A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

November 15, 2013

Farewell to a Faithful Guardian

A sad part of raising alpacas and llamas is that at some time in their life we have to let them go.   As some of our herd ages this is a situation we will no doubt be encountering more often.  It’s tough, but unavoidable.

This morning our guard llama Griffin passed away.  At 13 years old Griffin was middle aged in llama terms, some llamas live well into their twenties but in Griffin’s case that was not to be.

We acquired Griffin through Southwest Llama Rescue along with our other two llamas Maya and Inca.  Griffin’s registered name was Twilight’s Griffin Girl, her fleece was a beautiful rose grey.  Griffin was always more aloof than Maya and Inca, she was a strong and proud girl and took her job of guarding the herd seriously unless someone started putting out hay and then she was quite easily distracted!  Griffin loved to find a higher piece of ground to stand on so she could survey her “kingdom”.  She also loved a really good roll in the dirt, and a nice “shower” with the hose during the hot days of summer.  When we used to hose her legs Griffin would start a dance, spinning and twisting as she enjoyed the cool water on her skin.  You had to make sure to stay out of her way unless you wanted to be showered from mud flinging up from under Griffins feet!


Griffin looking proud after shearing


Griffin gets up close and personal

From her records we knew that Griffin had once had a cria, but sadly he did not live long.  When crias were born on our farm Griffin would often nuzzle them and follow them around, and it was on more than one occasion that Griffin joined in the evening cria pronk.  It was so funny to see the little alpaca crias pronking around accompanied by a pretty hefty llama!


Griffin checks out one of our crias Kaneka

We had known something was not right with Griffin since July.  While I was away visiting family in England Ric called me to tell me Griffin was not eating.  I was due to return a couple of days later and by that time Ric had managed to get Griffin eating again but something was not right with our girl.  We consulted our vet and he felt that Griffin might have congestive heart failure and warned us that it would only be a matter of time before we had to say goodbye to her.

Amazingly Griffin perked up and seemed to be doing better, she was back to eating again and eagerly staking her claim on the morning and evening hay as she loved to do.  The alpacas all knew not to mess with Griffin at feeding time.  We were optimistic.  Perhaps the vet’s diagnosis was wrong.  Griffin seemed good and we were happy to see her looking like her usual self.  But then we noticed that once again Griffin was not right.  She seemed to be losing muscle in her rear end, she stood awkwardly and getting up and down seemed more difficult for her than normal.  We again consulted our vet.  When he examined her he said that her heart sounded good and that the symptoms she had displayed earlier in the summer were all gone, but he was a little baffled as to what was causing Griffin’s discomfort and muscle wasting.  Tests were done to see if perhaps there was a neurological problem or perhaps an issue with Griffin’s spine, blood tests were run to see if there was anything abnormal, but nothing showed up in any of the tests to give us a clue.

We tried various treatments from probiotics to antibiotics, we treated for parasites and ear ticks, we put Griffin on some arthritis medicine in case that was the problem.  I used my photonic red light on her and gave her gentle massages.  Griffin would respond for a while and start eating again and then stop eating and start to lose muscle again.  Neither our vet nor we could come up with any clues to help us figure out what on earth was plaguing Griffin.

Last week Griffin again went off her feed.  We managed to get her eating again, but within a couple of days she would not eat anything we offered to her.  Ric and I were both very concerned about Griffin and what we should do for her.

Last night when I did chores I walked Griffin over to the pen where she liked to eat.  As I walked behind her I noticed she was tripping over even the smallest of rocks in the pasture, she just didn’t look good.  I offered her food and stroked her neck.  I talked to her and told her that if she felt it was time to leave us then I understood.  I told her how much we loved her and what a great job she had done for us guarding the herd.  I told her we would miss her but that we would be okay.

This morning when I got up I looked for Griffin and found her standing by the fence in front of the house.  The nights have been cold recently and Griffin had been spending them in the big blue shelter at the other side of the pasture, staying in there until the hay was put out.  But this morning she had already made her way across the pasture.  I watched Griffin walk around a little and then cush down.

When our helper Leigh Ann arrived I asked her to keep an eye on Griffin and told her that I was very worried about her.  Not too long after Leigh Ann went out to feed the alpacas she came back in and told me that I needed to come to Griffin.  Leigh Ann had seen Griffin’s legs suddenly thrash and Griffin had gone onto her side.

Leigh Ann and I went out and I when I looked at Griffin I knew her time to leave us had come.  Griffin was still conscious.  I put a blanket and a towel under her head and sat with her, stroking her and talking to her until she took her last breath.  Leigh Ann stayed with Griffin and me too, giving us both comfort during a difficult time.

Maya, Inca and Griffin

Maya, Inca and Griffin, the three girls always worked as a team

Our Griffin will be buried in one of the grass pastures that the alpacas and llamas like to visit when we let them out for a day of grazing.  From that point you can see all three alpaca pastures and the hay barn so Griffin can continue to guard over us night and day.  I would like to think that she now has been reunited with her cria and is pronking around with him free of pain and full of joy.

To our faithful guardian Griffin, farewell dear one, you served us well and gave us many years of joy.  We will miss you.  May you now rest in peace.


March 13, 2008

Feed The Llamas Challenge!

Feed The Llamas Challenge

Today’s blog entry will involve little writing from me, but it involves a cause that is dear to my heart – Southwest Llama Rescue.

The mission of Southwest Llama Rescue is to provide safe refuge for unwanted, neglected or abandoned llamas through intervention, education and necessary support. They also seek placement and lifelong care for all llamas entrusted to their care.   We adopted our three guard llamas from Southwest Llama Rescue and are very happy with our three adoptees.

Southwest Llama Rescue is run by a small but dedicated band of volunteers who never cease to amaze me with their energy and devotion to their cause.    Like many volunteer organizations funding is a concern for Southwest Llama Rescue and in order to be able to provide the necessary care to the llamas they rescue Southwest Llama Rescue has to rely on donations and grants.

The information below was sent to me by Southwest Llama Rescue, regarding a challenge grant they have been awarded.  I hope you will take the time to read the information and see it in your hearts to help Southwest Llama Rescue meet their challenge goal.  It is a big goal for a small organization, but if many people donate a little the goal will soon be met.  (Go on, feed a llama, you know you’ve always wanted to!)


Feed The Llamas Challenge


A generous charitable organization has awarded Southwest Llama Rescue (SWLR) a challenge grant for $4,500 to help feed the llamas in our care. For every dollar you give, the charitable trust will double it!?  Once we raise $4,500, we will be awarded another $4,500. This $9,000 will feed 30 llamas at our Silver City Sanctuary for a whole year!


We need your help to match this grant. Please consider giving $100, $50, $10, ANY AMOUNT will help. With enough people giving even just a little, we know our $4,500 challenge can be met.


Your donation, of any amount, will be used ONLY to purchase hay/feed for the llamas in our care.  Our private sanctuary is home to 12 permanent llama residents and an average of 20 awaiting placement.  Many of the llamas in our care were surrendered to SWLR due to owner health, family or financial strife and–in some cases–due to neglect or abuse.


ANY amount is much appreciated. Please indicate your donation is designated for the Feed-the-Llamas Challenge.

Contribute by:1.  Debit/credit card:  Visit www.paypal.com and donate using the email address swlr@wildblue.net


2.  Check:  Mail a check payable to SWLR, Inc., 1472 St Francis Drive, Santa Fe NM 87505

All contributions are tax-deductible in accordance with U.S. Law for contributions to 501(c)(3) organizations.Questions?

Call 505-690-2611 ~ email swlr@wildblue.net

SWLR, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, 100%-volunteer organization, founded in 2004 to provide safe refuge for unwanted, neglected or abandoned llamas through intervention, education and necessary support and to seek placement and lifelong care for all llamas entrusted to our care.

~ ~ ~

Southwest Llama Rescue

swlr@wildblue.net 505-690-2611


February 3, 2008

There’s Nothing Like a Wuffle!

As a member of Southwest Llama Rescue (SWLR) I receive messages from their Yahoo Group.  Yesterday there was a message from “Baxter” one of the founders of SWLR regarding an article that has appeared in a publication called “Desert Exposure”.  The article is about the sanctuary in Silver City, New Mexico that Baxter runs for llamas (and a few other furry and feathered friends).  It is a lovely article, well written with a nice tone to it, hopefully it will bring greater exposure to SWLR and the work they do.  Even better, maybe some of the llamas at the sanctuary will get adopted as a result of the article and Baxter will gain some more volunteers.

You can view the article at


There are some misquotes in the article, such as Baxter’s comments about llama fiber, but it has been my experience that no matter how hard you try there is always at least one misquote in any article written.   At the end of the day this article was written to highlight Baxter, her work with SWLR and the llamas in her care and it does just that.

Our three guard llamas Maya, Inca and Griffin all came from SWLR and I believe that all three of them spent time at the Silver City sanctuary under Baxter’s loving care.  My llama ladies are not quite as hands on as some described in the article, but we have a lot of fun with them and they do a great job of protecting the alpaca herd.

The first picture in the article shows Baxter being nuzzled by Chloe, one of the llamas at the sanctuary.  Baxter prefers to refer to this as Chloe giving her a “wuffle”, which I think it is a much more descriptive term for the way in which camelids great others.  I receive “wuffles” from the alpacas (and occasionally even from the llamas) every day, and there is nothing quite like a “wuffle” to brighten your day!

Baxter loves each and every one of the 30 llamas currently at the sanctuary, and all of those who have been in her care over the years.  Baxter gets to know all of the llamas well and does an excellent job of matching up llamas and new owners.

Enjoy the article and if you have been thinking about adopting a llama (you would actually need to adopt two unless you already own a llama), maybe now is the time to do it.  After all there’s nothing quite like getting a wuffle!


November 24, 2007

Expect the Unexpected

Our Llamas Griffin, Maya and Inca  When the phone rings at 7:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning it usually means someone has a problem.  That was the case this Thanksgiving morning.  The caller was a young lady who recently adopted some llamas from llama rescue, she had gone out to check on the llamas in the morning to find one of them had a swollen head.  The poor llamas head was literally swollen up like a balloon and there was blood coming out from the llama’s eyes.

As there was not one area of swelling it seemed unlikely that this was an injury, a more likely cause was a snakebite.  The temperatures over the last few days have dropped dramatically and so most snakes would have gone to ground by now, but there was at least one still out there and active.

I told the llamas owner that she really needed to call the vet, but I knew realistically it was going to be difficult to find vet on Thanksgiving who was working.  Even more of a challenge was that the llama that needed treatment was on a ranch many miles from the nearest town.

I asked the llama owner if she had any banamine on hand which might help ease the swelling, but she did not have any.  All the owner had on hand was some penicillin.

I suggested that the owner still try her best to get hold of a vet, but also suggested that she start calling neighboring farms and ranches to see if they had any medicines on hand that she could use. 

The llama owner asked me to call Pat Little at Southwest Llama Rescue, which I did.  Pat is one of the “angels” of Southwest Llama rescue who not only helps coordinates a lot of the llama adoptions, but also houses many of the llamas that are looking for new adoptive or foster homes.  Pat has many years of experience with llamas.

I hated disturbing Pat’s Thanksgiving morning, but knew that Pat would want to know about the llama with the snakebite.  Pat was soon on the phone with the llama’s owner giving her advice as to what she needed to do.

Unfortunately despite calls to three different vets no one was able to come out to treat the llama.  Fortunately though as of yesterday the llama was doing much better, her eyes were starting to open a little and she was eating grain, which is encouraging.  The llama’s owner had given the llama some penicillin and also gave her some Claritin that she had on hand in the house.  I am not sure what effect the Claritin would have on the llama but so far it does not seem to have had an adverse effect, and who knows maybe it helped.

When you are raising livestock you need to be prepared to expect the unexpected.  Who would have thought that a snakebite would occur on a cold and snowy (yes it snow during the morning) November day, but it did occur and unfortunately the llama’s owner did not have the supplies on hand to deal with the situation or at least buy herself a little time while she found a vet who could help her.

It would be unrealistic to expect every alpaca and llama owner to have a full veterinary supply cupboard of medicines and other veterinary supplies, but they should at least have some basic supplies on hand.  Over the years we have accumulated various supplies and learnt which medicines to keep on hand.  We do not have a high incidence of snakes in this area but if we did I would certainly have the medicines on hand to treat a snakebite.  

Usually your veterinarian can advise you what you should keep on hand in case of emergencies, and I am sure it will vary from area to area depending on different threats and risks.  Having established the supplies that you need, make sure that you then go out and get them, it’s Murphy’s Law that emergencies happen after hours or on holidays.  When the unexpected happens having a basic medicine kit on hand could mean the difference between life and death.


October 15, 2007

Hey Llama Lady – Got Milk?

Zeus Nursing Inca

Well it looks as if little Zeus has found yet another milk source to feed his appetite.  I took this picture on Saturday after evening chores.   A few minutes earlier both Carissima and Zeus were nursing from Inca the llama but by the time I grabbed the camera Carissima had decided that she wanted to play and had moved away.

I’m not sure if Inca has got milk at this stage, usually once she starts allowing crias to nurse from her she takes a few days before her milk actually comes in.  Inca is the one who is initiating this; she follows the crias around and then nudges them underneath her and encourages them to nurse.  She has never had a cria of her own but this is not the first time she has encouraged crias to nurse from her and on previous occasions she has produced milk.  It is fairly unusual for an alpaca to allow a cria other than her own to nurse from her (unless she is like Carissima’s dam Carina and easily distracted with a bowl of good hay at which time she allows Zeus to nurse from her), but from what the ladies at Southwest Llama Rescue tell me it is not unusual for a llama to allow other crias to nurse from her.

Inca typically waits until the crias are at least a few weeks old before she starts encouraging them to nurse, our theory is that by that time they are about the size of a llama cria and so she feels more attracted to them.  Maya and Griffin our other two llamas have not yet allowed a cria to nurse from them but the other morning Maya was standing with Carissima under her while Inca had Zeus under her so it may be that Maya will soon be joining the “milk bar”.

Zeus is now up to 21 lbs.  It has been a slow and erratic road to get him to this point with some days showing very little gain and others having greater gain, but at least we are seeing a steady gain which is a good thing.  He has now started nibbling on hay and today we found him eating some soaked beet pulp shreds.  Zeus still gets to nurse from Carina a couple of times a day while she is distracted with the alfalfa hay, any calories we can get into him are good calories.

We are very fortunate to have a llama that will come into milk for our crias, I know of another alpaca breeder who uses goats to feed alpaca crias who need extra milk, although with goats being so short that conjures up quite the picture in my head!  With the llamas there is plenty of room for that cria to stand and nurse even as he grows up, so we will stick with our llama girls and look forward to Zeus showing even better weight gain.


Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.