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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Getting prepared for winter

Well, the days are going shorter and wetter! Fall is not my favorite time of year - as I love all the flowers and natural beauty of the spring/summer and now it feels like everything is dying away. But, at least my outdoor chore list will be shorter! It is so funny that the alpacas loved to be sprayed with water, but with the first drop of rain, they run for shelter!

So now the process of preparing for the winter months is under way. Putting up a new portable shelter in our one new pasture and taking the cover off of the shelter in the upper field where the wind tends to tear them off. Also, applying fertilizer to the pastures that will be left vacant for the winter.

Monday, September 30, 2013


Angel and her mom, Arianna

Angel and her mom, Arianna

Our youngest alpaca, Angel, was born on August 13th to our older dam, Arianna. A little history...Arianna came to us from an auction and is close to 14 years old. We do not know if she has ever had crias before, but suspected that she did. We registered her, but I had not really wanted to breed her. Then last summer decided to see if she would take to a breeding, in order to preserve her bloodlines.

Anyway, Angel was only a little over 13 lbs when she was born, which is small for our farm. We always weigh our newborns everyday for a couple of weeks to make sure they are gaining weight like they should. Well, after a few days, I realized that she was not gaining any weight or very little weight. I observed her nursing with Mom, but didn't seem to be nursing very long. Because of Mom's age, I decided that she was probably not producing enough milk for Angel.

So we began supplementing with a bottle. Since, Angel was still trying to nurse, we were hoping that maybe Mom's milk would come in later and we didn't want to interfere with the Mom & baby bond. We began by feeding Angel 4 times a day, and she reluctantly drank 2 to 3 ounces at a time. At weigh-ins she was gaining between 6 to 8 ounces per day. It has been a struggle, but she has been steadily gaining weight and is now up to 27+ lbs!

However, we weren't the only ones helping Arianna feed her baby... Her aunties Star and Lady, who have crias of their own have been letting Angel nurse. Star actually pushes Angel towards the 'milk bar' and has her cria, Comet nurse on the other side. Comet does not take kindly to sharing his Mom, and sometimes tries to push Angel away or nips at her ears! She is persistent though! I am sure that she will do well, now. It just goes to show that weighing your newborn alpaca cria daily does really matter!
Auntie Star and Comet

Auntie Star and Comet

Monday, September 30, 2013

Our Joe

I have to write a little about our Suri alpaca Joe. We purchased him from an auction almost two years ago and he has made great progress from when we first brought him home. Joe is not registered, but I did get some medical records which show his date of birth and supposedly his parentage. I was hoping to use him for breeding, but now not sure if we can use him as he really does not seem interested in the girls.

Joe was in a stall by himself at the farm where the auction was held....this should have been my first clue as to his health and dispostion as the other stalls had 5-12 alpacas in each stall. (Over 225 alpacas) When we tried to halter him and put him in the trailer for the trip home, he immediately cushed down and wouldn't move, so we had to carry him to the trailer...screaming the whole way.

When we finally arrived home, we had to carry him to the pasture where he was going to stay! It was then that I realized how skinny he was. He just didn't want to walk with the halter and lead. I could tell that he hadn't had much in the way of human handling. I named him Joe as his face looks so much like a camel's face! Therefore, Joe Camel!

For the first month, he would lay by the hay bin and would only get up to eat and walk out to poo. He didn't even want grain....just hay. I was afraid that we would lose him. Slowly, he began to get his strength and co-mingle with the other boys. It took almost six months before he even acted like a nomal alpaca. When we sheared him, we found that he had a mite problem which we then had to treat and was probably part of his health problems.

Well, two years later, Joe still doesn't want to walk on a lead. He ferociously guards the hay to the point of screaming at the other boys if they get too close to him. A couple of days ago, I put Joe in 'timeout' because he was screaming at everyone. I guided him out of the shelter where they eat their hay and told him to stay outside for a bit. He did!!! He kept looking at me and crying to go back in, but did not do so until I went over to him and told him he could go back to eat the long as he stopped screaming. He walked back in, started eating and did not let out a peep for at least the next hour. So....did he really understand that he was in 'timeout'?

I figured out that Joe is very defensive of his food because he had so little for so long. I am hoping that someday he will realize that he doesn't have to worry about that anymore and that he has a forever home with plenty of food to share.