A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

August 15, 2008

Fixing a Prickly Problem

Mercury Without his Cactus

Mercury Without his Cactus





We are fortunate to have a wonderful teenage helper, Bethany, who comes out and helps us when she is not in school.  Bethany has worked during the week throughout the summer break and when her school starts again she will switch to working with us on weekends.


Yesterday Bethany showed up for work and started feeding the boys in the bottom pasture, as is her routine.  There are four boys in the bottom pasture, Mercury, Magellan, Christobal and Comet.  They are older boys (Christobal is in his late teens) and the four have been together for most of their lives.  The boys were originally donated to our vet, but when he moved into a house in town he could not longer keep them and gave them to us.


Having been initially raised as part of a large herd, Mercury, Magellan and Christobal are pretty much hands off alpacas.  Comet who is the youngest of the group joined the other three when they were at another farm and they have educated him in the ways of an alpaca that is not fond of being handled.  When caught the four boys are not too bad to handle, but they are wily creatures and it takes a bit of teamwork on our part to catch them.


Shortly after Bethany had started chores she returned to the house, a sure sign that something was up.  Bethany asked if we knew that one of the boys in the bottom pasture had a piece of cactus stuck to his face.  We had not been aware of the problem and so we told Bethany not to turn the boys out into their pasture and that we would come down and see what we could do to remove the cactus.


It turned out that Mercury was the cactus wearer.  Mercury is a fawn, suri alpaca and the mellowest of the group of four boys; still he wasn’t about to let us catch him without putting us through our paces.  With Bethany, Ric and myself all being available to herd the four boys we were able to herd Mercury into the shelter to be caught so that we could examine the cactus.   The cactus was about four inches long with one inch long barbs, and it was on Mercury’s face right up next to his right eye.  As Ric held on to Mercury I was able to get hold of the cactus and gently detach it from Mercury.  I was wearing good thick leather gloves but it still took some careful manipulating to prevent me from impaling myself on a cactus barb or two.


Having removed the main piece of cactus we then examined Mercury to make sure he didn’t have more cactus pieces or cactus barbs left on him.  Sure enough, right by the inside corner of his eye was a large cactus barb.  Very carefully, while Ric held onto Mercury I managed to remove the barb.   Thank goodness the cactus did not get stuck into Mercury’s eye.


Once we had removed the barb and rechecked Mercury’s face we let him go and turned the boys out into their pasture for the day.  They wasted no time in running as fast as they could to the bottom of the pasture, getting as far away from us as possible.  Let’s hope that they don’t find any more cactus plants to get into!



April 9, 2008

The Other Side (Part 2)

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpacas, camelids, General — Tags: , , , — alpacalady @ 7:50 am

Comet - The escapologist

When I wrote my blog entry on April 7  entitled “The Other Side” I hadn’t intended for there to be “The Other Side Part 2”, but one of the alpacas decided he too wanted to be the subject of a blog entry.


In our bottom pasture we have four older boys, two suri’s and two huacayas.  The four have been together for most of their lives, the oldest is Cristobal who will turn 16 in May, the youngest is Comet who recently turned eight, and it was Comet who decided to go exploring on his own yesterday.


The four boys have a small dry lot area by their shelter which we keep them in overnight or in inclement weather.   From the dry lot area there is an alleyway that leads to an old roping arena, during the day we let the boys out into the alleyway and the arena to graze and have some space to roam in and get exercise. 


In the summer the roping arena has dry land wheat growing in it and so all in all the boys have a good deal.  With our current drought the grazing in the roping arena is pretty sparse but the four boys still enjoy going into the arena during the daytime.


Yesterday Ric was on his way to substitute teaching at one of the local schools and as he drove past the bottom boy’s pasture he noticed that three of the four boys were in the arena as they should be, but the fourth boy Comet was standing in a different pasture.


Ric called me to let me know that Comet had somehow got out of the arena area.  With the ever blowing winds, we wondered if perhaps a gate had blown open allowing Comet to get out of the arena.   I walked down to the arena area and could see Comet happily grazing by himself in the front pasture.


I checked all of the gates in the roping arena and they were all firmly shut.  The three other boys by this time had noticed that Comet was enjoying greener pastures (not very green, but still there was more vegetation in that pasture than the roping arena) and were pacing the fence trying to figure out a way to join Comet.


I herded Comet to the top of the pasture where there was a gate that led through to the roping arena and opened the gate allowing Comet to rejoin his friends.


For the rest of the day I checked on the four boys every now and then and all four were in the roping arena, but by the time I went out to do chores Comet was back in the front pasture on his own.  I again checked the arena but all of the gates were firmly shut.


I remember Comet’s previous owner telling us that Comet used to let himself out of his pasture from time to time and they could never figure out how he managed to escape.  Comet has always stayed in his pasture since he came to say with us, until today that is when he discovered how to get to the other side.


For now the boys in the bottom pasture will have to be kept in their dry lot area until we figure out how Comet is escaping.  While the pasture Comet is getting into is fenced, it only has a three strand barb wire fence, not at all the right type of fencing for alpacas.  So no more escaping for Comet, no matter how much he enjoyed the green grass on “the other side” of the fence.




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