My Next BIG Adventure

Posted on Updated on

There’s a reason this blog is entitled Adventures With Teresa! As most if you know, every now and then, I seem to find myself having some seriously unique adventures! This time, it’s really big!

It all started when I got a subscription to Explore magazine. Reading about other people’s adventures is so much fun, and it makes me want to go on my own! img_0335Over Christmas, I was catching up on past issues of Explore, and I read a really great article about a man and his Husky dog who walked the Akshayuk Pass, on Baffin Island. They went 200 km! The dog had his own little sled to pull — it was very cute and the dog looked like he was having the time of his life! Then, in the next Explore mag, I saw an article about a canoe trip involving military soldiers, veterans and regular people. It sounded like they had an amazing trip. With all my canoe experience, I could imagine them bonding around the campfire.
The canoe trip was organized by an organization called True Patriot Love. I had never heard of them, so I went to their website. They fundraise to support military and veterans services. I clicked on the “Get Involved” tab, abd then I saw “Expeditions.” So of course I had to click on that! The very first thing I saw was an all-women Snowshoeing expedition on Baffin Island, traversing the Akshayuk Pass — the one I just read about!! Oh man. I LOVE snowshoeing, and as I kept reading about it, I become hooked! This would be sooo fun!
I told Darren about it. He said, “so, um, if it’s all women, you don’t need me to come, right?” He is the love of my life and we are two peas in a pod, but he just doesn’t quite share my (ridiculous? Crazy?) love for big adventures!!
baffin island and tent
So, long story short: I contacted True Patriot Love. They still had room and were happy to have me join. Last weekend, I flew to southern Ontario to meet a bunch of the ladies and the main guide. I had a great time, so I am IN! Woo hoo! It’s not all fun and games, ur, snowshoeing, however! I am FUNDRAISING to support True Patriot Love. Each civilian going has been asked to raise $50,000! If you would like to help support our soldiers and veterans — and their families — in their physical and mental health, please go to my fundraising page! I am paying all my own expenses for this trip, so all the money you donate is tax refundable and goes straight to the cause. πŸ˜€

Stay tuned for more posts! I am already training for the trip, which for now is essentially going snowshoeing several times a week. I will keep you updated as things unfold. I have lots of gear to buy (like a sleeping bag rated to -40C! Gasp!) and many, many adventures to come!


Lest We Remember

Posted on Updated on

I wrote these few paragraphs lest we remember the past incorrectly.

Thousands of men and women died in World War 1, World War 2, in Korean and Viet Nam, and other conflicts in more recent times. What I would like to remember and affirm is that although their bodies died, their spirits went on. Their essence went back to source at the moment of death. Their love of life and individuality was completely absorbed back into the essence that Source is. For those who died on the front lines, I know that none of their pain was lost, and none of it went on either. At the moment of death, all anguish was converted into love by All-That-Is, by Source.

If we are to remember these people, let’s not think of them as victims. Let us not label their deaths as pointless. Let us not focus on their deaths alone; let us remember that they lived a life they chose, and that they acted in faith and to the best of their ability. In their deaths, let’s not propagate the ignorance, racism and the many other causes of their deaths. Let’s go forward and forge a brave new world.

Let’s remember that they loved and were loved. No one ever lost their humanity in any sacrifice. No one ever lost their sanctity in being tortured. The Spirit we all share cannot be crushed or diminished in any way. It is the core of us and it is indestructible.

Please stand with me if you agree that we’d like NOT to repeat the circumstances of the past. Stand with me if you would like to remember past soldiers’ ingenuity, which is our ingenuity, their courage, which is our courage, and to appreciate the immense change they contributed to. Let’s remember the love they were, and let’s go forward from here. Please stand with me in 1 minute of silence and hope.

– – – – – – – – –
I was honoured to read these paragraphs aloud at the Sunday celebration at the Centre for Spiritual Living that I attend. I was singing and playing keyboard in the band and got to read this near the end of the service. πŸ™‚ Hope you find that it gives you a new perspective — certainly something very different from the usual Remembrance Day talk.

If you’d like to talk about this, please leave a comment. πŸ™‚ Take care, everyone.

Miracles do Happen! Our Frankie-Daisy Double Miracle

Posted on Updated on

I have to tell you about two miracles on the farm! If you read the last post, you met Frankie, our baby alpaca. He’s very sweet, and for some unknown reason, when he was born, he could not find his momma’s milk. So, he was not nursing, and he would have died if we had not intervened. So, we started feeding him bottles with goat’s milk, half-and-half cream, and even with a tiny bit of plain yogurt mixed in. Later we switched to milk replacement (formulated for lambs and cria) and we’ve gradually increased from feeding him every 3-4 hours (6-7 times per day) to feeding him every 5-6 hours.

Here’s miracle #1: The first clue something was up came one morning when we were watching Frankie run around the yard, full of energy and joy. It was awesome! That was around 9 am.

He was clearly having the best day ever! On the right, there’s a little hill that the alpacas like to climb and play “king of the hill” on. He was doing that with his momma and running around the yard like never before. What a guy! Well, at 3 pm when I went to give him his bottle, HE WAS NURSING off his MOMMA, Daisy! I was stunned! I think he had just started that very day! I watched, and when he was done, he walked over to me with the cutest milk-mustache I’d ever seen! Somehow — here’s where the miracle comes in — he had finally figured out where the milk was!

Miracle #2 is related. How did Daisy still have any milk? In Frankie’s first 2 weeks, we had tried and tried to show him where the milk was, and we had been milking Daisy a couple of times a day (no easy task). We finally had to stop because Daisy had dried up. It’s normal for a momma to stop producing milk if there’s no baby nursing. So HOW was Daisy producing milk SIX weeks later!?!? It’s a miracle! I have no idea. But she is gradually increasing her milk production to feed Frankie. While bottle-feeding, he had maxed out at 49 ounces per day! Since he started nursing, we’ve been offering him bottles every 5 hours or so, just in case he needs some, and he sometimes has a little, but he is barely interested in the bottle. Daisy’s milk is better!

A screen shot from the alpaca cam in the barn — proof he’s nursing!

We thought that once a cria was a bottle baby, that was permanent. We did not think there was any chance he would start nursing! I used to check, frequently, when he was a newborn, but he never did nurse then. So, we had to take a deep breath, and take on the commitment of bottle feeding him several times a day for what we thought would be at least 8 weeks. I’ve juggled my schedule and rushed home from work more times than I can count. I’ve asked my mom, dad, and cousin’s daughter to help with feedings. I have to give credit to my husband who took the lead on bottle feeding, in order to save Frankie’s life. Obviously, I was on board immediately, but it was his idea first that we buy goat’s milk and baby bottles. He had found a page on the internet that gave us hope.

Now, our hope has been rewarded in the most amazing way! So unexpectedly! And I just bought the BIG bag of milk replacer. πŸ™‚

I think our double-miracle might be related to the Power of 8 group we were in this summer. These are groups that pray – in a particular way – for healing for others. It’s more like setting a very clear intention and then focusing on it together. We met in the group for 10 weeks, and we’ve heard that people who participate often experience miracles of their own in their lives. So, I think our Frankie-Daisy double miracle must be related. πŸ˜€

Take care, everyone! If you are struggling with something, or hoping for a miracle, don’t give up! Miracles DO happen. πŸ™‚

Frankie’s Here!

Posted on

It’s a boy! After waiting 11-and-a-half months, Daisy finally had her baby!

Isn’t he adorable?

When I got home that day, all the girls were in the barn. As I approached, I saw Uki standing in the doorway with a big smile on her face. (Once you know alpacas, you know what their smile looks like.) So, I went in the barn and immediately saw that Daisy’s belly was gone! See pic at right of her big pregnant belly. So, I knew there was a baby to be found! Yay! And guess where I found him? In a corner of the barn! Oh no! My heart sank. He was a “wall baby.”
Sometimes, I don’t know why, baby alpacas don’t know how to find their mama’s milk properly. So, when they get hungry, they go looking for any dark area — this is some kind of instinct — and they often end up against walls and in the dark corners of a barn. Allie was a wall baby, and we don’t think she ever did nurse properly (although we don’t really know the full extent, because we were less experienced then). Ten days after being born, she died of unknown causes, but she was certainly weak from not eating well.
So, I was devastated. The baby we had been waiting for for so long had the same condition that Allie had. Would we lose this little guy too?
I tried not to worry too much Sunday night, but as Monday wore on, it was getting hard not to panic. I sat in the sun Monday morning, knitting and watching him and his momma. He did not nurse once for 3 hours! A very experienced alpaca farmer friend of mine said that on a full tummy, they might not nurse for 2-3 hours, but often they have small snacks more frequently. Three hours would be the most between feedings. So, I worried more. I felt so horrible, and relived all the angst and pain from that day Allie died so suddenly. I am still having a hard time forgiving myself for all that happened with her.

An Adventure in Bottle Feeding

Tuesday morning came and we decided to do something about it. We would mix up some milk — we found a formula and some really helpful instructions on the internet — and feed him a bottle. We were pretty hilarious shopping for baby bottles; “Should we get these ones? Those ones look weird.” “I think we should get the 3-pack so we have extras.” “I guess we’ll get the pack with blue, since he’s a boy.” We bought whole goat’s milk, which is available in regular grocery stores here, half-and-half and plain probiotic yogurt, bottles, extra nipples, and we headed home. It felt really good to be doing something proactive. The plan was to feed him a few bottles, and teach him to nurse off his momma at the same time.
Getting him to suck on the bottle that first time took a while. I had to pry his mouth open and get the bottle in, but he’s so tiny, the bottle kept slipping out on the sides of his mouth. Eventually I figured out what I was doing and he figured out that the milk was tasty! He had no trouble sucking once the bottle was in place. We had cut the nipple a little to make the opening bigger, so he soon had a milk mustache and a trickle running down his chin! All the while, Daisy was right in our faces, not spitting, but letting us know she was not happy with us messing with her baby.
Frankie perked up considerably after a bottle, and even moreso after two. On the third bottle, he really knew how to suck and the nipple didn’t slip off to the sides any more. Twice a day, we put a harness on Daisy and held her and put Frankie under her to show him where the milk was. We even milked her a bit — her tiny little teats — to keep the milk flowing.
It is surprisingly hard to get a baby alpaca’s head into the right place below his momma’s hindquarters! I felt like I needed three arms — one to hold his whole body in position, because he would get wiggly, one to hold his neck in position, and one to pry his mouth open and get it onto Daisy’s teat. He would resist, probably because he didn’t like being forced into some sort of yoga position — body in line, neck down, then up, head pointed nearly straight up to the sky (the teat). Alpacas normally have an instinct for this, and trying to teach it was incredibly hard. I don’t know if Frankie doesn’t have the instinct, or if he did nurse that first day a few times, but perhaps Daisy kicked at a fly/mosquito and that startled Frankie and turned him off the teat, or perhaps Daisy’s mom, Uki, interfered with Frankie. Uki has been a momma the last three years with us but wasn’t expecting this year; she may have thought Frankie was her baby. She was very bossy that first day when I went in the barn and I immediately separated her from Daisy so that we could work in peace (Uki is a spitter)!
Whatever the reason, Frankie just could not seem to figure out that his momma’s dark places had the milk, and if he got too hungry, he would start searching in other dark places. So, we’ve been bottle feeding him to keep him from getting too hungry, and trying to teach him to nurse. We tried many, many times, but Daisy’s milk was gradually decreasing, and yesterday, we decided to consider him a full-time bottle baby.

So, this will be our adventure! We will feed him about every 3 hours, every day, for the next 7 weeks (minimum). We’ll be mixing and warming bottles, washing nipples, and feeding that adorable little fella to keep him growing. Initially, it was an intervention to keep him alive, and now we are keeping him growing and thriving. Daisy still looks after him great — making sure he’s safe — and he stays fairly close by his momma. It’s going to be challenging with work schedules. We’ve already had to get my mom, dad and cousin’s daughter to help out a couple of days. It’s going to be fun watching him grow and the first time he actually ran, I felt so happy! He was getting more perky and full of life.

“Thanks for the milk. It was delicious!”

I’ll try to keep all of you, my lovely blog readers, up to date as he grows! πŸ™‚ This whole situation has been a big growth curve and I appreciate my dear husband more than ever for his attitude, hard work and wonderful perspective. He’s been such a good partner, in the true sense of the word.
Take care everyone! If you happen to know me personally, live close by, and want to come meet Frankie, email me or leave a comment and we’ll set something up! I’m planning to share Frankie’s story on reddit. Don’t you think he belongs in the “aaw” subreddit? Let me know if he becomes a star, because I’m not on reddit every day! πŸ™‚
Daisy sure loves Frankie!

Ziggy, Frankie’s handsome papa

Shearing Day!

Posted on

Shearing day is always an exciting day on the farm! It only comes once a year, and by the time it comes, the alpacas are super-fluffy and I feel like they are looking forward to it!

Daisy and Marley the morning of shearing.

In the photo above, Daisy and Marley are definitely wondering what’s up, since we never close them in the barn using that half-door.

The shearers are a 2-person man-woman team that we’ve used for a couple of years. They called while we were having breakfast to ask if they could come earlier — in half an hour instead of at 11:00 am! Ack! So we were a little rushed getting ready for them to arrive, but it actually went really smoothly. I had bought more harnesses so that we had one for everyone, and that helped too.

Most of the alpacas walked really well on their harnesses/leashes, which is amazing considering we really don’t practice with them. Alex was born last year, so it was his first time on a harness, being led and being sheared. He did the usual bucking around, but he walked okay. He did NOT like getting sheared — he cried the whole time. Poor little guy! He did seem pretty happy afterwards, however!

That’s Alex in the foreground and Ziggy behind.

It was really nice to be able to see Alex’s eyes! He’s been so fuzzy, we haven’t been able to see them! The sun must seem really bright to them after having such long bangs.

Sometimes you’ve just gotta scratch!

I was worried that Alex was a bit small for a yearling, but the shearer said that he looks normal, or even a little big, to her! So that’s good.Β Β (Remember when he was born? What a cutie!)Β It could just be because he and Boeing are friends, and Boe is a big fella.

Boeing is our gentle giant, the white fella. He and Alex are clearly buddies.

After shearing was done, everyone was tired and hungry (and happy… trust me, I can tell).

Marley having a nap in the sun


Fozzie in the foreground, and although he is laying down, he’s also eating.

Don’t you just love how the shearers leave little legwarmers? It helps protect their legs from mosquito bites, and keeps them warm in winter.

Check out those legwarmers!


Ziggy, just chillin’

They have to be sheared in summer so they have enough time to grow a coat before winter. Mid-June is a bit late, actually, but I’m sure these guys will be okay. They produce a LOT of fibre!

For months, I’ve been saying, “look how fluffy you are! You’re getting so BIG!” and now I am saying “look how skinny you are!”

After shearing is the only time I can see their bodies, and know if they are underweight, overweight, or just right. They all look good, except maybe Miss Uki (she looks a little skinny).

MIss Uki after shearing

Daisy got to wear her harness a little longer than everyone else. When she was done, we just unclipped the leash and she ran away! So we had to catch her a while later and take the harness off. Luckily, alpacas can still eat and drink while wearing one. You an see her in the distance behind Fozzie below:

Fozzie with the girls (Daisy on the left) behind him.

The reason the shearers came early was because at their first stop, the sheep were all wet! So, to give them a chance to dry, they came and did our alpacas first. Apparently, shearing wet sheep is akin to hell bent over! The boys were a little damp, so I spread the fibre out in the sun to dry. Doesn’t it look glorious? Boeing’s fleece is white, Ziggy cinnamon brown, Fozzie brown/black,and Alex dark brown with sun-bleached tips. πŸ™‚

Alex’s fleece had a lot of straw in it, so I spent a while picking it out. It is SOOOO soft. Best time ever!

And hey, a good friend of mine featured Daisy’s first cut fleece in a video! You can watch it here:

I’ve actually been working on processing the fibre lately! There are 3 steps before I can start knitting it: de-dusting it, carding, then spinning. I could also wash it, but it isn’t absolutely necessary as long as I get the dust out. I have a mesh table that I fluff it on. My grandma gave me her drum carder and spinning wheel and I spent a day carding the fibre at home and then another day with her while she taught me how to spin. I was SO terrible at it, but apparently, that’s normal for beginners. There is no such thing as beginner’s luck in spinning! She kept teasing me, saying I was making a rope! It was way too thick. But I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it.

That’s all for now, everyone! Take care!

Here are a couple more “before” pictures to enjoy!

Alex before shearing
Boeing… after a dirt bath! No longer a white alpaca!

Farm Activity — New Fences, Hay Field Planted

Posted on Updated on

Spring is such a busy time of year! There are a few things that really need to be done in spring and there is a short window to to them. This year, I found myself working a lot on yard clean up, since you have to do it before the grass starts to grow too tall. I’ve been picking up old wood, random small pieces of wire and whatever else I find. I put the wood on the hugelculture (I’ll try to blog on this some day!) and the metal on a trailer where we’ve been gathering scrap to take to the metal recycling yard.

It is also time for planting! We have been working on our hay field for a WHILE. Last year, we mowed, plowed and harrowed it, and then did it all again later in the summer, to prepare for planting. It was pretty nice and smooth and ready for planting this spring! I am always aware of the weather, so I decided to plant before some rain in the forecast… perhaps it was a bit early, but at least the weeds had not started growing yet. I went to UFA and talked to one of the men there and decided on the “Stockman’s blend” — a seed blend of different grasses. I promptly went and showed my Dad to see if he thought that I picked the right kind! He said it would grow well, and he recommended a broadcast seeder for that sort of seed.

We already have one hay field; this will be our second. It’s a little over an acre, and the only seed broadcaster I had is one like this (on the right).

So, let’s just say, I walked back and forth more than a couple times! It went more quickly than I thought, actually. Some people might have moaned about not having a bigger/proper seeder, or maybe tried to buy/borrow/rent one, but I just went for it with what I had. My feet were a little sore that night!

The other big job we had to do was replace a fence. It’s been leaning more every year and it was time to build a new one. It’s in a bit of a low spot, and the frost always heaves the fence posts out. So, we decided to build a Montana-style jackleg fence.

The fence before:

You can see that farther along, it really starts leaning! So, we tore it all out in one evening (with temporary fences in place the keep the alpacas separated).



And then built a new one the following day! We had bought all the rails we needed several days before (and we already had a stack of fence posts for the A-frames).

All done! This was a really fun job, actually! It looks great, is really stable, and since it sits on top of the ground, we shouldn’t have to worry about frost heaving. We also put some old straw down to try and fill in/build up the low spot. Plus last winter, we fed the alpacas hay here many times. Over a few years, this should fill things in pretty well. We also filled the holes where the fence posts were. The only small problem we foresee is when it comes time to wean a baby alpaca — he/she could very easily put their head through to continue nursing off their momma, so we’ll have to put up some snow fence or something to prevent that!

Other projects we want to work on this summer (with the goal of completing one per week):

  • Remove the west doors on the barn (seen above) and convert them into one large sliding door (put them on a backer/frame and install a overhead rail).
  • Install a snow guard on the west lean-to part of the barn roof (also pictured above) so that snow doesn’t slide off into a big pile in front of the door!
  • Sand and paint the main metal gate
  • Install more pickets on the picket fence (and paint them)

As you can see, a lot of our work this year involves fences. Anyways, that’s all for now, everybody!

NOTE: I originally meant to post this back in May, but I was so busy! Sorry everybody!

Nonviolent Solutions are Not What you Think

Posted on

I celebrated the beginning of the worldwide Season for Nonviolence with the loveliest like-minded people in Edmonton today. We all met at city hall and had a short ceremony to commemorate it. People read prayers/statements for peace from many world religions and we sang songs together. We even stood on the steps in the shape of a peace symbol. It was all very nice and, well, peaceful.

Nothing anyone said surprised me. It was so lovely, make no mistake, but I did feel that it was a little platitudinal. That’s a word I just made up today. It means, it was full of platitudes. Of course, we have to be the change we want to see in the world. Peace begins with me, definitely. I really don’t want to be disagreeable in this post. Public displays of intention are so important. And perhaps they aren’t the place to get into the how. But I can’t resist — so I’ll do that here (platitude-free).

We fall into a trap if we think that peace is simple. Choosing the non-violent solution, every time, is complicated. It’s tricky. It requires us to be aware of what makes us mad and then, before we can take any angry action, to write a new ending and flawlessly act it out. This is not easy, not even for those of us who are working on being aware of what makes us tick. It’s tricky coming up with a peaceful solution. It’s complicated and messy, although no more messy than violent solutions. Choosing nonviolence still leads to casualties — your ego, your pride, your wallet, perhaps. It is not simple, and in a world where a simpler life is almost worshiped, complexity, and therefore nonviolence, is undesirable. Getting mad is simpler! Being aware and maintaining ears that listen and a desire to understand others is a difficult and multi-faceted enigma. Life is complicated, and so is nonviolence.

There will always be differences between us. There will always be reasons — even good ones — to fight against someone different than ourselves. We simply have to find a way to rise above the differences and accept each other. We need to love and accept ourselves to do this, of course, but doing that alone is not enough. We have to take action, or non-action depending on the situation, with the ultimate goal of peace. Sometimes, we have to focus on de-escalating the situation. We have to face angry people and not add to their anger. We must consistently look for ways to build each other up instead of tear each other down.

Let me give you an example of a messy, non-obvious peaceful solution. One spring, my cousin contacted us and said that she and her husband had booked a bulldozer to come and knock down all the trees on the 19 acres adjacent to our land. She hoped it would not bother our animals, and that was that. The bulldozer was coming, sometime in the next five days. We were devastated. We loved those trees! I grew up exploring that bush and loved it dearly. It was valuable habitat for deer, porcupines and skunks, not to mention birds and squirrels and countless other critters. It was a valuable wind break, shielding us from the harshest north winds. My husband I were outraged, overwhelmed and felt completely helpless to stop it. For about an hour.

Somehow, I was able to stop villainizing my cousin and start thinking straight again. Why were they doing this? They valued farm land more than bush land. They wanted to turn the bush into arable land, probably because they had such large farm payments. They were feeling the pressure of making their big mortgage payments. So, we offered them the radical, messy, nonviolent bulldozer-less solution: we offered to rent those acres of bush, at the rate of farm land, each and every year, to help them make their payments and just because we wanted to. No bulldozer required. They would be making as much money off that land than if they had gone through the years of work it takes to clear the land. We could go for walks without feeling like we were trespassing, and put horses on that land or whatever we liked. It was a win-win solution! I was so thrilled they agreed.

You may be thinking, “how is paying a big bill every year win-win?” I don’t see it as a big bill at all. When the land was divided in the first place, that bush should have been included in our section. But it wasn’t — we didn’t think we could afford such a large piece of land, so we left it out. So, we rent instead of paying a MUCH larger mortgage. See, it’s still win-win. πŸ™‚ This is my favourite example of a non-traditional nonviolent solution, and it just came to me out the blue sky — once I was calm enough to receive it. Some people would see it as ridiculous — to pay prime rates for less-than-prime land — but it really is a fabulous solution.

The nonviolent solution often means thinking outside the box. You may have to really stretch to understand the person you feel like fighting with. It might cost something — your time, your attention, your pride or even a bit of money — but all our actions cost us something if you really think about it. The peaceful answer may feel completely foreign to you. It might be a huge change and something you can’t imagine any rational person doing. Try it out.

Yes, we need to be serene down to our core to affect the world, but we also need to be peace-lovers and take non-conflictual action. I think I just made up another word! Non-conflictual!

So, throughout this season of nonviolence (until April 4), let’s all keep our eye out for those unexpected, nonviolent solutions and actions. After April 4, go back to your old ways — just kidding! πŸ™‚ Some random acts of kindness would be awesome, too.

Love you all! If you have an example of a bulldozer-stopping example of a nonviolent solution, leave a comment! πŸ™‚