A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

June 15, 2009

Now What Will The Neighbors Think!

The things we do in the name of the alpaca business.  On Saturday Zianna was being picked up by her new owners Melita Clark and Mark Hogan of Milagro Meadow Alpaca Ranch.  Melita and Mark were also bringing us two of their girls for breeding to our herdsires.

Melita had requested that we run a fecal test on Zianna prior to her going to her new farm.  My intention had been to run that test on Friday, but I ran into a problem – no poop.  There was, of course, plenty of poop in the pasture but I could not say which was Zianna’s.

There is a method to extract some poop from an alpaca that my vet has shown me, but I really prefer to collect fecal samples that have been deposited on the poop piles.  Sometimes though it seems as if you can’t catch sight of the alpaca you want to test when that alpaca is on the poop pile.  That was the case with Zianna, no matter how long I waited or how much of a distance I put between the poop pile and me Zianna was not cooperating.  Eventually I gave up the wait resigning myself to having to keep an eye on Zianna on Saturday morning and running the test before Mark and Melita arrived.

Saturday morning arrived and as is my routine I took my first cup of coffee over to the front door so that I could look over the front pasture and check on the girls.  As I looked across the pasture all of the girls looked calm and relaxed with no one showing signs of being in labor, everything looked good.  Then I noticed her; there was Zianna at the poop pile!  So it was down with the coffee off to the kitchen for a zip lock bag and then out to the pasture to collect a sample.  Was I properly dressed for this mad dash into the pasture – of course not, but hey who cares about pajamas and pink Croc shoes in the pasture when the goal is to collect a poop sample from a particular alpaca.  I got my sample and was able to run the test before Melita and Mark arrived – Mission Accomplished!

Rosemary

January 31, 2009

When Not To Make Black Bean Soup

 

Living on a farm you get used to seeing odd things in all sorts of places, pockets tend to be good places to store things such as baling twine, a found alpaca tooth, syringes etc.  Ric once had a moment of relief after driving away from a random security check on the local air force base, as he felt his shirt pocket he realized he had a hypodermic needle and syringe in his pocket.  That may have needed a little explanation had the security guards found it.

 

Fridges and freezers are other likely storage places for odd things.  My friend Regina Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas and I joke about a game for alpaca owners called “What’s in your freezer” You just have to be prepared to cope with some of the answers!  Currently my freezer contents are not too outrageous unless you consider the alpaca milk and six frozen placentas a little odd (the frozen placentas are being stored for use in a neonatal clinic, and who knows when one might need some alpaca milk for a cria).

 

After being in the alpaca business for 10 years Ric has learned to expect the unexpected from me.   This was illustrated the other day when I was preparing to run some fecal checks on the alpacas.

 

I was going to see a friend for afternoon tea that day, so having collected the poop samples from the alpaca pastures during morning chores I needed to store them until I could run the tests later that day.  I double bagged and sealed each sample and then wrapped them all in a larger bag and stored them in a section of our refrigerator that holds alpaca medicines and supplies.  As I was leaving Ric was coming into the house and so I warned him that the bag I had just placed in the fridge did not contain any tasty snacks, but rather contained poop samples.

 

We run our own alpaca fecal tests on a regular basis.  As part of the process I have to smash up the alpaca poop in a heavy sugar water solution, which results in a soupy mess of alpaca poop.

 

That evening was a cold one and I decided to make a pot of black bean soup for dinner.  The recipe calls for some of the black beans to be pureed and others to be left whole and stirred into the soup.

 

Ric went out that evening and when he came home I was working in the office.  When he came into the house he headed for the kitchen and shortly afterward came to the office with a worried expression on his face.  “What have you been cooking in the kitchen?” he asked.  I told him I had made black bean soup and that it was very tasty, he started to look a little relieved and I asked him if there was a problem with the soup.  He then told me that he had taken a look at the pot of black bean soup on the stove and had a horrible suspicion that it had something to do with the fecal tests I was running – well I guess the soup did bear a bit of a resemblance to the prepared alpaca poop samples, but even I don’t use our kitchen utensils for anything to do with fecal samples!  We actually have a separate kitchen where I do all of the alpaca related kitchen chores, and all things used from that kitchen receive a good cleaning with beach once I am finished.  Still the situation gave me a chuckle and even funnier still is that Ric refuses to eat any of that black bean soup!

 

(On a side note running your own alpaca fecal tests is quite a simple process, it does require a little bit of an investment in equipment such as a microscope and a centrifuge and it is best to work with your vet to learn how to identify the various parasite eggs.  I did come across a very informative web page on alpaca parasites the other day at the website of The Alpaca Hacienda just click on http://www.thealpacahacienda.com/journal/alpaca_parasites.html and you will be taken to that page)

 

Rosemary

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