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SPRING HAS SPRUNG!

IT'S SPRING AT WINDY HILL!

How can you tell?
Well....
It's Show Season
We sheared everybody on April 1 & 2
The hills around us are green
The ranch needs mowing
It’s Easter
And…..it’s almost time for crias to be born!

Spring is a very exciting time.

Furthermore, we have a new way for you to enjoy alpacas: The Windy Hill Alpaca Club.
The Alpaca Club is for anyone who would like to spend more time around alpacas— volunteering

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Relaxing by the OB Pasture

The summer goes on and the fleece keeps a'growin'! I love watching them. They think they are really something. The other day they all got in the sprinklers and gave themselves a bath. LOL

Meet John and Kelly Laurenzi, the newest members of the Windy Hill Alpaca Owners Club. They purchased AWH Who's My Daddy Now? and are planning to raise beautiful suris. They will join us at shows--as soon as we're allowed to go-- and will be learning the ropes so they can have their own ranc

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Tumbling Along Like A ...Load of Fiber

Let's start out this week by recognizing an amazing crew of volunteers and helpers
here at Windy Hill.
Lindsey, who not only helps on the ranch but had these great shirts made;
Gilberto, our great friend and helper, who brings us avocados and so many smiles;
And MacKenzie who is home, due to Covid, from college
and has become one of our right arms around here.
Thanks, you guys, for making Windy Hill a better place with your laughs, smiles, and good will.

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In A Pickle?


My cucumbers are producing like gangbusters! Everyday, it seems, I fill my sink with new ones. I mean, how many cucumbers can a girl eat??

Soooooo…. I’ve started making pickles! What fun it is to see the jars stack up. Dill pickles, sweet pickles. There’s something so satisfying about filling jars with goodies to eat later when the season is long since gone.

Here it is, 4th of July again. I think of pickles and picnics and barbecues. I remember my father and un

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The Ranch Is Hopping

A lot sure has gone on this week! As you can see, One Enchanted Evening had her baby making Troy and Kim "GranPacas"! Congratulations, you guys! Their first baby is a GIRL by Max and they are euphoric. Such a great outcome! Her name is Amazing Grace.
We had 2 other crias this week as well. Qasani had her Jeremiah cria--and it was the first time in a long time I was immediately excited about a boy! He is a gorgeous champagne color with that glowing, deep luster we all hope for. He wa

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Crias by Day, Crias by Night

As the sun was sinking slowly in the west, the buttermilk sky was glowing. Little did we know that Kristianna, first time mother and voted least likely to deliver first, was preparing to deliver her cria. We had all gone home for the night, eaten dinner, and settled into evening activities when Tracy decided to take an twilight stroll. She wandered over to watch the expectant moms eating and noticed that one of them was calmly eating out of the feedbag with a cria head and legs dangling out h

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June Gloom is Upon Us-- not the political kind...

No, June Gloom isn't the melancholia that falls on us when politics and viruses and riots in the streets happen. In Ventura County (and much of LA County as well) June Gloom is cause for CELEBRATION!

Just as summer starts to heat up at the end of May and we start to think we will all die of the heat, 3-4 weeks of overcast mornings and days in the high 70's arrive. June--a blessed state-- one to be savored. The alpacas especially love it.

We did have ONE cria already! We

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BIG FAT BABY BELLIES!

BIG FAT BABY BELLIES ARE EVERYWHERE AT WINDY HILL!


This coming Monday, May 25, if our first set of DUE DATES at Windy Hill. Not that any crias will be born that day--our girls have their OWN ideas of when they will give birth. LOL

About a month before the first due date we move the first month's group into the OB Pasture-- the one closest to the barn-- so that we can put them under a visual "microscope". It's the first place anyone looks when they come out in

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Home AgainHome Again Jiggidy Jog

What a fun adventure we had! My friend Ellie took the Navigator seat, and off we went.
We left home with 10 alpacas and returned with 4 (none of the same ones we left with). The trip fit neatly into a week. We had 4 alpaca stops, and 2 relative stops. We ate junk food and didn't gain any weight (how did that happen??), and had a jolly time.

The first day we headed for Alpacas of El Dorado to drop off 3 girls for breeding. Laurie Findlay is a great lady and she has a beautif

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On the Road Again!

Back on the Alpaca Trail.

Yes, they cancelled all but the 1st alpaca show this season (which I didn't get to go to), so it's been a spring devoid of hauling a big trailer around the country behind my dually.

But necessities are necessities, and with the first crias due at the end of this month, it was the last available moment to hit the road and take care of all the alpaca errands I would have done if the CABA Classic had been held this coming weekend. We sorely missed

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Love is in the Air!

Love is in the air at Windy Hill. Everything is green, the weather is warm (but not too warm), and the almost-2 year old girls cush at the slightest provocation. Walking any alpaca down the center pathway past the adult males is accompanied by wolf whistles and standing up on the fence. Anticipation is high!

But let me pause for a moment and show you that our safety protocol is in order. The twins who come to volunteer frequently had a birthday a couple of weeks ago. Of course,

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Frogs, Fish and Fun Stuff

Spring has blessed us with jungles full of weeds! We've discovered that 30% vinegar applied to plants makes them wilt and die really quickly! Recommendations include cutting the weeds first, then spraying. And it really doesn't take much! A little spray and 2 hours later you begin to see the fruit of your labor! That beats Round Up all to death (pun intended).

So, let the weed whacking begin! Farmer Don has been out cutting down thistles and echinacea and fox tails for days!

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Unusual times, unusual opportunities...

These are Unusual Times, have you noticed? Sometimes Unusual Times bring Unusual Opportunities....

My 1st Unusual Opportunity happened when a new friend called me this morning. She is a nurse on a week's break, and she wanted to add some adult male alpacas to her life so she has positive things at home to help her relax and take her mind off of the hospital. How many of you know that hanging out with alpacas can help lower your blood pressure? Many of u

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Every day on the ranch is like a week!

A ranch with 260 alpacas has a lot going on all the time. Sometimes every day feels like a week!

After shearing and dividing all the fleeces by owner, we put the ones that belonged to our boarders on shelves in the warm room in the barn. It’s the only place where we can close fairly secure doors and have it be safe from pesky creatures (like rats and sneaky dogs). By the way, if some of those fleeces are yours, please call about coming to get them. :-)

After shearing we

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The Post-Shearing Cold Snap

Every year, right after shearing, we get a cold snap. Of course, it's not a cold snap like most of the country gets. It's a California Cold Snap. That means that temperatures might plummet to 45º F at night and stay in the 50's during the day. BBBbbbrrrrrrr.....! This year, it also rained for 3 days, so everybody got wet. Oh NO!

A couple of the little guys shivered where we could see them, so they got coats. Everybody else seems completely unconcerned. It's not that they are p

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Naked Alpacas! EEEEEKKKKKK!!!!!!

Shearing Days 2020
Well, what do you know? Shearers are considered essential workers in agriculture!
And we are so glad!! We got to shear perfectly on time, thanks to BioSecure Alpaca Shearing. John's crew showed up on Thursday night and we dug in first thing Friday. We finished 242 alpacas in 2 1/2 days with the help of lights in the barn and a hard-working skeleton crew.

Some of us wore masks and gloves, some of us didn't, and most of us are still working the f

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One overcast day in April...

Do you find that as an alpaca lover, pretty soon everything you own either is made out of alpaca, or has a picture of an alpaca? Not that that's a problem-- I enjoy it--almost as much as I enjoy my coffee with heavy cream. (did I mention I've been on a KETO diet for a few weeks and actually lost some weight eating decadent things?)

The thing I like most about owning alpacas and living on the ranch is the ability to go outside and "commune" with them anytime I want. They are really

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Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

I think we're getting pretty good at Social Distancing. We've been practicing and practicing. The problem is, we miss everybody! So where one thing is a virtue, it causes distress on the other hand.

Someone sent me this parody on Sound of Music today. I enjoy parodies in general, but this one really hit the spot, so I want to share it with you. I laughed and laughed--one of those things that is SO good for the soul!

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It's a Doggone Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Have you ever seen such a sky! Real puffy clouds with no suspicious streaks running through them! Hawks (and ravens and turkey vultures) soaring, all sorts of smaller birds chirping and trilling and warbling, tractors humming on the other side of the ranch, an occasional car making its way down Bradley Rd. Yesterday we had quite a few people just out for a drive in the country with their kids stopping along the road to watch the alpacas for a few minutes. There's hardly any traffic on the r

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Hanging On A Saturday at Windy Hill

It's been a beautiful day. A light breeze off the ocean with a strong salty scent. Blue skies, puffy clouds, green (almost) everywhere. Somis can look a little bit like Ireland in March with all the green. The blue sky belies the location, of course. I was in Ireland in July one year for 3 weeks. We had 2 1/2 days with some sunshine. There's always a price to be paid for green. We are just glad we have it for a few months in Southern California.


Usually we have boarders a

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Tractor Fun!

Our new tractor has arrived! It's a Kubota and we love it . (can you see the silly grin on Don's face??)
We have transformed the ranch in new ways in just 3 days.

Project yourself on the tractor as Don rototills some of the pastures. Feel the sun on your face, the smell of damp earth after the rain, the vibration--and thuds and lurches-- as you ride along with him. lol

Not all the alpacas were happy to see him, but nobody escaped when we let him through the gates. T

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While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night

Every night I am grateful for my livestock guardian dogs. They watch the fenceline, they discourage predators who lurk in places I can't see, and their barking makes me smile and go back to sleep.

This time of year, I think of some other shepherds--human ones--- who didn't have the luxury of a chainlink fence and a warm bed. They watched the Temple flock-- the one the sacrificial lambs were drawn from for the Temple in Jerusalem. And they were the ones to first hear of the arrival

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STOPPING GLOBAL WHINING

STOP GLOBAL WHINING

I pulled up behind the truck, finally close enough to really read the bumper sticker: “STOP GLOBAL WHINING”. Humor is often based on a surprise—a word trick that suddenly spins the world sideways or upside down. This surprise made me shriek with laughter. I don’t really know why, but I giggled all the way home. It’s a good thing I was alone. I might have scared somebody.
Aside from the obvious reason it amused me, I was delighted to have a humorous refer

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Imagining the Future Together...

What will happen to our wonderful herds of alpacas in the next 10 years? Imagine with me for a moment what the alpaca industry might look like in 2024….

If we ask the man on the street in 2024 “What is an alpaca?”, we might get a variety of answers.

“Alpacas? Weren’t they like ostrichs? People used to pay ridiculous prices for them but the bubble burst. Now you don’t hear about them much anymore.”

“Alpacas? Yeah, they tried to make them into livestock. Yo

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What Do We Want To See in 2024? Imagining the Future Together

What will happen to our wonderful herds of alpacas in the next 10 years? Imagine with me for a moment what the alpaca industry might look like in 2024….

If we ask the man on the street in 2024 “What is an alpaca?”, we might get a variety of answers.

“Alpacas? Weren’t they like ostrichs? People used to pay ridiculous prices for them but the bubble burst. Now you don’t hear about them much anymore.”

“Alpacas? Yeah, they tried to make them into livestock. You

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What We Need...

What We Need for the Long Haul


The alpaca industry has undergone a shake-down during the recession just like all industries in the U.S. Prices have gone down, just like the housing market. Some breeders have trimmed their herds down to the very best. Some have taken this opportunity to retire. Most of us have had a long dry spell in alpaca sales. What used to pass for moderate quality alpacas are now relegated to the “rug yarn” herd…or even the meat market.

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What Do We Need for the Long Haul? The Alpaca Industry is morphing into yet another step toward the commercial fiber industry. What do we need to get there?

The alpaca industry has undergone a shake-down during the recession just like all industries in the U.S. Prices have gone down, just like the housing market. Some breeders have trimmed their herds down to the very best. Some have taken this opportunity to retire. Most of us have had a long dry spell in alpaca sales. What used to pass for moderate quality alpacas are now relegated to the “rug yarn” herd…or even the meat market.

There has been an increase in the pet/fiber

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Feeding Mommies

Bringing Alpacas into the Fold of Small Sustainable Farms

Small Farms are the wave of the present and the future. You have probably noticed that you can’t get very far off the main highway in any rural area before you see signs for small, sustainable organic farms. There is a wave of people who are headed back to the farm for various reasons—
to escape the Rat Race
to do something tangible and real
to get out of the traffic and the lights of the city
to give their children a healthier place to grow up<

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Are You Ready For A FIBER RETREAT This Summer???

To my Fiber-Minded Friends, near and far--

We are putting together a

Spinning/Knitting/Crocheting/Relaxing/Weaving/ Playing Retreat

this summer in Temecula at the Viña de Lestonnac Retreat Center, 39300 De Portola Road, Temecula, CA 92591.

DETAILS:

-Date: 25-27 July (anytime from 1pm on 25th until around 2pm on 27th)

-Cost: $240 pp

-Includes:
Double room with 2 single beds (or $100 extra for a private room);

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Knitting with Suri: Old Practice, New Twist

KNITTING has experienced a revival in the last several years. In this day of electronics, many people are choosing to get in touch with some of the more tactile and traditional skills of human history. The Knitting Circle has become popular again. It might, at first glance, look like a group of Millenials texting on their phones, but it’s really a group of people (men too!) getting in touch with their fuzzier, warmer side by actually talking in person while they create something useful a

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Knitting -- Old Practice with New Twists!

KNITTING has experienced a revival in the last several years. In this day of electronics, many people are choosing to get in touch with some of the more tactile and traditional skills of human history. The Knitting Circle has become popular again. It might, at first glance, look like a group of Millenials texting on their phones, but it’s really a group of people (men too!) getting in touch with their fuzzier, warmer side by actually talking in person while the

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CRIA SEASON IS HERE-- Are you ready?

Pretty exciting times coming up… CRIA SEASON IS HERE!

Due Dates
Remember that due dates are like they are with people. Crias comes when they are really ready, not when the calendar says they will. In fact, at this time of year in California, anyway, they tend to run late. Our vet says not to worry until 2 weeks past a year before you think about intervention. A healthy womb is always better than the outside environment for that last little bit of gest

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Simplest Thing, There Isn't Much To It...

Skirting is a dream come true… especially if you love alpaca fleece AND happen to be ADD with a little OCD thrown in for good measure. I just love to dump a fleece out of the bag onto the skirting table and take a good look at it. I learn a lot about my breeding program by skirting fleeces. Yes, it’s time-consuming, pains-taking, and it can even cause you to lose your perspective after you’ve done 10 or 12 of them. But it’s worth every minute.

Every fleece has its own character.

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Make a Silky Suri Tunisian Crochet Baby Afghan

(1st published in PurelySuri Magazine, January 2014)

Harper's Suri Baby Blanket

My first grand baby was born in October, and I'm so excited! Knitting and I have never come to a meeting of the minds, but I love to crochet and have recently learned the Tunisian simple stitch. I was delighted by the thick, knit-like pattern it creates, so I set out to make a Baby Afghan with some super-silky 100% baby suri I had. I've also been experimenting with dyes

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Sleek! Chic! Sveldt!

Sleek!
Chic!
Sveldt!
Silky!
Glistening!
Sparkling!
Sexy!
Swooshy!

This is how I think of newly-shorn suri alpacas.

Some people think they are funny-looking when they are newly-shorn.

But as an alpaca breeder, this is one of my favorite moments of the year.
I see how their conformation stands out better when I can see the clean lines of their bodies.
I can clearly see how their pregnancy is developing, whether they are

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Shearing Comes But Once A Year

Shearing alpacas is a big deal Windy Hill.

It’s that defining moment when we finally see the fruits of our labor in a tangible way:

What is the fleece really like?
Is there enough luster?
Did that breeding create an improvement in the fleece?
What does it feel like if you close your eyes?
How much does the bag weigh?

There’s a lot of preparation and planning that goes into an alpaca shearing day:
make arrangements with the shearin

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Cindy is a Country Woman!

This week Country Woman Magazine published an article they did on our ranch. I love the pictures and the writing is amazing--and all correct, which is rare in an article you don't write yourself. Please take time to read what Ann Kaiser wrote, and take a look at Country Woman Magazine when you get a chance, too. It's a great publication. We are so honored to be part of it!

http://www.countrywomanmagazine.com

Humming in the Rain

People ask us all the time: “What do you do with the alpacas in the rain?”

“Not much”, I tell them. “The alpacas have their own ideas about what to do in the rain.”

They hum, so sometimes I just hum along with them. It’s the friendly thing to do.
Some of them stand under their shelters and eat.
Some of them go out to graze because staying under cover is boring.
Some of them sleep in the rain. Those are usually the ones who grew up in Oregon.
Some of

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CHAMPION!

CHAMPION! It has such a nice ring to it! I was grinning from ear to ear this weekend when Endless Summer won his championship in Arizona. Not only is he beautiful and sweet, but he is one of our last Torbio boys. He's built just like his famous daddy--square and blocky with heavy, shiny fleece. A real joy!

There was a time, though, when I worried about him. When he was about 6 months old we discovered one morning that he had broken his leg just above the hock of his right hind.

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Graduation Day for Miracle!

Some of you may remember Miracle's story…

…the cria we thought was dead who was really alive who had muconium spill and whose mother died the next day leaving her an orphan with legs all crooked and a kink in her neck who we thought wouldn't live but who has thrived in spite of our fears and dire predictions…


Well, Miracle has graduated. She has become a full-fledged alpaca. She's completely sold out to the idea. Unlike some crias who are bottle-fed, M

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Miracle's Graduation Day!

Some of you may remember Miracle's story…
…the cria we thought was dead who was really alive who had muconium spill and whose mother died the next day leaving her an orphan with legs all crooked and a kink in her neck who we thought wouldn't live but who has thrived in spite of our fears and dire predictions…

Well, Miracle has graduated. She has become a full-fledged alpaca. She's completely sold out to the idea. Unlike some crias who are bottle-fed, Miracle never really wa

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One is Silver and the other's Gold...

Make new friends, but keep the old;
One is silver and the other's gold.
-Girl Scout Camp Song

2013 marked the joyful beginning of a dream come true. And like all good dreams, it took a fair amount of planning, sweating, figuring, conjuring, and just plain hard work. But that's what you do when you have a dream worth following.

Lee's dream started during the presidential election of 2012. I hadn't talked to Lee for years, but found him one day on--what else?--Fa

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Maria's Miracle

Life is a story that leads to redemption, and miracles happen all around us on the most common of days. Maria's little Miracle is such a story.

Without her mother, she could have been lost. The bewilderment of finding herself alone in the world could have led to depression and despair. But she wanted to live.

You could tell that she wanted to live. After all, this was the baby we thought was already dead at her birth-- yellow from muconium staining, not breathing, limp.

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The End in the Beginning

September 26, 4:30 AM

I found them this morning, keeping each other warm in the predawn. Maria lay on her side, the coil set from the IV fluids stretched across the pen, still securely attached to her neck wrap. The cria lay across her body at the base of her neck, sound asleep, like a tableau from a Greek tragedy. The slight rise and fall of her tiny chest told me she was sleeping deeply. The absolute stillness of her mother told me that Maria slept a different kind of sleep.

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The Miraculous in the Everyday

Miracles come in many sizes, shapes, and circumstances. I often feel that we live in the realm of the miraculous here on the ranch. Just waking up every morning in this setting feels downright miraculous. It's where I've always wanted to be.

But some days are just a little more miraculous than others. Today was definitely one of those days.

We had finished our usual Tuesday "Vet Day" with Dr. Jana--ultrasound, blood draws, checking up on previous procedures on some cria

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Moulin Faon's first cria!

Yesterday our "baby" had a baby! it's kind of like being a "grand-paca". Sometimes, there is just one cria that is particularly special, and this one is that special one.

First, she is a SHE, which in itself is out of the ordinary these days. We've been on a BOY STREAK for several months now. They are nice boys, but they have been….boys. If you've ever had one of those years, you know what I'm talking about.

Second, she is Moulin Faon's first cria. AWH Moulin Faon has

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The Southwest Regional Show was a Hoot!

What a fun weekend we had at the Southwest Regional Alpaca Show in Norco last weekend! It was the first time the show has been to California, and I would call it an unmitigated success. Kudoes to SoCalpaca and ABA! The venue was fantastic, access was easy, and the town of Norco was very supportive.
We had a great bluegrass band at the banquet Saturday night, too!

It's rare that you have so much of the public visit the show, but the marketing team really got the townspeople c

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Alpacas and the Super Bowl!

Alpacas are popping up everywhere on TV these days. They're becoming a household word!

- Stanley Steamer had them in a living room.
- A sit com had them in the back yard with a swing set.
- And now, Lincoln-Continental has them on the commercial they made for the 2013 Super Bowl!

In December a "location scout" came out to Windy Hill to see if our ranch would be suitable for a commercial he was putting together for Lincoln. He took some pictures and we chatt

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