A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

January 16, 2008

Snow Gets a Surprise

Sandia SnowYesterday was another one of those “delightful” windy days on the high plains of Eastern New Mexico.  It started off reasonably calm, but the winds soon picked up again with gusts around 40 mph.  At least it was not cold as well with the temperature staying in the late fifties all day.  Today is supposed to be a different story though as an artic air mass descends upon us causing our daytime high to reach a chilly 28 degrees Fahrenheit and our nighttime low forecast to be 12 degrees.

We will be sure to put extra straw in the shelters for the alpacas to cush on during the course of the day and will be keeping a good eye on the young crias to make sure they are not starting to shiver or show signs of being chilled.  We may even give the alpacas an extra ration of warm soaked beet pulp shreds at evening chore time to help them stay warm throughout the night.

Chores took a little longer yesterday; they always do when you are battling the wind.  We typically start off with the boys’ pastures first and work our way towards the girls’ pastures that are nearer to the house.   It’s quite a challenge to put out hay and scoop poop in the high winds but it has to be done and so we just keep working at a steady pace until everything is completed.

Having put the weanlings in their day weaning pasture I headed back across the girls pasture picking up an empty hay bucket as I went and intending to put the hay bucket and the weanlings halters in the feed barn.

As I turned open the gate to go out of the pasture I heard a commotion.  Turning around I could see some of the alpacas scattering out from one of the feed pens.  I headed toward the pen to be greeted by the site of poor Snow with one of the large hay buckets on her head.  The hay buckets are 16 gallon rigid plastic and measure about 20 inches across, they are so big that I would never have imagined that an alpaca could get one on top of its head, but there was Snow in a total panic with the hay bucket on her head.  I ran toward the pen to go and help Snow and as I reached the pen she managed to get the bucket off her head.  I closed the pen gate and checked her out to make sure she had not hurt herself, she seemed fine just a little shaken and so I gave her a relaxing head rub to calm her down (there is an acupressure point on the very top of the skull which is good for relaxation). 

I am still puzzled as to how Snow managed to get the bucket on her head.  All I can think is that she had knocked it onto its side and then stuck her head into it to get some hay.  By sheer fluke the wind must have had enough force that when she went to lift her head out of the bucket, instead of the bucket coming off her head, it came with up with her.  Who would have thought that the wind could do such a thing?

I hope Snow was not too shaken up by her ordeal, she is only a few months pregnant and a maiden as well and I would hate to think of the stress of her bucket incident causing her to lose her pregnancy.  Snow is usually a calm alpaca, and was not shaking or showing signs of great stress when I examined her and so hopefully everything will be okay.

Rosemary

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