A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

December 8, 2009

Can It Get Any Colder!

The alpaca boys watch the snow

The alpaca boys stay on their warm spots and watch the snow

The last week has seen our weather change from the balmy temperatures of an early New Mexico fall to the bone chilling cold that can occur during late fall and winter.

Part of farming is accepting that you are at the mercy of the elements – you can’t control the weather and have to be prepared to work in whatever weather comes your way.  As the cold arrives the insulated coveralls are brought out of the closet, the alpacas socks become a permanent fixture on our feet, the fleece lined jeans are the dress choice of the day and our snow boots start to prove their worth.  Water bucket heaters are installed and the alpacas and horses are treated to extra hay on those super cold days.

Last Thursday we were initially forecast for a fairly cold dry day, but during the night the cold front that was coming into the area headed just a little further south than the weather man had predicted and by Thursday morning our ground was covered with snow.  Initial predictions of accumulation of an inch soon went out the window as by 9 a.m. two inches were already on the ground.

With the snow starting during the night the alpacas were already bedded down for the evening and having been cushed for a while each one had developed a warm spot where they were sitting.  When the snow started to fall it settled on the top of their fleeces but they were nice and warm – and were not moving!

We're not moving

Cosmo and friends stay out in the weather

Some of the alpacas were in their shelters, Theresa had moved her cria into the shelter and the little one was dry, warm and more than ready to show off her repertoire of bucks and kicks.  Ana Lynnette too had headed inside the shelter with her cria Roadrunner and the pair were contentedly watching the snow fall.

Box Car Alpaca Boys

Homer and Tobiano decided the shelter of the box car was a better place to be

It seems as if that snow fall opened the doors for an arctic blast because since then it has been cold – very cold.  Someone told us that Thursday night was reported as being record cold and since then it has only got colder.    By Monday our night time low was 18 (- 7.7 Celsius) and our daytime high was 26 (-3.3 Celsius)– and that’s without figuring in any wind chill.  But despite the cold the chores still need to be done – the animals fed, the poop piles raked, the dogs walked.  We still opened the store on Saturday and met some lovely (and hardy!) customers who came out to stock up on warm alpaca socks and Christmas gifts for the family.

The good news is that we can take our time getting the chores done and then head into the warmth of the house for some hot tea and warm food.  Then we can get on with some inside tasks and take a few minutes here and there to enjoy watching the alpacas whether they are rooting around in the hay, sitting out chewing their cud or wrestling, pronging and playing in the late afternoon as they start to build up their body heat for the night.

Our temperatures are supposed to warm up starting today, I say supposed to because already the forecast has changed a little and the word snow has now reappeared in the forecast as well as the mention of 60 mph wind – sounds like it’s going to be an interesting day, I don’t think I will be packing away the insulated coveralls, snow boots and alpaca socks anytime soon!

Rosemary

September 22, 2009

Oh My Goodness

Well summer is definitely over!  Yesterday it was 88 degrees in the afternoon, by 5:30 pm the temperature had started to drop and then “wham” the cold front hit us with stiff winds, dropping the temperature down to 42 (and that’s without the wind chill).  Ironically yesterday was officially the last day of summer.  Typically we do get cooler fall temperatures, but the days usually cool off a little at a time, not in one fell swoop.

It is not entirely a surprise that fall has arrived so swiftly as there have been little signs that fall would be early this year.  Some of the trees are starting to change color already, berries have already appeared on winter bushes, the tarantulas have already completed their fall migration and different birds have appeared in the area.  (Yesterday we had a Wilson’s Warbler in the garden who would be in the process of migrating from the North West to the south east).  Parts of Colorado and Northern New Mexico received their first snow on Monday.

The alpacas seemed to enjoy the sudden cool temperatures.  Our two youngest crias started off the frisky activities by galloping around their pasture at high speed; they were soon joined by the adult females in their pasture.  Once that group were galloping around the main female herd decided that they too wanted to kick up their heels in the cool, windy air.  Evening chores was interesting as we had to dodge all of those low flying alpacas.  By the time the alpacas had settled down to eat they must have felt nice and warm.

According to the older people of this area the signs are all pointing to a cold, snowy winter.  After yesterday’s dramatic fall arrival I can definitely believe winter is not far away.

Rosemary

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