A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

March 23, 2012

Farewell To A Special Boy

ImageThere is much sadness today on the farm as yesterday we had to say goodbye to one of our alpaca boys –Mags.  Mags started to be unwell on Monday, rallied a little on Tuesday but by Wednesday we knew he was really in trouble.  On Wednesday the vet decided to keep Mags at the clinic administering fluids and pain killers to him while he tried to figure out what was wrong.  By Thursday it was apparent that Mags was suffering greatly and that the treatment the vet was trying was not working,  so with heavy hearts we told the vet to euthanize Mags.  Such hard words to say and for us to accept but so necessary to relieve Mags pain.

Mags life had been a challenge from the day he was born, a large cria he got stuck during the birthing process and the owners of his dam had to get a vet to deliver Mags by C-Section.  Despite his difficult birth Mags came out strong and fighting, sadly though his dam Maggie had sustained damage during the birthing process and died the next day.  Mags owners raised Mags on the bottle and loved him dearly but as time went on it became apparent that Mags was starting to develop behavioral issues, something that can happen with bottle fed alpacas, particularly males.  Mags owners did their best to establish correct boundaries with Mags from day one, but his personality was such that he persisted in bonding more strongly with them than other alpacas.  At that point is when Mags made his first visit to our farm.  He arrived here with another bottle cria Song, who had lost her dam at a slightly later stage than Mags and who would not nurse from a bottle.  We agreed to work with both Mags and Song, trying to instill appropriate behavior in Mags and working with Song to get her to nurse.  Song by this time had decided that Mags was her new mother and milk source and would try to nurse off him, much to Mags surprise!  By holding a bottle underneath Mags we were soon able to get Song to nurse from the bottle,  Mags played an important part in Song’s survival.

In time Mags behavior did improve and he was able to return to his owners, while Song went on to her new home.  But Mags was always an alpaca who had to be handled carefully and with awareness.

Mags owners later decided to leave the alpaca business; as part of our agreement in working with Mags we had become his co-owners and so Mags returned to our farm.  The change of location threw Mags world in a spin for a while and once again we had to work to establish boundaries and encourage good behavior over bad.  By this time Mags was maturing and testosterone was being added into the mix, but our male herd helped us keep Mags in check, educating him in the hierarchy of a male alpaca herd.  Once again he settled down and even started to bond with a couple of the boys, in particular our black herd sire Champ.

Today Champ is wondering where his buddy went.  Champ is a very intelligent alpaca, described by the transporter who delivered him here as one of the smartest alpacas he has met.  I think Mags was on a similar level to Champ and that is why the two boys bonded.

Throughout his life Mags wanted attention and affection, but he sought in from humans instead of other alpacas and not always in the best way.  We certainly did not want to wrestle with him, but in alpaca boys that is often how they play.  We would have loved to give him the attention he sought, but knew that to do so would only encourage his inappropriate behavior and so we were very much hands off with Mags.

In the last few days of his life, as we cared for Mags we were finally able to hug him and give him the attention he had so longingly sought for all of his life.  His eye contact with us was direct, in times of pain he gained some relief and comfort from our touch and our voices, he put his trust in us completely and was so incredibly strong through some difficult days.

It is always hard to decide to let one of the alpacas go, but in Mags case it was even harder, he was fighting so very hard for his life and we wanted to give him every possible chance, but when suffering is great and there is no chance for recovery all we can do is provide merciful relief.   Mags lived up to his registered name until his final moment – Lionheart.

Sometimes  in life we experience meaningful connections, things happen that seem to be guided by a gentle spirit, not seen but often felt.  As I wrote to a dear alpaca breeder friend last night to inform her of Mags passing, Ric had the television on in the other room, through my tears I could hear the words of a song from the The Secret Sisters.  I have never heard of The Secret Sisters before and while I love music I am not familiar with their work.  The song is from the sound track of the movie The Hunger Games, a movie that has not interested me at all and which I would probably not have planned on seeing.  I had not been paying attention to the noise of the TV, but The Secrets Sisters song reached me clearly and perhaps with a purpose.  The song is titled “Tomorrow Will Be Kinder”, the words could not have been more fitting for the emotions we are feeling.

“Black clouds are behind me, I now can see ahead

Often I wonder why I try, hoping for an end,

Sorrow weighs my shoulders down and trouble haunts my mind

But I know the present will not last and tomorrow will be kinder

Tomorrow will be kinder, it’s true I’ve seen it before

A brighter day is coming my way, yes tomorrow will be kinder

Today I have cried a many tear and pain is in my heart

Around me lies a somber scene I don’t know where to start

But I feel warmth on my skin, the stars are all aligned

The wind has blown but now I know

That tomorrow will be kinder

Tomorrow will be kinder, it’s true I’ve seen it before

A brighter day is coming my way, yes tomorrow will be kinder”

The alpaca business is often joyous, but any time you are raising lifestock there will come a time when you have to say goodbye to those in your care.  It is never easy and though we have been raising alpacas for 12 years and have said had to say goodbye to our dear alpacas before it doesn’t get any easier.

The picture at the top of this post is of Mags when he was young during his first stay at our farm, and that is how I will choose to remember him, full of life, curiosity and wanting so much to be loved.  Dear Mags you were a special boy, we really miss you.   I still feel your presence, can still feel your warmth, wherever your spirit soars I am hoping that for you too today and tomorrow will be kinder.

1 Comment »

  1. I was just looking into information on alpacas and came across your post. What a beautiful testimonial to the passion you have for your alpacas and whether or not it is a business, they all have meaning and affect your life. It is too bad today people aren’t as passionate for each other, it would truly be a better place wouldn’t it? I hope your loss for Mags will become easier over time and having lost pets, I understand the feelings.

    Best wishes to you.

    Liz

    Comment by Elizabeth — March 26, 2012 @ 12:57 pm


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