A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

January 19, 2008

A Handy Catch (Rope)

Over the years we have acquired various supplies and tools for our alpaca farm.  Some have been really successful; others end up collecting dust or being stored in a box.   Some of the tools are unique to the alpaca business, others are standard livestock supplies and others are tools that we have adapted to work for a purpose other than that for which they were designed.

Yesterday I had occasion to use one of my favorite tools, the catch rope.  Our catch rope is one from the Camelidynamics range.  It is made of a beautiful soft cotton rope and has an adjustable ring and hook attachment making it adaptable for any size alpaca.

Our dear Chai still has some remnants of the facial abscess that she developed in the fall.  We thought it had gone, the holes that it was draining from were healed and there was no swelling in the immediate area.  There must have been a tiny speck of bacteria left though, as within a short while we could see the abscess was growing larger again.  So it’s back to draining the abscess on a daily basis and treating it to see if this time it will go completely.  Abscesses can be tricky devils to get rid of, and it has been our experience that it is not unusual for an abscess to reappear quite easily.

Ric often works as a substitute teacher for the local elementary schools.  Having gained his degree in elementary education he feels that he should put his education to good use.  He enjoys working in the different schools and the schools seem to like having him.

Yesterday was one of the days that Ric was teaching, which left me to deal with Chai’s abscess on my own.  Chai is a sturdy girl, even following her recent illness and weight loss.  She has regained a lot of the weight she lost prior to giving birth to Kanika, but I am still concerned that she is not 100% well.    Of course Chai is not too keen on us messing around with her facial abscess and often pulls away as we try to drain and treat it.

In situations such as Chai’s when I don’t have anyone to help me, I find the catch rope invaluable.  I can easily catch Chai while she is eating in the morning and once the catch rope is on I can steady her and prevent her from backing away from me while I work on her.  I don’t like to tie alpacas up when I am working on them, I find that the restriction puts them on edge and makes them harder to deal with.  With the catch rope I can give the alpaca a little leeway to move and help the alpaca to feel less trapped.

As I work on Chai she will frequently put her nose up in the air in an effort to get away from me, often I can adjust my touch to where she is less inclined to raise her nose up, but sometimes there is no getting around the fact that draining the abscess is painful.  It has to be done though, and so if Chai persists in putting her nose in the air I loop the loose end of the catch rope over Chai’s nose like a halter nose band, which gives me a little more control over her.

The catch rope is quite long, when I work with halter training crias it is great to be able to put the catch rope on them and also put a good space between us until they feel more comfortable with someone getting close to them.  The length of the catch rope allows me to put that space between the crias and me.  The other advantage of having a long catch rope is that when you leave your medicine supply box outside of the pen, you are able to open the gate to the pen, reach your supply box and then return to the pen, all the while still having your alpaca contained by it’s being on the other end of the catch rope.  That is exactly what happened to me yesterday. 

Having started to soak and drain Chai’s abscess I realized that I had left the Scarlet Oil that I was going to apply to the abscess in the medicine supply box outside the pen.   I could have tied Chai up, or I could have draped the catch rope over her back while I left the pen.  It was so easy though to leave the catch rope on her, and then leave the pen for a couple to seconds still holding onto the catch rope and maintaining contact with Chai while I retrieved my supplies. 

The catch rope is a simple piece of equipment, but sometimes it is the simplest things that are the most useful and certainly in the instance of the catch rope that is the case.


November 21, 2007

Progress Report

Well something seems to be working!  After three days of little Zeus not gaining weight at all he gained a whole pound yesterday.  This is the biggest single gain yet for the little guy and makes me optimistic that as he transitions to eating more hay and pellets he will start to show a better growth rate.  So what caused this good gain, well I did give him 5cc of the MSE drench, and in addition to that I have started putting him and little Kanika in a pen for a while with some good hay and some calf manna.  Kanika is too young to be interested in the calf manna, but she enjoys the hay and keeps Zeus company.  Zeus is happy to have some time where he can eat without being challenged by the other crias.  Now we just have to see if we can get him to gain weight well on a regular basis.  Fingers crossed he will show another good gain today when we weigh him.

Chai is also making good progress, her second set of blood work showed that she was still fighting an infection so back on the antibiotics she went.  She has already gained weight and is starting to look a lot better.  In addition her facial abscess is now healed, there is some scarring but over time that will fade, and the All Species Poultice really helped draw all of the pus out of the abscess and keep the surrounding tissue healthy.

Our dear dog Toby has made some minor progress too.  We had more blood work run on him on Monday and while he is still not out of the woods yet his levels showed some slight improvement.  Unfortunately he is not eating despite our best attempts, as is evidenced in our refrigerator which now contains all sorts of bowls of various foods we have tried him with.  So we have had to resort to syringe feeding him.  It is a stressful task for him and us but unless he starts to eat he will develop further complications.  Syringe feeding Toby is a two-person job (how can one Pomeranian be so strong when he is really very weak!) but at least he swallows the food once it is on his tongue.   The good news is that the food is staying down and Toby is a little livelier.  As our vet said, we still have a long way to go but we can have a little optimism.

So some progress in the right direction on our three patients, great news indeed.


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