Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : April 27, 2014

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell Two young men from Biosecure Alpaca Shearing operation out of Mineola shear a blanket portion from one of 33 alpacas at Trinity Ridge ranch west of Seven Points.

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Two young men from Biosecure Alpaca Shearing operation out of Mineola shear a blanket portion from one of 33 alpacas at Trinity Ridge ranch west of Seven Points.

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Janet and Steve Hancock of Trinity Ridge Alpacas and fiber studio gathered their small, wet herd of 33 alpacas into the barn early April 6 and hoped their wool would be dry by the next morning when shearers from Mineola were scheduled to come.
“We kept the fans running all night,” Janet told The Monitor the day after a day-long downpour across East Texas.
She expects to harvest about 150 pounds of one of the world’s finest and most luxurious natural fibers.
Alpaca fiber is warmer, stronger, lighter, and more resilient than sheep’s wool, and is recognized by the worldwide fiber market in 22 natural colors, making alpacas the most colorful animals on the earth!
It also takes and retains dyes very well. The natural colors of alpaca can also be blended producing yet other colors.
Janet has been attracted to the South American camelid from the very start because of its unique and beautiful fiber.
“Our whole focus was the fiber to begin with,” she said.
She operates a fiber studio out of her home out on Farm-to-Market 85 to share her craft and market the fiber, which remains categorized by the name of the animal it came from.
She and her husband have been raising alpacas for the past 13 years, and established a ranch in the area in 2007.
Shearing begins with the animal’s with the whitest wool and progresses to the darkest, she explained. Each is sorted by color and animal.
Some will be sent away for processing, some she will process herself and others will be marketed as raw fiber.
The process includes many steps, but today it is all about the shearing. Each animal is stretched out on padded, washable mat with front and back feet secured.
Shearers first check and clip the eight toenails, two on each foot. Then the shearing begins with the “blanket” or mid section, which is shorn in one big piece weighing up to four and a half pounds. The tail and back area follow, then the back legs, neck and front legs. The teeth are also evened up with a grinder, which is done last.
The shearers work carefully, methodically and quickly. Most the animals take the shearing in stride, with nary a word of complaint, while some of the younger animals seem to scream and complain the entire time, which takes less than 10 minutes per alpaca.
The Hancocks have several friends on hand to assist with the collection of the sheared material into pre-labled clear, plastic bags.
A primary shearer does the first shave, then a cleanup shearer takes over. In this way, two animals are going through the process at a time.
After the cleanup, the animal goes back into its halter and is released back to standing. The ranch staff takes over, guiding the alpaca onto a scale for weighing. This step is important in determining the amount of medication needed for de-worming and other administrations over the next several months.
Lastly, the alpaca is led into the pasture feeling loads lighter and looking a little naked, but nice.
Janet is finalizing her application to trademark her fiber products under the label Paca-Perfect.
“We are one of the few alpaca ranches that can show you how to take the raw fiber from fleece to finished products,” Janet explains. In addition to selling quality fiber products, she teaches various fiber arts classes.
She offers instruction, as well as spinning and weaving equipment.
To learn more, call her at (972) 877-5060. The ranch is located at 33064 FM 85 Kemp, TX 75143-6430.

More photos from this event can be found in the Sunday, April 27, 2014 issue of The Monitor.



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : April 24, 2014

Funds raised go to kidney cancer research

Tom Green

Tom Green

By David Webb
Monitor Correspondent

KEMP–Retired firefighter Tom Green considered himself to be fit and healthy in 2009 when he noticed blood in his urine while on a vacation with his wife, Judy, in Canada in 2009.
Less than three years later, he died after losing a battle with an aggressive kidney cancer.
“He was in excellent condition,” Judy Green said. “He played golf three or four times each week. We would spend a month at a time in our RV on the road traveling. He had no idea anything was wrong.”
The retired couple decided to head home, but they stopped in Niagara Falls, where a doctor diagnosed the health problem as a prostate infection and prescribed antibiotics. In Ohio, he became ill, and another doctor diagnosed it as a kidney infection.
A kidney specialist finally diagnosed him with a genetic form of kidney cancer that is fatal, advising him he had only two years to live. After surgery and treatment, he managed to squeeze another nine months in before he died.
Green attributed the extra time she got to spend with her husband to the treatment he received at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center under the care of oncologist Dr. James Brugarolas. Green donated his body to the medical center for research purposes.
After his death in April 2012, she established the Tom Green Memorial Golf Tournament at Cedar Creek Country Club, to help raise funds for kidney cancer research at the medical center. The third annual tournament will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, April 26-27.
The tournaments raised a total of $9,800 during the first two years, and Green said she hopes to raise $6,000 this year.
“I would like to raise a little more money each year,” Green said. “I hope to eventually get up to at least $10,000 per year. All of the money raised goes to research. We are very proud of what we have been able to raise so far.”
Green said she believes the research at the medical center has already produced results, and Kemp Independent School District Superintendent Sam Swierc said he agrees.
Doctors diagnosed him in the summer of 2010 with the same cancer that killed Green and they also gave him only two years to live.
Swierc said doctors removed his left kidney, and he underwent a rigorous treatment plan under the care of Brugarolas.
He not only is still alive almost four years later, he is thriving. The most recent scan gave him, his family, friends and associates a reason to rejoice.
“I had really good news,” Swierc said. “I’ve been declared clear of cancer.”
Swierc said he had planned to attend the golf tournament this weekend to, but he will be out of town. The superintendent said the benefit has his support and he hopes golfers will participate to help raise money for continued research that has already helped save his life.
“I feel myself to be very fortunate to have had the care and treatment I did,” Swierc said.
For information about the benefit, call (903) 498-6761.
Cedar Creek Country Club is located at 18392 Country Club Dr., Kemp, TX 75143.



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : April 13, 2014

Courtesy Photo Michele Milligan, a quilter from Mesquite, is collecting T-shirts and patches to create special quilts for the Kemp family members of First Responder William Scott Tanksley, who died in the line of duty while assisting a motorist on an icy overpass Feb. 10 in Dallas.

Courtesy Photo
Michele Milligan, a quilter from Mesquite, is collecting T-shirts and patches to create special quilts for the Kemp family members of First Responder William Scott Tanksley, who died in the line of duty while assisting a motorist on an icy overpass Feb. 10 in Dallas.

Mesquite quilter responds to Tanksley funeral with comforting craft

Monitor Staff Reports
MESQUITE–A quilter, who was touched by the expression of grief and respect at the loss of Kemp resident and First Responder William Scott Tanksley answered a call from the Heroes Memorial Foundation to make a quilt for Scott’s family.
Michele Milligan, 41, read a Facebook message from a man seeking the creation of a quilt to honor Tanksley and she responded.
You see Milligan had seen the line of cars and emergency vehicles, police motorcycles and flags displayed on Feb. 17 for Tanksley motorcade on Northwest Highway.
The funeral procession for the Dallas firefighter passed right in front of her.
“I literally pulled over into the parking lot of the Jack in the Box and cried,” she told WFAA News. “I don’t know him; never met his family; but it touched me that all these people would honor this man in that way.”
So when the opportunity presented itself to do something, she did.
So far she has been able to collect T-shirts and patches from fire and police departments across Texas and the nation.
She put the work out online, and the message has spread to New York, California, Disneyland Arizona, Indianapolis and Andover, she said.
“These aren’t even all of them. I continue to get boxes and envelopes every day with patches and T-shirts in them. She’s going to continue to accept donations for the quilts through June 1.
“Then we will begin the planning phase for the quilts,” she said.
She plans to create one quilt for Scott’s widow and three smaller ones for his children. “It will be something they can hold on to,” she said.
One of her favorite T-shirts comes from Mississippi State University, where Scott played college baseball.
She expects the work to take six to eight months to complete with a few willing hands.
If anyone wants to donate a patch, they can be sent to Pieced Together Studios, C/O Michele Milligan, 15330 LBJ Frwy, Suite 421, Mesquite, TX 75150.