A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

March 26, 2009

Scoundrels!

The Girls Help Themselves to Hay

The Girls Help Themselves to Hay

 

What can I say?  Leave a herd of alpacas alone long enough with a bale of their favorite teff hay which has been “secured” in a pen and one of them will figure out how to get the pen gate open allowing the herd an “all you can eat” buffet on the bale!

We had one bale of teff hay left and decided to store it in the pen we use for big bales in the girls pasture so that we could ration it out a little every day.  Word soon spread among the herd that the teff hay was there and the girls happily spent their day pulling pieces through the chain link of the pen.  That teff hay tastes so good and our girls wanted more.

Maya the llama was the first to lead the assault on the big bale pen.  Using the chain link material on the gate to the big bale pen she managed to climb up high enough to where she could reach her neck out and just manage to nibble at the edge of the bale.  This wasn’t the easiest feat in the world but Maya was determined despite being told off by Ric for climbing on the chain link gate.

Having been discouraged from accessing the bale by going over the fence there was only one alternative, go under the fence.

We have two alpacas at the farm that are champions at putting their heads under the last rung of any portable panel or gate in order to reach anything that is tasty on the other side.  Carina started this trend, reaching under her feeding pen each morning to steal one of the bowls from the group of girls in the adjoining pen.  Carina also discovered that there was sufficient space for her to get her head and neck under the gate of the big bale pen.

Carina is one of those girls who puts her energy into milk production and tends to be slim, so when we saw her getting access to the big bale by putting her head under the gate we were not too concerned.  We checked to make sure she had sufficient room to get her head in and out of the gap under the gate and allowed her to continue stealing some extra calories.

Glow’s cria Nochi then noticed Carina’s trick and decided that she too could steal hay from under the gate and was soon joining Carina.

Having accessed the hay from under the gate it didn’t take long for Carina to figure out that she could use her head (in a physical way rather than an intellectual way) to push up on the gate just enough to unlatch the lock. 

So it was that yesterday afternoon I glanced out of the window to be greeted by the sight of the herd piling in that gate to help themselves to teff hay – boy were they happy!

While I would love to give them free access to the teff hay, it is the last bale we have and we are trying to make it last.  We do have other hay to feed the alpacas but it will be August before we have access to another load of teff hay.  So for now the gate to the big bale pen has been secured not only with the latch but also with a strap that prevents the alpacas and llamas from maneuvering the gate in any direction – and I have a herd of alpacas who sit longingly outside that pen quietly thinking about how they can once again get free access to that bale of teff hay.

Rosemary

March 16, 2009

The Folly Of Mother Nature

A Scared Baby Rabbit

A Scared Baby Rabbit

 

Just before our recent snow fall it was starting to look like spring around the farm, fruit trees were blossoming, elm trees were bright green with young leaves, the bluebirds had arrived for their short stay before heading further north and madam skunk had been prowling the property.

 

Then the snow came and everything was plunged back into winter.  That is the nature of the weather in Eastern New Mexico, extreme and changeable.

 

While doing chores in the snow on Friday morning I was made aware of how much nature had been fooled by our warmer days.

 

Putting hay out for the girls is always a bustling time.  They want to be the first to get their head in the hay feeder, or even better get their head in the bucket of hay I am carrying, especially if we are treating them to a little alfalfa as was the case on Friday.

 

As I put hay out in the feeders in the large blue shelter Griffin the llama was standing by my shoulder trying her best to get her head in the hay bucket.  Suddenly from the direction of Griffins feet came a squealing sound.  The sound was vaguely familiar, I didn’t think it was a cria and hoped it was not as we are not due for any births until May.  The squealing continued and eventually I found the source of the noise.  There under Griffins foot was a tiny baby cottontail rabbit. 

 

Fortunately Griffin did not have her feet completely on the rabbit, she’s a large girl and that would have been the end of the rabbit I am sure.  I nudged Griffin to move and the little rabbit dashed off to the side of the shelter.  It was then I noticed a ball of downy fur nestled in the straw where the mother rabbit had made a nest out of her own fur.

 

The dashing of baby rabbit number one had alerted baby rabbit number two who then ran out of the nest to the side of the shelter.  There was no sign of the mother rabbit, but there was enough activity to get the attention of the llamas and the alpacas.  They watched with curiosity as the little rabbits ran around the shelter dashing from one side to the one.  Then, once the rabbits had stopped, Inca (another of our llamas) and Griffin decided that they should check out what these little furry speeding balls of fur were.  Very gently Inca and Griffin reached out their necks and sniffed the rabbits.  Can you imagine what must have been going through those rabbits minds as the large llama muzzles came down towards them?

 

After a couple of sniffs and some words of reassurance from me that the rabbits were okay Inca and Griffin returned to eating hay.  Two of the alpaca girls Keeva and Ma Cushla though felt they needed to be in on the action and so also went over to sniff the baby rabbits, who by now must have been petrified.

 

As the rabbits seemed okay, apart from being scared, I decided that the best thing to do was to leave them alone to settle back down and return to their nest in the hope that the mother rabbit would return to care for them.  I moved the girls hay feeder away from the nest to make sure that no one stepped on the rabbits again and left the shelter.

 

We have seen the baby rabbits since Friday; Ric caught a glimpse of them on Saturday morning.  They seem to be faring well and I am pretty certain the mother rabbit is tending to them when we are not around.

 

I am glad that the little rabbits and their mother were not scared out of the shelter.  It provides great shelter for them and has some nice deep straw in it where they can stay hidden and warm, provided that is that the girls do not step on them again.  It is early though for such small rabbits and goes to show how Mother Nature sometimes fools herself.

 

Rosemary

February 19, 2009

The Places Alpacas Take You

Filed under: alpaca, Alpacas, camelids, General, llama — Tags: , , , , — alpacalady @ 7:21 am

Manflas Grapes Logo

Manflas Grapes Logo

 

Have you ever noticed how when something or someone enters you life you suddenly start to notice things connected to that new interest appearing where you would not have noticed those things before.  Sometimes, if you are lucky that interest will take you on a little magical journey away from the routine chores of everyday life.

 

While preparing my lunch on Wednesday I looked down at the bag of grapes I had brought out of the refrigerator.  There on the bag was the company logo for the grape producer and the logo featured an alpaca!  This is the first time I had seen an alpaca logo on something that did not appear to be alpaca related.  I read the print on the bag, the company name appeared to be Manflas and the grapes were marked Produce of Chile.  Now things were starting to make sense, while many alpacas are found in Peru there is also a pretty good alpaca population in Chile.

 

Being curious about anything alpaca I decided to do a little research to see what I could find out about Manflas grapes and why they have an alpaca as part of their logo.  (I guess it could also be a llama, but the ears look more alpaca shaped to me).

 

It wasn’t hard to find the company who produced my grapes and I soon found myself on a little virtual trip to Chile courtesy of Agricola Manflas (also know as Manflas Ltd. Agricultural Company).

 

Agricola Manflas are located in the valley of Copiapo in the north of Chile.  According to the information on their website, the valley where they are located was named by the Incas “The Enchanted Valley” as a kind of homage to the majestic and colorful hills surrounding it.   Looking at the pictures of the area on the Manflas web site you can see why the Incas were so taken with the valley.  The mention of Incas on the website reinforces the alpaca connection as the Incas treasured alpacas.

 

Agricola Manflas have a beautiful website at www.manflas.cl with the whole site being available in both Spanish and English.  The website describes the history and goals of the company, the process of growing and harvesting the grapes, the type of grapes grown and the facilities available to their workforce.  Houses, a school that has an agricultural farm, a nursery, adult study programs and Internet access are some of the facilities available to the workers at Agricola Manflas.  There are even a couple of virtual tours of the Hacienda Manflas available to visitors to the web site.

 

If you have a few minutes to spare its worth paying a visit to the Agricola Manflas website.  Sadly I didn’t find a picture one of an alpaca or llama on the site and neither did I find any explanation of their logo.  The fact that there is mention of the Incas having been in that area leads me to believe that at some stage there probably were alpacas in there as the Incas treasured alpacas.  Most likely there were llamas in the area too.

 

I enjoyed my virtual trip to Chile, it was a nice little break from the dusty, windy day we were having – and I enjoyed the grapes too.   If I didn’t raise alpacas my curiosity would not have been aroused about the logo on my grape bag and the company that grew the grapes I was eating.  I would have never learnt about Agricola Manflas and the process those grapes went through to get from a valley in Chile to a grocery store in Clovis, New Mexico.  Sometimes alpacas take you places that you never expected to go – and talking of going places its time to go and get some more of those tasty grapes before Ric eats them all!

 

Rosemary

January 27, 2009

Winter Pays a Visit

Guess what's under here

Guess what's under here

Well we knew the warm sunny weather had to end at some time and yesterday it did.  From having temperatures close to 70 degree Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius for those of you in areas where Celsius is used) on Sunday we plunged down to 18 F (-7 C) overnight and then achieved daytime high of (-2 C).  Brrrr!!!

 

(You might be asking what relevance the picture of the upturned trash can has to do with all of this – keep reading and you will find out!)

 

The cold weather made the animals a little frisky.  The adult girls were pronging around the pasture on Monday morning as I carried over their feed.  They certainly were not lacking in energy and were more than ready to eat.  Maya one of our llamas was a little shivery as I fed her, cushing in the straw as she ate.  At 11 years of age Maya is starting to feel the cold more in winter, but she is smart and on colder days she stays in the big blue shelter where she is protected from the wind and can cush in deep straw if she needs to.  I made sure I let Maya out of her pen as soon as she had finished eating so that she could return to the comfort of the shelter.

 

The cold also makes the boys frisky, they are apt to wrestle and chase each other more, a natural way of turning up their internal temperature.

 

Today is forecast to be even colder with a chance of freezing fog, freezing rain and even snow.  The weatherman is not promising a lot of moisture, but it is moisture all the same and so we will take it in whatever form it comes.  I might have a slippery time doing chores in the morning, but at least I don’t have to drive anywhere and it always feels so good to come into the warm house when it is cold outside.

 

No doubt my thermal coveralls and fleece-lined jeans will be making an appearance today, along with my alpaca socks and alpaca headband to keep my ears warm.  Chores tend to take a little longer in the cold and so it is best to be prepared to stay outside for a while.

 

Of course our preparations for the cold start as soon as we hear it is coming.  We make sure that the alpacas have a good layer of straw in their shelters, we turn on the heater for the boys’ large water tub and we plan to feed the herd extra warm soaked beet shreds and some extra hay including a little alfalfa.

 

So with regards to the trash can.  Look carefully at the picture and you will see a glow coming from the bottom of the trashcan.  It’s a simple way to keep our outside faucets from freezing!

 

Our outside faucets are supposed to be frost free, but some are quite old and the faucet heads tend to freeze up when the temperature gets really cold.  To make life easier we hang a worklight with a 40-Watt bulb on the faucet, turn the light on, cover with a trash can to keep the heat in and the alpacas and llamas out and voila – a working faucet in the morning.  The things we will do to keep from carrying water buckets!

A simple faucet head defroster (I turned the light off to take the picture, usually it would be on)

A simple faucet head defroster (I turned the light off to take the picture, usually it would be on)

 

Rosemary

January 13, 2009

Trying Tiffany

 

We’ve received the analysis back on the Tiffany Teff Hay.  It is higher in protein than we had expected and also has more potassium than we like to see making me wonder if perhaps it was fertilized more heavily than it needed to be.  The Calcium/Phosphorus ratio is good as is the TDN (Total Digestible Nutrients).

 

During my research on Tiffany Teff grass and alpacas I have found varying reports.  Some farms said their alpacas would not touch it, others said their alpacas loved it.  For the most part though the alpacas that would not touch the Tifffany Teff grass were kept on fairly good quality pasture, while the alpacas that loved it were kept on dry lots as our alpacas are.  So it seems that when alpacas are used to lovely fresh pasture the Tiffany Teff grass is not of interest to them, but for alpacas that don’t have the fresh pasture it has seems to have an appeal.

 

We have decided to try a big bale to see how it works with our feeding program.  It will not be the main hay for the alpacas but rather will supply some extra nutrition to the girls who with various stages of pregnancy and nursing crias tend to need more nutritional care than the boys (although on cold nights the boys will be treated to a little of the Tiffany Teff grass too).

 

For ease of feeding we are putting the bale of hay in a feeding pen within the girls pasture.  The pen has a gate that can be shut, meaning that we will be able to restrict the access to the Tiffany Teff grass as we feel necessary.

 

The girls were quite excited to see a big bale being delivered to their pasture.  They have had big bales to feed off in the past and seem to like the idea of having 24/7 unlimited access to hay.  As much as the girls like that idea, the Tiffany Teff grass is too high in protein to allow them 24/7 free access, so they may be a little disappointed to find the gate to the bale shut from time to time.

 

Griffin the llama was particularly excited about the delivery of the big bale.  She spied the tractor outside the bottom gate and started performing a dance of joy, bouncing and twirling around outside the gate.  By the time we opened the gates to move the tractor and bale into the pasture word had spread among the girls that something exciting was going on and they were all galloping and pronging around the pasture as Ric drove the tractor in – making for some hazardous driving conditions (beware the low flying llama!), but Ric made it in and out of the pasture without injury to himself of any of the herd.

 

So we will give the Tiffany Teff grass a try.  The farmer who grew it is local to this area and so perhaps we can speak to him about making some adjustments to his next crop.  We have to remember that this is a relatively new forage crop and it will take time for the hay growers to figure out how to get the crop to the nutritional levels required by their customers.

 

This morning will be our first time of feeding the hay to the girls.  I always prefer to feed a new hay during the day when I can be around to see the alpacas reaction to it, we try to be careful to buy safe weed free hay, but should there be any adverse reaction by any one of the herd it is better to happen during the day when the vets is available and we are around to see what is happening.

 

Judging from the small sample we fed prior to purchasing the hay I think everything will be fine and hopefully the only problem we will have is persuading three greedy llamas to leave the pen when we come to close the gate in front of the bale of hay!

 

Rosemary

November 17, 2008

So What Do You Get If ………..

 Some trips to the vet are for good reasons and such was the case when I took two of the visiting girls in for ultrasounds last week.   The ultrasounds showed that both girls were pregnant and the girls handled the procedure well.

 

What was unusual for my trip was that I was the only client at the vets that afternoon.  The vet did have some house calls to make later in the day, but for some reason that day was a little quiet – a welcome break for our usually busy vet.

 

The relaxed atmosphere at the vet clinic meant that we could get caught up on news and talk about various things we had been seeing or doing.  Our vet mentioned that recently he had been out in deepest rural New Mexico (the type of area where you don’t see anything anywhere close to you and are aware it has been a long time since you even drove past a house or a driveway) when he had come across two llamas standing proudly in a pasture.   The llamas made an unusual sight, standing there in the pasture with nothing else nearby not even a ranch cow (although I am betting those llamas were being used for guards for sheep or possible cows with calves).

 

Our conversation turned to the subject of llamas that pull carts, and we jokingly spoke as to how that might be a better option than cars in our current economy.

 

Then our vet asked me if I had ever heard of a llama being crossed with a camel.  I knew that at some time I had heard of such a creature but for the life of me I couldn’t remember what it was called.  I was pretty certain it did not inherit the camel’s hump though.

 

Our vet mentioned that one of his clients had recently brought a camel in to the clinic  and had allowed our vet to ride the camel.  Our vet had been surprised to see that the camel led off with it’s hind leg rather than the front leg, and that camels have a lateral gait (moving both hind and front leg from the same side at the same time) rather than a diagonal gait (moving opposite hind and front legs).  The camel our vet had ridden was a Bactrian camel (the two humped variety) and that led us to wonder if only Bactrian camels had the lateral gait or if Dromedary camels also have a lateral gait (they do).

 

The vet’s questions stuck in my mind when I returned home and I was still certain that I had at some stage heard of a camel crossed with a llama and so I did a little research to see what I could find.

 

It turns out that on January 14, 1998  Rama the Cama was born in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  Cama is the term being used for the offspring resulting from the crossing of a camel and a llama.  Some of the information I discovered mentioned Rama’s dam being a llama, but it seems as if Rama’s dam was actually a guanaco.  The confusion about Rama’s dam may come from the word lama (not only one “L”), which is the genus name  South American Camelids; a guanaco is a lama but not a llama.  You can see why people might get confused.

 

There is an interesting piece about Rama and how he came to be at

 

http://taylorllamas.com/Camel-LamaCross.html

 

Pictures of Rama can be seen at

http://taylorllamas.com/Camel-LamaCrossPhotos.html

 

Unfortunately Rama has not grown up with the nicest of dispositions, part of that might be that his dam had little milk and was not interested in Rama when he was born and so he was bottle fed.  The other contributing factor to Rana’s personality might just be the combination of the guanaco and camel personalities.   Rama also was not accepted by the camels and guanaco’s at the Camel Reproduction Center where he lives.

 

Since Rama’s birth other Camel-Lama crosses have been produced including Kamilah who does have a llama dam rather than a guanaco dam.

 

Rama is still alive and lives at the Camel Reproduction Center in Dubai; he likes to kick a soccer ball around for entertainment.  It still has not been determined if Rama is fertile or not.

 

If you have time to read a longer article check out

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/99oct/9910camels.htm

 

The article is in three sections but is an interesting insight into camels and the work of Dr. Julian “Lulu” Skidmore at the Camel Reproduction Center.

 

Happy Reading!

 

Rosemary

September 25, 2008

Griffin Saves The Day – Well Almost…..

Filed under: alpaca, Alpacas, camelids, General, guard llamas, llama — Tags: , , — alpacalady @ 6:49 am

Griffin checks out Kanika when she was a small cria

Griffin checks out Kanika when Kanika was a small cria

 

As I have mentioned in previous blog entries, our llama ladies do a good job of guarding our herd.  In the past they have alerted us to stray dogs on our property and have even alerted us to when one of the alpacas was having difficulty giving birth.  Having three guard llamas means that one of them is always “on duty” even during the night, and so they provide us with round the clock security coverage.

 

When the llamas alert us to something there are some stages they go through.  First they will stand very erect with their tails arched up and their ears pointing slightly forward, this posture makes them seem even bigger than they actually are.  While holding this position they can snort, dance around a little or pull their lips back, depending on how they feel about the threat, but their actions are noticeable and will get my attention.

 

From that position, the next step for the llamas is to alarm call.  If the alarm call is ineffective they will gradually approach the intruder and if that doesn’t make the intruder have second thoughts about being in the pasture the llamas will eventually charge the intruder and try and stomp on it.

 

The other day when I was doing evening chores, I became aware of Griffin our rose grey llama posturing and snorting by the fence line, letting me know that something was bothering her.  She was soon joined by Cinnamon, one of the alpacas, who stood beside Griffin looking off towards the boys pasture.

 

For a while I thought perhaps we had a stay dog on the property, but could not see anything from where I was and so decided to go to where Griffin stood to check out what was getting her attention.

 

Once closer to Griffin I still could not see what was bothering her, until I realized she wasn’t really look at the boys pasture but rather she was looking straight ahead of where she stood, and there on the ground was a huge tarantula!

 

By now Cinnamon’s curiosity was getting the better of her and she reached down to sniff the tarantula.  The tarantula was not keen on Cinnamon’s attention and started to get annoyed with her sniffing, I didn’t want Cinnamon getting bitten by the tarantula and so shooed her away from the area.

 

The tarantula was a beautiful specimen, black, brown, hairy and about 4 inches across.  I didn’t want to kill it, but I couldn’t allow it to stay in the girls pasture so I grabbed the rake that we use for poop scooping and lowered the handle down to the ground to allow the tarantula to climb onto the rake handle.  Once my passenger was on board I carried him out to an area away from the alpacas and set the broom handle down so he could get off and continue on his journey.

 

Griffin had done a good job letting me know about the tarantula’s presence, however she seemed to draw the line at chasing and stomping the tarantula and was quite happy for me to take over dealing with the large spider.  Perhaps if I had not been near she would have taken her guarding actions a step further, perhaps she was quietly thankful that I was there to take away the spider so she didn’t have to get any closer to it and perhaps the tarantula was grateful I was there too, to save him from being stomped by our protective llamas!

(And talking of llamas, there are many beautiful llamas awaiting adoption to loving homes at Southwest Llama Rescue.  If you feel you could give a good home to two or more llamas, please get in touch with Southwest Llama Rescue who will work with you to find you llamas that will suit your needs.  If you don’t feel that you want to adopt a llama you can always sponsor one or send in a donation.  With feed costs constantly rising and the economy causing an increase in surrendered llamas Southwest Llama Rescue would appreciate all donations no matter how big or small)

 Rosemary

September 6, 2008

It’s Looking Like An Early Fall

 

According to our calendar the first day of fall is September 22 this year, according to the happenings around the farm fall is going to arrive earlier than the allocated calendar date.

 

The temperature has already dropped in particular the nighttime temperatures that are most definitely fall like.  I have seen geese flying over the property, something that usually happens a little later during the month of September. and a true sign of fall around here is the first sighting of a migrating tarantula!  Last year it was the third week or so of September when the tarantulas made their appearance so this recent sighting is an indication to me that fall is early.

 

The tarantula I saw was strolling across the road in front of the girls pasture.  Good job he didn’t venture into the girls pasture as I am sure the alpaca girls or the llamas would have got him.  We have seen the llamas chase and kill a salamander before, found dead moles in the pasture that have been stomped and also witnessed the girls relentlessly pursuing a rabbit (although no stomping was involved, just good old alpaca entertainment at the rabbits expense).  I have recently heard of a couple who purchased alpacas and then noticed that the prairie dog colony in their pasture disappeared, not a prairie dog one was left – now there’s a new use for alpacas, prairie dog control!

 

Our Open Farm Day is today and the fall temperatures will be a welcome change from the hot summer heat that was around on our last Open Farm Day.  It will be little more comfortable for people to be out on the farm and perhaps the cooler temperatures will make them start to think about Christmas shopping and the unique, warm alpaca gifts they can buy!

 

The cool temperatures might encourage the crias to play a little more too.  When the heat is sweltering the alpacas tend to sunbathe and nap, when the temperatures are a little cooler the herd is more active and the crias more inclined to play.

 

Checking my calendar I can see that we are only four weeks away from Cinnamon’s due date.  This will be Cinnamons first cria and so we need to be watching her carefully as she may surprise as with an early cria.  Hmmm early fall, early cria I am sure that combination will inspire a neat name for Cinnamon’s little one once he or she arrives!

 

Rosemary

August 30, 2008

Well – They could be Twins!

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpacas, camelids, Cria Care, Crias, General, guard llamas, llama — Tags: , , , , — alpacalady @ 6:56 am

 

The two orphaned crias Song and Mags have arrived at the farm and are going through the process of trying to settle in.  It has to be strange for them both (although Mags did spend one day here on another occasion).  They have new places to check out, new faces to see and a new routine to their day.  All in all the two did well today, they were a little confused at evening feeding but give them a couple of days and they will soon get the hang of things.

 

Of course our crias were overjoyed to check out the new arrivals, their curious faces looking first from a distance before they charged over to see who the new arrivals were.  Once our crias were nearer it was immediately apparent that we have a problem – Zianna and Song are almost identical!  Apart from the fact that Zianna has fawn fiber on the bridge of her nose and Song has white fiber with a little snip of fawn on the bridge of her nose the two crias look like twins and they are not even related.

 

I wasn’t able to snap a picture of the “twins” today, but will try and get one over the next few days.  One sure way to tell them apart is that Ivanna will allow Zianna to nurse from her but will not allow Song to do so.  Poor little Song had a try but after first thinking that Song was Zianna, Ivanna bent around to sniff the cria nursing from her and realized that it was not hers and chased her away.

 

Song has so far refused to take a bottle, and we are hoping that Inca the llama will take to Song and allow her to nurse, but even Inca seemed confused at the sudden presence of two Ziannas!  Song does eat hay and a little of the alpacas pellets but we are sure some llama milk would please her.

 

Mags in the meantime looks completely different from anyone else in the pasture.  He is a striking male and a beautiful rich dark brown in color.  Mags is not entirely convinced he is an alpaca and tends to pay more attention to humans, so we are working on helping him integrate more with the other crias so that he can learn that he really is an alpaca while he is still young.  As the saying goes “Rome was not built in a day” and it will take time for Mags to realize he is really an alpaca, but I am sure over time the chase and play of the cria group will appeal to his alpaca nature and convince him that those four legged alpacas are much more interesting than the two legged humans.

 

Rosemary

August 29, 2008

There’s Nothing Like A Piece Of Hay In Your Mouth (if you’re a cria that is!)

Atlas with his never ending piece of hay

Atlas with his never ending piece of hay

 

As the crias grow and start to experiment with eating hay, they go through a stage when it seems as if they always have to have a piece of hay in their mouth.  If you watch them they chew on it, turn it around in their mouth and carry it proudly, but they never seem to swallow it.  On numerous occasions I have had to take a piece of hay out of Dream’s mouth before she has her bottle, and I can guarantee she is looking for that piece of hay to put back in her mouth as soon as she is finished.

 

The picture at the top of this post is not as I hoped it would be.  Just seconds earlier Atlas, Pride and Dream had been standing in a line, each one with that “never ending” piece of hay in their mouth.  They looked so sweet as they stood together, but as usual when I went to take their picture they all moved and the only one I captured was Atlas – and even then you can barely see the piece of hay in his mouth.

 

I don’t know whether at this stage the crias are just enjoying the sensation and taste of the hay in their mouth, or whether they want something to constantly chew on as their teeth develop.  All of the crias can and do eat hay now and have no problem chewing and swallowing it, but a lot of the time they will be wandering around the pasture with that one lone piece of hay in their mouth.

 

Today our cria group is going to be joined by a couple of new additions.  Not newborn crias (I can’t predict when that will happen and the girls wouldn’t let me anyway), but rather two orphaned crias.  One of them is a male cria “Mags” (not his registered name but that is what we call him) whose dam Maggie unfortunately died following delivering Mags.  We are actually in the process of becoming co-owners of Mags with our friends Bob and Regina Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas.  Mags is a striking cria and brings with him some beautiful fleece qualities from his sire Andean Night and his grandsire General Schwarzkopf.  Bob and Regina have put in many hours bottle feeding Mags and feel it is now time that he come and join our cria group and start to integrate more with alpacas closer to his own age.  The other cria coming to our farm is “Song”, a female cria whose dam died following an accident.  Song has been doing well since her dam died and eats some hay and pellets but we are hoping that she will take advantage of our nursemaid llamas to give her some milk in her diet. 

 

I am sure that the two new crias will enjoy the company of our sociable little cria group, and hope that they will soon be joining in the nightly cria games.  Our crias are just about ready to start on a little more structured handling and halter training, so after a few days to allow Songs and Mags to get used to their new surroundings they too will be joining in cria school – probably each with a piece of hay in their mouth!

 

Rosemary

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