A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

November 11, 2009

A Long Awaited Cria Arrives

 

Theresa Checks Out Her New Female Cria

Finally its a girl for Theresa!

Finally it happened, at 11:10 on November 10th (now how’s that for coincidence being born at 11:10 on 11/10) Theresa’s cria was born – and after five boys in a row Theresa had a girl!

Theresa was bred on November 15, 2008 so by my calculation she had a gestation of 360 days – phew!

We suspected that Theresa was finally thinking of having her cria when she started acting differently late in the day on Monday.  We noticed Theresa was standing a lot, not eating as much as usual and when she did cush it was very slowly.  By 8 p.m. Theresa had started to hum which was a bit concerning as it was an indication that labor was getting closer and we didn’t want a cria born during the night.  Apart from the humming though Theresa seemed otherwise comfortable.  I monitored her until 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday and as she still seemed comfortable at that time I made tracks for bed.

Of course you never really sleep that well when you are wondering if one of your alpaca girls is outside in the throes of labor, by 5:15 a.m. I was up to check on Theresa and could see that she was still cushed comfortably.  Theresa ate well at feeding time, although the humming was still continuing, but after feeding she isolated herself from the herd and then I was certain her cria was on its way.

By 8:50 a.m. Theresa was starting to push.  I have known Theresa for many years and have seen her give birth several times.  I know that with Theresa labor does not progress quickly and just when you start to think you should call the vet she gives a huge push and out pops her cria.   Theresa’s labor progressed as I expected and by 11:05 a.m. I could just see the tip of the crias nose.  Next came Theresa’s usual huge contraction and at 11:10 a.m. her cria was born.

By the time the cria arrived the other alpaca girls had gathered round to check out the new arrival, much to Theresa’s annoyance, so as soon as Theresa was rested and up I took her and her cria and put them in a catch pen to bond.

 

Theresa's Cria Standing Strong

Theresa's cria tries out her long legs

 

 

For Theresa there had been a long gap between crias, following the birth of her last cria she had developed a uterine infection which took a long while to clear up.  Once the uterine infection was gone Theresa was bred again but sadly lost her cria at 90 days gestation when the crias umbilical cord became wrapped around the crias neck.  We have not had that happen before, it was an unfortunate accident but there was nothing we could have done to prevent it and nothing we could do about it.  Theresa was bred again (after we had allowed her body to recover from the loss of her cria) and this time all went well.   Theresa had a good pregnancy, even though it was another long one.

So now Theresa finally has a daughter and what a good looking girl she is.  Her fleece is very curly and soft and like her mother she loves to eat (or in her case nurse).  Theresa’s cria wasted no time in getting to her feet and having a nurse as soon as she was able and Theresa was more than happy for her to do so.

Our congratulations go to Theresa’s owners Troy and Mary Ogilvie of Timber Lodge Alpacas.  Troy and Mary were very patient during the process of getting Theresa bred again, through all that happened their only concern was that Theresa be healthy and given all that was needed to help her have a good pregnancy.  Troy and Mary’s patience paid off and now they have been rewarded with a beautiful female cria.  I am sure Troy and Mary will love her when they get to see her, and knowing them I am betting that will be soon!
Rosemary

October 27, 2009

Getting Back in The Swing of Things

The vacation in England is over and I am now back in New Mexico.  My flights home went smoothly and even the trip to Heathrow  Airport via the notorious M25 (complete with road works of course) went without a hitch.  You know you have good friends when they get up way before the crack of dawn to get you to the airport in time – thanks Val and Linda!

My time in England was not only relaxing but also productive.  I completed a little knitted alpaca bag and also started and finished a balaclava made from alpaca lopi yarn that someone had asked me to make.  Time was spent with friends and family and I even got a quick alpaca fix at Mayfield Alpacas in Ringalow Village, Sheffield.  I was fortunate to get to spend a short time with Elaine Sharp the owner of Mayfield Alpacas and we had a great time “comparing notes” on our alpaca operations.   As I looked at Elaine’s alpacas grazing on lush pastures I could not help think of how our alpacas would love to be set loose on such abundant grazing.   If ever you are in the Sheffield area and are looking for something to do make sure you take a trip out to Mayfield Alpacas, not only are there beautiful alpacas to see but also a lovely café with tasty goodies, a gift shop featuring alpaca products and a great display that educates people about alpacas and the history of the alpaca industry (and the map of North and South America actually has Clovis, NM on it – how about that!).

So now I am back at the farm and having gone through the three stacks of junk mail that awaited me, caught up on the laundry and all of the other things that go on the back burner while you are away its time to get back in the swing of things.

At the weekend two of our visiting alpacas Sonora and Dona Cleia were collected by their owners Melita Clark and Mark Hogan of Milagro Meadow Alpaca Ranch.  Sonora and Dona Cleia had been at our farm for breeding and both are now confirmed pregnant.  Sonora was bred to our Enchantment’s Prince Regent and Dona Cleia had the honor of being the first breeding for our Junior Herdsire Windrush White Blast.  We will look forward to seeing pictures of the crias once the girls deliver next year.

Next on our delivery list is Ameripaca’s Theresa who is owned by Troy and Mary Ogilvie of Timber Lodge Alpacas in Kaufman, Texas and bred to our Windrush Jennifer’s Zindel.  Theresa was due to deliver on October 25 but no cria yet so we are watching and waiting.  Hopefully Theresa will not decide to do as in her last pregnancy and go 368 days gestation – I have warned her that if she waits that long she may well be delivering in the snow as our weather is definitely on the turn.

It was good to have a break away from the farm, but it is also good to be back home.  The crias have grown since I left, Blue the puppy is looking more like a little dog than a puppy (although she is still chewing anything paper or plastic including the Windrush Alpacas check book!) and Ric didn’t look too exhausted.  All in all everything looks good – so I guess that means I can leave again sometime!

Rosemary

 

April 27, 2009

It’s a Start

Geraint - nicely shorn for the summer

Geraint - nicely shorn for the summer

 

Saturday found us making a start on shearing.  We didn’t plan on doing the majority of the herd, we just wanted to do a few to help Ric get back into shearing mode and make sure that our set up was good for when we do a larger shearing day.

 

Things went well, the pace was not a fast one and neither had we intended it to be.  One of the advantages of shearing your own alpacas is that you can set your own pace.  In past years when we have contracted a shearer to shear the herd, the pace of shearing was dictated by the need to get all the alpacas shorn before the shearer stopped at the end of the day.  Granted professional shearers are much faster at shearing than Ric is (they’ve had a lot more practice over the years), but we still had to keep things moving at a pretty good pace to get all the shearing done by the end of the day.  On Saturday we took our time and at the end of the day we still had calm alpacas and calm humans.

 

The pace of our next shearing will be a little faster, but we would rather take our time and do a good job than rush things and make a mess.  Believe me you can really make a mess with a novice shearer and a pair of electric shears.

 

Rascal, Echo, Zeus, Geraint and Orchid now sport their new sleek summer look.   We could feel how warm they were when we sheared them and I am sure that they are enjoying being cooler.

 

Surprisingly our fleeces were not as sand laden as we thought they might be.  The wind has been blowing frequently and hard for several months now and we were sure that out fine red dirt would have found its way into the fleeces but that was not the case.  There was some dirt, but nothing like a couple of years ago when little piles of sand accumulated on the shearing mats from each alpaca we sheared.  We did vacuum out our alpacas before shearing this year, so maybe that helped some.  Whatever the reason the lack of dirt helped our blades on our shears to keep going longer and made for cleaner fleeces to be sent to processing.

 

The majority of our fleeces I will have sorted by Troy Ogilvie of Timber Lodge Alpacas, who is a client of ours and also an apprentice fiber sorter.  The fleeces from Saturday’s shearing will have to be sorted from the bag when Troy arrives for our next shearing day, but those fleeces that are shorn on our next shearing day will be sorted and graded as they come off the alpacas and then the various grades will be ready to go to the Regional Collection Facility for the North American Alpaca Fiber (NAAFP) Co-op.  Sheared, sorted and shipped – that’s the way to deal with your fleeces!

 

While the majority of our fleeces will go to the NAAFP Co-op, we will also be sending some fleece to the Alpaca Fiber Coop of North America (AFCNA), the Alpaca Blanket Project, the New England Alpaca Fiber Pool (NEAFP) and then of course there will be some fleeces kept for showing and for my own fiber projects.

 

We still have close to fifty alpacas left to shear, but at least we have made a start and have put ourselves in a shearing frame of mind.

 

Rosemary

August 22, 2008

Congratulations Girls!

 

Wednesday we made a trip to the vets with three of our pregnant girls – Theresa, Shiimsa and Queen.  The three girls have all rejected the male three times now and were between 40 and 50 days bred so we wanted to confirm their pregnancy by ultrasound.

 

Troy and Mary Ogilvie of Timber Lodge Alpacas actually own Theresa, but we are so used to having her at the farm that we slip up occasionally and call her ours.  Shiimsa and Queen are both ours, with Shiimsa being a maiden alpaca (this is her first pregnancy) and Queen being an old hand at the art of getting pregnant.  With some of our older girls we have taken to not ultrasounding them, trusting their rejection of the male as being a sign that they are pregnant, but as Queen had recently had a tooth abscess, had been on antibiotics and subjected to having her abscess drained on a daily basis we wanted to make sure that she had maintained her pregnancy.

 

Shiimsa we felt certain was pregnant, as her behavior had changed a lot since she was bred.  She is more dominant at the feed tray and has turned into a bossy girl.   Theresa had fooled us last year,  telling us she was pregnant by rejecting the male alpacas when in fact she was not pregnant and had a Retained CL  (See post June 9, 2008 – Not Quite The Result We Expected).  Having treated Theresa for a Retained CL and bred her, we were reasonable confident she was now pregnant but didn’t want to be fooled again by her behavior.  An ultrasound would reveal if this time she were carrying a cria.

 

We started the ultrasounds off with Theresa and in a short time our vet found a very large fetus – let’s hope that it is a large girl. 

 

A very nervous Shiimsa was next but she handled the ultrasound well and again our vet quickly found the fetus.  He said that looking at Shiimsa’s fetus he felt that she was about a week further along in her pregnancy than Theresa, which is about right.

 

Queen was last for the ultrasound and decided to cush when the vet started to examine her.   Our vet left Queen cushed and started the ultrasound, but was unable to see her uterus clearly as Queen had a very full bladder which was pushing up in the area of her uterus.  We should have told Queen to visit the poop pile before we set off I guess.  Our vet’s technician then suggested that perhaps the procedure would be more effective if we could get Queen to stand up.  With a little encouragement Queen did stand up and Ric was able to support her to where she could not cush again.  The vet started the ultrasound procedure and immediately found a pregnant uterus complete with fetus – great news!  (Queen by the way gave us her usual “I told you so look” before jumping back into the trailer).

 

We were happy to have the three girls confirmed pregnant.  Theresa and Shiimsa are bred to Windrush Jennifer’s Zindel our multiple color champion herdsire, and Queen is bred to Travesura’s Altiplano Treasure, also a color champion herdsire who we co-own with Bob and Regina Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas.  

 

It was good to be able to inform Theresa’s owners that they now have another cria on the way.  Theresa has always produced beautiful cria and I am sure the combination of Theresa and Zin will be a good one.  In about eleven months time we will get to see what Shiimsa and Queen produce from their breedings, it seems like a long while to wait but I am sure before we know it the girls will be giving birth!

 

Rosemary

February 25, 2008

Fingers in the Fleece

Geraint - Summer 2007We are back to the task of sorting through the fleeces in the fleece room.  I am determined to reduce the pile before we get to this year’s shearing!

The deadline for submission of clip to the Alpaca Fiber Coop of North America (AFCNA) is February 29 and so I am trying to get as many fleeces as I can shipped off to them today in order that the fleeces are received by the deadline date.

To me sorting through fleeces is an enjoyable task, it gives me the opportunity to reassess the alpaca whose fleece I am working on and consider any breeding decisions I need to make for that particular alpaca.  For some of the boys there is no breeding decision to be made, for one reason or another they will not be used for breeding, but as I look at their fleece it is a good reminder of what the pairing of the parents produced.

There were a couple of fleeces in my stash yesterday that I decided to hold back for show.  We sheared a lot of show fleeces last year and I haven’t had the opportunity to show them all and as I looked at them on the skirting table I decided that it really would be worth entering them in a show.  There is a good-sized fleece show coming up in May in Denver and so I plan on entering the fleeces in that show.

One fleece that did make me smile was that of Geraint who is pictured above.  Geraint is the only surviving offspring of Primera who is a research female we have at the farm.  Primera was donated to our vet, as her crias had never survived.  We became involved in working with our vet to see if we could get one of Primera’s crias to survive and Geraint is the result.  As alpacas go Geraint is hardly the example of an award winning alpaca, but his fleece is actually not too bad.  As I worked on Geraint’s fleece on the skirting table I could feel it’s fineness and lovely soft handle and he even has some crimp definition and brightness to his fleece.  I took a little sample of it to Ric (who is still recovering from the flu) and asked him to guess whose fleece it was, he was unable to guess correctly whose fleece and was impressed when I told him that it was Geraint’s. 

This year things will be a little different at shearing time as we are going to have some of our fleeces sorted by a fleece sorter as they come off the alpaca on shearing day.  Our friend and client Troy Ogilvie of Timber Lodge Alpacas has completed his fleece sorting class and needs to work his apprenticeship by sorting a certain amount of fleeces and so will be coming to our farm to sort for us.  Those fleeces will then be sent to the North American Alpaca Fiber Producers (NAAFP) Cooperative to be processed into high quality yarn and products.  The great thing about having our fleeces sorted on shearing day is that at the end of the day all I will need to do is package up the various bags of fleece and ship them off to the Regional Collection Facility – no storing them in the fleece room or having to prepare them for the processor at a later date.  It will be done on shearing day and off the fleeces will go!  I will even get a report on my fleeces, which I will be able to use to help me with my breeding decisions.

That doesn’t mean to say I won’t get a chance to get my hands on some of my fleeces as I know there will be some we will hold back to show.   Those fleeces I will need to prepare for showing prior to sending them in and so I will get my fleece fix from working on those.  Fingers in the fleece – you just can’t beat it!

Rosemary

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