A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

October 21, 2007

Fiber in Folsom

Saturday’s Wild and Wooly Alpaca Expo went well, the attendance from the public was down from last year but with local elections going on, one of the largest craft fairs in the US taking place just up the road and the Louisiana State University Football team playing in Baton Rouge there were plenty of other distractions in the area.  There was a steady stream of people all day and who knows what today will bring. 

During the day I got to meet several alpaca breeders from the Louisiana and as always it was good to get together and exchange ideas and learn from each other. 

The Expo had a small fleece show and I was able to spend some time in the fleece room, which is always time well spent.  The judge was Shannon McConnell from Illinois, who with the fleece judging now over will today be giving an educational seminar on what judges are looking for in the show ring.  

My fleece skirting seminar seemed to be well received, it was a much more condensed version than I usually give but the attendees said that they learnt a lot and hopefully they walked away with more confidence in preparing their fleeces for showing. Today I will have to be mindful of the timing of my presentation as I have to make sure that I get to the airport in time to return my rental car and catch my flight home.  Hopefully I will find my way back to the airport easier than trying to find my way out of the airport area. 

I did speak to Ric today, no news on Chai to report and today the weather in Clovis is forecast to be windy and very cold so the chances are she will not have her cria today as alpacas usually birth in fine weather.  We really don’t want a cria being born on a cold windy day so let’s hope she holds onto her cria until a warmer day. 

When I spoke to Ric he was getting ready to do some unexpected work – he discovered water leaking from our well house while doing morning chores.  Not a good thing, let’s hope it’s something that’s easy to fix! 


October 20, 2007

Wild and Wooly in Louisiana

Yesterday was spent traveling to Covington, Louisiana where I will give a presentation on skirting alpaca fleeces for show. The Wild and Wooly Alpaca Expo was started following Hurricane Katrina when Sandy Steffy of Whisper Soft Alpacas, was approached by local officials of St. Tammany Parish. The officials were interested in hosting an alpaca event in an effort to bring people and business and so the Wild and Wooly Alpaca Expo was started. This event does not feature an alpaca halter show but does have a fleece show, alpaca end products for sale and two full days of educational seminars.

Sandy Steffy has devoted many, many hours to the Wild and Wooly in addition to running her alpaca farm, helping her mother with the family business and rebuilding her life after her house was damaged during Hurricane Katrina, credit has to go to Sandy for coordinating the Wild and Wooly and making it a success during such a demanding period of her life.

My journey to Louisiana was a good one, with my flights being on time or early and the weather being calm and fine. The only hiccup in my travels was getting out of New Orleans in my rental car, the map and directions I received were not exactly the most specific and before I knew it I was headed toward Baton Rouge! Fortunately Regina Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas called me at that time and was able to get onto her computer and help me get turned around to the right direction. Thank you Regina, your timing was fortuitous and thanks to you I did make it to Covington safely.

The drive out of New Orleans was an interesting one as I drove on the North Causeway over Lake Pontchartrain – wow that is one long drive over water! The traffic was not too bad and it was quite surreal to be driving over a large body of water while being surrounded first by numerous dragonflies and then by hundreds of butterflies. It’s a drive I will not forget.

Later today I will give my presentation and hopefully I will have time to sit in on some of the other seminars and get to visit with some alpaca breeders and visitors to the Expo who are interested in learning more about alpacas. I’m looking forward to the day and hope that my presentation will be well received.


October 19, 2007

Preparations for Fall Breedings

Now the cooler weather is here it is time for us to start breeding the alpaca girls who are open (not yet bred).  Most of our girls were bred for spring crias but there are a few who still need to be bred.  Clarissa birthed later than expected in the spring and we were unable breed her back due to the heat, Carina and Zoie have not long had their crias and are at the point when it would be good to breed them back.  Keeva and Cinnamon did not get pregnant during the spring breeding season.  Keeva had a bad dystocia the previous winter and was given a good break after that to let her recover and Cinnamon is a maiden female who we tried to breed in the spring but was apparently not quite ready for breeding.  Cinnamon has now turned two so we are optimistic that she will become pregnant this fall.

We have made our decision as to which herdsire will be bred to each girl and so will now start the breeding process.  Before breeding the girls though there are a few things to take care of.  Clarissa and Carina were due for vaccination and so we vaccinated them yesterday and will wait a few days before breeding them.  We used to vaccinate our pregnant girls two weeks prior to delivery of their cria, but recent studies show that some female alpacas get stressed over the vaccination process causing them to go into labor early.  We don’t want to risk losing a cria, but do need to make sure that the girls get their booster shots and so have taken to giving the vaccinations in the period between them birthing and breeding.  So far this has worked well and we have not seen any disadvantages, the dams do well and the crias born fromthe breedings subsequent to the dam’s vaccinations have good IgG results.

After Keeva’s dystocia we had her examined by our vet to check that she was still reproductively sound.  Our vet found her to be in good condition considering all that Keeva went through but did have to remove one small stricture of scar tissue in the birth canal.  We have also run a uterine culture on Keeva to make sure she does not have a uterine infection.  Low-grade uterine infections can occur in female alpacas and often the alpaca does not show any symptoms of having an infection.  The infection is often enough to prevent a pregnancy though. 

With Keeva’s results back and looking good and the vaccinations completed we will now be able to start to breed the girls.  

I am traveling to Louisiana today to attend the Wild and Wooly Alpaca Expo, according to my travel information I should have access to the Internet from my hotel room and should be able to squeeze in a blog entry or two.  Ric will be staying home on “cria watch” with Chai, her due date is Sunday and her past two crias were both born exactly on the due date so the chances are Ric will be busy with a new cria this weekend.  I hate to miss the birthing of one of our crias, but at least Ric can be home to man the fort.  You can bet I will be waiting for my phone to ring on Sunday with good news! 


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