A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

March 12, 2009

The Scent of Spring


I have some scented oil “The Scent of Spring” that I use in a potpourri crock to freshen the house.  It is a lovely scent reminiscent of hyacinths with just a hint of daffodils and really is very spring like. 


Recently though there is a different “Scent of Spring” at the farm and it’s not as pleasant as my scented oil for it is “The Scent of Skunk”! 


Skunk smell is very distinctive, once smelt never forgotten.  We usually have skunk visitors around this time of the year and this year is no exception.  A couple of nights ago we discovered that the skunk must have taken a walk around the perimeter of our house as there was a definite skunk “trail” wafting in the air.


The next morning our two outside dogs Missy and Tripster were both standing at alert with noses aquiver staring toward the area behind our back yard.  I suspect what they smelt was the skunk returning to its sleeping place.


Then Wednesday morning there was an overpowering scent of skunk in our adult male alpaca pen.  The skunk had not only lingered in that pen but had felt the need to really make its mark.  My suspicion is that the skunk came into the pen and tried to get a drink of water when it was disturbed.  Ric had filled the large water tub on Tuesday evening and it had run over creating quite a puddle in the boy’s pen and the area where that puddle was had the strongest smell of skunk.


My alpaca boys have previous for annoying skunks; they will crowd around the offending skunk trying to get a better look at it.  The skunk is not too happy about all of that attention and lets them know by spraying and if the alpacas are unlucky they get a direct hit of skunk spray.


March is usually the time we see the most skunk activity, the female skunks are busy finding good places to have their litters, by April we might be treated to the sight of baby skunks, which are undeniably cute!


Unfortunately skunks are known to sometimes carry rabies so we will do our best to persuade the skunk to move on to pastures new, sometimes just the unwanted attention of the boys is enough to persuade the skunk to move on.  If not we will have to employ our live trap to capture the skunk and relocate it – taking with it that very special “Scent of Spring” that only skunks can provide!



March 17, 2008

The Skunk Has to Go!

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpacas, camelids, General — Tags: , , , , — alpacalady @ 9:56 pm

The Junior Males Greet Me At The Gate

There is nothing quite like being outside, enjoying doing the chores on a nice spring day when you greeted by a wall of skunk spray!  That was the case on Sunday morning as I went to feed our junior males.  The smell was overwhelming and every one of them had the same odor.

I did have a little chuckle to myself though, you see I have seen our female alpacas chase a rabbit at night and appear to think it was a great game, I suspect that is what happened with the skunk and the boys.

I can just imagine the skunk ambling into the boys pasture on one of its moonlight strolls.  Skunks don’t move very fast as a rule and do appear to be taking a gentle stroll when they walk.  Once in the pasture it probably took a few minutes for one of the boys to notice the skunk, but once one of them was paying attention to it the others undoubtedly joined him to investigate what this thing was.  If the skunk chattered or tried to move a little faster I am betting they gave chase – poor skunk, it’s little legs probably couldn’t move fast enough to get away from seven male alpacas on a mission.

Following the trail of skunk smell there was a concentrated patch at the end of the big bale of hay in the boys pasture.  I suspect they cornered the skunk there and that is probably where it let loose with an almighty blast of skunk spray – enough to cover every boy and part of the bale of hay!

The boys didn’t seem too perturbed by their encounter with the skunk, I can’t say for sure that the skunk was so happy, there was no sign of a repeat visit on Monday morning so I suspect the skunk will give that pasture a wide berth following it’s alpaca encounter.  The decision has been made though that the skunk has to go, so we will be setting our live trap and relocating him or her to pastures new!


March 11, 2008

When You Stick Your Nose On A Skunk You Don’t Come Up Smelling Like Roses!

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, Alpacas, camelids, General — Tags: , , , , , — alpacalady @ 7:28 am

Rascal Who Now Smells Like A Skunk

 March is the month when skunks start to make more of an appearance in our area.  They are active and looking for a mate to create more skunks with.  An article about skunks in our local paper on Sunday mentioned how skunk litters can number anywhere from four to seventeen in size.  Seventeen baby skunks – what a thought!  Having said that baby skunks are undeniably cute and those who know me well know that should I find such a collection of baby skunks on the property I would be outside watching them at every opportunity.

So with skunks starting to wander around more we have already had our first skunk/alpaca encounter for the year.  As skunks are mainly nocturnal we didn’t witness the event, but we certainly knew it had happened the next morning.   As the junior males greeted us at morning feeding there was a distinct aroma in the air!  It took a little while to figure out who had been “skunked”  – it was Rascal.

All alpacas are curious but Rascal is particularly bold in his curiosity (hence the name Rascal as his curiosity gets him into all sorts of predicaments).  I am sure when the skunk ambled across the pasture or by the fence line Rascal was the first to make his way over to check it out.  The skunk no doubt chattered and waved it’s tail in warning, but Rascal would have just been more encouraged to check it out with that behavior.  I can just see poor Rascal as he lowered his nose to take a sniff at the skunk only to be met with a stream of skunk spray!

While skunks have a certain charm about them (if you forget about their ability to spray that is) they do also have a downside.  Unfortunately they will kill our barn kittens if they find them, and they will also steal eggs and small chicks at times, and then there is the link between skunks and rabies.  Skunks are known carriers of rabies and so their presence is a threat to our livestock and our pets.   The more skunks we see in March the higher the possibility of rabies, which is of course something we do not want to encounter.  Fingers crossed the skunks that make their way to our property will be rabies free.

It cannot be pleasant for poor Rascal to have “eau de skunk” on his nose; it is certainly not pleasant for us.  There really is not much we can do about Rascal’s new odor.  We could try and neutralize it by washing Rascal’s nose in one of the concoctions recommended for removing skunk smell, but alpacas are not too keen about having their noses scrubbed and within a couple of days the smell will have subsided.   In the meantime we will just have to put up with one smelly alpaca and I am betting that if that smelly alpaca (aka Rascal) should see another skunk he will try and sniff it again!   


December 19, 2007

Apparently we have company!

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Care, camelids, Crias, General, guard llamas, llama — Tags: , , , , — alpacalady @ 4:16 am

I had cause to speak to one of our neighbors yesterday; Stan lives in the property to the North of ours and shares a fence line with us.

As we talked Stan asked me if I was aware that we have a red fox living on our property.  The fox is apparently a large one (Stan describes it as being the size of a small coyote) and is living under a couple of old water tanks that were left on our property by the previous owner.

In late summer Ric and I had noticed that something seemed to be getting under the water tanks, but could not figure out what it was.  We have a good collection of rabbits on the property this year, including some quite magnificent jackrabbits and we had wondered if the rabbits were the ones making themselves at home under the water tank.  We had also wondered if a skunk was the resident of the den, but as there wasn’t that distinct skunk odor we ruled out the skunk. 

We have had a red fox previously on the farm, that fox was a female and she took up residence under one of the boxcar shelters.  A skunk occupied the place where she decided to settle at the time and I was home the day that the fox decided it was time for the skunk to move out.  The fox chased the skunk off the property and would not let the skunk back to it’s home (it tried I can assure you).  Having established herself on our property the fox then had a litter of pups.  We were able to see the pups through a broken floorboard in the boxcar over her den.   The mother fox would go out hunting during the night and if we happened to be around she would chatter at us, telling us that she was not thrilled with our presence in her territory.  She used to bring home all sorts of food including one time a chicken.  As none of our immediate neighbors has chickens on their properties this indicated to us that the fox was traveling quite a way to get her food.

At the time of that fox being on our property we called the Department of Wildlife, Game and Fish as we had read that foxes are becoming rare in New Mexico and we wondered if there was anything special we should do.  The Department of Wildlife, Game and Fish offered to rehouse the fox and her pups, but by the time the necessary arrangements were made the fox and her pups had moved out of their den and we have not seen any signs of them since.

We will check the latest fox den to see if we can see signs of new activity.  Stan mentioned he had not seen the fox over the last couple of weeks but that does not mean that he or she is not still around.

To me it is quite exciting to have a fox on the property and hopefully we can leave him or her to their own devices.  I did hear just recently though of an alpaca farm where a fox stalked and attacked a cria, so we will be mindful of any signs that the fox is getting into the alpaca pastures.  The fox den is closest to the boy’s pastures and I am pretty certain they would chase and stomp a fox if it came into the pasture.  The llamas of course are on duty in the girls pasture and I also have heard of some llamas killing a fox that got into someone’s alpaca pasture, so hopefully we will not encounter any problems with our fox and crias. 

If I manage to see the fox I will try and get a picture of it.   I had better start keeping my camera with me as I do chores otherwise I can guarantee the one time I see the fox will be the one time I don’t have my camera on me.


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