Friday, July 31, 2009

Search for an Illustrator

The search for an Illustrator is on! I have finished my children's book, Llucky Llama, and am searching for an artist to put my words into the images I am envisioning. I am extraordinarily proud of the story that I have written, and can't wait to get it in print.

Marcel (of course), tells funny stories about us and the Royal Ranch since his arrival almost a decade ago. There are wonderful characters, Lloony Llady (guess who?), Mischievous Man (Tom), Dedicated Dog and Cuddly Cat. This is a humorous story that shows wonderful relationships between these animals and how their own backgrounds, shady or not, have brought this ranch so much joy.

Rescuing animals has been some of my most self-fulfilling work and is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. This is a story that has to be told, and I am so excited to get this project going!
Today's pic is Mischievous Man and Lloony Llady all dressed up for my 20 year reunion last month!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Unanswered Question

Recently I upgraded my cell phone to a new one. Of course I kept the phone and recycled it to a local charity. The day I got it, it needed to be charged, I used the car charger and accidentally left the cord plugged in in the car. My phone beeped and amazingly it was a message that I had left my charger plugged in. I also have a Sirius satellite radio in my truck which has a little screen on it to display songs and artists names. The screen is quite bright and glows at night.
So, obviously these things are using power, but what is their effect on the environment? To be honest with you I still don't know, even after hours of research. On the Internet you can find all sorts of ways to save energy, how to improve the world around us with simple steps, and even carbon imprint calculators (these are way cool). No where could I find out how battery operated car chargers are bad for the environment, which obviously they have some impact.
When using electricity in our homes, we are causing the power plants to work harder. This is where our natural resources are being used up. Things like light bulbs and paint can put dangerous emissions into our ozone. So is it a combination of both? Maybe my Dad knows, and if he does I'll share his opinions with you. I would also really love to hear from some of you if you have anything to say about this.
I was hoping to answer my own burning question on this post, but since I am unable to do so, and hope to do so soon, I am going to give you just a couple of the thousands of facts about electricity use and its impact on the world I found:
  • If each home in America would change one bulb to a compact fluorescent bulb it would equal enough power to light 3 million homes for 1 year. It would also save $600 million in annual energy costs and prevent greenhouse gases equal to the emissions of 800,00 cars.
  • Only 5% of actual power used by chargers (phone, computer, etc) is to charge the device, the other 95% of its power consumption is just being plugged in.
  • There are "greener" battery chargers, for instance solar (still no explanation as to exactly what traditional chargers do to the environment) available on the market today.
  • Leaving your computer screen on all the time costs you about $18 per month, let alone its annual impact on good old mother earth.
Like I said, these are just a few quick facts, the bottom line is that it is always best to unplug the device when not in use. If it even has a little glowing light or clock, it is using power and shutting it down will help the environment and help you reduce costs.
Have a miracle of a day!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Spit Happens

As I mentioned in Llama Llesson 09, it is rare for a healthy llama to spit at humans. In this sense, a "healthy" llama is one that has been in a herd of llamas and knows that humans are dominant over them and will not challenge, or spit at people. The Royal Ranch always has an exception to the rule!

We were above timberline on in the spectacular Lost Park area. Tom and I had just dropped of a group and we were scheduled to pick them up in a week. This is the really fun part of llama packing, when you have helped them accomplish their work, and have a beautiful hike down the mountain. Tom had Carbondale and Jasper and I was following up (as usual) with Hunter and Marcel, my lead llama. As I went to "piggy back" the llamas I accidentally tied Hunter's wool into the rope. He immediately started rapid fire spitting at me!!! I started yelping and madly trying to undo the offending knot. As you have probably heard, llama spit REALLY stinks! I'm yelling for Tom, and all I can hear is hysterical laughter. I don't think if he was covered in stinky high altitude tundra he would have thought it was so funny.

I was so terribly sorry for hurting one of my wondrous boys, but as soon as I got him out of his predicament he was fine, I, on the other hand had a three hour hike to endure smelling like cud! Today's pic is one of our hikes, you can see how much they enjoy that tundra! (Judy, Marcel, Hunter, Carbondale and Jasper)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dangerous Deet

Yesterday I had to shear my Great Pyrenees, yes, I know that dogs get groomed and not shorn, but when you use llama equipment, I think you can get away with calling it shearing! This is a rather large job, and I was not really looking forward to it, as a matter of fact I had been dreading it, but for all of the wrong reasons.

The shear job was going quite well, but I was getting eaten alive by flies. I had my daughter run and grab the bug spray, we put it on myself, Tia (the dog) and my daughter. Thankfully as young girls do, Isabella lost interest in cutting the dogs hair and ran off to play. I really don't know what I was thinking, obviously I wasn't, because I continued to spray myself whenever the flies got to the point where I could no longer stand them. Probably four times in the 1 1/2 hours it took me to complete this monumental job.

Living in the mountains we are very blessed as far as bug population goes, so I don't deal with bug spray often. I'm embarrassed to say I have mostly used it on my kids-without even thinking! Anyway, I started not feeling good as I was cleaning up the yard. Lightheaded, headache and nausea, I assumed I hadn't eaten enough that day and headed in to make some lunch. Within an hour I had a severe headache and felt like I couldn't pull my sentences together. I was in bed by 6:oo and must not have looked too good, as my adorable family checked on me at least 10 times, not too restful, but adorable!

So, needless to say this caused me to do a little research on bug spray this morning, and I have to tell you it really caused me some alarm. According to Extension Toxicology Network, Deet is far more dangerous than a lot of people believe. Extoxnet is "A Pesticide Information Project of Cooperative Extension Offices of Cornell University, Michigan State University, Oregon State University, and University of California at Davis. Major support and funding was provided by the USDA/Extension Service/National Agricultural Pesticide Impact Assessment Program. " As I read the very scientific and sometimes difficult to read report my stomach kept sinking. Following are a few parts of that report that I have copied and pasted:

Products containing N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide and isomers (Deet) are beneficial as insect repellents, but have also been associated with dermal and neurological reactions in humans (3).

Several cases of toxic encephalopathy associated with the use of Deet in children have been reported in the medical literature.

Generalized seizures have also been temporally associated with the use of Deet-containing insect repellent on skin (Oransky et al 1989).

Deet is absorbed promptly from the skin and distributed to all organs including the brain and the fetus. The compound is excreted in the milk but primarily in the urine (1, 15, 16).

There was quite a bit more information on the horrors that they have inflicted on lab animals to test Deet that also showed reproductive issues and severe skin reactions. Reactions were noticeably higher in kids. Okay then, I'm never getting near the stuff again!

On the lighter side of things, I also found some wonderful alternatives. There are many organic bug sprays made up of essential oils that are shown to be pretty effective. I also learned that if you put original flavor Listerine in a spray bottle you can spray it around the perimeter of your working and playing areas. Bugs do not like the strong minty smell and it provides a bug free zone for you and your family. I can't wait to try these methods and will keep you informed of any "results" I may come up with.

Today's picture should be called "And you thought you were having a bad hair day?"! This is the results of the very unsophisticated haircut that I gave Tia. Her name is Valentia, Spanish for bravery; she's not looking to brave this morning-Ha!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Royal Laundry 101

Well, here it is Monday morning, and like many of you, I am staring at a mountain of laundry. I thought I'd share some of my laundry tips with you, Royal Ranch style of course! We are on a private well, which is very cold water and use propane to heat our water, so you may or may not deal with some of the same issues as we have in the mountains. I hope that you can use some of my tips no matter where you live, they are green ideas that will save you a little money while you're at it!

  • I start by reusing a milk jug, I cut off the top just large enough to dump your powdered detergent into it; as we know most eco-friendly detergents are powders,plus you get more loads per container,saving on packaging.

  • Instead of using too much hot water to dissolve the powder, let the water run into your washer (this way you are not wasting water down the drain) until it is hot, and add enough to dissolve soap while shaking the jug. You can switch back to your preferred temperature setting and dump your "liquid" detergent in and proceed loading your clothes.

  • Another great tip is to use vinegar. It is wonderful at removing smells and even works as a fabric softener, it may take up to a cup to achieve the softness results that you are looking for.

  • When the load is done with it's cycle, before you toss those soaking clothes into the dryer, run them through the spin cycle again. This saves dramatically on dry time, which in turn saves money on your bills and wear and tear (and rust) on your dryer!

  • If you use dryer sheets, tear them in half (Thanks for this one, Mom). You will still get the desired effect for half the price and half the packaging.

  • Try to fold clothes directly out of dryer, but if not and they get wrinkled, toss in a clean damp cloth and run for about 10-15 minutes and clothes should be wrinkle free!

Today's pic has nothing to do with laundry, but gives you something pretty to look at while you fold! Have a miracle of a day!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Two Eagles

Today I just have to share the story of Two Eagles. Tweagle, as we sometimes call him, is one of my latest rescues and probably my most challenging yet! A friend of mine, who also works rescue, called and asked if I could help transfer a llama; of course, no problem. So the whole family loads up in the truck and we head to the top of Red Mtn. Pass to pick him up.
We had absolutely no information on him, not even a name. The owner must have been a real piece of work! I was told that he was a gelding (neutered) and we just needed to take him to his new home. Again, no problem.
The problems started to arise as soon as we got on site. The extraordinarily nice lady who was also doing a leg of the transport, proudly started showing me around her place. Lots of fiber llamas, etc. So Tom comes up to me and tells me he's a little worried as the llama we were there to get, just charged the fence at him. He also had a rope tied around his back leg that was growing in, along with the halter that had been on so long he had bloody areas from it!
Charging at humans is a HUGE red flag that we may be dealing with a dangerous llama. The gal, says no, he's just a "Lover", normal llamas are not lovers! Her and I head into his corral and he immediately jumped on the woman, putting his front legs on her shoulders, and she quietly says "Oh that's a bad boy"! I was in shock for a millisecond and then started swinging my rope around my head screaming like a crazed woman, needless to say he backed off. I had done some research on "Berserk Llama Syndrome" and knew this fella had most of the warning signs.
We got him loaded up, before he killed the overly nice lady trying to help him and headed back to the ranch. I spoke with my friends (my llama mentors) and we decided that he was in no way a candidate for placement and may even have to be put down. As you can imagine, we were all crushed.
We knew that he had been by himself, which is a major mistake with llamas, they are herd animals and if not treated that way, they think humans are their herd and try to fight with them the way they would any incoming new 'visitor '. Our only hope was to put him immediately in with my rough and tumble herd, so that they could teach him how to be a llama. It was a difficult decision for me because I usually let my new guys meet over the fence for a week or so, to avoid some of the initial fighting for hierarchy purposes.
We got the rope off of his leg with a lot of distraction on my part and Tom's precision work with wire cutters. Llamas are prey animals and do not like their legs or heads touched! We knew the head would take quite some time to heal and he was too wild to allow us to mess with it anyway. I also noticed that he was absolutely not a gelding, which could contribute to his behavior if not in a herd setting. We knew the poor guy was in for some trouble, but it was the only hope of saving his life.
We put him directly in with the herd, and I don't think Tweagle quit running around for 3 days! Not only was he happy to be here, no halter on, and out of danger; but he absolutely adored life with other llamas. They did make sure he knew his place, but I also think they knew he'd had a rough time of it, so they were a little easier on him-I was thrilled!
For about the first two months, we had to go in armed with a stick, but once I started pushing back into his personal space when he got into mine, he learned pretty quickly that I am BOSS on my ranch! I will never fully trust him, and keep an eye on my backside when I'm bent over cleaning the water trough or something, but the progress he has made is astounding! He has even done a few pack trips with us. I am hoping with time he'll get the fiber back on his head. I was trying to take a picture to show you, but the camera made him too curious to stand still, he just kept following me! If you look at any of my other llama pics, on my websites or here, you see that this itself is different behavior than most llamas.
As you know by now, I am a huge bird geek! Hummingbirds being my favorite and birds of prey running a very close second place. On our way to get this crazy llama, we were lucky enough to spot two Bald Eagles. That is where his name came from, I just wish he wasn't bald as well-Ha!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Royal Roost's Famous Breakfast Burritos

Good Morning. As you may have noticed, I have changed the subtitle of my blog. I really want to make this a place to reward and recognize small business owners and families who are working to make a difference in today's sometimes challenging times.

Today I am going to give you the recipe for my breakfast burritos, I am not one to follow recipes, and even when I do, I tend to change something. I hope that you enjoy these.

3 medium potatoes (quartered and thinly sliced)

1 pkg breakfast meat (I usually use sausage or lean ham steak and dice it up)

8 eggs

dash of milk



green salsa (at least a cup or so)

6-8 tortillas

cheese (we prefer pepper jack, but I use Mexican blend for the cabin)

I start by boiling the potatoes (you may not have to do this at a lower altitude), then in a frying pan cook meat (I brown the sausage like burger) until just cooked through, add potatoes until both are as browned as you like. Meanwhile; beat eggs, milk and S&P in a microwave safe bowl. I cook them in the micro for two reasons, one there is no added fat and two the eggs stay nice and fluffy. My microwave takes about 1 minute per egg used, keep this in mind for other recipes like egg casseroles. Add eggs to meat and potato mixture and pour in salsa. The mix needs to be a little "sticky", so add salsa to the consistency your family will like. Place in a tortilla with the cheese of your choice. These are quite portable when wrapped individually, we have a lot of guests who have taken them on hikes with them.

Have a miracle of a day!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Reducing Stress with Physical Activity

All of us deal with stress in our day to day lives and many don't know how harmful it can be to your body. Stress can cause headaches, muscle tension, excessive sweating, queasy tummies, fatigue and lack of concentration. It also obviously affects a persons mood and outlook on life in general. The idea for this post came when my son was feeling badly for me that I had to shovel manure yesterday. I told him that sometimes it is nice to just do physical, non-brain-using activity, it tends to refuel me.

Exercise comes in many forms, and I'm afraid that's where folks get lost or frustrated. A person does not have to go to aerobics class or beat themselves up in a gym to see the amazing benefits physical activity can have on your life. It helps build bone strength (which we all really need), tones and strengthens muscles that you may not use in your "everyday" life, boosts energy levels and self esteem. Most importantly it "revs up" your immunity system to help you fight off all of those germs your family brings home!

Calories burned per hour for a 130, 155 and 190 lbs. person:
  • Child care 177 211 259

  • Cleaning the house 207 246 302

  • Dancing (even just around the house) 266 317 388

  • Moving furniture 354 422 518

  • Mowing the lawn 325 387 474

  • Pushing a stroller 148 176 218

  • Raking leaves 236 281 345

  • Scrubbing floors 325 387 474

  • Stretching/Yoga 236 281 345

  • Playing with your kids 236 281 345

  • Walking man's best friend 207 246 302

This list is to show how everyday activities can be a form of exercise themselves. In these busy times it is very difficult for many to get a work out in, and this list proves that you can tweak your day a little bit and still get the 30 minutes per day 5 times a week of exercise that the experts recommend. It is also okay, and sometimes best, to break it up. For every 90 minutes that a person is inactive, like sitting at your computer, break it up and do 10 minutes of one of the things I have listed above.

The benefits are twofold; first you get some great movement and benefits of exercise, second is the fact that while getting this exercise, you have accomplished another task, like vacuuming the living room or dancing with your kids. Try to mix it up everyday, this will help with muscle soreness (another reason for breaking the time up into 3 increments of 10 minutes for example), and keeping things new and exciting. I have also found this a wonderful opportunity to spend time with my kids and keeping them active as well.

As I was out burning off any frustration of the day, while accomplishing the task of cleaning the llamas yard, I was also visiting with my son who just broke his foot. I read somewhere that teenagers communicate better while he and the parent are both busy with other things, whether it be cooking dinner or shoveling poop, I'll take any opportunity to chat with my kids!

Today's picture is a reminder to stop and smell the roses (or columbines). Look closely, I even caught a lady bug!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hummingbirds, My Favorite!

Good Morning! I guess not only do I get my best work done in the early morning, but if I don't get it done early, I don't get it done! And this topic, Hummingbirds, is one I'm very passionate about, so I am bummed to be a day behind-better late than never!

The most coomon hummingbirds in our wondeful part of Colorado are the Ruby-throated and the Rufous, but there are as many as 300 types. Hummingbirds are only native to the Americas and migrate up to 2,000 miles. Ruby-throated hummers have to cross the Gulf of Mexico on a non-stop flight, that is 500 miles! They can fly 60/mph in a dive, and are the only birds that can fly backwards and even upside down. Giant hummingbirds wings beat 8-10 times per second, with small birds at an amazing 20-25 beats per second, and up to 100 beats for their spectacular courtship flight.

The metabolism of a hummingbird is about 100 times faster than an elephant's, aside from insects they have the highest metabolism of all animals. Hummingbirds will consume 5 times their body weight, about equal to a penny, in nectar each day. All the while benefitting the 1,000 flowers they visit by pollinating them, rubbing their faces and heads on the "tube" of the flower. Hummers also eat insects and spiders for protein. This magical little creature can also go into a state called torpor, which brings their metabolic rate down 1/15 when food is not readily available (like at night).

Females nest and raise the young on their own, she makes an expandable nest out of spider webbing so it will grow with her young'uns. Two white eggs take 18-19 days to hatch and the hatchlings are ready to leave in 3 weeks. Mama bird has only one brood per year and many young hummingbirds don't survive more than a year or so. The life expectancy of a hummingbird is 3-5 years, with the oldest bird on record (12 years) being banded and recaught in our great state!

Hummingbirds are very smart and will go back to a reliable source of food again and again. They even know how long it takes for a specific flower to refill before returning to it. Hummers have better sight and hearing than humans with no sense of smell, they choose their flowers by color and shape of tube. As for their own dazzling colors, they are able to show or hide them as they see fit, as these irridescent feathers do not have pigment. It really comes in handy with the ladies or as a method of camouflage.

To successfully feed these wondrous birds, mix a solution of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water, bring to a boil and cool. It is usually best to have at least a couple of feeders, preferably out of site from one another, so one aggressive male does not stake his claim and not let the others feed. These little guys are very territorial, spreading their tail feathers and neck feathers (the gorget) in a flash of color, diving and chasing off any new comers.

To solve the problem of insects getting in your feeders, try 3 parts sugar to one part water in a separate feeder that will attract the bugs and won't hurt the hummers. Homemade food is much better (as usual) for the hummingbirds as many prepared nectar products have preservatives, dyes and artifical flavors in them that in a lab setting have shown to shorten the lives of the birds.

Hummingbirds are said to have the protective spirit of an eagle, prompting my tattoo. After the shooting at our high school I got it as a way to express my extraordinarily strong protectiveness of "our" kids, and especially my own. My new best friend, as the kids called him, could simply go from my shoulder to theirs; that way we could always keep an eye on each other! I am really excited to share these pics of my favorite birds. As you can imagine they are very difficult to photograph, but I got quite a few shots one night as they buzzed back and forth to my feeders. This guy is the dominant male and always comes back to this perch to keep an eye on his feeder. Although they are not museum quality -ha, the hour kneeling in the rose bushes was worth it!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Learning to Run a Small Business

I'm a little late this morning as I have been so busy following links to some of the blogs and sites that my blogging mentors told me about. It is so wonderful to have so many resources and to see so many people doing well in their own small businesses. It reminds us that even in tough economic times, millionaires are made!
Owning, starting and running a small business has been an eye opening adventure for me. Thankfully, I have always had great support; whether it be from family or my various mentors. I think that this is a very important point, and that is to always have someone to count on and to learn from. Almost ten years ago when we first started Royal Llama Adventures I did almost a year's worth of research and met many of the "right" people in the llama world. Most of them I am still in contact with and they have helped me immensely over the years. It has also been a wonderful way to hook up with llamas that need a new home and job. It is a win win situation, we get willing pack llamas and the llama gets a new home!
We became an LLC before we ever got any llamas. I am really rather proud of this fact as many people really jump in before dotting their I's and crossing their T's. In doing this, I gave myself time to make darn sure that this is what I wanted and that we really had a shot at making it. I have always been blessed to stay at home with the kids, so we were happy with a business that grew with them. This, too, is a valid point, I think many of us (especially women)expect perfection and immediate results. When those unrealistic expectations are not met, a person tends to get frustrated and think it is not worth the work. Let me tell you, a slow growing business is a blessing in disguise. The business that we originally had in our minds has changed and grown with time and circumstances. Small business owners must be able to roll with the punches, so to speak, and be prepared to change their business goals.
I was not very good in school about using my resources, boy have I changed my tune!!! My resources vary from my fantastic group of mentors to making a business that uses up every facet of our llamas, even their nutrient rich manure. As a small business person, always have at least a mental list of your supporters, you'd be amazed at what help or input people have that may not even be in your line of business. For instance, when I started a recycling program at our local schools, one of the teachers that I work with was instrumental in getting Naked~Nure off the ground. Thanks Tiffany!
I must say, one of the jobs that I found least tolerable has become one of my favorites-computer work. I think it is just really cool to be able to network the way that we do. It is also very rewarding work, it sure made me feel smart to build my own websites and blog. Although it is not difficult to accomplish these things, it is a boost in self esteem to see something that you have built available for the entire world to see.
One of the most important things that I have done is to make myself an office. As a wife and mother of three, like most moms, I had no space to call my own. We took a room that we had mostly been using as a pass through the basement and storage and turned it into the cutest office for me. I studied some feng shui, chose colors that I love, and of course being tourist related, I have maps on every wall! Not only do I have a place to work, but it really confirms that I am a legitimate business person and keeps up my confidence. I can't even tell you how it has helped with organization as well!
Giving back has also always been very important to us. Whether it be starting a recycling program, taking llamas to the park to help out the local historical society or giving $5/night from The Royal Roost to charities, it has brought us more rewards than any other facet of our business. Not very many of them financial, but again, the networking is invaluable and it always makes us feel good. In today's changing world, feeling good about the decisions you make is an absolute necessity to making it in business. Customers sense when a person is very proud of the things their small business accomplishes.
A successful business is as small or as big as you want it to be, but I guarantee the happier and more confident the owner, the better off the business will be.
Today's picture is our Naked~Nure logo, Naked Johnny. This picture originated on our ten year anniversary hike when we decided to start this business. Who knew that almost a decade later we would use some of those pics to make our hysterical logo for Naked~Nure. This is my husband Tom, and in the original picture he had hiking boots, a back pack and a walking stick, it was very easy for me to change it up a bit and now I am getting comments from all over the world about this funny guy!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Confession

I must confess, I think the name of the blog may need to be changed to Judy's Ding Dong Moments! When my brain gets too full, it must empty some of the files automatically-Ha!

As I mentioned in a previous blog, we have had a few days with no guests at The Royal Roost. We absolutley slammed out a hum dinger of a makeover and made a lot of changes that we have been wanting to make for a long time. So, Friday was our first day after the big to-do to have a guest. Something kept nagging at me, I had though the rest of July was completely booked and the calendar said we didn't have anyone checking in until next Saturday. Yesterday, I was sitting at my computer working when I got a call from the very nice people who were to check-in, and where is the nearest store? OMG-I had forgotten to move their 6 night reservation onto the proper calendar! I kept my cool though, and of course told her where to shop in Conifer.

I'm yelling at Tom to please (yeah, right) gather this or that and madly checking e-mails to make sure I had it right now and had not overbooked. That worry hit me because I had done this over the 4th of July weekend (luckily I figured it out before I took any deposits!) and didn't have much faith in my calendar keeping ability at this point. Unbelievably we had the cabin cleaned and ready for them by the time they got here from just down the road. I had to take them their breakfasts, instead of leaving them up there for them, but I even got that done in record time. Thankfully, my daughter and I make a bunch of muffins at once and freeze them, but I am very particular that the rest of the breakfast be fresh.

Okay, I had a very good excuse. My 13 year old son was jumping on a friends tramp on Saturday and hurt his foot. Like all good parents worrying about their wallet first, we were hoping that it would get better, or at least be able to wait until Monday to be seen. No such luck; the poor kid woke up yesterday in agony! So a trip to the after hours care clinic took up a good portion of the day. His foot is broken and he's on crutches, and as you know, dangerous crutches instantly makes any dangerous young man feel much better! I've got to tell you, the Dr. gave us grief about trampolines though. Says they keep food on his table!

That still doesn't explain why I never had the reservation on the calendar in the first place, just gave us a good excuse to cover up for my mistake. Our wonderful guests never even knew that I had messed up, and I guess that is a sign I'm doing okay. Better yet, it is money that I had not already accounted for and am able to send the checks (we donate $5/night stayed) to Mile High Great Pyrenees Club and Colorado Llama Rescue early this month! Yeah, it always has a way of working out!

Today's pictures are from the cabin. Come on by, we'd love to have you and I promise I won't mess up your reservation!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A "slice" of Reality

Good Morning!

So not only am I thinking my posts might be a little long, but I'm not able to type that well as I sliced my hand pretty good yesterday. We were just talking about recycling and how much less trash we have. We used to take a bag of trash out of here everyday,now with recycling pretty much the only thing in our trash can is bags from bread, tortillas, cereal, etc (and a lot of those I try to reuse, like to coat chicken the shake-n-bake way) so it has become my habit to push down the trash with my hand to make more room, which works quite well as we only take one bag of trash out per week now. Well this is all good and fine if there is not a broken glass in the trash.... I don't think I have to tell you what happened.

The most embarassing part was here I am a pretty tough chick, and always quite capable of dealing with all sorts of wounds, human or animal, and I had to call Tom in to come help me because it made me kind of sick! Even worse yet, Tom had been outside visiting with a friend who we jokingly call the "safety monitor" as he is an ex-fireman and VERY careful about everything. So here comes Tom to help me get the bleeding under control and I see our friend Steve head to his truck for his glasses and here he comes. My kitchen was a mess, I felt like puking and there is blood everywhere. Not exactly the impression I like to leave with our guests!

The kids were cute though. I guess their not used to Mom getting hurt like that, because as soon as the men got things under control and I kicked them back outside; here came the kids. "Are you okay Mom? That's an awful lot of blood Mom. Can I help you with anything Mom?" Isn't it wondeful to have such a great support group!

Okay since no one has taken me up on my crazy pet pictures, I guess I'll leave you with one of mine. Not that I have a shortage of them though. Today's pic is of my original house rabbit Lucy and one of our kittens named Spike, the two of them just really hit it off!

Have a miracle of a day!

P.S. It's all fun and games 'til someone gets a finger cut off-Ha!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Living GREEN in the Beautiful Green Mountains

The Royal Ranch on a frosty morning

Like good old Tanya Tucker, I was country when country wasn't cool and the same applies for our green practices. My kids have always called me cheap, but now I have the proper terminology; I'm as green as it gets! Well, that's not entirely true, I still have a lot of things I'd like to try and room for growth on some of my existing programs.

Living in the spectacular Rocky Mountains really reminds a person every day of why it is so important to take care of our future. It has also made some environmentally friendly practices second nature to us. The nearest grocery store is a one hour round trip affair, and that doesn't even include the pain in the butt of clipping and using coupons, making sure I always have my blue bags, and packing in every errand that needs to be done while I'm "out". I drive a large diesel truck, which I know most people would say that I am a gas hog. We find the opposite to be true; because I am very careful about making one trip, whereas many people go back and forth. We also use my truck to haul hay and llamas, so it serves the purpose of family and ranch vehicle.

I know not too many people say they like trash, but I get pretty excitable about Recycling. I started a recycling program at my kids' schools, Platte Canyon High School, Fitzsimmons Middle School and Deer Creek Elementary (yes, I have a child in each school!) and it gives me a secret little chuckle when evcn my 16 year old son privately acts proud about our recycling program. When I first talked about doing this with his school he says "yeah Mom, it makes me real proud, but do I have to tell people?", oh the love of a child.

We of course recycle here at the ranch, and things that I can't recycle, like paper plates because they get to stinky and we'd attract bears before I made my one big trip into town, I simply quit buying. Yes, we have regular dishes with every meal or snack, and I don't have a dishwasher! I even use the dishes as an opportunity; I can't believe I'm telling this, but I do my dishes in tubs (like for camping) in the sink and then can use the dishwater to water my lilacs out the back door.

As I mentioned we live in an OLD house, so some eco-friendly practices have come from necessity. For instance we are on well water and a septic system. The septic is old also, so we are very careful about what and how much goes down there. The house wasn't too efficient when we moved in, and we still have a ways to go, but new windows, added insulation, weather stripping, etc has really helped us save money, electricity and propane. Of course we use the new light bulbs, but some of the old kind simply never burn out, I think some of these bulbs have been here since good old Charlie Royal's time! I think that is the cheap part of me; why fix it if it's not broken?

I am also a master at repurposing things; yes, I think that qualifies me as a hillbilly. I have taken old metal water troughs from ranches that no longer need them and turned them into feeders for my llamas. We even used the old buildings that were left here from a 1940's Conservation Camp and turned them into our barns. I have a six seater outhouse (has been moved from it's original location-no poo involved) that works wonderfully as my tack room, and the old chicken coop works great for the llamas. We removed one wall and shored it up a bit, and it is an ideal llama shelter, as they don't really like to be completely closed up.

I haven't purchased new furniture in years, refinishing is much more satisfying. I've even turned an old milk crate into a great place for storage. I simply turned it on its side and put some cool fabric over the top, wrapped it with a neat old apron that matched the fabric and presto; the kids have a place to store all of those games and even use the pockets of the aprons for all of their controllers! When the kids like it and use it, I guess I've done a good job.

Amazingly enough this is my first year to compost. We have always been blessed to have the nutruient rich llama manure for my flowers, but now with the invention of Naked~Nure, the llama manure is spoken for. This is also my first year to garden at this high of an altitude. When Tom and I first met, we tried a garden at our rental house and the slugs ate all but three leaves of lettuce! That made me not want to try again for twenty years-Ha! I'll keep you all "posted" as to the success of my composting and vegetable gardening, but so far not so good. I planted on June 12th and have only one very visible plant growing!

I'm wondering if my posts are too long, so I'll sign off for now. I want to thank those of you who have given me so much nice feedback and support. I have gotten many messages from old friends on Facebook, wonderful support from three great ladies I like to call my Blog Mentors, and even through e-mail I've gotten some great responses. If you like what you read, tell a couple friends, if not, well....

Have a miracle of a day!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Llama Llesson "09

This is one of our best llama pics of all time, I use it as one of my publicity pictures as well. It was taken in December of 08, when Marcel and his buddy Jasper proudly served as groomsmen for a Royall Llama Wedding. It was such a wonderful experience for all of us. We hiked into the woods behind our cabin in about a foot of snow and married the excited bride and groom. We then came part of the way back down and thanks to the llamas served the newlyweds a luncheon of stew, bread, chocolate covered strawberries and champagne (china and goblets if the forest!) in a sunny meadow. I had made the wedding cake and the bouquet you see in the picture to match one another. Marcel sure did seem proud of himself for holding the flowers while the radiant couple enjoyed their lunch.

Marcel is my favorite, and the lead llama. He is in charge of the herd and keeps everyone in line. Llamas have a definable hierarchy, and if anyone gets out of place Marcel firmly reminds them that he will not tolerate misbehavior. In general he will start with a lift of his head and his ears go back, if the offender does not respond, the spitting begins. More often than not, that gets the job done. Marcel is a very patient and kind leader and tries to avoid physical fights with any of his charges. Our llamas do get very physical though. Male llamas can be very aggressive toward one another, especially if they are not gelded (neutered), it is really unusual to keep whole males together. But, like I said, I don't always follow the usual, so we have ten male llamas in one area and only a couple are gelded. Having no females keeps the hormones under control and geldings get awful lazy and no longer are good packers. The occasional brawl does break out, and it is a sight. Llamas run as fast as they can, chasing one another and biting at the backside of the poor guy that is in the front. When the front guy has had enough, he will suddenly turn and both llamas will stand on their back legs and chest butt each other full force. They wrestle and wrap their necks around to try and get a bite of ear, all the while screaming at the tops of their lungs. It took me quite a long time to get used to this ritual and I'm not sure the neighbors will ever stop talking about it.

Care for llamas is really pretty easy, but I say that with caution as all but two of my llamas are rescue llamas that mostly came from people who didn't quite realize what they were getting themselves into. Comparatively speaking, for a large animal they do not eat much (about a quarter of what a horse eats) because they are extremely efficient animals. They are ruminants, meaning that they have a three chambered stomach and are cud chewers. So even hours after their hay is gone, you will see them all laying around chewing. This digestion process is what makes the llama manure so valuable, no seeds pass through and it doesn't have to be dried before using directly on plants. Llama manure is second only to bat guano in nutrients.

Most people's first question is “am I going to get spit on?”, and the answer is no. If a llama is raised in a healthy environment than it will not spit at a person. Like I said, spitting is a warning to less dominant animals to get out of the way, so if a llama spits at a person he is saying that he is more dominant than that person. Animals being dominant over humans is never a safe thing. There are a few llamas that have either been over handled as babies or have not lived in a herd environment that will push the rules, and some that are even dangerous. We have two such examples at our ranch; Elway was treated like a human baby and now really pushes the limits of our patience as he has knocked all of us down at least once. Two Eagles is an example of a llama living by himself and was very aggressive towards us as humans when we first got him. He also had a rope tied around his leg that was growing in and had no fiber on his head as his halter had been on him his whole life, but that is a different story.

Veterinary care is very limited with llamas, compared to horses we see the vet at least 50% less. My personal bleief is that llamas are very intelligent and get themselves in a lot less trouble than horses do. I very rarely have any injuries and their immune system is great. Like all animals, they do need an annual once over and worming. Male llamas are born with fighting teeth, sharp canine like teeth toward the back of the mouth. Two on the bottom and one on the top that have the ability to “lock” together, they can be very destructive if not removed. We remove ours with a specific type of wire and saw them off in a quick back and forth motion. It is not painful for the animal, but they do not like their heads messed with so it can be a real chore to get done. We usually do all of this “upkeep” at shearing time in the spring. Every now and then we get a new rescue that has not had his teeth done and that has to be done before he goes in with the main herd. I have had an ear torn from fighting teeth that I wasn't aware of, and llamas ears are so striking that I hate to see one split.

Llamas are very intelligent and curious creatures, much like a cat. Most llamas do not like to be pet, until they get their halter on, and then they know it is time to show off. In the wild, llamas are prey animals which makes the fight or flight response very strong in them. They have the coolest alarm call to warn each other of danger, it sounds similar to a car alarm. I have always wondered if the car makers used llamas for their research and development of those noisy alarms. They also make a humming noise. My boys tend to hum when they want something (like food) or get too far out of sight from one another, like when Tom is kicking my butt up a mountain to drop off hunters and I am a good quarter mile behind-Ha!

Part of the reason we chose to use llamas for our packing business is because they are so low impact on the forest. Llamas (actually all camelids) have a padded foot with two toes. The pads are similar to a dogs, so they leave no trace on the trail. Ruminants are called browsers, meaning that they will eat a little of that bush and move onto this tree and back to that grass over there. It is all full of different nutrients, and they are very good at knowing what is the choicest thing for them to eat in any area. Our boys LOVE the tundra above timberline, which is helpful to get them up there! A person never has to carry food (hay that would have to be certified to go into the forest) or water with them when they adventure with llamas.

Llamas can carry about 70-90lbs of just about anything you can stuff into their packs or tie on top. Their calm nature allows hikers to put things on them that other pack animals would not tolerate. Our boys trained themselves pretty much with the wild game, and I have a friend that has evened brought out old mattresses on forest clean up days! They are also great for carrying sensitive equipment making them a favorite for wildlife photographers. Because llamas carry the bulk of the weight on their sides and not on their spine, only small children could ride a very well trained llama.

I hope that I have filled some of your curiosity about these wonderful creatures. Feel free to leave a comment and ask any questions that you still may have. Oops! There's the birds waking up-gotta run!!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

An Eye Opener

Well, good morning everyone. As I type this, I am enjoying the sounds of Camp Creek meandering its way towards Deer Creek, that is headed to the beautiful Platte River. I think you all will find that I do a lot of my best work at about 4 am!

We spent last night here at our cabin/B&B, The Royal Roost, which brings up a very valid reminder to all of us small business owners; whatever type of business you own, use it as a customer would!! We have owned this cabin for six years and have not stayed here since we started using it as a B&B. We rarely have a few days in a row without guests (thankfully!) to do maintenance on it, so we have used this break to really go all out. In the last week I have sanded and restained the deck, “made over” the downstairs and given the front door a heaping helping of feng shui with a cool green paint job. I'm sure the green door will bring in a ton of money! As far as the basement, it looks fabulous if I do say so myself. It is built around a huge rock, as a matter of fact, the bed platform is on top of the rock. I call it Colorado's most comfortable bedrock in our advertising. Needless to say after over forty years, the rock room was a little musty. I pulled out the orange and green shag carpet and put tile down that will not collect any moisture, painted just about every surface that I could and gave some of the built-ins a really cool paint treatment.

The kids have been helping some, you know, as much as two teenagers and a 91/2 year old do. Anyway, they decided that with all of this work we are doing, maybe we should enjoy it for a night before the next guests arrive on Friday. Boy am I glad they came up with the idea! My daughter was poking around as young girls do, and found the crisper drawer in the fridge full of old food-gross!!! Then when Tom and I came downstairs to go to bed we discovered that the air mattress is freezing, even for a person who suffers from night sweats (me, of course)! It reminded me of when I first met Tom and he slept in an unheated water bed (boy, does that date us or what?) with the window wide open! I always thought he'd turn into a popsicle, I had no idea an air mattress was that cold, I was the one who was a popsicle!
As an Inn Keeper (that's what I like to call myself, it sounds fancier than cook/maid) I really strive to help our guests have the vacation of a lifetime. I'm thinking rotten food and cold beds are somewhat of a turn off. It's funny, I would not have thought to look in that drawer, so the kids HAVE been very helpful. Now the ENTIRE fridge is on my list of things to check when I have the maid come in, oh wait a minute, that's me! I am starting a new list:
1. Figure out how to get the air mattress to not be so cold.
2. Work on warming up the air mattress.
3. Do something about that darn mattress.
4. Hire a maid.

Really, it's been wonderful to spend the time here. Tom and the kids took a little hike while I made dinner last night. As is required we played a game and had some good old fashioned family TV watching time. The sights and sounds here are like no other place on earth. The Roost is nestled in a pretty dense pine forest, but because we are south facing it gets a lot of sunshine so it is quite lush for Colorado. The bird watching is unparalleled (at least for smaller birds) and the dogs are ecstatic to give chase to an occasional squirrel or chipmunk. You think they'd learn that they will never be able to catch one, but at least they get a lot of exercise and sleep well at night.
Speaking of birds, I hear them starting to wake up, I guess that is my cue to get to work. Which brings us to today's pictures. This bird has been nesting in the stairway of the Royal Roost since we bought it. From what I read when I was trying to identify her is that birds will often come back to the very same nest for their entire lives. We really look forward to seeing her arrival in spring and getting a good peak at her eggs that quickly turn into demanding young'uns. Don't I know it!!!

Stay tuned, I am going to do a llama lesson next, I know that's what everyone is curious about. I'll try to answer any question you may have in the next post, but if you have one that you are dying of curiosity to know the answer to, leave me a comment and I'll make sure to include it in my “lesson”.

Have a miracle of a day!

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Beginning

So, here we are, my first ever blog! Yes, some may say it's crazy to start your own blog, before blogging a few times, but I don't usually do what "some may say"!!! Just ask my husband, Tom. My name is pronounced Judy Judy, so I learn if people have a good sense of humor right off the bat. This blog has come to fruition for many reasons, the first being a way to remember what I've done from day to day-ha! No, seriously, I want to share "green" tips, hilarious stories from my working llama ranch, and reach out to Mom's who just need a cool place to "check out".
The Royal Ranch is outside of the small mountain town Bailey, CO. Our elevation is almost 9,000 feet and the scenery is spectacular! Tom and I are both from the mountains (I am proud to be a Colorado Native) and it was really important to us to raise our kids in the beautiful area we grew up in. As a matter of fact, our kids have had a few of Tom's teachers! We are both extraordinarily dedicated to protecting the environment that we love so much. We feel very blessed to live the life that we do, and I am especially blessed to have been able to stay home with my kids all of these years.

Our ranch is steeped with history (which is a really nice way of saying we live in an OLD house!), started by Charles Royal, a semi-famous moon shiner. Good old Charlie was one heck of a guy, so we have always felt compelled to run our ranch in a way that we think he would approve of. Many of our "green" practices have come from necessity of living on an old, historical ranch. It was one of those things, when people started talking about going green, we had been doing a lot of the steps the experts suggested, for years; I thought I was just cheap!
But, I have to leave you all with some teasers, so I plan to share our "green" adventures in future blogs. I also plan to share stories from this fantastic little piece of the world. We are passionate about animal rescue, so as you can imagine, turning rescue llamas into working llamas is quite a chore and always leaves us with a funny story. Raising kids....well, that goes without saying, LOTS of funny things (or not so funny things) happen when you have three kids!
Tom has a "regular" job, running a machine shop, I run our B&B, we both do llama pack trips, take care of two campgrounds in the summer and now we have created Naked~Nure (100% all natural, reusable and nutrient rich llama manure "tea" for your plants), which is taking off like a shot. There are 30 animals on our ranch ranging from fish and a turtle all the way up to my fantastic llama employees. Needless to say, I have lots of things to share and adventures to take my followers on.
My friends and family have been telling me for years that some of the silly things that have happened here at the Royal Ranch would not and could not happen elsewhere. Which brings us to today's funny picture at the top of this blog, look closely. Which came first, the chicken or the turtle?
I am considered somewhat of the neighborhood animal "doc". The chicken was my patient, she had broken her leg trying to get away from a bear, my wonderful neighbor Harry brought her to me. Anyway, the only outdoor pen I had available for Rusty was the turtle "run" in our yard. At first Rusty the chicken was a little afraid of Holiday the turtle, but as you can see they became fast friends when it cooled down a bit! I am proud to say that Rusty is back at her home and happily laying eggs again!
So people, let's kick this blog off with a bang!!! Let's see some of your crazy pet pics, if they're good enough I may even turn it into a contest!!
Kind regards,