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As we shift from beaches to barnyards, I’ll be sharing some images from the 110th National Western Stock Show in Denver. MKL was a wonderful substitute for Kelsea who, as I’m sure I’ve said about twenty times, missed the Stock Show for the first time in 19 years. She was six weeks old at the time of her first visit. MKL and I went twice this year, which was YAY for me, since I could go every day. It has always been a dream of mine to work for the NWSS. There’s some farm girl deep inside of me that just feels so at home among the livestock. I’ve always felt this way, but have never acted on it. At this stage of our life together, I don’t think it’s a good fit either. But I have the Stock Show every year, and the only thing MKL wouldn’t (most wisely) do, which Kelsea and I would have done is put a bid in on a cow in the Beef Palace. Just a small $100 bid, one on which we would have been immediately outbid. Or else we’d have a cow in the front yard now. Anyway, as I say, MKL is wise. Though he did look the part of a wealthy rancher on both visits.

We saw two rodeos one of which included mutton bustin’ and some really rank bulls, had a meet-and-greet with llamas and alpacas, saw Highland cattle, angus bulls, sheep, pigs, goats, chickens, geese, ducks, peacocks, buffalo, and Longhorns. I petted a yak. We had a beer at the Yard Bar. I got manure on my boots. We ate corn dogs and MKL had a deep-fried Twinkie. And I was as happy as …. well, as happy as could be.

Do you remember fairy tales of the poor farm girl swept up in some whirlwind romance and whisked off to the city to lead a life of luxury? Why does no one ever sweep the busy city girl of to a farm?

A Sheepish SmileDenver, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Love grows wherever you plant it, so I try to farm it wherever I go.” — Jarod Kintz

Daily gratitudes:
Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos
Lap cats
My girls


A change from landscapes today…goat snuggles! Goats can always make me smile, and this Spring, I had the pleasure of attending the Mountain Flower Dairy‘s Goat Baby Shower with Kelsea and her lovely friend Skye. Baby goats, alpacas, small children racing small goats, old trucks, fiddlers, spring flowers, a beautiful day — what more could you ask for?

The roots of my fondness for goats lie in my teenage years. At 16, I went away to Governor’s School in North Carolina – my first time away from home alone. I was gone for six (or eight?) weeks and made some lifelong friends (love you, Lisa and Beth, Mark and Ken), but I was definitely homesick during the early days. So I would take clandestine walks around the surrounding neighborhoods. And on a hill above a sidewalk situated so that it reminded me of my own home, I met a goat. He hung out at the very edge of the ivy at the top of the small hill above the wall. He would appear every day when I walked by, and we would chat. I would tell him that I was homesick and that he was handsome and share my teenage angst. He would usually eat something in response – trash, clothing he had stolen off the line, a bloom from the landscaping. I think he looked forward to seeing me as much as I looked forward to seeing him. I still remember him, and how he kept my homesickness somewhat at bay until I found my little tribe of human friends.

And so. Goats.

Goat Snuggles - 1
Boulder, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “One day I will rule the world with a goat by my side!” — Jhonen Vasquez

Daily gratitudes:
Goat cheese for dinner
A pretty new dress
The Laws of Attraction
The softness of the air today
That Issy is feeling better

This is the week that the National Western Stock Show starts – parade on Thursday, and Opening Day on Saturday! So in honor of this Colorado tradition, I give to you, the contemplative longhorn.

Contemplative Longhorn Bull

Denver, Colorado

Quote of the Day: “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.”  — unknown

Daily gratitudes:
Peaceful dreams
Sammy the Seal
Time with Kelsea

This happy little fellow was at last year’s Alpaca Show. It’s almost Stock Show time, and Kelsea and I are trying to decide if we want to go early and see the llamas and alpacas, or if we want to go later and see the hogs or goats.  Or maybe we’ll just have to go twice.

Alpaca worm

Denver, Colorado.

Quote of the Day: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all. From now on you’ll be traveling the road between who you think you are and who you can be. The key is to allow yourself to make the journey.”  —  Meg Cabot

Daily gratitudes:
Random kisses from a mini-schnauzer on the shuttle
How dogs like to sit on top of each other in the front seat of cars
Skinny mocha
Kelsea’s poem
Jen, for introducing me to Anna Maria Island

The Great Western Alpaca Show was today, and it was … great.  It was also yesterday and is also tomorrow, in case you’re in the area and feel a need to make friends with a fuzz-face.

Held in Denver’s National Western Stock Show complex, the event presents over 1400 alpacas in agility, fancy-dress (aka, costume), fiber, and all-around alpaca fabulousness judging.  I don’t think we saw all 1400 alpacas, but I must say that we came pretty darn close.  I know there was only one stall hall that we regretfully passed up.

This is a big year for alpacas and us.  Devotees may recall the brilliant obstacle course for alpacas, which held our rapt attention at the National Western Stock Show in January.  Others may remember that this humble blog made Freshly Pressed with the posting about Alpacas and Auctions back in February.  The beasties are playing a more prominent role in my life this year, and I have decided to add owning a pair to the oft-updated life list of things yet to be done.

We arrived around noon and made our way directly to the stalls.  Do not pass go, and do not take your alpacas upstairs.

And there they were!

One of the first unusual things we noticed was a family of three attempting to put a long sleeve man’s shirt on a small alpaca.  Let me reassure you that this is not an easy task.  Perhaps the alpaca did not like that particular plaid.  I thought that they might be trying to keep the little guy warm, but I discovered otherwise, as we’ll see later.

Moving down the rows, we encountered Kira, whose real name is GlennaLee.  Kira owns and shows several alpacas, who live up in Granby.  She lives in Indiana, so they have a long-distance relationship.  Kira introduced us to A Whole Lotta Socks, a 16-month old Huacaya (who has extremely small llama balls, we were told), and Lightning, a 7-month old Suri.  She was a very welcoming owner, as we found most alpaca ranchers to be.  She gave us some insights around alpaca fibers, and how the crimping of the fine fiber close to their skin is the most strictly judged, and how alpacas with blue “chips” in their eyes tend towards blindness.  She also let both Kelsea and I walk the guys around a bit. I took Lightning.

Kelsea took Socks. 

It was wonderful.  I find that I am an excellent alpaca shaman.  Here, Lightning and I are discussing a distant alpaca who was wearing a gypsy scarf.

Moving along, we encountered several alpacas who seemed to be in a zen state,

and others who were proudly showing off their awards.

We witnessed first hand a spitting alpaca – boy, does that spit fly.  According to Kira, a female alpaca will spit if a male is attempting to mount her and she’s either already pregnant or just extremely unwilling.  (Remember that, girls.) These two were swirling around in a battle for dominance that bordered on domestic violence. 

And everyone was watching.

That’s the thing about alpacas. 

They are fascinated by everything. 

They look. 

And look. 

And look.

And chew the railing.

And sometimes, they snuggle.

We stopped in at the alpaca boutique for a little browsing. 

Alpaca fibers make amazingly soft and warm outerwear.  Kelsea and I were speculating on creating a line of Alpaca fiber lingerie, since the fiber feels so good next to your skin, but we decided that might wind up being a little … messy.

Some poor unfortunates found themselves shorn in order to have their fiber judged.  You could totally feel their sense of shame amongst all the other fluffy alpacas.  They looked like my beloved former cat Mammal when we would get her shaved for summer since she got so matted.  Like little rats.  Except with long necks.

We got a bit lost.  I’ve been in this place every year for at least 25 years, but it felt very different from when the Stock Show is running.  It was obviously empty, but if felt curious, as if it was waiting for something big.  Really quite odd.

After watching some costumed beasts, including our little plaid-shirted alpaca friend emerge from the tunnel like athletes exiting the field, we found ourselves back in the show arena, which was literally a four-ring circus. We saw Kira in one ring with one of her silver alpacas – she’s the lady in the dark shirt at the bottom of the following image. 

But we just fell in love with the alpaca dress-up show ring.  Each well-clad animal had its complementary handler, and each handler had written a little scenario for the judges, describing their get-ups, that the announcer read as the pair entered the ring. 

There was a huge creative assortment. 

Captain Jack Sparrow:


Phantom of the Opera:

Rock Stars (both the boy and the alpaca had guitars):




Rabbits (with magician):

Scarecrows (although this alpaca lost his straw-stuffed pants before the conclusion of the judging):

Raggedy Anne and Andy:

And perfectly matched Good Ole’ Boys (the alpaca even had little boots on), who won the blue ribbon in their class.

We finished off the afternoon browsing the product stalls, buying a hat, and two pairs of amazingly soft fingerless gloves.  We’ve both wanted fingerless gloves for years.

Toys were adorable.

Children’s clothes were brilliantly colored.

Some weavers are extremely ingeneous, such as the woman who creates fantastically soft and stylish  hats with whimsical faces on the back of them, which I thought were awesome.  Her name is Shannon Dumais, and she’s from Las Cruces, New Mexico – please check her out at www.Pleasing

Our last stop was the first annual Denver Fiber Fiesta.  We passed through the hallways with care.

With our fingers raptured by the softness of woven wool, our minds amazed at the intricate, delicate complexities of crochetings and our eyes filled with the gentle rainbow hues of yarn, we took leave of our fuzz-friends.

We stopped only briefly to be amused by this particular image on the outside of the Exhibit Hall, which struck my slightly sick sense of humor.

It was a perfectly charming day.

No, I did not buy an alpaca at auction.  However…

This weekend the Boulder County Fairgrounds hosted the Alpaca Expo.  You may remember from our trip to the Stock Show this year how enamoured Kelsea and I were with the alpacas. Well, even though Kelsea chose to go to the Mall on Saturday, I decided to fly solo to see the critters. 

Empty Corrals at the Boulder County Fairgrounds

O. M. G.


There is (almost) nothing I have found that makes me smile more than alpacas.  While the Expo was fairly small, I spent almost three hours there, just hangin’ with my alpaca peeps.  I made friends with several of the ranchers there to exhibit and I learned a lot of little tidbits.

But mostly, I just kind of hung on the railings of the little corrals and basked in the glow of the beasts.  I don’t know what it is about them, but they have amazingly soothing energy.  They are calm, expressive, curious, and gentle.  Kind of like me, but with more hair and bigger eyes.

Adorable Alpaca

I had such a wonderful time that Kelsea and I went back on Sunday.  And as an extra-added bonus, we went to an antique auction that was being held next door.  If you check out my Life List of Things Yet To Be Done (in Lists), you will see that buying something at auction was one of my life goals.  Well, not only did I buy something at auction, I bought somethingS at auction – namely, two pocket knives, a sword, a miscellaneous box of vintage hats, purses and gloves and an amazing piece of folk art – a flying pig, who told me his name was Homer. 

Homer In Profile

Homer From Above

My auction number was 339 and I was flapping my little card along with the other pros, aka, Pierre, George, Tommy and a lady whose shop we had visited in Cheyenne last Labor Day.  Anyway, the whole thing was AWESOME!  And here’s a sampling of the things that I – wisely, in my opinion – didn’t bid on.

Miscellaneous Brasses - I would have bid on this if we'd been there when it was up

Random Auction Items

Creepy Decapitated Doll Heads

Victorian Baby Shoes

Strange Vintage Glassware

As for the alpacas, well, as I said, we learned a lot.  And here are a few things we learned that I’ll bet you probably didn’t know either:

Alpacas are very social creatures.  You can’t have just one.

Just Saying Hello From Behind the Neighboring Curtain

Alpacas only have bottom teeth until they are about three years old, at which point they are ready to breed and get their fighting teeth.

Clinton Showing Off His Alpacas Bottom Teeth

 When they get bored, they chew things.

Dishevelled Beastie Eating the Rail

Alpacas’ adorable “Hmmmm” humming noise means they are stressed.  Or hungry.  But I guess being hungry can make you feel stressed.

Her Close-Up

Like many animals, they like to groom each other, and can often find leftovers in their Alpaca buddies.

I Love Eating My Friends Fur

The Suri is the most dominant type of Alpaca, although it is the least common type outside of South America.

Nancy Showing Off Champagne the Suri Alpaca

But there are also some interesting Vicuna-Alpaca mixes (and all alpacas (and llamas) are part of the camel family).


Alpacas chew their cud in a figure-eight shape.  And when they swallow a lump of cud (what’s that called?), they immediately bring up another one.  If you watch their throats, you can see the one coming down and the other coming up.

Cud-Chewing Cutie-Pie

Alpacas sit on all four legs, but when it’s very cold, they raise their hindquarters slightly off the ground to increase their warmth.

Seated Alpaca

Alpacas are raised for their fiber and for breeding – several people were weaving and spinning at the event.

Dyed Alpaca Yarn



They don’t always like being touched on the head because their mothers generally nudged them on their heads to discipline them.  They prefer being touched on the neck.

Intertwined Alpaca Necks

And when a randy male alpaca tried to mount Perfection, he was decidedly put in his place by her spitting most firmly in his face after escaping his lascivious clutches.  She is a feisty little beauty.  No one can mount Perfection.


Most importantly of all, they give amazingly awesome angel baby kisses.  Storm the big white alpaca kissed me several times.  (No tongue.) I felt truly privileged.

Storm the Kissing Alpaca

So it was a lovely weekend.  I even tried out Zydeco dancing on Friday night.  Not well, mind you, but it was new and fun and great exercise, so I think I’ll try it again.  And since the auctions happen once a month, we’ll definitely be back.  It will be THE place to furnish the new house!

Have a happy week!

On my Mother’s side, my Grandpa was a sometime farmer.  He was a soldier during WWI – I don’t recall if he ever went overseas, but my brother might know.  I do know that he received a most unfortunate wound when he backed around the corner of one of the barracks, right into someone’s poised and ready bayonet.  How embarrassing.   A sometime schoolteacher, he was a comfortably restless soul, who liked to buy land, build a house on it, live in the house, get the itch, sell the house, buy land, build a house on it…you get the picture.  My Mother grew up moving a lot and loving it.  She loved meeting new people at every school as a child and was always excited to see a new place.

Clearly, I inherited his restlessness, though that came from grandfathers on both sides – another story.

I’ve always had an affinity for the land and for animals, as my Mother’s parents did.  Grandpa was very happy having a small farm, my grandmother had an amazing green thumb, which skipped a generation and which I have inherited.  By the time I came along, my grandparents were living sometime in the mountains outside of Boone, North Carolina, in a barn my grandfather had turned into a home, and sometime in a big old white house in Dade City, Florida (which, by the way, is the scene of my earliest memory, which happens to be of my Grandpa) and so there was no farm, no animals, no garden.  So my affinity for such things is decidedly genetic.

Since I left home, I’ve lived in cities, in the mountains, in small towns, and in rural-ish areas.  When Pat and I bought our house, I was delighted that there were cows across the street.  We’ve had the house since 1991, and the cows are still there. 

The owner of the small farm is a single woman who has run the place for some 35 years with just the help of a part-time hired man.   She is a woman who is totally content to keep to herself.  Silver-haired, skin as tough and lined as that of the cows, she walks the fence line every morning to be sure its secure.   She smokes like a chimney and has a soft, small voice, unless she is cursing a blue streak at the livestock, at which point she can be heard for blocks.  She’s hard of hearing but won’t wear a hearing aid.  I’ve never, ever seen her dressed up, and she’s never had a gentleman caller.  Actually, as far as callers go, they are just not allowed.  She has never even let anyone onto the porch of her small house, which is cluttered to the point of appearing abandoned.   I learned early on to stand outside and “hallo the house” if I needed to speak to her.  

I have only touched her once.  I came to tell her that one of her horses had died, as I could see him lying stiff in the pasture one early morning – she already knew, and had called the renderer.  He had been one of her favorites and he was very old.  She got teary and choked up telling me about him and about how he had tended the younger horses, and I impulsively gave her a hug.  You could feel the shock emanating from her body, but she relaxed for just a few seconds, and seemed to sink into me, as if she hadn’t felt a human touch in decades.  The next time we met, I gave her a gentle hug, thinking a barrier had been broken, and felt that shock again, followed by a corpse-like stiffness – she held herself as still as if her response to my touch would kill her.  I released her immediately and never tried again.

She’s been trying to sell the farm for years, as in the community, they tax unbuilt land at a higher rate than built land (to discourage small farms and increase their tax base by building businesses and Grey-Poupon communities in their customary greedy fashion).  But she has been stubborn about what she wants done with the land, and while she’s come close to selling several times, it has always fallen through, as the developers, in their endless greed, refuse to honor her wishes about housing density, open space, and residential/commercial balance.  I think they’ll have to wait her out til death.

The cows have been a source of entertainment, odors, noises, and education for me over the years, and I am so happy that Kelsea has had the chance to share this.  It’s rare in this world to grow up literally across the street from livestock.  While we’ve missed the actual births, we’ve seen calves less than an hour old (and I’ve heard cows birthing in the middle of the night).  We name each new baby.  We rejoice when Dude, the stud bull, is allowed into the front pasture.  And we’ve witnessed his passion.  In fact, he’s been incredibly prolific in the past year.

Every so often, the cows have gotten lose and made a break for it.  We’ve found ourselves herding them back to the farm from the small streets in town, heading them off at the pass, so to speak, before they hit the real world of the SuperTarget parking lot – though that would be a novelty, wouldn’t it?

What does all this have to do with the subject of this blog, you may ask?

This morning, as I was drowsily gazing through the slats of the bedroom window blinds, two cows came trotting quickly by the cottage in the open space just on the other side of the split-rail fence.  They were followed by nine calves, charging through the grass, with a few more adults bringing up the rear.  It was a surprise and a delight, as I have missed the cows since I have moved out.   The folks at the Big House are total environmentalists and animal lovers, but they told me when I moved in that they had come to an agreement with the neighbors that they wouldn’t use the open space behind the fence to graze their cattle, because they didn’t like the smell.  I don’t know what happened to that agreement, but I love that it’s being violated.

I got up to see what the cows were doing, and just outside the kitchen window, a love scene was taking place.  Not something as romantic as Romeo and Juliet, but a tender courtship – dare I say it reminded me of some of my own? 

A sweet (albeit booty-full) brown-and-white heifer was complacently nibbling on the dewy grass, and carefully wooing her was a huge black bull.  He was snuggling up to her side, sniffing her, gently nuzzling her flanks.  At one point, he reached up and tried to bite off a lilac bloom.  She was coyly ignoring him, but not running off as I have seen unwilling females do, and so clearly receptive to his delicate attentions on this fine spring morning.  It was as if they were flirting, as if she was special to him.  It was lovely to watch.   When I went outside to see them without windows in the way, they both looked at me as if I was interrupting, and moved slowly away together.

And so, livestock love.  What a perfect way to start a beautiful day.

April 2021


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