Sunday, July 17, 2011

Alpacas....the trick is keeping them cool...

Keep them cool, but they're livestock! Is what you are thinking after reading the title.  Too true, they are livestock, but not in the traditional sense.  These creatures are pretty new the United States, having been brought over from Peru during the late 80s until 1998. 

Alpacas naturally dwell in the cool Andean mountains.  They are not accustomed to the Nebraska heat-fest that is July.

So how do you keep them cool?  Amy has been opening her bag of tricks (the internet and books) and has devised two neat-o methods of cooling:

-Using 175 feet of hose she tied a garden rod to the fence post and set it on 'mist'.  The Alpacas can mist during the times of the day.  We are trying to keep their fiber nice so we can't dunk them in water, thus a nice mist gives them a break from the heat.

-Running over 100 feet of extension chord from the barn she connected a fan into the enclosure.  We found some old carpet remnant upstairs, soaked it, and combine that with the fan the alpacas have somewhere nice and cool to lay for a while.  I don't think they have figured it out yet, but this option is fairly new.

Other updates: the boys are starting to lower their guard and will get pretty close to us.  When food is brought they almost let us touch them!  In the corner of our fence that we share with the neighbors they have befriended some miniature cows.  The four of them are always "talking over the fence"...I wonder what they are talking about...?

More later!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Top Five Tuesday #4

Every Tuesday we will post a Top 5 list.  The content of these lists may or may not relate to the typical blog content.  The list won't necessarily adhere to the Top 5 in order of "best to worst".  We hope this will become a mainstay here on the blog and that people enjoy it!

This week's Top '7' List
As we near the release date of the final Harry Potter movie, "The Deathly Hallows Part 2", let's take a look back and give the previous seven movies a proper ranking.  We will go David Letterman style of this one, counting down to our favorite (warning: there are bound to be many disputes, so feel free to post your heated debate in the comments section!)

7.  The Order of Phoenix (2007).
 Although the actors are growing up and a new director (David Yates) enters the game, this movie lacks far to much for it to be considered very good.  First off, it is boring.  



Second of all, it leaves a lot of the book out of the equation and did I mention it is boring?  The soundtrack is also the least exciting and it is boring.  Obviously the worst one.

6. The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004).

People either love this one or they hate it.  I do not care for it.  It is also pretty boring and gets to dark to fast.  I understand that this is a dark series, but the third one still should have one foot in the 'cute' door and it doesn't.  Even the few times they are outside, in what should be a pleasant environment, it seems overcast and blah.  

The director, Alfonso Cuaron, brings forth a different feel from the first two.  Yes, we'd all agree that previous director, Christopher Columbus, makes the serious very cute and child-like, but isn't that what the first two were supposed to be?  When you compare those child-like fairy tales to the dark and spooky Cuaron version it just doesn't work.  

Also, this is John Williams final soundtrack of the HP series and also his worst.  Develop some themes, please.
5. The Chamber of Secrets (2002).

 Cute, but with a mysterious story to it.  You can still tell, as in the first one, that the child-actors are getting loads of feedback from the directors at this point and many things seem forced.  Yet at the same time, these youngsters put together a nice story and make us want to come back for more.

The problems with this film, however, centered around the Gilderoy Lockhart character.  He drags down this picture and makes it go boom.  The book is far more intricate and exciting and the soundtrack is just OK.  And Dobby...

 One thing I did like: any time spent in Diagon Alley is considered a good time to me, I can not get enough of that place!

4. The Sorcerer's Stone (2001).

 If this were Amy's list, she would place this at number one.  She cites the innocence, the more sunny-esque ideals, and just the general newness of magic and wizarding is intriguing enough.  The Quidditch scene is considering to be as exciting as the 1999 "Phantom Menance" race scene and is exciting.

Watching this movie today in 2011 feels much older than 10 years, the movie looks much older and the CGI reflects that as well.  The soundtrack is better, but that is attributed to the newness.  

It is fun to watch, but I would be curious how many changes would be made if Christopher Columbus were not the director...

3. The Deathly Hallows pt. 1 (2010).

Great set up for the final movie.  The only reason you can't rate it higher is because it can't stand on it's own as it is only half the tale.  The actors are at their best and more of the story is explored.  Can't wait for the finale.

2. The Half-Blood Prince (2009).

David Yates bounces back after the lack-luster "Order of the Phoenix" and delivers a real gem with "Half-Blood".  A well told story that you finally feel the cast is ready to deliver.  The only thing missing, in my opinion, is the cool storyline from the beginning of the book.  You know, where the prime minister is warned about the coming events.  So cool, but missing.

1. The Goblet of Fire (2005).

Fine, I get it, you hate their hair.  Have you ever seen 14 year old boys that don't have similar hair styles?  Nope.  Getting past that, this is the best of the 7 Potter movies.  

Why?  For me it is because it is the only one that I can happily watch over and over again.  The action, adventure, mystery, spells are all working for me.  Why did director Mike Newell not just finish the series out???

It is fair to say, however, that 'Goblet' could be surpassed by 'Hallows'.  I am excited to see the conclusion!

OK, did I get it right?  Am I an idiot?  Lemme know!

The Alpacas are here!

They're here, they're here! 

First off, sorry for the absence, friends.  I have been busy getting ready for the alpaca, visiting family, and watching as many Harry Potter films as possible since last Thursday (we are currently watching the Order of the Phoenix).

Last Thursday, with the help of Amy's uncle, we put up a new fence on our 450 sq ft pasture.  The picture you see to the left includes that new fence.  It used to be barb wire, however, that is not safe for these curious camelids.  We changed it to the wire fence.

The boys are now officially home.  We will keep Phantom's name and have decided to name the youngster Buzz (OK, Ayla named him after her favorite Toy Story character).  Phantom was born on 5/31/09 and Buzz is unofficially listed as 'Summer 2010'.  So far, they are quite spooked in their new home.

They came from a herd of over 15 alpaca, in an enclosure that was primarily dirt and have moved to a large, grassy area where they are alone.  It will take some adjusting, but they are already making do with the new digs.  Not surprisingly, Buzz has taken the role of 'beta' and Phantom has take the role of 'alpha'.  Buzz will follow Phantom around the enclosure and lay down next to him.  This is an encouraging sign that these two intact males will get along.

So far it is a big day for the boys, but I think they will be fine.  We are working on getting some hay bales and I am planning a 3-sided lean-to for them to have shelter under.

Hooray!!!  They are here!
Buzz on the left, Phantom (with mask) on right

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary to my lovely bride of four years. Like many others around the world on 7/7/07 at 7:00pm we were wed in Overland Park, KS. Amy is my everything. :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A special thanks to Aunt Betsy!

Last week, avid readers, you may remember the day that a big branch came down in our lawn. Using a hatchet and a little saw I was able to hack it apart. This process only took me three hours.

Well, on our doorstep this morning was an odd-package from Amazon. I looked at Amy (as it was addressed to her) and asked her what she ordered (Secretly hoping for an amazing anniversary gift). She informed me that she had no idea. Upon opening the package a chainsaw sat inside!!! A note inside from Amy's Aunt Betsy: "Happy sawing. You can't live in the wilderness without one. ~Betsy".

So, this post will hopefully suffice as a thank you to Aunt Betsy! I am excited to give it a try (although I am not overly excited for another branch to fall). I will included some pictures of the saw for those of you who are curious later...

Thank you again! - Rob, Amy and Ayla
(Also, happy birthday Betsy!)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Top 5 Tuesday #3

Every Tuesday we will post a Top 5 list.  The content of these lists may or may not relate to the typical blog content.  The list won't necessarily adhere to the Top 5 in order of "best to worst".  We hope this will become a mainstay here on the blog and that people enjoy it!

This week's Top 5 List
What are Ayla's favorite words?  
Let's get inside the mind of this precocious two year old 
and find out Ayla's Top Five words!

1.  Gully-gully-gully-gully _____.  Using a fun tongue-in-mouth babble, Ayla will accompany a variety of the word “gully” with a name from her arsenal of family or friends.  For instance, if she says, “Gully, gully, gully, gully, Daddy.”  Then she wants something from, or to do something with, or she is bringing something too, Daddy.  This has been fun and cute, but sometimes difficult to understand.

2.  Oooh, Aahhh.  This was created just last night (July 4) as Amy used these words to describe the excitement Ayla should have for fireworks.  Then it became known as simply “fireworks”.  All day, she has been 'gullying' for fireworks.  (She was scared/excited while watching them yesterday evening).

3.  Aha.  Ayla learned long ago that monkeys say “ooh, ooh, aha”.  She also happens to love going to zoos where the only monkeys she knows of dwell.  Combine this information and you get the word Aha for zoo.  So, whenever we go to the zoo, we are actually going to the Aha.

4.  Doo-Doo.   It’s not what you think it means :) ... Amy’s brother is Andrew.  We realized long ago that the name Uncle Andrew would be tricky to say for a baby so we encouraged Doo-Doo.  Not only does Ayla call her that, but we all do.  It is especially funny when we call him Doo-Doo in public.

5.  Woo-Woo.  This is perhaps the most obvious one.  Woo-Woo is fairly universal for train amongst little kids and Ayla is no exception to this.  Everytime we drive into Lincoln we usually see around 30 trains, so we hear quite a few Woo-Woos in a given week.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th!!!

Happy 4th of July, the Edge hopes you have a great holiday.  As Apu would say, "celebrate the independence of your nation by blowing up a small part of it".

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Garage....or maybe more?

 On the sidebar of this very blog you see picture of the both the barn and the house.  We know the barn was built in 1889 and our we fairly certain the house was built in 1903.  To me this time differential doesn't make sense.  Why would the homesteaders build the barn 14 years before the house?  That seems backward.

The answer might be right under our noses: the garage.  Old hardwood floors, a cellar door, and chimney.  This was likely the homesteaders original one-room house.  Wood was, as it is now, expensive and Nebraska in 1889 was not covered with trees so they had to save up and wait to build the house we live in now.  Cool, huh?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Phantom Obstacle #2 - - The Barn

Sure, we have a nice 121 year old barn.  But, as you have read in spelunking posts #1 and #2, you know that this barn is not quite ready for animals just yet, especially alpacas.  A lot has to be done.

The north section of the barn is devoted to the alpacas, the central portion will be for the future chickens.  Sometime over the past 121 years this was likely a popular place to house horses.  There is a nice trough in the back of the area and plenty of room for the bigger animals.  Alpacas are much smaller than horses and should live in this space without problem.

The next obstacle is to connect the fenced in pasture area, but we have a plan!
See the gate on the left and the door on the right?  Now imagine a fence connecting the two.
This is the plan.
We have until Thursday!

B1G !!!

The University of Nebraska officially joins the Big Ten today!  Hooray for this amazing day!  Out with the old, in with the new.  Time to turn a new leaf.  No more Texas and Missouri or Colorado.  We will miss thee, Oklahoma and your classy fans.  No more close and easy drives (drat).  Bring on tradition, stability and universities who are like-minded.  Go Big Red!!!