A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

November 25, 2008

Into Each Life A Little Rain Must Fall

Filed under: alpaca, Alpacas, camelids, Family, General — Tags: , , , , , — alpacalady @ 7:26 am

 

Be still sad heart and cease repining;
Behind the clouds the sun is shining,
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life a little rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.               

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

And the rain certainly did fall into my life last Wednesday when I received the news that my father, Roy Lenthall, had passed away.

 

My father had been in a nursing home for the past two years; approximately two years prior to his admission to the nursing home he had suffered a brain bleed.  Following the brain bleed my mother cared for my father at home.  Being a carer for a loved one is a difficult job, my mother was devoted to my father, determined that he be able to stay in the home that he built and loved for as long as possible.  Sadly my father’s condition deteriorated and his care needs became such that he needed 24 hour professional care.

 

During his life my father was an active, intelligent man.  He enjoyed life and was fortunate enough to be able to take early retirement allowing my mother and him to travel and have many happy times together.  My parents did visit the farm a couple of times and my father loved spending time visiting with the alpacas and helping Ric with various farm projects.  But during his last visit here I was aware that something was not quite right, repeated conversation, confusion and unusually heavy periods of sleep were clues that something was amiss with my father.

 

In the last two weeks of my father’s life he suffered a couple of strokes, he had had mini strokes since his brain bleed, but these last strokes were larger and his recovery each time was less.  We were warned by the doctors that my fathers health was fading and that we needed to prepare ourselves for his passing, but you can never really be prepared for the loss of a loved one.

 

Now my father is at peace and our family is making preparations for his funeral in my home country of England.  I will be traveling back for the funeral and staying in England for a couple of weeks to help my mother in whatever way I can.  My brother Chris who lives in Italy was fortunately in England when my father passed away and has stayed with my mother since, my brother John who also lives in the United States will be traveling back to England the same day as me and we will meet up at the airport to travel to my mother’s apartment. 

 

So the blog entries have been few in recent weeks, first while I held down the fort during Ric’s absence when spare time was short and then during the weeks when I knew my father was preparing to leave us, at that time my thoughts and my focus needed to be with my family.  Ric will be making blog entries as and when he can while I am away.

 

For many 2008 has been a hard year, and sadly for many it has been a year of loss.  The words  Thy fate is the common fate of all, Into each life a little rain must fall”, from the Longfellow verse at the top of this blog entry have seemed to be all too true in this last year.  

 

For our family the loss of my father is a great one, he was a kind, gentle, dignified man who unfortunately had his dignity taken away from him in his final years due to ill health.   Our wish is that we restore that dignity for him through his funeral service and through our memories of the great man who was my father.

 

Rosemary

June 6, 2008

Witnessing Life’s Circle

Raising livestock brings all aspects of life to your doorstep.  Some things are welcome and some are not but insist on showing up anyway.

 

In the early hours of Thursday morning Bjorn’s dear cria “Legs” passed away.  “Legs” was never intended to be the little guys’ permanent name, but the name kind of stuck due to the problem he had with lax tendons in his legs.

 

Initially we thought that the lax tendons were Legs only problem, now it seems that possibly there was more going on to challenge this sweet boy in his short life.

 

On our vets advice we had confined Legs and Bjorn after Legs was born, in an effort to restrict his movement and allow his tendons to contract back to normal.  For a while the restriction seemed to be working, but after several days both Legs and Bjorn were anxious to leave the stall and Legs appeared to be getting depressed.  We let them out for a couple of days but it turned out that Legs was fighting an infection and running a fever.

 

Again we consulted with our vet who advised that we treat Legs with antibiotics for his infection and for a couple of days he seemed to be doing well.  He was gaining weight, looking stronger and even attempting to play with the other crias.  His legs were getting straighter but still had a way to go.  Unfortunately the antibiotic we used is known to have a disruptive effect on the rumen and so we also gave Legs probiotics to try and keep his rumen functioning properly.  Then Legs stopped gaining weight and a thermometer reading showed he was again running a temperature.  Another consultation with the vet was made and Legs was back on antibiotics but this time he did not respond as well.   He seemed lethargic and generally not happy.

 

Legs stopped nursing from his dam and so we had to supplementary feed him.  He wasn’t too keen on that to begin with but then seemed to appreciate that at least he was getting food, but all the time he continued to get weaker.  Legs temperature was back to normal so we hoped we were making some progress in the right direction

 

Tuesday evening Legs almost seemed to fall asleep while I was feeding him.  I had a cria once before who would fall asleep toward the end of his feed, but Legs seemed almost unable to stay awake for long.

 

By Wednesday afternoon we knew we Legs was in trouble.  Unfortunately our vet was called out to several emergency calls that day and was unable to contact us until 7 pm that evening.  Our vet told us he suspected White Muscle Disease, something that is brought on by selenium or vitamin E deficiency.

 

We treated Legs with some Selenium and Vitamin E but it didn’t make a difference.  By the late evening the little guy had labored breathing and things were not looking good. 

 

We checked on Legs through the night.  His dam Bjorn stayed close by and was obviously concerned about her cria she knew something was wrong.   Legs died shortly after 2 a.m.

 

Our vet has performed a necropsy on Legs to see if he can help us understand what happened to this poor cria.  Initial findings are that there was a problem in his lungs that were filled with blood.  Lung swabs and muscle samples have been sent off for testing.  We hope that they will give us an answer but it is not unusual for test results to come back as inconclusive.

 

It is hard to watch a little cria lose his fight for life, even harder to watch is the grief of his dam.  We left Legs body with Bjorn after he died and we took her with us to the vets with Legs laid beside her.  We wanted her to have a chance to realize he had passed away and we also decided to run some blood work on her to see if there are any clues that will explain Legs illness.  Bjorn is the picture of health, but alpacas are very stoic creatures and just in case something is going on with Bjorn we felt it was best to test her.

 

I have given Bjorn some Rescue Remedy during the day.  It contains Star of Bethlehem Flower Essence, which is helpful for those who are grieving.  Bjorn has done a little better since we returned from the vets, but she still searches for her baby every now and then, sniffing the other crias in the pasture in the hope that they are her boy.

 

And in the same day that Legs was starting to lose his battle with life, Life also delivered us the happier side of the circle.  Ivanna delivered a beautiful light fawn female cria on Wednesday afternoon.  The cria is strikingly beautiful with thick eyelashes and deep brown soft eyes.  Of course Ivanna’s cria is not a replacement for dear Legs, but she is a reminder that life is indeed a circle and for the circle to be complete you have to accept the various stages.

 

Rosemary

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