A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

July 5, 2011

Picnic with a Paca!

Filed under: alpaca, Crias, Open Farm Day — alpacalady @ 2:49 pm

Picnic with a Paca! Bring your sack lunch and a garden chair, and relax among the alpacas!

Did you ever think you’d be invited to have an enjoyable afternoon picnicking among a herd of alpacas? No? Well, you are now! Come on out to our next Open Farm Day Experience on Saturday, July 9th between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Bring your entire family, plenty of food, a couple of chairs or a big ol’ picnic blanket, and hang out at the Windrush Alpacas Farm! Enjoy a lazy afternoon gazing out over a pasture full of grazing alpacas. In between snacks (or naps) you can join us for our guided pasture tours and educational demonstrations – plus we’ll have baby alpacas, called crias, for you to meet!

No visit to our farm is complete without a stroll though our Farm Store. Browse our selection of products, some made from our very own alpacas — we can even tell you which ones!

Free parking and free admission make for a family-fun-filled day that’s easy on the pocket!

Call us at 575-683-5177 or visit our website at http://www.windrushalpacas.com for more information. You can Like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/WindrushAlpacas, too!

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May 18, 2011

The Year of Unexpected Events

Phew!  Life certainly has been busy on the farm.  Time for writing has been scarce even though the desire is there.

I am beginning to think that 2011 should be renamed “The Year of Unexpected Events” – February brought record setting cold temperatures in the midst of a dry winter, March brought a houseful of unexpected guests when Ric surprised me for my birthday by flying in friends and family from across the world (which also solved the mystery of why Ric had taken a sudden interest in tidying and decluttering!), April brought us an unexpected large vet bill when our miniature Australian shepherd dog Blue decided to try and herd our horses and had to have a toe amputated as a result of her escapades (the vet said the horse did a good job of a surgical amputation and he just had to tidy everything up).

Blue tries to play with her cone on

Blue with her bandaged foot and her cone collar

The unexpected events continued in April when a nearby large grass fire propelled by the high winds that have plagued us this spring caused us to evacuate all of the alpacas from the farm.  We were fortunate in that the wind changed direction before the fire reached our property, but with 70 alpacas at the farm we knew an evacuation would take time and so decided to act sooner than later.  How fortunate we are to have many friends and acquaintances who showed up to help with the evacuation without being asked.  Having heard of the fire they made their way to our farm, some with trucks and trailers to help as they could.

Smoke from the Grass Fire April 17 2011

Smoke from the nearby grass fire rolls over our house - photo courtesy of our friend Barb McKenzie

May sees us in one of the worst drought periods in history, one of our hay suppliers has had his total crop of wheat fail and will not have hay for sale this year – a blow to us but an even bigger blow to him as his hay sales are a big part of his livelihood.   Thankfully another of our suppliers was more fortunate and has now delivered us 1450 bales of good looking wheat hay – good fortune has smiled on us again even in tough times.  What a year and we are not even half way through it!

Shearing is now well underway; we still have 25 alpacas left to shear but should be completely finished following another couple of shearing sessions.  Ric shears our alpacas and not being a professional shearer he cannot compete with the 7 minutes per alpaca that some of the professional shearers achieve.  There is something to be said though for our slower pace, our alpacas are calm and relaxed during the process and we can take the time to try and ensure that our fleeces are evenly sheared with few second cuts and gathered without contamination from short fibers from other areas of the alpaca.  We have a team of loyal friends who have shown up time after time to help us with shearing – to Joe, Becca, Kayleen, Keenan, Bethany, Terri L., Terri F., Darlene, Jeff, Don and Barb however can we thank you enough.

Our monthly Open Farm Days have been a great success, people love to come to visit the alpacas and learn about them during Ric’s circular tour of the farm.  We too have enjoyed sharing the farm with the community, it’s so much fun to watch the delight on people’s faces as they get to see or feel an alpaca for the first time.  For all who have come out to the farm on Open Farm Days we heartily thank you and hope you will continue to come out and visit us.  There is always something new going on at the farm and each month we hope to add a little something to make your Open Farm Day experience even better.

Ric Shows Off Roadrunner to our Open Farm Day Visitors

Ric Shows Off Roadrunner to Open Farm Day Visitors

And talking of new – crias will be here soon!  Yes we are watching and waiting for the first new cria to make his or her arrival.  Queen and Rosie are now both overdue, perhaps in part to the fire evacuation and the drought conditions – alpacas can and will put their pregnancies on hold if they feel conditions are not right for their survival or the survival of their cria.  Keeva too is getting close to her delivery date and TeQueely, Willow, Snow, Cinnamon and Gen are not far behind.  That will be quite the group of crias once they arrive – and with the way things have been going this year I would not be surprised if there isn’t something unexpected within the bunch too.  Let’s hope whatever that unexpected is it is something pleasant and delightful!

Hope to be back soon with more of our news – and there is more news to share so keep checking back for more posts and updates!

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 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

November 29, 2009

More Arrivals – Ladies First!

Tuesday saw more arrivals at the farm as the new alpacas we had purchased were delivered to our farm.  We had purchased Ana Lynette from Theresa Reyes Tassel of Hagen Heights Alpaca Farm back in the summer.  We left Ana Lynette at the farm where she was boarded until she had her cria – a pretty fawn male who we are calling Roadrunner for now.  Not long after we purchased Ana Lynette we purchased our new black junior herdsire Alpaca Knights Challenger’s Champ from Carol Knights of Alpaca Knights.

Having purchased our new alpacas we then had to figure out how to get Ana Lynette and Roadrunner from New York to Clovis and Champ from Kentucky to Clovis.  While we could have driven to pick them all up that would have been quite the road trip and so we started contacting a few trusted alpaca transporters to see who was available to transport them for us.

It is important to us to use a transporter who is careful in their care of the alpacas onboard their trailer, has a trailer that is well constructed and equipped for transporting alpacas and who practices good biosecurity.   Alpacas being transported are under a little stress, they have been removed from the farm which they know as home and don’t know why they are in the trailer or where they are going.  The additional stress could make them more susceptible to illness and so you want their journey to be as comfortable and safe as possible.

Not too long after we put out the word that we were looking for transport for our new alpacas we heard from Dick Hegeman of Alpacas in the Forest.   Dick was making a transport run that could accommodate our alpacas. Having used “Captain Dick’s” transportation services in the past and knowing what an excellent transporter he is we made arrangements for him to bring our alpacas to us.

Originally we thought the alpacas would be with us the day after Thanksgiving, but Captain Dick’s trip went well and on Monday we learned that our new alpacas would be arriving on Tuesday evening.   One thing always to bear in mind when working with an alpaca transporter is to be flexible about the arrival date of your alpacas.  Typically the transporter is making many stops to collect and deliver alpacas and things can and do happen that can cause a change in the timing of the trip.

At 10:15 p.m. on Tuesday evening Captain Dick and the alpacas arrived.  Dick made sure we got everyone settled in their pastures, including carrying Roadrunner to our female quarantine pen which gave Dick his workout for the day as Roadrunner is already over 30 lbs!, before heading off to his next stop.

So here they are our new arrivals – the beautiful, soft and dense Ana Lynette

Ana Lynette and RoadrunnerAna Lynette on her first day with her cria Roadrunner and Primera in the background

 

Her charming cria Roadrunner (who has that lovely soft buttery feel to his fleece and who greeted me with a kiss on the nose)

 

Roadrunner

Roadrunner Standing Proud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And our handsome black junior herdsire Champ (who has a fleece you just want to sink your hands into – and he’s very sweet too!).

 

Champ

Champ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s great to have our new acquisitions on our farm at last and we look forward to getting to know them better over the next few weeks.

 

Rosemary

November 22, 2009

Guess the Weight of the Cria

 

McKinley

McKinley - He's heavier than he looks

 

 

If we had been playing that game at the weekend we would have lost!  As part of our routine we had scheduled to weigh Whisper and McKinley.  Whisper was born August 31 with a birth weight of 14.7 lbs, while McKinley was born September 5 with a birth weight of 19.1 lbs.

McKinley is quite a tall cria and Whisper is just the opposite small and compact.  They were the last of the summer crias to be born and are very close in age.  With the exception of Theresa’s cria, the latest cria to be born on our farm, McKinley and Whisper are the two smallest crias of our summer cria crop.

When Ric picked up McKinley it was obvious from Ric’s face that McKinley was a little heavier than expected.  Ric valiantly carried him to the scales and back, but by the time he got to the pasture gate he was calling out “help me” for McKinley indeed was no light weight having weighed in at 54.5 lbs.

Next to go to the scales was Whisper – surely she weighed a lot less.  Were we in for a surprise!  Again as Ric picked up Whisper his face showed the strain (is Ric really getting out of shape I began to wonder, no more Open Farm Day cookies for him!), but Ric had good cause to be taken aback by Whisper’s weight for she weighed in at 58.7 lbs!  She weighed even more than McKinley!

 

Whisper

Little Whisper - only she is not that little anymore!

 

 

 

We have been raising alpacas now for over 10 years and so usually are pretty in tune with how much a cria weighs based on its size, but these two really have surprised us for they do not look that big.  Both McKinley and Whisper have dense fleeces though and I suspect that some of that weight is fleece weight.    Whatever the reason for McKinley and Whisper’s weights, I think it is safe to say that they are both healthy, hearty crias and that their dams Bjorn and Willow are doing a great job in the milk department!  Keep up the good work girls (and stay away from those cookies Ric!)

 

Rosemary

November 19, 2009

It’s Almost Time For…..

Open Farm Day!  This Saturday November 21 we will again be opening the farm to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

We try to have an Open Farm Day at least once a quarter but with the holiday season rapidly approaching we will be having Open Farm Days on November 21 and December 19.  In addition to the Open Farm Days we will also be opening the Farm Store from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday in December until Christmas.  So there will be plenty of opportunity for people to come out and do their Christmas shopping and also see the alpacas between now and Christmas.

There is always much preparation for an Open Farm Day, new products to be found, inventory to be priced and put out on display, copies of alpaca coloring pages to be made to help keep the little ones entertained, cookies to be baked and a general tidy up around the farm.

I am excited that we have recently started to offer a few new products, pretty Peruvian alpaca hats, needle felting starter kits in bright colors, handmade soaps covered in a felted alpaca wrap that smell divine and also alpaca bird nesting balls to help the birds build their nests in the spring.  It’s great that we have access to such a diverse selection of alpaca goodies and shows how people in the alpaca industry are becoming very creative in using our versatile alpaca fiber.

 

Alpaca Bird Nesting Ball

Alpaca Bird Nesting Ball (picture courtesy of Alpacas of the Covenant the creators of this neat alpaca product)

Of course we will also have plenty of alpaca socks in stock along with gloves, scarves, ski bands, yarn and rugs.   We feel it is important to have a nice selection of inventory on hand to suit everyone’s budget and so have products ranging in price from $10 to $200.

The alpacas of course always receive a lot of attention during Open Farm Days and hopefully will be on their best behavior.  They usually manage to easily entertain our visitors with their curious stares and cautious sniffs.  I can guarantee that they will have their pictures taken several times during the day and I suspect Theresa’s new cria will be the star of the show.

Hopefully our warm and sunny weather will hold out at least through the weekend, it’s always more pleasant for our visitors if they can stand in a warm, sunny pasture, but of course those colder days make people appreciate the warmth of alpaca fiber more.  Whatever the weather we will enjoy meeting those who come out to the farm and hope that they will enjoy meeting us and spending their time here too.

 

Rosemary

November 16, 2009

Where Does The Time Go To?

Windrush Chandra

Windrush Chandra, February 2009 - she's grown a lot since then!

The past week just seemed to evaporate!  It’s hard to imagine where the time goes or is it?  Of course there was the distraction of Theresa’s new cria to keep us occupied.  Theresa’s cria is a sweet and lively little thing, exploring the pasture, coming up to see what we are doing, giving cria kisses and taking off on cria races around the pasture.  She is now up to 20.8 lbs and she and Theresa are back in with the main herd.  Theresa is a very protective dam and will not take any nonsense from the older crias who might think they are going to play rough with her baby!

Sunday (November 15) saw the end of the early bird discount for stalls at the TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular which will be held February 12- 14, 2010 at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas.  We always try and enter alpacas in the TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular and it’s great to be able to get discounted stalls and so we needed to make our decision this week as to which alpacas will attend the show.  We are lucky to have many alpacas to choose from but show expenses soon mount up and we can’t take them all.  We ended up registering our two new junior herdsires Biscotti and Champ and our Prince Regent daughter Chandra.   Show results from different shows and different judges can do a lot to enhance your Junior Herdsires breeding career, shows also provide an opportunity to showcase your junior herdsire in front of other alpaca breeders who might be interested in booking breedings to him.    With Chandra our motivation in showing her is a little different.  As our one and only Prince Regent daughter on the farm (the others have all sold or belong to our clients) we are curious to see how she places in the competitive white classes.  Our intention is for her to become part of our foundation herd so it will be good to get feedback from a judge as to Chandra’s strengths and weaknesses.  With her dense, fine fleece, correct conformation, graceful presence and her Prince Regent head (her sire has a beautiful head style which Chandra has inherited) we are hopeful that Chandra will walk away with a ribbon.

Of course the TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular also has a fleece show and we will be sending in entries to that too, but I have a little more time to get those entries in the system.  Once entered though I then need to get busy skirting the fleeces in preparation for the show – February will soon come around.

We also had several enquiries during the week from people interested in learning more about alpacas, the alpaca lifestyle and what it takes to start up and run a successful alpaca business.  It’s always great to spend time talking to people interested in alpacas and to share with them some of the knowledge we have gained over the years.  I still remember the excitement Ric and I felt in the days when we were researching the alpaca business and the kindness of the alpaca breeders we spoke to at that time.  It is nice to now be able to “pay it forward” and share our knowledge with those looking into bringing alpacas into their life.

Add to those activities the daily chores, some behavior tests of bred females, some toe nail trimming, work on our websites, preparation for next weekend’s Open Farm Day, and work on a knitting project that someone has asked me to make and I guess it’s hardly surprising that our week disappeared before our eyes.  No complaint here though as it is fun work, a great lifestyle to be living and beats shuffling papers in an office any day!

Rosemary

November 11, 2009

A Long Awaited Cria Arrives

 

Theresa Checks Out Her New Female Cria

Finally its a girl for Theresa!

Finally it happened, at 11:10 on November 10th (now how’s that for coincidence being born at 11:10 on 11/10) Theresa’s cria was born – and after five boys in a row Theresa had a girl!

Theresa was bred on November 15, 2008 so by my calculation she had a gestation of 360 days – phew!

We suspected that Theresa was finally thinking of having her cria when she started acting differently late in the day on Monday.  We noticed Theresa was standing a lot, not eating as much as usual and when she did cush it was very slowly.  By 8 p.m. Theresa had started to hum which was a bit concerning as it was an indication that labor was getting closer and we didn’t want a cria born during the night.  Apart from the humming though Theresa seemed otherwise comfortable.  I monitored her until 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday and as she still seemed comfortable at that time I made tracks for bed.

Of course you never really sleep that well when you are wondering if one of your alpaca girls is outside in the throes of labor, by 5:15 a.m. I was up to check on Theresa and could see that she was still cushed comfortably.  Theresa ate well at feeding time, although the humming was still continuing, but after feeding she isolated herself from the herd and then I was certain her cria was on its way.

By 8:50 a.m. Theresa was starting to push.  I have known Theresa for many years and have seen her give birth several times.  I know that with Theresa labor does not progress quickly and just when you start to think you should call the vet she gives a huge push and out pops her cria.   Theresa’s labor progressed as I expected and by 11:05 a.m. I could just see the tip of the crias nose.  Next came Theresa’s usual huge contraction and at 11:10 a.m. her cria was born.

By the time the cria arrived the other alpaca girls had gathered round to check out the new arrival, much to Theresa’s annoyance, so as soon as Theresa was rested and up I took her and her cria and put them in a catch pen to bond.

 

Theresa's Cria Standing Strong

Theresa's cria tries out her long legs

 

 

For Theresa there had been a long gap between crias, following the birth of her last cria she had developed a uterine infection which took a long while to clear up.  Once the uterine infection was gone Theresa was bred again but sadly lost her cria at 90 days gestation when the crias umbilical cord became wrapped around the crias neck.  We have not had that happen before, it was an unfortunate accident but there was nothing we could have done to prevent it and nothing we could do about it.  Theresa was bred again (after we had allowed her body to recover from the loss of her cria) and this time all went well.   Theresa had a good pregnancy, even though it was another long one.

So now Theresa finally has a daughter and what a good looking girl she is.  Her fleece is very curly and soft and like her mother she loves to eat (or in her case nurse).  Theresa’s cria wasted no time in getting to her feet and having a nurse as soon as she was able and Theresa was more than happy for her to do so.

Our congratulations go to Theresa’s owners Troy and Mary Ogilvie of Timber Lodge Alpacas.  Troy and Mary were very patient during the process of getting Theresa bred again, through all that happened their only concern was that Theresa be healthy and given all that was needed to help her have a good pregnancy.  Troy and Mary’s patience paid off and now they have been rewarded with a beautiful female cria.  I am sure Troy and Mary will love her when they get to see her, and knowing them I am betting that will be soon!
Rosemary

October 31, 2009

Fall’s First Snow Fall

 

First Snow of Fall

First Snow of Fall

 

 

This was the sight we were greeted with when we did chores on Thursday morning – snow!  You may be able to tell from the picture that this was a wet snow with big, heavy snowflakes.  As fast and as furious as the snow was falling you would think that we would have had a large accumulation, but our ground was still warm and we ended up with just about an inch of the fluffy white stuff.

When I had set out for Blue’s early morning walk at 5:45 a.m. the temperature had been quite mild, but as is often the case in New Mexico within an hour everything had changed.  The wind started to roar, the temperature dropped and then the flakes started falling.

Many of the alpacas remained cushed as the snow started.  They had made a nice warm spot on the ground and didn’t want to give it up.  Theresa in particular did not want to move, heavily pregnant she felt more comfortable staying put, blinking away the snowflakes as they landed on her eyes.

 

Theresa Sits in The Snow

A very pregnant Theresa refuses to budge from her spot despite the snow

 

 

After feeding, the boys soon made a dash for cover and stayed under their shelters until things started to warm up.  The girls ate quickly and then headed for the hay feeders, but some of them were quite happy to stand out in the snow.  Theresa was a little shivery at feeding time, a result of her refusing to give up her spot in the pasture, but a bowl of alpaca feed and alfalfa followed by some hay and warm soaked beet shreds soon had her warmed up.

We usually have a snowfall around Halloween; this one was a little early but not too far off track.  Parts of the state got a foot or more of snow – rather them than me.  Once our Halloween snowfall has arrived we often don’t see snow again until January.

For this weekend the forecast is for temperatures in the 60’s – much better weather for Theresa to deliver her cria in.  As of Friday night it looked like she had a little udder development so maybe we will get more of a treat than a trick this Halloween!

 

Rosemary

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