A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

January 14, 2009

Stormy’s New Career

Stormy - Off to a new career as a performance and obstacle alpaca

Stormy - Off to a new career as a performance and obstacle alpaca

Our Stormy was born back in June in the middle of a sandstorm, hence his name Windrush Desert Sandstorm.  Despite the challenging weather conditions at the time of his birth he emerged into the world a happy-go-lucky, laid back lad.

As Stormy has grown he has kept his laid back personality.  His dam Willow is a sweetheart and it seems as if Stormy has inherited her even temperament.  Stormy is also small like his dam Willow and that combined with the long staple length of his fleece has made him look more and more like a puffball as he has grown.

One thing I particularly like about Stormy’s temperament is that while he is curious and likes to investigate what is going on around him he is not pushy. Once he has discovered what is going on he will either watch from a respectful distance or go back to doing something that he finds to be more interesting.

Stormy’s halter training was a breeze; Mitch Murry from Sandy Acres Alpaca Farm was visiting our farm and helping us weigh alpacas. Mitch went out into the pasture to catch one of the other crias, Song, to bring her to the barn for weighing. When Mitch arrived at the scales I realized that the alpaca on the end of the lead rope was not Song but was in fact Stormy. Stormy had never worn a halter before and yet he walked willing with Mitch out of the pasture, away from his dam and over to the scales. Now that’s one easy halter training session!

During a recent daily update phone call with our alpaca neighbor Regina Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas I was talking about Stormy and how easy he was to handle. Regina mentioned that she might be interested in Stormy for her daughter Abby who likes to take part in alpaca Performance and Obstacle competitions. At the weekend Abby came out to the farm and met Stormy and took him for a “test drive”. The two did well together and Abby decided that she would like Stormy for her special alpaca and so Stormy will be leaving us soon to go and be with Abby and start training for his new career as a Performance and Obstacle alpaca.

Many children (and also some adults) enjoy taking part in alpaca Performance and Obstacle classes. The classes are fun and can be quite challenging. While there are a certain amount of mandatory obstacles included on the course, the show can pick various other approved obstacles for inclusion in the course. Often the class participants do not learn of the exact nature of the obstacles until an hour or so before the class and of course there is no practicing on the course prior to the class starting.

The purpose of the Obstacle Class is to demonstrate the team effort between the alpaca and its handler, the level of training of the alpaca and the alpaca’s willingness to cooperate with its handler. According to the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA) Show System Handbook the ideal performance in an alpaca Obstacle Class “consists of a poised and calm team that performs the required movements with promptness and willingness on a loose lead” .

Bearing in mind that description of the “ideal performance” you can see why Stormy is a good choice for Abby. Stormy’s easy going personality and willingness to learn will help Abby and Abby, who now has at least two years experience of alpaca Obstacle and Performance classes under her belt, will be able to train and encourage Stormy as he learns to do things he has never done before!

We look forward to watching Abby and Stormy compete in their classes and hope that there will be many ribbons in the future for this up and coming young team. Good Luck Abby and Stormy we will be cheering you on from the sidelines at the shows!

Rosemary

December 24, 2008

Mom!!!!

 

The weaning crias rushing back to their dams

The weaning crias rushing back to their dams

 

 

I think that was the general cry as we let the fall crias back into the main pen following their first day of day weaning.  You can see from the blur of running weanlings in the photo above that they did not hang about in returning to their mothers!

 

The weanlings all handled their first day well, although some were definitely more at ease than others.  Zianna, Stormy and Pride walked over with us to the weaning pen without hesitation, while Dream and Annochia had already figured out that this was not going to be what they wanted and balked at the process of crossing the pasture.  Serenity and Atlas walked over with plenty of head turning and wondering where they were going.  Song being an orphan did not have a dam to worry about leaving, but was more concerned about staying with her buddies.  Song is no longer taking a bottle as Ric finished weaning Song and Mags off the bottle while I was in England.  Mags is already in with the juvenile male group and is settling in well.  Once they are weaned Pride, Stormy and Atlas will be joining him there.

 

During the day we kept an eye on the weanling group and for the most part they stayed in their shelter eating hay.  It was one of those windy New Mexico afternoons (sustained winds around 25 mph), helping encourage the weanlings to remain in the shelter and distracting them from watching the fence line for their dams.  There were a couple of times when one or two of them did come to the fence to look for their dams, but they soon returned to the weanling group when they realized that they could not get to their dams through the fence.

 

To help add some stability to the group we put a few of the maiden alpacas in the pen with them.  Kanika, Carissima and Velvet did a good job of calmly going about their daily business, reassuring the weanlings that all was well with the world.  We have found that the addition of two or three older alpacas in a weanling group helps provide an element of calm in what can be a stressful time for the weanlings.

 

Out of the whole group I think Annochia took the weaning the hardest.  A member of the Bjorn family, a very close family group of alpacas, she was not at all pleased about being away from her dam Anya, making me wonder if she will be as hard to wean as her dam was.  Both Anya and her sister Keeva took a lot of persuading when it came to the subject of weaning and I suspect Annochia may be the same.

 

As often is the case, the dams were not at all concerned about the crias being away for the day.  Serenity’s dam Snow did initially wander over and look through the fence at the weanling group, but soon returned to join the other alpacas at the hay feeder.

 

By evening chores though the weanlings were telling me they were more than ready to go back to their dams.   As you can see once the gate was opened they rushed to be reunited with their dams and then nursed hungrily as if they hadn’t eaten all day!

 

Today we will repeat the process again, and will continue to do so for about two weeks before the weanlings take the next step of staying away from their dams overnight.  Usually by that time they have adjusted to being away from their dams and will take the next step in their stride.  (Lets hope Annochia agrees with me on that point when the time comes!)

 

Rosemary

 

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