A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

March 28, 2009

Brrr!

A Snow Covered Dream

A Snow Covered Dream

 

That was the word for the day yesterday when our temperatures plummeted, the winds picked up and the snow fell.

 

We were initially forecast to receive 5 – 7 inches of snow, but there was nowhere near that amount on the ground except for where the snow piled into drifts.  I suspect that whatever snowfall was supposed to be ours blew south in the high winds.

 

The alpacas were huddled up and snow covered by the time we woke up in the morning and I couldn’t resist taking the picture above of poor Dream who was just caked in snow.  Dream had created herself a warm dry spot by the shelter and did not want to get up, but the sight of the morning feed bowls soon changed her mind, persuading her to jump up and join in with the morning feed.

 

Marti who is here for breeding was a concern for us as she was shorn before she arrived here this week.  Fortunately Marti is a smart girl and was cushed in the corner of the shelter in the deep straw.  She was a little shivery though so after giving her a little alfalfa and her morning ration of pellets we put a blanket on her and also covered her with one of our sheep covers to act as a windbreak and to keep the blanket dry.  We kept a watch on her all day and she was up and active, eating hay and occasionally venturing out to the poop pile.  I bet she was wishing she could have her fleece back for at least a day.

 

Little Candytuft fared well in the snow, despite being very young she is a sturdy girl who already weighs close to 40 lbs and she already has a good staple length on her.    I didn’t see her looking cold or shivery all day, which is good, and by the afternoon she was skipping around in the snow.

 

The alpacas were all treated to some extra hay including some alfalfa, warm soaked beet pulp shreds and buckets of warm water.  They all remained active during the day, checking out the various hay feeders and running from shelter to shelter.  Of course they also decided that they didn’t really need to venture outside to use a poop pile and so by the end of the day the poop piles in the shelter were large and spreading.

 

Once again Mother Nature gave us a sharp reminder of how quickly the weather can turn in this part of the world, dropping us down into the 20’s and 30’s and sending us to the closet to pull out our insulated coveralls and alpaca socks once again.  It is incredible to think that the day before we had sunny skies and temperatures in the 70’s.

 

Today we are supposed to warm up just as dramatically as we cooled down, the snow will melt, the pastures will dry out and I’m betting Miss Marti will be just a little bit more comfortable than she was yesterday!

 

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

March 14, 2009

Snow Crusted Crias!

The alpacas swarm in on a hay feeder in the snow

The alpacas swarm in on a hay feeder in the snow

 

After several dry weeks we finally got some moisture, a couple of inches of wet snow!   Yesterday morning started off with sleet but it soon turned to large white flakes of snow.  The snow soon covered the ground and also covered the alpacas.    Cushed, warm and comfortable the adult alpacas did not want to get up and so stayed cushed getting covered in snow until we started to put out feed.  The crias enjoyed the snow, playing chase, digging in it and nosing it, oblivious to the crust of snow building up on their backs. 

A Snow Crusted Chandra

A Snow Crusted Chandra

It’s amazing how a full fleece can stay on the top of the fleece and almost become an insulating crust.  Look at this close up of Velvet’s fleece to see how the snow just sits on the top.  If you parted that fleece you would discover that she was warm and dry close to the skin.
snow-crusted-velvet-fleece

Velvet's Snow Covered Fleece

The alpacas didn’t seem concerned about the snow and thankfully the wind was light and so the temperature did not feel too bad as we did chores.  Obviously warm clothes and gloves were needed (including of course alpaca socks), but with the right attire doing chores in the snow was really not bad.  Of course I am talking about an Eastern New Mexico snowfall as opposed to a northern state snowfall, which would be much heavier and last for much longer.  I know I can cope with a few days of snow, but I’m definitely not cut out for the several weeks of snow some of the more northern states experience.

 Once the feed and hay was out the alpacas were all quite happy to stand out in the snow and eat from the hay feeders.  I was going to move one our of outside hayfeeders in to one of the shelters but as you can see from the picture below it was quickly surrounded by alpacas who were not keen on me moving it!

 

The alpacas enjoyed their daily treat of warm soaked beet pulp and we also added a little alfalfa to their hay to help them stay warm throughout the day.  

 

By the time the snow stopped falling everyone was pretty happy, the alpacas had full stomachs, the crias were having fun and we were happy to see moisture finally soaking our parched ground.

 

Rosemary

September 18, 2008

When You’re Loading Hay Don’t Wear Shorts!

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Nutrition, Alpacas, camelids, General — Tags: , , , , — alpacalady @ 6:17 am

Ric will be leaving to take four of our alpacas to the New Mexico State Fair tomorrow and so we have been trying to get everything ready that he will need for his trip.  I say trying because life has, as usual, thrown a few distractions our way.

 

Yesterday’s distraction was an advertisement for some hay in our local paper.   The hay was alfalfa, not something that we would feed in large qualities to the alpacas on a daily basis, but it will be good hay to feed our horses in the winter, and the pregnant alpaca girls will benefit from a little of it every now and then.

 

We called the hay grower and discovered the hay was reasonably priced; it was time to strike while the iron was hot, as the saying goes.  We have discovered that where good hay is concerned any action to buy it must be sooner rather than later.

 

The hay was located in Fort Sumner (home of the gravesite of Billy the Kid), about an hours drive to the West of our farm.  It was a beautiful day for a drive and it was good to see that some of the pastures along the way were greening up following a showery week last week.

 

We had a good look at the hay, it was first cutting, a lovely bright green in color with lots of leaf and not too much stem, and decided to buy the 115 bales that the hay grower had available.  Then came the fun part – stacking the hay on the trailer.

 

With the hay grower, Ric and myself all working at putting the hay on the trailer it didn’t take too long to get the hay stacked, but we weren’t long into the process before Ric kindly pointed out that I shouldn’t have worn shorts, for as I moved the hay bales they hit against my legs and those alfalfa stems are pretty sharp!  By the end of the hay stacking I had green and red legs – green from little pieces of alfalfa and red from scratches on my legs.  As I pointed out to Ric though with a little bit of lotion my legs will soon be as good as new.

 

We will get the hay tested in the next day or so, if it was the only hay we were going to use I would have tested it before buying it, but as this will just be used as an occasional supplement we could take the liberty of buying the hay prior to testing.

 

Next time we go to load hay I will try and remember not to wear shorts, but if the weather is still warm I know that the chances are I will forget my previous hay experiences.  It’s a good job I always have plenty of great lotion on hand at the house!

 

Rosemary

Blog at WordPress.com.