the alpacas. We were greated by Paige Romine who owns the Alpaca farm and she gave us a tour of her place. It was lots of fun. Alpacas are sweet, quiet and a bit leery of strangers. They had all been sheared ( which you have to do once a year). The babies were charming. Paige had a small store and I bought a knit cap for winter. Seemed odd to buy an alpaca wool hat on a 100 degree day, but it was so cute and I'll use it when it gets cold, sometime around November.
We said thank you and goodby. We will keep looking for a guard animal. I think what we really want is a donkey or two.
Then we drove down to the Cosumnes River , going east on Slug Gulch Rd. (Can you believe that name? Delightful!) The claim was too inaccessable, without the truck, so we found a camping spot near a bridge and ate lunch. It was beautiful and I found some great rocks to bring home. We'll come back in the truck to find the claim. It looks like a good "gold" area.

These butterflies must have been mating. I can't find them in my NAS field guide. There were lovely and very docile, as you can see. I'm going to start calling myself the "butterfly whisperer". What a kick it is to reach down and have one climb onto your finger. It stayed until I put it back down on the rock. I did find the small blue one in the guide. Its a Spring Azure, or common blue. It's beautiful name is Celastrina Argiolus. ( I love these latin names.) It's a gossamer-winged butterfly. I was lucky to get this one, still shot with my camera because these littles guys never stopped moving.

Must go. Need to close up the house. The smoke is getting awful. It will be 100 degrees today. The valley is filled with smoke and visibilty is not good. Oh Winter, where art thou?
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  1. I love nice laid back do what ever comes to mind days. Before the gas prices sky rocketed we took quite a few adventures like that. We need to do some more and do some rock hunting so I can get my fire pit dug out and lined with rocks this year. I love cooking over an open fire.

    :-( I want some goats or alpacas.... Goats would pay for themselves I think with the milk and cheese we could make. Need to work on JD with that one.

  2. smoky here too--it changes the evening light. Had a couple of scorchers last week just to remind us of the temperature possibilities. Hang in there, enjoying your river outings. (am a river-hugger myself)


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