Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Ranch Update

Triangle Cross Ranch is such a wonderful place that I feel blessed to be part of it. The Ranch has a blog that you should check out. We're introducing the staff and the Ranchers so the next few months should be especially fun. They're all such unique individuals that they should each have their own theme music!

The new greenhouse goes to work this coming week as the Ranchers start bedding plants and herbs from seed. The Ranchers helped put it together and walked down the foundation materials so they would stay put. It took a few weeks to get it up. To be honest, no one is really excited to start the gardening program again because the weather is still so cold. We've had some very warm days recently that got us thinking about spring, but today the cold is creeping back and we'd all rather stay inside.

One of our Ranchers has had some financial difficulties recently, falling behind on his account by a substantial amount. This young man has been living at the Ranch for 21 years, paying his own bills through government benefits and income from his part-time job as a busboy at a local restaurant. He's autistic, so moving him to another facility would be traumatic, tragic and disastrous for him. We're on a mission to find money for him so he can stay at the Ranch. It's been an exercise in creative accounting and problem solving. The good part is that all of the Ranchers will benefit from the final outcome. It just stinks that everything seems to be about the money... Our young man has no idea that there's a problem and, hopefully, will never have to know.

We're not funded by the state, so all of our residents have to pay the difference between their tuition costs and what they receive from their SSI and disability income. I'll have more to say about that philosophy and the politics of it on the TCR blog at a later date.

The Ranchers continue to make hand made felt throughout the winter. They should be finished with all of the fiber in the workshop by the end of March so they can spend more time on the gardens. We'll shear again in May.

We took all of our 2 year old and older angora goats to the sale in January to save on feed costs. The newborn spring angora kids will arrive in June, but we'll be bottle feeding about 25 dairy goat kids in a couple of weeks for a local goat dairy. We'll rotate babies in and out as they grow out of the bottle feeding stage right through to the end of spring.

So there you have it. Life at the Ranch goes on as the Ranchers go to movies, play Special Olympics sports, visit friends, work at jobs, play games, do chores, help around the house, volunteer, get grumpy, get over being grumpy and just generally have a normal life. Honestly, I'd like to have as active a social calendar as they have.
So drop on by the TCR blog and we'll see you there as we introduce our lovely gang!
Y'all come back now, hear?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

We're Baaaaaack!

Whew! It's been quite few weeks since I've plied my fingers to the keyboard at this site. Forgive me for being unable to do too many things at once.

I've gone to work for the first time since my children were very young. I stopped working when my oldest son started school. I've been home schooling my children since then--17 years--raising livestock, processing fiber and I reentered the work force in the middle of September. I'm the temporary director at Triangle Cross Ranch and should know whether I'm permanent or not by the middle of February. In some ways, I hope the board of directors don't hire me. I could come back home and continue along with what I've nearly always done. In other ways, I hope they keep me on because I love the Ranch, its mission and its people. It's a great opportunity to make some important contributions--well, and the extra money is great, too.

So here at the WoolyWorks, things are quiet. The winter has moved into the "sunshine and bone chilling cold" stage and the "when is spring going to get here" stage. I've just this morning moved my angora does in with the bucks and all is well. We'll have kids in May and June this year, rather than March and April as in the past. We've lost some kids to spring snow storms in the past so I'm not sorry to have late kids.

I have a new buck this year as well. His name is Romeo and he's the nicest and sweetest boy ever. Hermes is still here and still raring to go. He's a lot more of a touch-me-not than Romeo, though. Hermes likes his nose and forehead scratched and that's really all. Romeo likes full body rub downs and hugs and doesn't mind you touching his horns at all. That makes for some smelly and yucky bonding time when he's in rut. Bleh!

The alpacas are thin this year. We had a really bad year last year with some deaths and unexplained illnesses so we're still recovering from that. We didn't breed any alpacas this year to give them some time to recover physically. We're also waiting to see how our young ones fare this year. We lost several to some kind of wasting disease that our vet could never identify.

So, other than chasing down a load of hay, draining hoses and watching the poop pile up and freeze, the animal work has decreased appreciably. It will be nice to see spring arrive again.

Enough for now. I'll check in again in a few days with some pictures and some updates on all things fiber.