A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

March 19, 2008

Blast Gives Me A Fright

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpacas, camelids, Crias, General — Tags: , , , , , — alpacalady @ 7:52 am

Blast Head Shot

As the warmer weather arrives it is not unusual to look across the pasture and see the alpacas all stretched out in the sun.  Alpacas love to sunbathe, lounging lazily on the ground with the only movement being a twitch of an ear or the flick of a tail.  What a life! 

As herd animals though, when something happens that causes an alarm call or for one of the alpacas to be on alert the vibrations of what is happening easily travel through the herd and they gather together to check out what is causing the consternation. 

In the middle of yesterday afternoon, I went outside to take some pictures of the alpacas.  It was a beautiful day even though the wind was still blowing, as it seems to have done for months on end now.  The alpacas were in a good mood to be photographed, Cinnamon posed for me, Anya checked out the camera to see if she could eat it and Blast came up to give me ‘paca kisses as he sometimes does. 

I went back into the house to look at the pictures I had taken (ah the joys of digital photography) and in a short while heard an alarm call.  Looking out of the kitchen window I could see the boys looking at something.  I checked the girls pasture and they too were looking in the same direction. Outside I discovered what was causing the alarm, three dogs were wandering through our back pasture checking out the compost pile and looking for rabbits.  I recognized two of the dogs a belonging to a neighbor, the third dog was new to me.  I headed out to the back pasture and chased the dogs away; they soon scurried off toward the house where two of the dogs live. 

As I walked back to the house I could see that all of the girls were gathered at the gate watching my activities – except one.  On the other side of the pasture lying on his side was little Blast.  He was very still and I could see his neck was arched back, not usually a good sign.  I hurried over and watched him from across the fence but could not see him breathing.  Even more concerning was the reaction of the rest of the herd who were standing at a distance, ears forward in curiosity as to what was the problem with Blast.

I couldn’t believe something could have happened to Blast so quickly, it was only moments since I had taken his picture, but several years ago I had an experience when a young cria was up nursing from his dam one moment and dead the next, so deep down I knew it was possible something had happened. 

Rushing through the gate I called Blast’s name, there was no sign of a reaction, not a twitch from him.  By now the rest of the herd were edging closer to Blast and Ma Cushla who is always the auntie to all of the crias was at the head of the group, her neck stretched forward as she tried to get a look at Blast.  Then as I got within inches of Blast he slowly opened one eye but still maintained his position with his neck arched back – maybe he was injured?  But no, he was not injured for within seconds he straightened out his neck, gave himself a shake and stood up – he had been in a very deep sleep!

Alpacas are deep sleepers, Blast’s grand dam Jenny would go into such a deep sleep that you could stand right next to her and shout her name and she wouldn’t move a muscle, eventually she would wake up and give a filthy look as if to say “what’s your problem” – it seems as if Blast has inherited that trait from her. 

I must admit that ever since he was a little cria Blast has liked to sleep on his side laying next to his dam Clarissa.  He always seems very comfortable and relaxed and yesterday’s experience shows just how relaxed he is at our farm.  It does concern me a little though that despite the herd giving alarm calls he didn’t awake from his slumber – even Jenny would have woken up for an alarm call, and for Blast to be able to sleep through that makes him vulnerable.

Perhaps as he grows he will learn to respond more to the alarm calls of the herd. Naturally I am pleased that Blast is safe and well, maybe next time he pulls that trick on me I will be able to be less anxious.  Little Blast definitely gave me a fright and I don’t really want to go through that feeling again.

 Rosemary

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