A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

July 28, 2009

Soaking Up The Rain

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpacas, camelids, General — Tags: , , , , — alpacalady @ 6:39 am

This last couple of weeks have given us some great moisture. Our temperatures have dropped from the 100’s down to the 80’s to 90’s and most evenings we have had really good rain. Sure the rainfall increases our humidity levels a little bit, but the humidity is bearable and we will take it if it means we get some rain.


In one area of the farm the rain could not have arrived at a better time. Last year we had applied for and been accepted into a government program that assists us in planting our back acreage back to native grass. Like most government programs there has been some paperwork and visits from the people at the local Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) office, but on the whole it has been a painless process and we were happy to hear about a month ago we had been accepted.


We were given the choice of planting the grass before August 1 or waiting until next spring. We decided to go ahead and plant the grass now. First the field had to be sprayed for weeds, then the grass seed drilled over the field and that was the job done. The really fortunate part is that the day after we drilled the grass seed we had rain and have had rain every evening since. We couldn’t ask for better timing.


The grass seed we have planted is a mixture of various types of native grass. The NRCS worked with us and a local seed company to come up with a blend that should succeed in our harsh environment. It will take a while for the grass to be established and the different grasses will probably appear at different times. It will be nice to have the field back to grass, it will encourage wildlife (we already have road runners, pheasant, quail and partridge living on the farm along with the usual assortment of rabbits) and will help prevent soil erosion which is a real issue in this dry and windy part of the world.


After a couple of years we will even be allowed to let the alpacas graze on the grass, provided of course we have put up adequate fencing by then (no government programs to cover the cost of fencing I’m afraid).


We hope the recent rains will be enough to help the grass seed get started and look forward to seeing the result of our project in the coming months. It will be a slow process but a worthwhile one.



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!



October 12, 2008

Wet Weather Jack In The Boxes

Yesterday we were treated to some heavy moisture as a result of Hurricane Norbert coming in over California.  It’s amazing to think that weather in California could affect our weather in New Mexico, but on this occasion it did.  The day started off with some heavy showers in the morning the rain became heavier and steadier rain as the day went on.


With three young cria in the pasture I wanted to make sure they stayed as dry as possible.  Sometimes a crias dam will get comfortable sitting out in the pasture during a heavy rain and there beside her will be her soaking wet cria.  I know that alpacas are pasture animals and a little rain will not hurt them, but I hate the thought of a young cria getting soaked to the skin and then becoming cold and possibly chilled as the evening draws in.


In preparation for the weather I had some cria coats ready.  Carina’s cria has been wearing a cria coat at night since she was born, but Sleeper and Dutchesses cria were not used to wearing cria coats.  As soon as it started to sprinkle with rain I went out and put the coats on the crias.  Once a cria is wet it can do more harm than good to put a coat on over their wet fleece so I wanted to get the coats on the crias before they became wet.


Throughout the day I would check on the crias.  At one point when there was a break in the rain, Dutchesses cria suddenly appeared without his cria coat on.  He was running and kicking his little legs up in the air as if to say, “I’m free, I’ve got it off” and there in the pasture lay his cria coat.  I went out and put the cria coat back on, much to the little guy’s disgust.  He’s a macho young man and I think the idea of having to wear a cria coat was not macho enough for him!


Whenever the rain started to increase I would look out to check that the crias were inside the shelter and quite often they were not.  Their dams were all taking shelter but the three little ones would be sitting out in the pasture cushed in the rain.  So out I would go and put the crias back in the shelter, where they would stay either until the rain eased or until they felt it was a good time to run outside again.  I seemed to spend most of my afternoon running out, gathering up crias and putting them back in the shelter, only to find they had popped back out again a short while later.  It was like trying to keep the lid on three very active Jack in the Boxes!


For most of the year our three sided shelters are great for our weather, but on a day like yesterday it would have been lovely to have a barn I could have penned the crias and their dams in.  Still this amount of rainfall is a rare occurrence in our area and our alpacas much prefer to be out than in, so it is hard to justify building a large enclosed barn to be used just a few times a year.


I am not sure that the crias found their trips in and out of the barn fun, but towards the end of the day I did start to wonder if I was the victim of a mischievous alpaca game, as the little ones tried to see how often and how fast they could get me to come out of the house to put them back into the shelter!



April 10, 2008

Rain, Rugs and Au Revoir

Yesterday we woke up to a rumbling noise which at first we thought was the sound of rail cars being moved around on the nearby rail road track, but then there was a bright flash followed by more rumbling – it was thunder and lightning.  Listening to the sound of the thunder and lightning we started to hope to hear the sound of raindrops, and after a few minutes our wish for rain was realized.  The rain was light and fell slowly at first but then it picked up intensity and for a short while we had a good rain, something we were desperate to hear and see.  While we had a little snow at Easter it has been well over six weeks since we last saw any measurable precipitation, so yesterday’s rain was nothing but good.


As the rain grew heavier the alpacas took shelter in their various barns but even some of them chose to sit out in the rain to enjoy the moisture.  The rain soon stopped and there was just the occasional light shower throughout the day.  The additional moisture in the air made our alpaca’s fleeces feel softer than ever, what a shame we cannot have some moisture in the weather every day, but then no doubt we would complain about things being too wet all the time.


Following chores it was off to the bank to make some deposits and then a quick stop to show off our latest shipment of alpaca rugs that had arrived on Tuesday.  The alpaca rugs and energy mats are selling well and since the arrival of the shipment two of the rugs have already sold as well as one of the energy mats.  The energy mat I sold to the FedEx driver who delivered our shipment, as someone who sits all day he was interested in the energy mats and wanted to try one out to see if it will make his long days of driving any more comfortable – I bet it will.


The rest of the day had been set aside to help our friends Justus and MJ pack up their removal van in preparation for their move to Colorado.   Between us we managed to get everything packed except for those few items that just would not fit in either the removal van, their vehicles, their trailer or their travel trailer.  It looks as if Justus and MJ will need to make one trip back to collect those final things.


We will miss Justus and MJ; they have been a part of our lives now for several years since they first arrived at Clovis when Justus was still in the Air Force.  We were their sponsors and soon grew to love them for their great sense of humor and their love of life.  Over the years they have helped us shear, helped with one of the crias who got an infection and was very sick (including a heart stopping moment of anaphylactic shock following a dose of penicillin) and have even ranch sit for us on occasion.  Since they announced their move to Colorado I have been joking with them that perhaps they should advertise as ranch sitters in their new community as there are a lot of alpaca farms in the area they are moving too.  It may turn out that my joke becomes a valid suggestion, you never know!


We hope from time to time we will be able still see Justus and MJ, they will be on our route to the Great Western Alpaca Show which takes place in May every year, and being only seven hours away they are relatively close in a Southwestern terms.  So rather than say goodbye to them yesterday we bid them Au Revior as we are sure that we will be seeing them again.  Good luck in your new home Justus and MJ, we all (alpacas included) will miss you being so close but know that you will always be a part of our lives.



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