A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

June 18, 2009

We Have New Additions!

Filed under: alpaca, Alpacas, camelids, Crias, Family, General — Tags: , , , , , — alpacalady @ 6:44 am

The last few days have brought new additions to the farm, all four legged of course.  But our first new addition is not an alpaca.

Meet Blue our Miniature Australian Shepherd puppy!

Our New Puppy Blue

Our New Puppy Blue

Blue is just over 8 weeks old and was born April 18th.  Coincidentally our dear Toby who passed away recently was also born in April and so we are hoping that is a good omen.

Following Toby’s death the house seemed very empty without his happy, fun personality.  We decided to start looking for another housedog and were hoping to adopt another Pomeranian, but that was not to be.  We did find one Pomeranian available for adoption in another part of the state but the rescue organization ended up adopting him out to someone in their area. Responsible rescue groups require a home visit, which would not have been a problem except the only other Pomeranians available for adoption were in other states and the rescue organizations did not want to spend their limited funds on out of state home visits.  Understandable, but disappointing all the same.

We did check local rescue groups but did not find a dog that seemed right for us, nothing clicked between us and the small dogs available for rescue.

Our friend Val Smith of Double Diamond Alpacas has a Miniature Australian Shepherd “Charlie” (actually he belongs to her daughter Allie) and we had been quite taken with Charlie when we met him.  He is a very sweet dog and seemed to have that happy personality we were looking for.

We discovered that there was a litter of Miniature Australian Shepherd puppies for sale about 2 hours from us and so last Sunday took the drive to take a look at the litter.  If truth be known Ric would have been quite happy to take the mother dog Morgan.  Ric and Morgan hit it off immediately, but Morgan was not for sale.  It is always good to see the parents of a litter of pups and we were impressed with how smart and fun Morgan was.  After much deliberation we picked out Blue, it was so hard just to pick one cute ball of fur!  If we had not had Missy and Tripster at home we might well have taken two pups, but we thought it best that we pick out just one.

For an 8 week old puppy Blue is pretty impressive, she has already started to tell us when she needs to go outside for a potty break (we just have to be attentive to her signals) and when she is in a playful mood she will play fetch with the tiny ball we have brought her.  At night Blue sleeps in her crate and with the exception of the second night when she did whine a little she is quiet during the night.  Blue is a fun pup to have around and has easily adapted to our routine. Blue loves to trot at my heels when we are outside, she has not tried to nip my heels or herd me (Australian Shepherds can be prone to doing that and need to be discouraged from trying to herd humans) and she just loves to be with us.  In the evenings she is content to play a little and sit with us or lie in her crate snuggled up in a blanket we brought her.

Blue will not get to be very big, no more than 14 inches at the shoulder.   As of right now she is only 8 inches tall at the shoulder and can’t weigh more than a couple of pounds!

And the reason for the name “Blue”?  Well it is mainly because the children of the breeder had already given her that name.  With her Blue Merle coat and her bright blue eyes the name seemed appropriate and she answers to it!  Her registered name will most likely be a little longer, but not much as the National Stock Dog Registry where she will be registered request that you keep the name short and not include reference to the sire or dam’s name (how different from alpaca names!).

Life with Blue will be much different than life with Toby, we cannot replace Toby but we can enjoy the fun and love that Blue promises to bring us and look forward to her being a big part of our lives for many many years.


June 7, 2009

A Small Dog, A Big Loss

Filed under: alpaca, Family, General — Tags: , , , , — alpacalady @ 6:01 am


Our Dear Boy Toby In Full Coat

Our Dear Boy Toby In Full Coat

As with many farms our animal family is not just limited to alpacas, we have our horses, our barn cats, our house cat “Six Toes” (yes he really does have six toes on each paw) and then there are our dogs.

Dogs have been one of my loves for as long as I can remember, from our first family dog “Simba” through to our current dog family, our dogs have always made an important contribution to our lives.

On Friday night I had the sad task of saying goodbye to our darling Pomeranian Toby.  About two years ago Toby had developed acute hemolytic anemia following his annual vaccinations.  It seemed that something was not right with the vaccine as other pets seen and vaccinated by our small animal vet at the time also developed problems.  For a while it was touch and go with Toby as his body turned on itself destroying his red blood cells.  But Toby was a fighter and won that battle.  During his many blood tests (we started off with three a week and gradually worked down to one a week over a long period of time) Toby won the hearts of the staff at the vet’s office.  Whenever I had to go to the vets for something not related to Toby the office staff asked about him and some times I would take Toby with me so that they could spoil him for a few moments.

Friday morning Toby was pretty much as normal, his usual boundless energy was present as he strutted through the house wondering why on earth I had not got his dog food ready for him yet.  Throughout the day little seemed different with Toby, he even took the opportunity to escape onto our growing new back lawn when Ric went through the gate to mow it.  In true Toby style he “christened” the lawn before Ric could catch up to him.

By the time I fed Toby in the evening I knew something was wrong, he wouldn’t eat and was panting more than usual.  As the evening continued I realized that I was spending my last hours with my dearest companion.  I made him as comfortable as possible, talked to him, told him how much he was loved and stroked him.  As time went by he seemed more relaxed, so much so that it was hard to notice his final breath.

Toby was a small dog in physical stature, but a big dog in more ways than one.  He charmed everyone he met and had a generous heart, he was full of boundless energy often whirling in circles until it made you dizzy to watch him and he was permanently happy.  It was hard to have a miserable moment when Toby was around; for from the moment he entered the room he brought with him a happy, upbeat energy.

When my dear friend Linda came to visit us following the death of her husband Dick, Toby with his never ending happiness helped to put a smile on her face again.  When Ric was still in the Air Force and deployed for long periods of time Toby was always there with me, keeping me happy giving me a purpose each day – for Toby just knew that my purpose was to make sure his food bowl was filled, his need for affection was met, and that the door to the back yard was opened and shut as often as he required it to be.

Toby - the year we decided to clip of his coat.  What a cutie!

Toby - the year we decided to clip of his coat. What a cutie!

I believe I first met Toby when he was a puppy in a local pet store.  There on my lunch hour I was charmed by the black bundle of fur that demanded my attention from inside his pen on the floor.  I played with him in the pet store for as long as I could and then had to return to work.  We had our Golden Retriever Katy at that time and I wasn’t sure that Ric was too keen on getting another dog, but that little black puppy in the pet store stuck in my memory.  Several months later when Ric asked if I would like a Pomeranian I was more than willing to go and visit the prospective pup.   Toby’s owners at that time were in the Air Force; unable to keep Toby they had asked at work if anyone would like to take him.  Ric knowing he was soon to deploy to Korea for a year was worried that our aging Katy would pass away while he was gone and thought that by getting Toby I would still have a companion if something happened to Katy.

We decided to take Toby and on talking to his owners I discovered that they had purchased him from the same pet store that I had visited at about the time I had seen the black Pomeranian puppy there.  Can I say for certain it was Toby – no, but I suspect it was and that fate always meant to bring us together.

We had at least 14 good years with Toby, years of fun and laughter, years of devotion and friendship.  When our dog Sandie passed away last May Toby became even more determined to be by my side night and day.  He hated me to leave him and I sometime had to battle with him to keep him in the house as I left.  Toby was always waiting for right inside the front door when I came home.

There is a huge void now in our hearts, its hard to lose your constant companion, but we have to console ourselves with the knowledge that we were lucky enough to share our lives with one special little dog with a huge personality.  For me I was fortunate enough to have those last few hours with him, a chance to say goodbye that others don’t often have.  Toby and I had been together through good times and bad, happy and sad and we were together when he took his final breath.

We have buried Toby next to Sandie, as quirky as Sandie was Toby still adored her and I feel he felt her loss when she died.  As Toby passed on I imagined Sandie standing in front of him, her tail slowly wagging, her legs in a wide stance and a twinkle in her eye as she prepared to invite him to play as she used to when she was alive and Toby jumping up to join her, a little bundle of Pomeranian Power as he departed this world to be reunited with his dear friend.

Toby was a special dog and a good dog, who will be greatly missed by his “Toby Fan Club” and especially by his number 1 fan – me.


February 13, 2008

On The Road To Fort Worth, Texas

The day has arrived for us to head down to Fort Worth to prepare the show grounds for the TxOLAN Alpaca Spectacular.  The show itself does not start until Friday but there is much work to be done before the exhibitors arrive and start checking in.  The last few weeks have been hectic with show preparations and so it is good to see the show drawing closer and knowing that it will soon all be behind us.

Of course leaving the farm is no easy task, the animals can not be left to fend for themselves and there are not too many people who want to spend their time caring for over 50 alpacas, two horses, five cats and four dogs.  In fact we have five people coming in to help with various tasks at various times in order to keep everything going.  Thank goodness for friends!  We have had a couple of run throughs with our helpers and so far so good, at the end of the day as long as all of the animals get food, water and good shelter (and a couple of walks at least for the dogs) then everyone should be fine.

It is inevitable that things seem to go wrong just before we leave, Toby the Pomeranian started with a virus or infection so it was back to the vet for more medicine.  Thankfully Toby’s latest health issue seems to be minor, but as we have fought hard to keep him healthy it is troubling to think that he is not 100% as we leave him for a few days.  He is still his lively, bright active self and so we hope that is an indication that he will be fine.

One of the alpacas Rosie decided to get a hair in her eye and then rub her eye on some hay in an effort to get the hair out.  The hay did nothing to help her eye, we did manage to get the hair out of her eye and have been bathing it and treating it in order to soothe it for her.

Then of course there is the weather.  Fine today but Thursday and Friday are forecast for snow, and possibly a lot of it.  Why does it seem that whenever we leave the farm the weather takes a turn for the worst and the poor farm sitters are left to struggle in the elements – Murphy’s Law I suppose!

Just to add another dimension of interest to our travels Ric has now completely lost his voice!  For the last couple of days I have had to act as his interpreter on the phone as it is almost impossible to understand him. 

It just seems to be a rule of thumb that life takes an awkward turn every time we leave for a show, or is it just our perception that things are that way.  Once we arrive at the show grounds I know our feet will hardly touch the ground, but I also know everything will work out and the show will go off well.

 The blog entries will probably be sporadic over the next few days, but I will try and post at least a little update as to how the show is going.  For those of you attending the show we look forward to seeing you there and wish you safe travels on your journey to Fort Worth.


January 21, 2008

A Few Updates

For those of you who have been following the blog on a regular basis you might be wondering on the progress of some of the animals on the farm that have been mentioned in previous blog entries.  For the most part the news is good, and I thought you would like to hear how everyone is doing.

First I will start off with Zoie’s cria Zeus who was having such a tough time gaining weight during his first few months.  I am happy to report that Zeus is doing really well, he has started to show better weight gain and is turning out to be a good looking boy with lots of fleece.  He is still compact in frame, but his sire has a compact body shape and so that probably has a lot to do with Zeus’s frame style.  Zeus is starting to develop the same heavy bone as his sire too and I suspect he is going to be quite the stud when he matures!  (He thinks he has already matured and frequently tries his hand at trying to convince the girls he is ready for a date!)

Our girl Chai still is not 100%, she eats well and her energy levels are good but despite gaining back about 20 lbs of the weight she lost she sill has a gaunt appearance.  Her milk production has increased and her cria Kanika is a little mischief and doing well.  We drew blood from her yesterday (thank you to Bob Dart from Llano Soleado Alpacas for coming out on a cold morning to do that for us) and will see what her blood levels show this time around.  Chai has been off antibiotics for a little while now and hopefully her white blood cell count will have stabilized.  When we ran a fecal test on Chai she showed the lowest of levels of parasites but our vet advised us to worm her anyway.  Chai seemed to gain weight once we wormed her and I am going to worm her again to see how she responds this time.  As I mentioned in an entry the other day Chai has experienced a return of the facial abscess that we thought had cleared up, something that indicates to me that perhaps her immune system is not quite up to par.  Chai doesn’t seem to think she has a problem though and is first in line for food and eager to eat hay.  She has even started “arguing” with the other girls if they try to steal her spot at the hayrack.

Blast, Velvet, Athena and Shiimsa have made excellent progress with their halter training and day weaning.  We will be completing the final stages of weaning in the next week or so and preparing them for their first trip away from home (with the exception of Shiimsa who has been to a show before).

On the “pet” side of things, Toby the Pomeranian has continued to make excellent progress in his recovery from his vaccine reaction.  His medication has again been reduced and we are down to visiting the vet only every other week, however recent blood tests have shown that so far Toby is still not producing enough red blood cells.  The vet is hopeful that the reduction in medication may help that situation.  Toby has gained weight and is almost back to his old self, but does tend to be a little grumpier and is most likely more spoiled than he was before (is that possible I ask!).

Snuggler the barn cat has decided that he still enjoys time outside with his barn cat buddies.  He is completely recovered from his injuries and spends most of his time outside, but has figured out that he can get food in the house in the morning and then food down at the barn as well.  He often stays out overnight, something that causes me concern as I am not 100% sure that the dog that has been killing our cats and which injured Snuggler is not still paying us visits at night.  I must say that I have been surprised that during this cold snap that Snuggler has chosen to stay out in the cold rather than to stay in the warm house at night.   There have been a couple of nights that Snuggler has graced us with his presence but most nights he wants to be out and with his friends.

And finally there is Bandit the dog who is still with us.  We did have one family contact us about Bandit but unfortunately they did not follow up on their enquiry about him.  Bandit does not seem too concerned and enjoys his twice daily walks.  He loves to fetch a ball and has figured out where all the water sources on the property are – something that is a necessity to him as he still thinks it is fun to turn over his water bowl and then throw it up in the air for fun!  Bandit has a set routine on his walk when he takes off to visit Missy and Tripster the two dogs in the back yard, he then diverts over to see Sandie our other dog who has her own side yard (she doesn’t play well with others).  Once the visits are over Bandit gallops back to me at breakneck speed and then sits and waits for the reward of a dog biscuit.  We are still trying to find Bandit a good home and the pressure is now on to rehouse him as he is currently staying in the livestock trailer which we will need to use for the show in February.

As time goes by the girls in the alpaca herd are looking more pregnant each day, its hard to believe that in a few months we will be in cria season with more “little zippers” cavorting around the pasture – and hopefully warmer weather too!


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