A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

April 13, 2009

Easter Brings The Joy of Rain

Following a week of dust storms and severe winds, thankfully Easter weekend brought us some rain.  Not a huge amount, no torrential downpours (thankfully) but some nice steady rain.  The ground is still damp and the dust is not blowing even though the wind has again picked up speed a little.  While local families went on Easter Egg hunts, we had an Easter Egg hunt of a different kind, as we looked at the dry oval patches on the ground where the alpacas had cushed in the rain.  


The alpacas felt there was sufficient rain for them to go into their shelters at times, cushing down in the straw and chewing their cud as they settled down to watch the rain.  They were much more relaxed than when they had to cope with the high winds, then they would stick their heads out of the shelter and make a mad dash for a different shelter taking a more diagonal route than they had planned as the wind blew them sideways.  To give you an idea how powerful the wind was last week, the latch that holds our feed barn door open was ripped off by the wind and I used two bales of alfalfa to prop the door open, the bales weigh about 60 lbs each and were stacked on top of each other but the wind moved them with ease giving me an extra workout as I put them back in place each time the wind moved them.


As the rain continued some of the alpacas ventured out for a soaking, enjoying the feeling of the rain on their fleeces and hopefully washing out some of the dirt that has accumulated in their fleeces over the past months.


The upcoming week has a forecast of more rain – we will take whatever we can get and hope that it travels on to give Texas a good soaking too.  There have been some terrible grass fires in the past week in Texas and New Mexico and rain is much-welcomed friend to those fighting the fires.


As we prepare for shearing we are even more grateful to the rain, hoping to get the alpacas a natural rinse before we start to shear.  The dirt is hard on our shearing equipment and is something we would rather not have in our fleeces.  

One of the advantages of shearing our own herd is that we are not tied to a particular day as we are when we contract a shearer to shear, allowing us to adjust our shearing days a little to ensure we have dry fleeces to shear.


We will hope that the forecast is right for this week, the rain will help our struggling winter wheat grow and once it is a little stronger we can let the alpacas take turns grazing it – and then we will have a really happy bunch of alpacas!



March 4, 2008

Spring, Winter, Spring

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Health — Tags: , , , , , — alpacalady @ 7:13 am

Dust Storm_030208It’s getting hard to keep up with the seasons around here.  Sunday started off at as beautiful spring day, calm, warm and sunny.  By the early afternoon the temperatures were in the 70’s, yet we kept receiving weather warnings that we were in for a winter storm.  Surely not, how could we possible go from such a beautiful day back to winter. 

Then it happened, about 10 minutes before I was due to start chores (Murphy’s Law of course) the skies grew grey, the wind picked up and then the dust started to blow.  I should have realized something was about to happen when I looked out of the window a few minutes earlier and saw the girls all running into their shelter – they knew what was coming.

As you can see from the picture on this post, chores were a delight that afternoon.  (Note  the round floating dots in the picture are dust particles) The winds became sustained around 50 mph and it was quite the challenge to hold onto the buckets of hay as I walked, propelled by the wind, between the pastures.  The weather was so bad the girls who normally get extra pellets at evening chores would not venture out from the shelter.  So the girls got to dine in that evening, and the hay was spread between the feeders in the shelters, to put it outside would have been a waste as it would have blown away.

Even the dogs rejected their evening walk.  Missy and Tripster set off with good intentions but when the wind gusted they decided it was time to head home.

By Sunday evening the snow was falling!  We received about 4” of snow, but only 2 – 3” landed on the ground, the rest was carried away in the winds.  By Monday morning we had a nice layer of ice under the snow, the schools closed for the day and many businesses did the same.

The good part of this was finally we received some moisture.  The snow is better than a hard rain as it slowly melts and puts moisture into the soil, where as a hard rain will only run off the ground.

By Monday afternoon the skies were blue and the snow had melted away.  The temperature was climbing and today we are supposed to be back in the 60’s.

The tough part of this drastically changing weather is it is not easy on the alpacas (nor their owners but we have a centrally heated house to retreat to).  To have temperatures that swing so sharply is definitely hard on the alpacas bodies.  To help them cope we make sure that we follow a good nutritional program and use a good probiotic on a daily basis.  The best we can do is to ensure that our herd is in prime health year round to help them fight all that nature throws at them.

We did feed the alpacas extra during the brief storm, we wanted them to be able to generate more heat internally and some extra hay for a day will help them cope through the brief cold spell.  The herd also appreciated beet pulp shreds soaked in warm water.

It looks as if we may have another weather swing later in the week, hopefully not quite as dramatic as the last one!


January 29, 2008

It’s Back! The High Wind Returns

I had to chuckle at the weather forecast I heard on the radio yesterday.  The young lady (a meteorologist based in Amarillo) described the day as “another gorgeous day”.  To give the lady her due the temperature was at least warm, but it is difficult to apply the word gorgeous to the day when the winds are blowing around 30 mph with 50+ mph gusts.

To add to our “gorgeous” weather the dirt and tumbleweeds were blowing freely as well.  As I drove back to the house from an errand there were times on our road that visibility was only a few feet due to the blowing dirt and the only way to know about the tumbleweeds was to see them appear out of nowhere and then slam into the side of the truck.

The current dry conditions are almost as bad as they were in 2004 when serious dust storms were a problem.  I can still remember driving to the show in Fort Worth and driving through areas where the visibility was almost down to nothing.  Not what you want at the best of times but definitely not what you want when you are pulling a trailer load of alpacas.  It is tempting in those conditions to pull over and stop, but the problem is that even with the vehicle’s lights on people are still unable to see you and may run into the back of your vehicle.  We were so lucky that year to miss being involved in a major pile up in one of the dust storms we drove through.  We missed it by minutes, someone was watching over us that day.

Despite the dry conditions our winter wheat is making a valiant attempt at coming through, but unless we receive moisture within the next week or so the winter wheat is unlikely to survive.

The weanlings were not too impressed with yesterday’s weather.  Velvet in particular seemed to miss her dam and did a little fence pacing and ran up to me whenever I went into the pasture.  I suspect on days like these Velvet would feel safer cushed beside her mother in the pasture.

Today is supposed to be the same as yesterday, reasonably warm with high winds.  It will be another day when I will end up wearing a “Clovis tan” by the time chores are finished, due to our fine red dirt sticking to my skin.  There’s just nothing like another “gorgeous” day on the high plains of eastern New Mexico!



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