Finally Some Warming Temperatures

It looks like it is going to be a beautiful day; with a high in the 50s. The temperatures have been in the teens for the past two weeks which is good because the cold temperatures should have killed off the bugs that did so much damage to the Poplar trees last year. Even so, it will be nice to have some warmer weather.

Most of the snow has melted off the ground. It is nice to see the grass again. Just 5 miles North of us the snow has been gone for several days, but it has been hanging on at Yellow Wood. Being back in the woods has a lot of charm, but also some disadvantages–not as much sunlight. Of course that provides slightly cooler temperatures during the summer so I’m not going to complain.

Fred

A Little Snow and improved Internet

That day started off a little wintery.  We had about an inch of snow early this morning.  Perhaps some of you saw the new snow on the llamacam.  Fortunately this snow should be short lived, because we have a forecast for 50+ degree weather this weekend.  Some warm weather will be a welcome change from the 15-20 degree pattern we have been in for the past week.

🙂 The HugheNet upgrade happened today.  It only took the installer about an hour to change out the old modem and dish.  So far the Gen4 system is a big improvement over our older HughesNet connection.  I haven’t measured the download speeds yet, but it does feel much zippier than before.  My fingers are crossed that it will continue to perform well.

Fred

Up and Running on the New Server

After a couple of weeks work, I have finally gotten the Yellow Wood Llamas website up and running on a new server. The DNS was transferred yesterday and should be fully propagated by Friday.

I also installed a new camera for the main Llamacam. It should be more reliable and provide better images than the prior camera.

The llamas seemed to enjoy watching me work in 15 degree weather hooking up the new camera :-).

Fred

New LlamaCam Camera

Panasonic Network Camera

Panasonic Network Camera

Well I am finally getting around to replacing the camera that keeps tabs on the llamas barn porch.   The previous camera failed several months ago and I just didn’t have the time  to research and buy a new camera.  I know, you say how could you not have time since you are retired. I plead no contest!  I just seems as if the days fill up so much with other activities that I often wonder how I ever found time to work.

The new camera has arrived and I plan to setup and install it sometime next week.  It is a little different than our other cameras so I  may have to tinker with it a bit before I figure out the best way it should be  setup and installed.  Hopefully that will happen in the next few days and so everyone will be able to enjoy the better views of the llamas soon.

Hopefully, all will work as planned and everyone will be able to enjoy some better quality images of the llamas as they lounge around on the porch or the beach as we call it.

You directly go to the llama cams through this link:  http://llamacam.com.

Fred

 

 

Update on Hughesnet

We have been using HughesNet for our internet access for several years.  I had been hoping that Comcast or ATT would upgrade their systems in our area, but I guess those of us that live in rural areas will be the last to get high speed internet from ATT or Comcast.

Our HughesNet system’s performance has had its ups and downs as you can surmise by reviewing some of my past posts.  However, our HughesNet connection has been reasonably stable and reliable for the past couple of years.  I have therefore been reluctant to upgrade to their Gen4 service because I have been concerned about having to live through another learning curve.  However, I have tried out the Gen4 service at my Cousins house and it seems pretty good.

Therefore, I have decided to take the plunge and signup for the Gen4 service.  The installation is supposed to be this Friday.   I’ll post my experiences once it is installed; assuming I can still access the internet.  I am certainly keeping my fingers crossed.

Fred

 

Goodbye to a Friend

LW Captain Curry

LW Captain Curry

Yesterday started out like any other day, but as we all know life can change on a dime.  After a morning check of the llamas, Laura and I decided to go to Bloomington for breakfast and shopping. We got home around lunchtime and decided to feed the llamas early and spend the rest of the day snuggled up inside around the wood burning stove, surrounded by our cats and books.  Unfortunately, we spent the afternoon in the barn saying our final goodbyes to Curry (LW Captain Curry).  Curry had been fine in the morning, but when we went out to feed the llamas after lunch he was very distressed. He was laboring to breath and obviously very uncomfortable.  We immediately called our vet and they dropped what they were doing and were at Curry’s side in less than a half hour.  The verdict was not good.  Curry was in congestive heart failure and the prognosis for recovery was grim.  We had the make the decision every pet owner hates to face, but in this case there were few options.  Curry took his last breath around 3:00 pm  which ended his 18 years with us.

CurryCurry enjoyed life.  His favorite activities were: eating, watching over his herd of girls and warmly greeting all of the farm visitors (especially the little ones!).  He usually could convince them to give him a few handfuls of grain.  Curry will continue to live on in our hearts.  We had many good years with Curry. Curry touched our lives in many ways but the more than anything else he was a good friend that was always glad to see us.

Fred

Happiness is a barn full of alfalfa – LW Captain Curry

Moving to a new server

After several years of frustration with my previous Hosting Service (Verio.com) I finally reached the last straw last weekend when I could not find a way to backup my website using Verio’s latests control panel.  Thinking that I must be overlooking the option in their sparse control panel,  I contacted their Technical Support to have them point me to the backup option; which is listed in the help file for their control panel.  The technical support person did not know the options on their control panel so I was put on hold while he researched the problem.  After about 5 minutes he came back and told me they do not provide a site backup option.  I was told the only way I could backup my website would be to use FTP to download the entire site file-by-file.  I realized then they are still living in the twentieth century.  I had no choice but to use ftp to download the entire site file-by-file. Using my my Hughesnet connection this took several attempts and over 4 hours to complete!!!

I have now migrated the site to a new hostsnappying service–HostGator.com.  So far they have been fantastic.  The first thing that I discovered while migrating the WordPress database was that Verio was using a very old version of MySQL.  When I tried to import the database which I had downloaded from the Verio website, the newer version of MySQL on the HostGator server coughed up a big hairball.  After about 10 minutes on the phone with a very knowledgable HostGator technician, he pointed out that one of the MySQL keywords used in the SQL dump had been depricated in newer versions of MySQL.  After I fired up my editor and did a search and replace of the obsolete keyword the database imported with no problems.

Thirty minutes later I had a development version of the website running on the HostGator server; which by the way is wind powered.  Bravo HostGator!!

If you are reading this post you are accessing our site from the new server.

Fred

Update on HughesNet

It has been a bad week for our HughesNet Broadband.  Our system has experienced slow response on and off for the past several days.  HughesNet even sent a technician to the house to address the issue.  Once he arrived (two days later) the inital hardware problem had corrected itself, but the system was still experiencing very slow download speeds–approaching dial up speeds.  The technican call Hughesnet and they told him to have me take the issue up with the Hughesnet call center.

The Hughesnet call center is located in one of the mega call centers in India.  What I have learned after spending nearly six hours on the phone is that their only objective is to find some way to get your system to pass a “web responsiveness test” with a time lower than 13 seconds so that they can get you off the phone, close the ticket and move on to the next complaint. They don’t really try to fix your slow speed issues.  In fact I was told by the call center person that speeds below dial up were acceptable because they do not guarantee download speeds!!  One trick they will use is to keep passing you to a new person to help diagnose your problem.  Eventually they will ask you to start making changes to the setup of your browser network setting that force your system to access their site through a “proxy server”.  Once you use the proxy server I have found that magically your system will pass their test.  However, when you reset your settings to the recommended values (no proxy server) things degrade again.  In other words this is just an approach they use to get you out of their hair so they can close the ticket.

The bottom line is I am becoming very dissatisfied with the Hughesnet service and I am particularly dissatisfied with their India based technical support.  The technical support is worthless.  You might as well just wait for the problem to self correct or use dial up!  It is interesting that they never ask one to fill out a customer survey.  I am sure they already know what answer they will get.  Some searching on the web has turned up some class action law suits against Hughesnet.  Perhaps their house of cards will begin to crumble.

I am told that Comcast may be coming to our area soon.  I will switch in a flash.

Well enough ranting for now.

Fred

Incspot Climbs the Fence?

new_barn_llamas.jpg

Yellow Wood Male Barn

Our male llamas have there own barn and are divided into a number of runs which are connected to their barn stalls.  Some of our males (Inspot, PPF Pablo Cruz  and Smokin’ Gun) have there own runs and stalls, so that we can keep them separated from each other and the younger boys.

The other day Laura went into the barn and didn’t see Inspot in his run.   When she started looking for him, she found him in the fenced in area that is between his run and a large fenced in area that houses several of our younger males.  He was enjoying the fresh grass that had grown up in this area during the nice spring weather we have had this past week.

Incspot’s run is surrounded by a 6 foot high chain link fence with a 2″ x 6″ wooden top rail.  At first,  Laura thought he might have jumped the fence but on closer inspection she discovered he had actually crawled under the fence!  He had pushed his nose under a 3 foot by 4 inch gap that had been eroded during the winter. After he had managed to get his head under the fence he must have realized that he could not pull it back out because the chain link fence was just like a Chinese handcuff (remember playing with these as  a kid?).  With only one option left, he managed to push his entire body under the fence.  When Laura found him, he was having a grand old time devouring all of the new grown grass and intimidating the younger males on the other side of this area.

Who would have thought a 375 lb llama could slip his entire body under a 4 inch gap in a chain link fence!  So Laura opened the gate and lead him back into his own run thinking it was just a fluke.  Well to make a long story short, the next day he was back in the forbidden area!   Since Incspot had learned a new trick I was forced to take action. So, I spent a couple of hours yesterday installing a second 4″ x 6″ wooden rail across the bottom of the fence.  While I was sawing, drilling and screwing the new bottom rail in place, Incspot spent the time watching me crawling around in the mud with a bit of a smirk on his face.  When it was done he made several passes up and down the fence before he realized I had blocked the path to his new found freedom.  Believe it or not you could see the smirk turn to an expression of disgust!  Then he laid down in his dust pile, put his ears back and had a good sulk.  Now what will be his next trick!

Hard Rock’s Got My Vote

Campaign x Hughes Bonita

gotmyvote.jpg

Got My Vote

Got My Vote, aka Jimmy, catches everyone’s eye with his striking reverse appy coloration and gorgeous head and ears. When you look closer, you will see that his correct, square and straight conformation and heavy bone complete the picture for this young male. He has an abundance of presence with his upright stature, and a very sweet and trusting disposition. His full Chilean bloodlines include the best ancestry including Chilean Avalanche and Black Jack on the top side, and Cima Bandado/Top Flight on his dam’s side. Jimmy quickly earned his ALSA Halter ROM in limited showing and Top Ten placings in both the Celebrity and Gold Rush futurities. We just love this guy and we know you will too!

Farewell to a Dear Friend

Lewis

Lewis a True Inspiration

Yesterday was a very difficult day for Laura and I.  We had to say farewell to Lewis, our farm mascot.  Over the past ten years Lewis has taught Laura and I much about courage and overcoming adversity.    Lewis was born totally blind.  After a slow start he began to amaze us with a sixth sense that seemed to enable him to see–even though he did not have a retina in either eye.  We were amazed how he could find his way around the pasture and the way he could walk right up to us when he wanted his back scratched; even when we were zigzagging our way to the barn.

In 2000 while we were at the ALSA National show, Lewis’ left rear leg was badly fractured when vandals broke into our farm and left gates open allowing our male llamas in with the females and Lewis.   Lewis spent over 7 months at the Ohio State Veterinary hospital recovering from a very severe rear spiral leg fracture and several post operative infections.  After four surgeries, months of antibiotics and tons of love and care from many veterinarians and students, Lewis walked out of the hospital under his own power.

Over the subsequent eight years Lewis has taught Laura and I about courage and the importance of enjoying life’s simple pleasures.   Lewis’ simple pleasures included a good back scratch, nice flakes of alfalfa and talking to Laura and I with his honks which signaled his need for attention.

This past winter we realized that Lewis was having increased difficulty walking.  Favoring his once-broken rear leg had eventually resulted in the joints of his other three legs breaking down prematurely.  When the warm weather of spring finally arrived we saw some improvement.  However, over the past two weeks Lewis starting spending most of the time in his stall, only getting up to eat and drink.   During the past few days Lewis could no longer stand even though he made many courageous attempts.  Even though Lewis could not stand he still enjoyed his meals and getting his back scratched.  Unfortunately we knew that it would only be a matter of time before the lack of exercise would result either in depression or other health issues that would lead to infection or pneumonia.

One of the most difficult things we have had to do during our 15 years of raising llamas was asking our vet to end Lewis’ life.  Even during the procedure, Lewis demonstrated his courage by gently leaning against me as our vet inserted the needle that would end his life.  Lewis quietly fell asleep in my arms as Laura and I struggled with our grief.

The coming days will be especially difficult for Laura and I when go to the barn at feeding time and are not greeted by Lewis’ gentle honk and demands for his daily back rub.

I’m sure God has a special place for gentle companions like Lewis.  I’m sure Lewis now has a perfect body that allows him to run and play in a perpetually green pasture full of rich alfalfa, with perfect eyes that let him finally see all that he has missed these last ten years, and he has angels waiting to scratch that special spot.

Fred

HughesNet Update (July 2008)

I have been closely monitoring the performance of our Hughes Net satellite internet system over the past several months.  I’ve noticed a significant drop in signal strength since the leaves came out on the trees.  Apparently the dish was not shooting over the large poplar tree on the far side of our pond as the installer thought.  Even with the reduced signal strength I did not see a degradation in the speed.  However, for the past several months I have measured a significant drop in download speeds (as low as 250 kb/s) each evening.  I assume this was due to overloading that was occurring as their customers all got on the web each evening.

However, I have noticed a significant improvement in the evening download speeds over the past three weeks.  Perhaps, Hughes Net is finally starting to move a significant number of their customers off of their overcrowded satellite to the new satellite they launched earlier this year.

Overall, I continued to be satisfied with the service since it is so much better than the ISDN speeds (128kb/s) we were getting before I installed the satellite system.  I’ll continue to provide updates when I can.

Fred

New Kittens in the barn

New KittensA couple of months ago we had a beautiful silver tabby cat take up residence in our barn.  She started showing up at feeding time and gradually took up permanent residence.  I guess she figured out that Hutu (pronounced Who.Two) our barn cat got fed at the same time as the llamas.  Everyday she would show up and Hutu would graciously step back and let the little lady have the first chance at the food dish. Several weeks ago, we decided she was either gaining a lot of weight on our cat food, or she was pregnant.  Well, guess what.  She was pregnant and blessed us with 4 little kittens a couple of weeks ago.

I can tell Laura is already getting attached to the new additions to the barn because I’ve caught her picking them up and snuggling them.  It appears there are three girls and one boy.  As soon as they get a little older, mom and her kittens will get to visit Country Critters (our vet) for their shots, spay and neutering.

I guess the word has gotten around to all of the cats in our neighborhood that the llama farm has good food, shelter and a great medical plan!  They know if they can just limp in, life will be wonderful.

Congratulations Tom and Judy Ross

Sierra and Incspot Cria

Sierra and Incspot Cria

 

A very enthused Judy called us the other afternoon to let us know that Sierra had just given birth to a coal black Incspot daughter, India Inc..

Congratulations from Laura and I.

Fred

 

Torrential Rain

torrentialrain.jpg

Our Pond During Heavy Downpour

It has been an extremely unusual two days on the farm.  Over the past 24 hours we have received nearly 9 inches of rain. Our farm is located at the top of a large hill which is one of the highest points in the state of Indiana, so we were not experiencing any flooding near our house.

Early this morning we attempted to drive to Bloomington to pick up cat food and other essential items from Sam’s Club.  As we headed down the hill, we got about a 1/2 mile south of our house and found the road littered with large chunks of stone which had been washed out of the large drainage ditch along side the road.  We finally made it to the bottom of the hill and found the Southbound lane of Indiana highway 67 closed by a mud slide.  We turned around and headed back North in an attempt to do our shopping in Indianapolis.  We only got to Mooresville before heavy rains started to fall again.  Feeling it was too risky to proceed to Indianapolis we headed back to our home to wait out the storms.  In the hour and a half we were gone, we had received an additional 3 inches of rain!

Spillway

Spillway Overflowing

The final insult came when I headed to the basement to get a screw driver,  only to find that we had about an inch of water in the basement.    This was not supposed to be possible since the floor of our basement sits above our pond.  Unfortunately, our spillway could not handle the high volume of water flowing into our pond,  so the surface of the pond had risen over the top of the drainage tile from our basement floor drains.  Fortunately, most of the things in our basement which could be damaged by water were already on shelving or in water proof containers.  Once the weather subsides I’ll need to deepen the spillway so that we can avoid this problem in the future.  We have never seen this much rain in such a short period.  Our pond had not been this high during the 15 years we have lived here.

This has been a very unusual spring.  It started with unseasonably  cool weather in April and May with an immediate jump into the 90s this week.  Then last night this unbelievable quantity of rain.

I am listening to the scanner and have never heard it so active.  There are peopled stranded on the roads trying to get home.  There are others, trying to get out of their homes because they are about to be flooded.  Several dams are overflowing and at risk of breaking.  Hopefully the rains will subside soon before the whole area turns into a disaster zone.

Fred

A New House Kitty

Kittens

Polly’s New Kittens are Growing Up

ittyincision.jpg

Itty Incision After Leg Amputated

itty_walking.jpg

On the Road to Recovery

About a year ago, we had a small white cat move into the loft of our stud barn.  Laura’s suspicion that she was carrying kittens was confirmed when we found a litter of three tiny kittens in our hay loft when we were putting up hay last June.  Of course Laura quickly became attached to these little bundles of fur.  As you can see, they quickly realized they had arrived at kitty Shangra La with great food, good shelter and free medical care.   About two months ago, Laura was working in the stud barn when she noticed that Gail, the small black kitten, was limping and would not put any pressure on her right rear leg.  A quick trip to the vet confirmed our worst fears.  Gail had experienced a very severe break in her right rear leg.  The break was so bad that her femur was broken right through the knee socket.  Our vet gave us three options:  euthanasia,  a very risky and costly surgery to try to repair the break or amputation of the leg.  We struggled over our decision overnight and finally decided that amputating her right rear leg would be better than risking the surgery and resultant long recovery.  Of course after we amputated her leg, we knew she would need to become an addition to our collection of cats which are allowed to live in the house. After the surgery,  Gail was in significant pain for the first couple of days.  Even though she was getting synthetic morphine, she was still howling much of the time.  Finally after two days the pain subsided and she was starting to move around the house.        Gail is shown here walking around as if she had all four legs.  We have discovered that a three legged cat can jump as high and run as fast as a cat with four legs!  Gail is a holy terror around the house.  Her small size and handicap have not prevented her from taking charge of all of the other cats in the house–including our 25 lb. Maine Coon cat.  The other four indoor cats give her plenty of space to avoid her growl and fast polydactyl front paws! It never ceases to amaze us how adaptive animals can be.  If only we humans could adapt to our own infirmities  with such ease.

Fred

Shearing Time

With summer heat only a few weeks away we have completed our annual ritual of giving each llama their summer haircuts.  Some of the llamas get show cuts while others are shorn completely.  Most of our breeding females receive a full body shearing to provide them the maximum comfort during the hot anc very humid Indiana summers.

Our pet llamas such as Buster and Lewis also receive full body cuts.

Heat Stress is the largest risk most llamas face during the hot summer months.  Shearing your llamas is absolutely essential to protect them from the often fatal effects of heat stress.  For information on shearing your llamas check in the General Care section (http://www.ywl.com/?cat=13) of our Llama FAQ.

Fred

Another Hughes Net Update

Well our experiences with the Hughes net satellite internet service has not been all wine and roses.  In my past posts I indicated that I was reasonably pleased with Hughes Net.  Unfortunately, I experienced very slow download speeds (slower than dial-up) over a two week period in mid-March.  Calls to technical support did not correct the problem.  Hughes did dispatch a service person to verify the dish alignment and check for cabling problems, but that did not resolve the issue. Fortunately, the problem went away on its own and has not returned for the past two weeks. 

 However, I do notice a consistent pattern of the speed dropping off in the evenings by 50% or more betwee 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm.  I suspect that Hughes Net is overselling their capacity in anticipation of their newest satellite coming online within the next several weeks. 

I’ll continue to post my experiences–good and bad for all of you rural dwellers like me that do not have another high speed internet option.

Fred

Spring Finally Arrives

crocuses.jpg

Early Crocus Blooms

 

Old man winter has been holding on by his finger tips for the past 3 weeks.  Our daily highs and lows have been bouncing between the mid-20’s and lower 40’s for the past three weeks.  We have also had a deluge of rain.

But he is finally loosing his grip.  The daffodils and crocuses are also popping up throughout the yard.   Finally, this weekend the temperatures moved into the lower 60’s.  This weekend even gave us two days of very welcome sunshine.