A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

October 23, 2013

And Then She Walked ….

It’s been a while since I have been able to find the time to write.  I know many are anxious to hear how our Pearl is doing and I am happy to tell you the news is good.

As Pearl has been getting stronger Ric and I have been going out several times during the day and getting her into a standing position.  Initially she wasn’t able to bear any weight on her legs, but as the days progressed she started to be able to put weight on first her back legs and then her front legs.   Soon Pearl was at a point where she could balance on her own for a few seconds.  At times we would catch her trying to push herself up, she was getting stronger and wanted to be up and about but her body was not quite ready yet for that feat.

Our last Open Farm Day was October 12; it was a lovely fall day with blue skies, sunshine and just a little bite in the air.  I monitored Pearl throughout the day making sure she got her medicines and always had access to hay and water. When all of our visitors had gone Ric and I went out to make sure Pearl had hay and water and to stand her up.  Once we got her standing she seemed pretty stable so Ric suggested we let go of her and see what happened.  So let go we did, and then with shaky, wobbly, ungainly steps Pearl walked.  It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t for very long but we could tell Pearl was very excited to be able to move around on her own – and you can bet that we were excited too!

As Pearl tired she grew very wobbly and soon she cushed (sat down) again.  We gave her a lot of praise and made sure she had plenty of hay and water to celebrate her major progress with.

From that point on Pearl’s progress has been quite amazing.  To begin with we still had to help her get up, but once we did she would always walk for a several steps before she had to cush again.  Unfortunately the other alpacas didn’t realize that Pearl had a limited time to be up on her feet, curious to see Pearl up and about they often crowded around her and got in her way so Ric and I had to make sure we cleared a path for our special girl.  Out of the way girls, Pearl is coming!

As Pearl’s legs have gained strength she has gone from not being able to get up on her own to being able to get up on her own and move about at will.    The act of cushing from a standing positing was quite challenging for her to begin with, but as her muscles have strengthened and her joints have got used to moving again she is managing to cush much easier.  It is still a little challenging to her but every day it gets a little easier.

Pearl finds her feet

Pearl finds her feet

I think one of Pearl’s biggest joys, once she was up and about, was when she was able to make it to the poop pile instead of having to poop and pee where she lay.  The instinct to poop and pee on the poop pile is very strong in alpacas, and if you are in any doubt about that you would soon have that doubt removed if you saw how hard Pearl worked to get to that poop pile and do what she wanted to do!

Pearl is a little hunched up at the rear and we can see that her legs are still not quite back to normal, but it is only 11 days since she started walking again and given the progress that she has made in that short time we are optimistic that in time she will walk normally again.  It has been nothing short of amazing to see Pearl’s progress every day.

Pearl continues to be her sweet self with the exception of when I treat her legs with my photonic red light.  Then she tells me that she is not a fan of my light touching her legs, something that is much more the behavior of a healthy alpaca.  A good sign.

When Pearl is walking and starts to get tired she makes rapid little hums as though to say “I want to keep walking but I just can’t do it anymore”  I let her cush wherever she is and allow her to rest before moving her back into a pen where we can feed her away from the other alpacas.

In the mornings now Pearl is sometimes up and walking around when we get up.  The leaves are starting to fall from the trees and on Monday morning I got up to find Pearl up and about looking for fallen elm leaves which are an alpaca delicacy.   On Monday evening Pearl even tried to run a little as the rest of the herd ran towards the hay at feeding time.  Pearl now walks over to join her regular feeding group in the morning.  She can’t quite remain standing for the full time they are eating but she tries and she tries hard.  Step by step, moment by moment Pearl gets closer to being “normal” again.

Pearl is still on medication; probiotics once a day and a homeopathic liquid twice a day.  I continue to use the photonic red light on her but am now treating her every other day.  Pearl also still receives her daily bowl of vegetables along with her regular hay and grain, she gets so excited when she sees me coming with her feed, uttering grunting noises and sometimes flicking her tail up in the air.  At times I get the impression that she feels her waitress service is not quite as rapid as she would like it to be!

Pearl enjoys some pumpkin

Pearl enjoys some pumpkin

Throughout her recovery Pearl has showed immense strength, determination and will to live, she never once seemed as if she was going to give up, she just fought and fought and fought.  I believe that strength and will to live have been crucial components of her recovery.  We can do all we can to aid an alpaca’s recovery, but if they decide they don’t want to live all the medicine in the world won’t fix the problem.  Pearl wanted to live, and live she has.

We still have a way to go with Pearl, but I feel we are now on the downward slope and that time will be her best medicine from this point on.

I send many thanks to all those who have prayed and sent healing thoughts to Pearl, those who have emailed or called to check on her progress.  All of those kind and good acts have been very much appreciated and just look at the results they have created!

Rosemary

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February 25, 2013

Even alpacas like to have friends

A question was posted recently on one of the online alpaca groups I belong to:

“Do alpacas make friends and if so do they remember those friends if they are separated and meet up again?”

The answer from alpaca owners was a resounding “Yes”.  There were many mentions of alpacas who bonded with other alpacas, some were related others not.  Stories of alpacas recognizing past friends at shows or when they met up at farms were also recounted.

Over the years we have witnessed the strong bonds that alpacas form with each other.  Certainly alpacas recognize their own family groups and seem to have stronger bonds with those alpacas (except for our alpaca Queen, for as far as Queen is concerned once those crias are weaned they are on their own!).    But it is not only family ties that bind alpacas together, they definitely also make friends.

We recently witnessed an example of this when we moved the two boys in our current weaning group, Patton and Leo, over to the Junior Males pen.  Patton and Leo were part of a group that consisted of five boys and seven girls.  Three of the boys Sentry, MacArthur and Espresso were moved over to the Junior Males pen a few months ago, but we decided to keep Leo and Patton back in the weanling pen for a little longer.  Patton was small for his age and we were concerned he would receive too much rough housing attention from the other males.  Leo was a tough boy to wean, at our first attempt he became distraught at being separated from his dam Velvet and tried to break through fences to get to her so we put Leo back with Velvet for a little longer until we felt he was able to better handle the separation.  Over time we could tell that Leo had matured more and was ready to be weaned so he soon joined the other weanlings.  This time Leo handled the separation from Velvet much better.  When Leo started to show too much interest in the weanling females (when he matured he really matured!) we decided that it was time to move him and Patton into the Junior Males pen.

Our process for introducing males to a new group is to create a smaller pen within the pen the males are being moved to.  We then put the new boys plus a couple of mellow boys from the existing group in that pen too.  The smaller group can have nose to nose contact with the other boys and will remain in that pen for a week to two weeks.  Usually by that time the novelty of the new arrivals wears off and when we let everyone get together we typically have very few problems.   We also make that final introduction at feeding time so that there is an additional distraction.

When the time came for Leo and Patton to meet the other junior males all went well.   Soon they were wandering around, checking out their new surroundings and new pen mates.  It was then we noticed something else, that Sentry was almost glued to Patton’s side!  Sentry was so happy to meet his buddy Patton again!

When the weanling boys had all been together prior to weaning they all got along well, but we hadn’t realized how much Sentry liked Patton until we saw them together again.  Sentry would not let the other boys mess with Patton and Patton was pleased to have his buddy by his side, even though Sentry is now considerably bigger than Patton.

Patton with his buddy Sentry

Patton with his buddy Sentry (Sentry is the brown alpaca taking it easy in the background)

Alpacas are most definitely a herd animal, which is why we tell people that you should never have a lone alpaca.  We have been fortunate to witness alpacas in our herd group over a considerable period of time and know that they do form bonds.  When they are with their families or their buddies they are happy, separate them and it definitely causes them some stress.

Sometimes though it is inevitable that those bonds are going to be broken.  Male and female crias that grow up together are not going to be pastured together, alpacas that are sold to other breeders will often be sold without their friends (unless we can work out a great deal with the new owners and we will try and do that when possible) and of course at times an alpaca will pass away leaving a buddy behind.   Any time there is going to be a separation we do our best to manage it well; probiotics to keep the alpacas rumen functioning well and to supply B vitamins to help them handle the stress of separation, Rescue Remedy to help them deal with the loss, over time the alpacas do adjust.   It is sometimes a fine balancing act to keep the herd happy and run a successful alpaca business, but we do our best to respect the alpacas while also keeping our business functioning.  Then of course there are the happy reunions we sometimes see, such as Patton and Sentry or a female who comes back to the farm for a breeding and is happily reunited with her dam or her sister for the duration of her stay.

So yes, alpacas do make friends and do remember those friends – and sometimes those friends can also be humans, but that’s a subject for another time 🙂

Rosemary

November 26, 2012

Over the river and through the woods…

Anyone who has visited our farm knows that we are no-where near a river and a long way away from any woods BUT it seems as if someone didn’t let the female alpacas know that on Saturday.

Led by our escapologist alpaca Willow and aided and abetted by a forgetful Ric (who forgot to put the pin back in the latch on the girls gate) the girls executed a swift and playful pasture escape on Saturday afternoon!

Fortunately at the moment that Willow chose to lift the latch on the gate and release the herd I was standing outside with Daisy the dog.  I was also talking on the phone to my mother in England (sorry about the sudden hang up Mum but needs must!).  It took seconds for Willow to flip the latch with her nose and away they went!  You could almost hear them singing the words of the Christmas song Over the River (for those of you who are not familiar with the song you can hear it here:

http://www.links2love.com/christmas_songs_over_river.htm

I think that they were particularly singing the verse –

Over the river and through the woods
And through the barnyard gate
We seem to go extremely slow
It is so hard to wait

but there was nothing slow about them I can assure you.  Bucking, kicking and running they were off like a shot and while they ran in one direction Daisy and I ran in the other to close the front gates so that the girls could not get off our property.   Of course the hay barn and then the boys were their target destination (they were not heading to grandmothers as  several of them had their grandmothers running with them).

It was almost feeding time when the great escape took place so we let the girls stay out and play for a while.  We may not have rivers and woods but we had plenty of open space and the girls enjoyed their frolic on a beautiful, unseasonably warm, New Mexico November afternoon.

Here is a video of the girls enjoying their unplanned afternoon frolic!

Rosemary

PS  Note to fellow alpaca breeders – always position your hay barn at the opposite end of your property from the front gate – it’s a great distraction for loose alpacas

PPS Note to Ric – REMEMBER TO PUT THE LATCH PIN IN THE GATES!!!!

October 7, 2012

Cold Weather And Pumpkins Arrive At The Farm

Brrr!  In typical New Mexico style we have been treated to a sudden change in weather.  From days last week with temperatures in the high eighties and early nineties, today we have dropped to a day time high of around 45 F.  Fall has finally arrived on the high plains!

The cold weather gives the alpacas (and their owners) a hearty appetite.  It also makes for frisky alpacas – young Tiki was doing vertical take off displays this evening, Snow and Betty were running full gallop with the occasional kick of their legs in the air.  With the alpacas now having at least a couple of inches of fleece growth the cool temperatures feel good to them.

Our next Open Farm Day is rapidly approaching.  Fall is a great time to stock up on alpaca products and I have been busy creating things for the store.  Some wearable and others just fun.

Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving all bring to mind pumpkins and even pumpkins can be made from alpaca!  Easy to care for, no mess involved and they will last you for years.  Needle felted alpaca pumpkins are just the thing for your fall decorations.

Needle Felted Alpaca Pumpkins

Hand made and cute as can be these mini needle felted pumpkins could be yours!

Using dyed alpaca roving (roving is fleece that has been processed to align all of the fibers in the same direction) and a needle felting technique.  I have made a selection of pumpkins to be available in the store.  From plain pumpkins to Jack-O-Lanterns, mini pumpkins to larger versions – you can choose the ones that appeal to you the most.

Image

So come on out and join us next Saturday, October 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. pick the pumpkin that appeals to you the most and meet our wonderful alpacas at the same time.

Rosemary

July 19, 2012

A Little Rain Can Make Alpacas Happy

Filed under: alpaca, alpaca behavior, Alpacas, Blogroll, camelids, General, Uncategorized — alpacalady @ 6:45 pm

For the last couple of years we have been in a major drought, rain has been little and rare.  The drought has made hay scare (and expensive!) but also stopped anything from growing in the areas outside our alpaca pens.  Those areas turned to sand, causing blowing dust and sad alpacas, for usually in the summer months we let our alpacas out in groups to graze the areas around the pens but with the drought that has not been possible.  But there is hope!  In the last few weeks we have had a little rain, not enough to fix the drought by any means, but enough to get some plants to grow and provide a little greenery – and to alpacas greenery means grazing!

So here is a little video clip of our Junior Boys galloping out to graze (notice we didn’t have to ask them twice if they wanted to go!).  The Senior Boys look on with jealousy, but don’t feel too bad, they got to graze the front areas over the weekend, which also meant they got to hang out at the fence line with the girls.  A little rain can definitely make alpacas happy.

(By the way the website URL in the commentary was not an unashamed marketing push, our friend Eddie just happened to ask me for it when I started filming – good timing Eddie!)

Rosemary

 

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.

April 21, 2011

Don’t You Just Love Alpacas?

April Open Farm Day

Ric conducts a pasture tour during our windy April Open Farm Day

Well of course you do because after all they are adorable, but on top of that they are also adaptable.

Our last Open Farm Day was challenged by incredibly windy conditions, with sustained winds between 25 and 30 mph and gusts up to 60 mph.  All in all the conditions were really not the nicest, but we discovered that the alpacas have some pretty dedicated fans who were determined to visit the farm despite the wind and blowing dust – a big thank you to all those who braved the weather to come out to see us!

Of course windy weather is pretty much the norm in Clovis in the spring, but this spring has been particular windy and very dry.  Our natural grass that we planted in the back field has been a big help in keeping the dust down, but there is still plenty of dust and also tumbleweeds to blow around.

At one point in the day the conditions just became too poor for us to continue with the farm tours, but we didn’t want to disappoint people, especially when they had braved the weather to come and visit.  That is when the adaptability of alpacas came into play, using first Buck and then Champ for our “volunteers” we brought the alpacas into the farm store so that people could see them up close, be out of the wind and actually hear what Ric was saying as part of his presentation.  The visitors could even enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of lemonade and a cookie while they listened!

Buck Comes Into The Studio at Open Farm Day

Buck In the Studio on April Open Farm Day - He Saved People From Having to Suffer The High Winds And Dust That Day

Both Buck and Champ did well, Champ wasn’t too sure about lifting his feet to show people his soft pads and decided to cush (sit down) for a while, but apart from that the two boys behaved like stars – the beauty of alpacas!

So now with the April farm day behind us it is time to turn our thoughts to shearing.  We will be shearing this weekend and continue on shearing whenever we get the opportunity until the whole herd is done.  As warm as it is already I am pretty certain that the alpacas are more than ready for their cool summer do’s – mark your calendars for Saturday May 14 our next Open Farm Day and then you can see how different the alpacas look without their fleece – hopefully by then we will be rid of the high winds and Open Farm Day will be a pleasurable time for both humans and alpacas!

Rosemary

March 10, 2011

Preparing for Good Company

Filed under: alpaca, alpaca behavior, alpaca behaviour, Alpaca Care, Crias, General, Open Farm Day — alpacalady @ 8:42 am
Dot and Dash

Dot and Dash - where ever one is the other is not far behind

The week has been busy with preparations for  our upcoming Open Farm Day, tumbleweeds to be cleared away (boy do we have a bumper crop already!), paths to be swept clean, new inventory to be added to the store, signs to be made and ideas to be implemented to make the day the best for all who attend.

While all that is going on there is also the day to day running of the farm to manage – after all we would have a bunch of disgruntled alpacas if we didn’t give them their daily pellet ration and hay.  In addition to daily feedings there are other tasks that need to be attended to as well.  With 70 alpacas at our farm toenail trimming is an ongoing process and as my mother would like to say “Is like painting the Forth Bridge” (I am told the American equivalent of that saying is “like painting the Golden Gate Bridge).   By the time we have trimmed the whole herd it’s time to start over again!  Alpaca ears need to be treated to prevent ear ticks, pregnant alpaca girls need to be behavior tested to verify that they still pregnant and body scores need to be checked to decide which alpacas are eating a little too well and which might need a little extra feed every day.  Life is never dull at Windrush Alpacas!

Spring crias are several weeks away from being born, the fall crias are growing up healthy and strong.  Young Dot and Ditto each born during our December Open Farm Days are now strapping 3 month olds, for those who were here when Dot and Ditto were born the change in the two boys will be striking.  Along with their buddy Dash who was born days before them they make quite the trio checking out new things in the pasture and on chilly evenings  they stir the whole herd into a gallop as they perform their nightly “cria dash” to ensure they are nice and warm before night fall.  Inevitably Dash is in the lead of the cria dash, (hence his name Windrush Luna Dash) a very vivid reminder of how his sire Windrush White Blast chased around the pasture as a cria.

Theresa and Ditto

Ditto with his dam Theresa - Ditto was also born during our December Open Farm Days

The forecast for Saturday speaks of temperatures in the 60’s, partly cloudy and a light breeze – just perfect for an Open Farm Day.  We are getting excited about the event and look forward to meeting many new people, seeing repeat visitors (alpacas are addictive you know) and introducing our beautiful alpacas to all who come.  See you soon – it’s going to be a fun day!

Rosemary

December 8, 2009

Can It Get Any Colder!

The alpaca boys watch the snow

The alpaca boys stay on their warm spots and watch the snow

The last week has seen our weather change from the balmy temperatures of an early New Mexico fall to the bone chilling cold that can occur during late fall and winter.

Part of farming is accepting that you are at the mercy of the elements – you can’t control the weather and have to be prepared to work in whatever weather comes your way.  As the cold arrives the insulated coveralls are brought out of the closet, the alpacas socks become a permanent fixture on our feet, the fleece lined jeans are the dress choice of the day and our snow boots start to prove their worth.  Water bucket heaters are installed and the alpacas and horses are treated to extra hay on those super cold days.

Last Thursday we were initially forecast for a fairly cold dry day, but during the night the cold front that was coming into the area headed just a little further south than the weather man had predicted and by Thursday morning our ground was covered with snow.  Initial predictions of accumulation of an inch soon went out the window as by 9 a.m. two inches were already on the ground.

With the snow starting during the night the alpacas were already bedded down for the evening and having been cushed for a while each one had developed a warm spot where they were sitting.  When the snow started to fall it settled on the top of their fleeces but they were nice and warm – and were not moving!

We're not moving

Cosmo and friends stay out in the weather

Some of the alpacas were in their shelters, Theresa had moved her cria into the shelter and the little one was dry, warm and more than ready to show off her repertoire of bucks and kicks.  Ana Lynnette too had headed inside the shelter with her cria Roadrunner and the pair were contentedly watching the snow fall.

Box Car Alpaca Boys

Homer and Tobiano decided the shelter of the box car was a better place to be

It seems as if that snow fall opened the doors for an arctic blast because since then it has been cold – very cold.  Someone told us that Thursday night was reported as being record cold and since then it has only got colder.    By Monday our night time low was 18 (- 7.7 Celsius) and our daytime high was 26 (-3.3 Celsius)– and that’s without figuring in any wind chill.  But despite the cold the chores still need to be done – the animals fed, the poop piles raked, the dogs walked.  We still opened the store on Saturday and met some lovely (and hardy!) customers who came out to stock up on warm alpaca socks and Christmas gifts for the family.

The good news is that we can take our time getting the chores done and then head into the warmth of the house for some hot tea and warm food.  Then we can get on with some inside tasks and take a few minutes here and there to enjoy watching the alpacas whether they are rooting around in the hay, sitting out chewing their cud or wrestling, pronging and playing in the late afternoon as they start to build up their body heat for the night.

Our temperatures are supposed to warm up starting today, I say supposed to because already the forecast has changed a little and the word snow has now reappeared in the forecast as well as the mention of 60 mph wind – sounds like it’s going to be an interesting day, I don’t think I will be packing away the insulated coveralls, snow boots and alpaca socks anytime soon!

Rosemary

December 2, 2009

When the Whole Herd Prongs ….

It’s time to take cover!  Especially if your guard llamas are joining in as well!

With recent snows and falling temperatures the animals on the farm have been a little friskier.  The horses like to have a little buck and kick session as the excitement of feeding time combines with their need to stay active and warm.  The dogs are ready to dash about all over the place, especially puppy Blue who is about as fast as a dog can get speeding here and there as she follows Ric during morning chores.  The alpaca boys like to warm up by taking part in some extra wrestling sessions especially as evening feeding time draws nearer.   We keep an eye on the boys as they wrestle, 90% of the time they are fine but if we see things starting to get a bit too rough then we will intervene.  Usually clapping our hands or whistling will distract them long enough to break up the wrestling match, but if that fails the appearance of more hay or feed usually gets the boys attention away from wrestling.

In the girls pen the friskiness is less aggressive, with the young crias in with the girls it is usually not long before sunset that  a couple of the crias start to race around the pasture, increasing their body temperatures as they gallop at full speed.  Occasionally a few of the adult girls will join in and we are treated to the sight of the adult girls in full prong, bouncing up into the air with tails raised and heads held high.

Tuesday evening though saw a rare event, the site of the whole female pasture pronging together as a herd, from the smallest cria to the oldest dam and our guard llamas too they moved together as one from one side of the pasture to the other and back again.  By the time this happened it was dark, having been delayed starting the evening chores I was later getting to the girls than usual and by the time I was ready to feed them the daylight had gone.  You would think that the site of the feed wagon loaded down with hay and feed would be enough to get the girls to stop, but no they were just having too much fun and the pronging continued.

There was no point in going into the pasture any further to try and stop them, they weren’t paying attention to me and the last thing I wanted was to get mown down by a herd of cavorting camelids – try explaining that to the doctor!   There was nothing else to be done but stand back and watch the site of my happy herd (and yes they finally did settle down to eat but it took a while!).

Rosemary

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