November 3, 2014
November 15, 2013
A sad part of raising alpacas and llamas is that at some time in their life we have to let them go. As some of our herd ages this is a situation we will no doubt be encountering more often. It’s tough, but unavoidable.
This morning our guard llama Griffin passed away. At 13 years old Griffin was middle aged in llama terms, some llamas live well into their twenties but in Griffin’s case that was not to be.
We acquired Griffin through Southwest Llama Rescue along with our other two llamas Maya and Inca. Griffin’s registered name was Twilight’s Griffin Girl, her fleece was a beautiful rose grey. Griffin was always more aloof than Maya and Inca, she was a strong and proud girl and took her job of guarding the herd seriously unless someone started putting out hay and then she was quite easily distracted! Griffin loved to find a higher piece of ground to stand on so she could survey her “kingdom”. She also loved a really good roll in the dirt, and a nice “shower” with the hose during the hot days of summer. When we used to hose her legs Griffin would start a dance, spinning and twisting as she enjoyed the cool water on her skin. You had to make sure to stay out of her way unless you wanted to be showered from mud flinging up from under Griffins feet!
From her records we knew that Griffin had once had a cria, but sadly he did not live long. When crias were born on our farm Griffin would often nuzzle them and follow them around, and it was on more than one occasion that Griffin joined in the evening cria pronk. It was so funny to see the little alpaca crias pronking around accompanied by a pretty hefty llama!
We had known something was not right with Griffin since July. While I was away visiting family in England Ric called me to tell me Griffin was not eating. I was due to return a couple of days later and by that time Ric had managed to get Griffin eating again but something was not right with our girl. We consulted our vet and he felt that Griffin might have congestive heart failure and warned us that it would only be a matter of time before we had to say goodbye to her.
Amazingly Griffin perked up and seemed to be doing better, she was back to eating again and eagerly staking her claim on the morning and evening hay as she loved to do. The alpacas all knew not to mess with Griffin at feeding time. We were optimistic. Perhaps the vet’s diagnosis was wrong. Griffin seemed good and we were happy to see her looking like her usual self. But then we noticed that once again Griffin was not right. She seemed to be losing muscle in her rear end, she stood awkwardly and getting up and down seemed more difficult for her than normal. We again consulted our vet. When he examined her he said that her heart sounded good and that the symptoms she had displayed earlier in the summer were all gone, but he was a little baffled as to what was causing Griffin’s discomfort and muscle wasting. Tests were done to see if perhaps there was a neurological problem or perhaps an issue with Griffin’s spine, blood tests were run to see if there was anything abnormal, but nothing showed up in any of the tests to give us a clue.
We tried various treatments from probiotics to antibiotics, we treated for parasites and ear ticks, we put Griffin on some arthritis medicine in case that was the problem. I used my photonic red light on her and gave her gentle massages. Griffin would respond for a while and start eating again and then stop eating and start to lose muscle again. Neither our vet nor we could come up with any clues to help us figure out what on earth was plaguing Griffin.
Last week Griffin again went off her feed. We managed to get her eating again, but within a couple of days she would not eat anything we offered to her. Ric and I were both very concerned about Griffin and what we should do for her.
Last night when I did chores I walked Griffin over to the pen where she liked to eat. As I walked behind her I noticed she was tripping over even the smallest of rocks in the pasture, she just didn’t look good. I offered her food and stroked her neck. I talked to her and told her that if she felt it was time to leave us then I understood. I told her how much we loved her and what a great job she had done for us guarding the herd. I told her we would miss her but that we would be okay.
This morning when I got up I looked for Griffin and found her standing by the fence in front of the house. The nights have been cold recently and Griffin had been spending them in the big blue shelter at the other side of the pasture, staying in there until the hay was put out. But this morning she had already made her way across the pasture. I watched Griffin walk around a little and then cush down.
When our helper Leigh Ann arrived I asked her to keep an eye on Griffin and told her that I was very worried about her. Not too long after Leigh Ann went out to feed the alpacas she came back in and told me that I needed to come to Griffin. Leigh Ann had seen Griffin’s legs suddenly thrash and Griffin had gone onto her side.
Leigh Ann and I went out and I when I looked at Griffin I knew her time to leave us had come. Griffin was still conscious. I put a blanket and a towel under her head and sat with her, stroking her and talking to her until she took her last breath. Leigh Ann stayed with Griffin and me too, giving us both comfort during a difficult time.
Our Griffin will be buried in one of the grass pastures that the alpacas and llamas like to visit when we let them out for a day of grazing. From that point you can see all three alpaca pastures and the hay barn so Griffin can continue to guard over us night and day. I would like to think that she now has been reunited with her cria and is pronking around with him free of pain and full of joy.
To our faithful guardian Griffin, farewell dear one, you served us well and gave us many years of joy. We will miss you. May you now rest in peace.
April 1, 2013
Windrush Alpacas are wearing a year’s worth of fluffy fleece…but not for long! This Open Farm Day Event will be your last chance to see them in their winter coats before they get sheared for the warm months of summer!
On Saturday, April 13, 2013 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. will be the Windrush Alpacas Open Farm Day Event and Farm Store Shopping Experience. Come out to our farm — bring your kids and bring your parents — and spend a couple of hours meeting our friendly alpaca!
Learn why alpaca fleece is super soft, warmer than wool and highly sought after. We’ll explain the shearing procedure and the process the raw fibers go through to become a usable product to be made into luxurious items for human (and pet) comfort.
We’ll also take you on a guided pasture tour and perform some demonstrations to educate you on the wonderful world of alpaca farming. Then you can browse our Farm Store collection of alpaca products–some items made from our very own alpacas–including alpaca fiber bird-nesting balls which are great for spring birds! And if you’re a crafter, we also offer yarns, roving, batting and needle felting kits.
We always offer free admission, free parking and free refreshments.
For more information, call us at 575-683-5177 or visit our website at http://www.windrushalpacas.com. Also, you can Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WindrushAlpacas and shop online at http://www.windrushalpacas.com/store/ and sign up for our newsletter!
February 25, 2013
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.
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 🙂
February 20, 2013
Chamberino’s 13th birthday!
Join us in wishing Chamberino a very happy day. People always comment on his coloring and he likes to give kisses. He’s also part of our Adopt-A-Paca Program, so if you’d like to sponsor him for one year, please look into it. We’re sure he would love to have a sponsorship!
January 29, 2013
Today is Cosmo’s Big Day–he turns 11 years old!
It seems like just yesterday that he joined us and he’s been entertaining us ever since!
So said William Shakespeare and so say us! For recently we received a special package in the mail for one of the alpacas in our Adopt-A-Paca program.
Our sweet yearling alpaca Pearl was recently sponsored by the Reyes family of California. Pearl’s “adoption” was actually given to the son of the family, Oliver Reyes, by a family friend, Lan Merrill. Lan confided in me that while young Oliver was the one receiving the gift, it was Oliver’s mother Veronica who would be the most excited. The Reyes family had visited an alpaca farm in Ojai, California and Veronica had fallen in love with alpacas (and who can blame her!).
It was great fun getting to know Lan as we arranged for the sponsorship of Pearl and the delivery of the adoption packet. It was also fun hearing from Veronica once she and her family had received their gift. They were so thrilled to learn of their newly “adopted” alpaca. We soon received an email from Veronica saying that she would like to send Pearl a gift of some sort and I suggested that perhaps some alpaca treats would be something Pearl would enjoy.
Veronica, her husband Tim and son Oliver got busy and soon we received Pearl’s gift – just look at all those yummy treats!
Along with the treats also came a card for Pearl. Now Pearl hasn’t mastered reading yet but she did look meaningfully at me when I read her card to her, particularly when I got to the part about watching her figure.
We are now working on getting Pearl to eat the treats from our hands. Pearl is a little shy and isn’t in the habit of eating out of our hands, but she is starting to eat the treats if we crumble them up and put them in a feed tray. That is if she can get to them before the other alpacas!
This is just one example of the fun our alpaca sponsors are having with our Adopt-A-Paca program. Participation is as little or as much as the sponsors wish to do. They can just enjoy receiving their pen pal letters and other goodies from their sponsored alpaca or they can send letters or gifts to their sponsored alpaca or come and visit their sponsored alpaca.
We are thoroughly enjoying getting to know our sponsors, the Adopt-A-Paca program is bringing us new members to our Windrush Alpacas family from near and far. Coraline’s sponsor Betty comes to see “her girl” on most Open Farm Days, Honey’s sponsor Kiyah comes and helps us with chores some weekends (well Kiyah’s mom Mindy ends up doing most of the helping, thank you Mindy! But Kiyah has great fun collecting farm treasure such as sticks and rocks and is treated to the occasional wheelbarrow ride by Ric), Etta’s sponsor Darlene comes by often for special kisses from Etta. Aida took the picture of her sponsored alpaca Dream to show and tell at school. Aida’s sister Cara (who is almost 3) decided that her sponsored alpaca Kyleen really wanted to be called Adele. We can’t let sponsors officially change our alpacas names as they are all registered with the alpaca registry but Cara doesn’t need to know that.
So a big Thank You to all of our Adopt-A-Paca sponsors, we really appreciate your involvement in our program and look forward to learning more about you and helping your sponsored alpacas keep in touch with you.
To the Reyes family – thank you so much for Pearl’s gift, she and her herd mates are most grateful and hope that even though you are many miles away you will one day be able to visit the farm.
For those who also wish to make alpaca treats either for our alpacas or theirs, here is the link to the recipe which we found on the website of Cathy Spalding of Gentle Spirit Behavior and Training for Alpacas and Llamas http://gentlespiritllamas.com/html/tips/treats.htm