A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

November 16, 2009

Where Does The Time Go To?

Windrush Chandra

Windrush Chandra, February 2009 - she's grown a lot since then!

The past week just seemed to evaporate!  It’s hard to imagine where the time goes or is it?  Of course there was the distraction of Theresa’s new cria to keep us occupied.  Theresa’s cria is a sweet and lively little thing, exploring the pasture, coming up to see what we are doing, giving cria kisses and taking off on cria races around the pasture.  She is now up to 20.8 lbs and she and Theresa are back in with the main herd.  Theresa is a very protective dam and will not take any nonsense from the older crias who might think they are going to play rough with her baby!

Sunday (November 15) saw the end of the early bird discount for stalls at the TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular which will be held February 12- 14, 2010 at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas.  We always try and enter alpacas in the TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular and it’s great to be able to get discounted stalls and so we needed to make our decision this week as to which alpacas will attend the show.  We are lucky to have many alpacas to choose from but show expenses soon mount up and we can’t take them all.  We ended up registering our two new junior herdsires Biscotti and Champ and our Prince Regent daughter Chandra.   Show results from different shows and different judges can do a lot to enhance your Junior Herdsires breeding career, shows also provide an opportunity to showcase your junior herdsire in front of other alpaca breeders who might be interested in booking breedings to him.    With Chandra our motivation in showing her is a little different.  As our one and only Prince Regent daughter on the farm (the others have all sold or belong to our clients) we are curious to see how she places in the competitive white classes.  Our intention is for her to become part of our foundation herd so it will be good to get feedback from a judge as to Chandra’s strengths and weaknesses.  With her dense, fine fleece, correct conformation, graceful presence and her Prince Regent head (her sire has a beautiful head style which Chandra has inherited) we are hopeful that Chandra will walk away with a ribbon.

Of course the TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular also has a fleece show and we will be sending in entries to that too, but I have a little more time to get those entries in the system.  Once entered though I then need to get busy skirting the fleeces in preparation for the show – February will soon come around.

We also had several enquiries during the week from people interested in learning more about alpacas, the alpaca lifestyle and what it takes to start up and run a successful alpaca business.  It’s always great to spend time talking to people interested in alpacas and to share with them some of the knowledge we have gained over the years.  I still remember the excitement Ric and I felt in the days when we were researching the alpaca business and the kindness of the alpaca breeders we spoke to at that time.  It is nice to now be able to “pay it forward” and share our knowledge with those looking into bringing alpacas into their life.

Add to those activities the daily chores, some behavior tests of bred females, some toe nail trimming, work on our websites, preparation for next weekend’s Open Farm Day, and work on a knitting project that someone has asked me to make and I guess it’s hardly surprising that our week disappeared before our eyes.  No complaint here though as it is fun work, a great lifestyle to be living and beats shuffling papers in an office any day!

Rosemary

August 7, 2009

So Which Handsome Prince Created Sleeping Beauty?

 

 

Sleeper Enjoys Some Hay

Sleeper Enjoys Some Hay

I finally got around to sending in the last of the fall cria ARI registrations the other day. With the online registration complete, I mailed in the crias blood cards for DNA analysis for parentage verification. We often wait before sending in our ARI registrations for a few reasons. First we want to make sure that the cria makes it through the first few months of life. You hate to think of losing a cria but if does happen then it is usually within the first 30 days of its life. Some may argue that it would be useful to have the cria registered for the national herd records, but at the end of the day economics comes into play and to me it does not make sense to pay to register a cria who is no more.

 

Another reason we hold off registering our crias is that sometimes they change color as they mature. We have had several crias who start off beige at birth and change to white by the time they are six months old. Our Kanika looked to be dark brown or bay black when she was born but by the time we came to shear her she was the most beautiful true black. A client of ours delivered his dam to us for breeding with her white cria by her side. When he came to pick his dam and cria up he was surprised to see that the cria’s fleece was no longer white. The fleece looked white from the outside but when you parted the fleece the fiber inside was a definite light fawn (and no it was not staining from our red dirt!). Crias definitely can change color.

 

So often our crias are five or six months old before we register them, sometimes even older.

 

The registrations I sent off the other day were for Chandra and Sleeping Beauty (whom we call Sleeper) and they are both definitely older than six months. Interestingly in my herd book I show that Chandra and Sleeper could both have been conceived on the same day November 11,2007. I say “could” have been conceived on the same day because when it came to their birth dates there was quite a bit of difference. Sleeper was born on September 27, 2008 and Chandra was born on October 17, 2008. Chandra’s birth date is in the range of her being a full term cria. Sleeper would have been a little premature (and that was the note I had in my herd book).

 

Going back a little further in the herd book I could see that Sleeper’s Dam Keeva bred about three weeks prior to the November 11 breeding, so maybe that was the breeding that resulted in Sleeper, if so that would mean that Sleeper’s sire is our herdsire Travesura’s Altiplano Treasure rather than our herdsire Tobiano – hmmm…

 

My records show that we had tried breeding Keeva to Treasure but the breeding didn’t seem to take. As Treasure was in his first breeding season we didn’t like to force the issue and so decided to put Keeva with Tobiano instead at the next breeding attempt. Tobiano and Keeva bred without a problem and from then on Keeva was not receptive to any male alpacas, so we assumed that Keeva was carrying a Tobiano cria.

 

Thankfully when you go to register a cria you have the option to list two potential sires, and so that is what I did the other day. I personally feel that Sleeper is Tobiano’s cria, she has certain traits that I have seen before in his offspring and Keeva as an experienced dam is not likely to cush for a male when she is already pregnant.

 

Now we will wait and see what Sleeper’s DNA blood card reveals – is she a Treasure cria or a Tobiano cria? Time and DNA will tell.

 

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

November 6, 2008

Time for the Winds of Change

 

It seemed appropriate that yesterday, November 5, 2008 the wind blew hard for most of the day.     The election results of November 4 told the world that many in the US are ready for change and it really felt as if the winds of change had physically reached the high plains of New Mexico by Wednesday morning.

 

The alpacas, of course, are not at all concerned with elections or politics; they instead put their attention to chasing the leaves that blew across the pasture.  For some the leaves were even more enticing than their morning ration of grain and I had to go and show them their food bowls before they would take their attention away from their leaf eating quest.

 

During the day the temperature was still in the 60’s and the crias took to cushing in the straw and sunning themselves while they were low enough to the ground to avoid the wind.

 

The fall crias are all developing their individual personalities. Sleeper (Keeva’s cria) still lives up to her name and can usually be found stretched out in a relaxed pose, when not sleeping though she has developed quite the appetite for hay and will let you know her displeasure if you try and move her away from her food.  Chandra (Carina’s cria) can usually be found close to Sleeper, although does not sleep as much as her buddy.  Chandra loves to come up and enquire as to what you are doing, tipping her head to one side and giving you a quizzical hum.   Nochi (Glow’s cria) is a little live wire, zipping across the pasture usually with a buck or a kick thrown in to the mix, she has to check out everything that is going on and often gets into mischief.  Little Man (Clarissa’s cria – not his registered name but that is the name that has stuck for now) is a quiet but determined little guy.  He might be small but he is sturdy and enjoys instigating some of the cria play, usually with Evelyn who is closest to his size.  Evelyn  (Essie’s cria) has just the sweetest of personalities, coming up to you to offer you cria kisses, calmly enjoying her neck being stroked and nuzzling you for attention.  Then there is Atlanticus, who always walks around the pasture with a purposeful attitude, almost as if he has tasks to complete during his cria day – but if he loses sight of his dam he lets out the most heart wrenching cries (I guess he’s really a sensitive boy at heart).  Finally there is Nazca (Kimmie’s cria) the last to be born and already growing like a weed.  Nazca enjoys sitting in the sunshine with a regal air about him, he’s still figuring out the other crias but has already started to join in the evening cria races, usually running side by side to Little Man and Evelyn.

 

By the time the sun set yesterday, the wind was still blowing at 26 mph with gusts up to 40 mph and with the sun’s disappearance the temperature dropped rapidly.  Time to bundle up the crias in their cria coats with the three smallest crias (Little Man, Evelyn and Nazca) and their dams being moved to the stall in the big shelter to give them some extra protection for the night.  With nighttime temperatures being predicted to be in the 20’s it seems as if winter is starting to head this way.  We have been spoiled recently with a beautiful Indian summer but it seems as if the winds of change are bringing in more seasonal and colder days – oh well, it was nice while it lasted and before we know it spring will be headed our way.

 

Rosemary

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.