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

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

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