Friday, July 5, 2013

Alpacas at Tucker Creek is retiring!

Life is filled with twists and turns and one never knows what the next adventure is going to look like.  Little did we know when we walked into a new potential rental space on the Columbia River for the sole purpose of moving our fiber store from our barn to the Riverwalk did we know it would be the beginning of our next adventure.  As it turned out the building is magical and it also lent itself to being a perfect yoga studio.  Since that day a year ago April, we have been slowly evolving to this decision.  In December we added Ki-Hara Resistance Stretching to the list of body work available at our studio and in April 2013 we became certified.  

That being said, we have some wonderful animals in need of new homes--females who are ready to advance your herd to the next level.  If you are new to the industry, it is a great opportunity for you to start with some proven genetics.  If you are an experienced breeder, you will have the opportunity to diversify your herd or add some familiar lines to your existing herd.  Check out our links.  If you are interested in fiber only, we will reduce the price even further.  All reasonable offers will be considered.  

We will continue to be here for any of you who have questions and plan to work with our associate farms to expand our respective product lines.  Alpaca will always be my fiber of choice.  If you are interested in our next chapter . . . here is the link:

RiversZen Astoria Oregon Yoga Classes, Yoga Private Instruction, Personal Training, Spiritual Growth, Ki-Hara Resistance Stretching, Meditation, Music, Natural Fibers, Alpacas, Gifts, Art

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tax Law Changes for 2011 Federal Tax Returns

Hate to say it . . . but taxes are a necessary evil this time of year.  So,when this info arrived in our inbox this morning we felt it only appropriate that we should share it with all of you.  Sorry!  Also thought it was a great opportunity to share this cartoon that Fred Kraft found years ago.  Just seems to convey our deep appreciation for our tax system and reminds Peggy how much she doesn't miss her tax practice. 

Before you file your 2011 federal income tax return in 2012, you should be aware of a few important tax changes that took effect in 2011. Check before you file for updates on any new legislation that may affect your tax return.

Due date of return. File your federal tax return by April 17, 2012. The due date is April 17, instead of April 15, because April 15 is a Sunday and April 16 is the Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia.

New forms. In most cases, you must report your capital gains and losses on the new Form 8949, Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets. Then, you report certain totals from that form on Schedule D (Form 1040). If you had foreign financial assets in 2011, you may have to file the new Form 8938, Statement of Foreign Financial Assets, with your return.

Standard mileage rates. The 2011 rates for mileage are different for January 1 through June 30 than for July 1 through December 31. For business use of your car, you can deduct 51 cents a mile for miles driven the first half of the year and 55 ½ cents for the second half. Medical and moving mileage are both 19 cents per mile for the early half of the year and 23 ½ cents in the latter half.

Standard deduction and exemptions increased.
The standard deduction increased for some taxpayers who do not itemize deductions on IRS Schedule A (Form 1040). The amount depends on your filing status.

The amount you can deduct for each exemption has increased $50 to $3,700 for 2011.

Self-employed health insurance deduction. This deduction is no longer allowed on Schedule SE (Form 1040), but you can still take it on Form 1040, line 29.

Alternative minimum tax (AMT) exemption amount increased. The AMT exemption amount has increased to $48,450 ($74,450 if married filing jointly or a qualifying widow(er); $37,225 if married filing separately).

Health savings accounts (HSAs) and Archer MSAs. The additional tax on distributions from HSAs and Archer MSAs not used for qualified medical expenses increased to 20 percent. Beginning in 2011, only prescribed drugs or insulin are qualified medical expenses.

Roth IRAs. If you converted or rolled over an amount from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA or designated Roth in 2010 and did not elect to report the taxable amount on your 2010 return, you generally must report half of it on your 2011 return and the rest on your 2012 return.

Alternative motor vehicle credit. You can claim the alternative motor vehicle credit for a 2011 purchase only if the vehicle is a new fuel cell motor vehicle.

First-time homebuyer credit. The credit expired for most taxpayers for 2011. Some military personnel and members of the intelligence community can still claim the credit in 2011 for qualified purchases.

Health coverage tax credit. Recent legislation changed the amount of this credit, which pays qualified health insurance premiums for eligible individuals and their families. Participants who received the 65 percent tax credit in any month from March to December 2011 may claim an additional 7.5 percent retroactive credit when they file their 2011 tax return.

Mailing a return. The IRS changed the filing location for several areas. If you're mailing a paper return, see the Form 1040 instructions for the correct address.
Detailed information on these changes can be found on the IRS website –

Form 1040 instructions (PDF 941K)
Form 8949, Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets

Sunday, January 22, 2012

One Skein Projects

To make things a bit more fun as we go through winter, thought we would post some of Peggy's favorite fiber projects.  Hopefully, they will be posted once a week . . . or so (sorry, the weeks fly by quickly at times).  They might be a one skein knitting or crochet pattern or a small felting project or maybe even a pattern she has found online that she really likes but hasn't tried yet.  We can all try it out together and compare our likes and dislikes. 

The first one will be a request from Hailey Parker from Snowy River Alpacas. She wants to try the slouchy hat previously shown on our blog and Facebook. It is a free pattern found online by Marilyn Losee. The one in the pattern had flowers on the side . . . which not being a very girly girl, Peggy didn't add to her design.  Just follow this link to the pattern. 

It is a hat where you could easily change up the design by just substituting some other pattern other than the moss stitch.  You just need to select some combination of stitches that will fit within the numeric pattern of 84 stitches (one time around).

One note to the pattern.  It can be done on straight needles such that you sew a seam to finish the hat or it can be done on ciruclar needles.  If you follow the pattern it instructs you to purl the even numbered rows when you get to the crown of the hat. If you knit on circular needles you will want to knit those rows since you won't be turning your project the same as with straight needles. 

If you have any questions, just email Peggy.  If you want to purchase some yarn for this project, Peggy used Grey Super Fine Luxury Alpaca (of course) which is available on our site.  Keep me posted on how you like the pattern.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fiber Artists Invited to Tucker Creek Store

A customer came into our store the other day and was sharing with her daughter that she was going to learn to knit this year so she could start now on her Christmas list and make all of her 2012 gifts. How awesome is that? That got us thinking about creating a fiber arts group which meets at our store to visit, share ideas and help promote the value of these various art forms. Starting this month we are inviting all fiber crafters (young, old, experienced or novice) to join us in our store whenever we are open (which currently is from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm Friday and Saturday).

If you are interested in a private knitting or crocheting lesson we will be offering those at $30.00 per hour (includes a $20.00 skein of yarn).  Just call us or stop by the store.  We are also in the planning stage for several seminars on various forms of felting. We have finally found some wonderful uses for our lesser quality fiber which turns into some lovely items when felted . . . so keep watching our posts as we will be sharing the results as we test these methods out.

The photos below show our latest hat design being worn by our favorite barista, Tammy from Coffee Girl here in Astoria.  Isn't it cute? If you would like one of your own or for a gift, they are available in our store or online for $40.00 plus shipping.

Hope you stop by the store soon--online or on Tucker Creek--to see what's new.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

IRS Announces 2012 Standard Mileage Rates

IR-2011-116, Dec. 9, 2011
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2012 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2012, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

55.5 cents per mile for business miles driven

23 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes

14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

The rate for business miles driven is unchanged from the mid-year adjustment that became effective on July 1, 2011. The medical and moving rate has been reduced by 0.5 cents per mile.

The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs as determined by the same study. Independent contractor Runzheimer International conducted the study.

Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle. In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for more than four vehicles used simultaneously.

These and other requirements for a taxpayer to use a standard mileage rate to calculate the amount of a deductible business, moving, medical or charitable expense are in Rev. Proc. 2010-51.

Notice 2012-01 contains the standard mileage rates, the amount a taxpayer must use in calculating reductions to basis for depreciation taken under the business standard mileage rate, and the maximum standard automobile cost that a taxpayer may use in computing the allowance under a fixed and variable rate plan.

Related Item: IR-2011-104, In 2012, Many Tax Benefits Increase Due to Inflation Adjustments

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Times are changing and so are we

To say that I have been lax in updating our blog is truly an understatement.  But, that is about to change.  There have been lots of changes over the last couple of years for us personally as well as the alpaca industry. And where has the alpaca industry traveled . . . right to where David and I felt it should have been from the beginning . . . it is now a fiber business . . . imagine that.

 When we started raising alpacas in 2003 we were frustrated by the lack of quality alternatives to process the fiber (there were not sufficient mills that knew what to do with the fiber . . . even the co-op we first joined was sending the fiber to Peru bringing back a product with the words “made in Peru” on the label);  and what was fiber supposed to look like when it was ready to be sent to the mill for processing (no one really seemed to be able to define what sorted fiber should look like until NAAFP came along).  Now I know these are all issues that would probably not be issues unless you are anal like me . . . and thank heavens there were plenty like me who came up with answers to these questions.

So, here we are . . . 2012 is about to start and alpacas for the most part are selling for a fraction of what they were selling for when we started in the business.  So wise breeding decisions are still a huge issue maybe even more so. Back then just about any female could sell for over $10,000 . . . that is no longer the case.  Today's breeder needs to be even more aware of what they are creating as the fiber has become so much more important.  Maybe more members of your herd should be retired or removed from the gene pool as the dollars no longer can justify compromised members of the herd.  Years ago a trip to the nearest veterinary hospital could easily result in a $5,000 bill with no guarantee as to the results (we were in that position and were thrilled when our female returned home three weeks later). Those days are gone.  Today we need to have a reality check and truly analyze what we are trying to accomplish with each breeding (one of the areas where the certified sorted method and EPD's (expected progeny differences) come in so very handy . . . each year you can review your reports to see how their current yield compared to prior years and other members of your herd, how do their offspring look . . . was it better than the mom? Is it what you were looking for. If you are just getting year after year of texas rug grade fiber then there is no point in continuing to breed that female . . . unless of course your goal is rug making.

So, before you get the wrong idea on where I am coming from, let me cut to the chase.  The alpaca industry is not dead . . . just finally realistic. If you are an existing breeder, use all the tools at your disposal to make educated breeding decisions and be ready to make some hard decisions. If you are new to the industry, then you can start using all the available tools as part of your buying process.  The price of entry is much more user-friendly than eight years ago when we started.

So get ready to see a whole lot more action on our blog . . . a lot more fiber related, a lot more conversations on what to do with the fiber and what we are doing with our fiber. If you have questions, please feel free to send them our way and we will post your answers online so we can all learn.  Our farm store is now open on Friday and Saturday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm and, as always, by appointment and online. Hope you can drop by and see what we are working on. 

Wish you all a successfull and enjoyable 2012!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

New IRS Mileage Rates for July through December = 55.5 cents per mile

IRS Increases Mileage Rate to 55.5 Cents per Mile

IR-2011-69, June 23, 2011

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced an increase in the optional standard mileage rates for the final six months of 2011. Taxpayers may use the optional standard rates to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business and other purposes.

The rate will increase to 55.5 cents a mile for all business miles driven from July 1, 2011, through Dec. 31, 2011. This is an increase of 4.5 cents from the 51 cent rate in effect for the first six months of 2011, as set forth in Revenue Procedure 2010-51.

In recognition of recent gasoline price increases, the IRS made this special adjustment for the final months of 2011. The IRS normally updates the mileage rates once a year in the fall for the next calendar year.

"This year's increased gas prices are having a major impact on individual Americans. The IRS is adjusting the standard mileage rates to better reflect the recent increase in gas prices," said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. "We are taking this step so the reimbursement rate will be fair to taxpayers."

While gasoline is a significant factor in the mileage figure, other items enter into the calculation of mileage rates, such as depreciation and insurance and other fixed and variable costs.

The optional business standard mileage rate is used to compute the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business use in lieu of tracking actual costs. This rate is also used as a benchmark by the federal government and many businesses to reimburse their employees for mileage.

The new six-month rate for computing deductible medical or moving expenses will also increase by 4.5 cents to 23.5 cents a mile, up from 19 cents for the first six months of 2011. The rate for providing services for charitable organizations is set by statute, not the IRS, and remains at 14 cents a mile.

The new rates are contained in Announcement 2011-40 on the optional standard mileage rates.

Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

Here is the link for the changes per type over the last several years.,,id=156624,00.html

It's definitely time to start thinking taxes.  So, take this info and start planning for year end issues.  Tax time will be here before we know it.