Wednesday, July 26, 2017
I've been told that breeding and cria births are like getting a surprise, wrapped package--you never know what you'll get! This was brought home to me with the birth of a cria yesterday morning.
1 day old
Since I'm a very small farm, I haven't had a huge amount of births here. But none of the six crias I've had have really surprised me. For instance, a rose grey bred to a brown gave me a brown, a silver grey bred to a rose grey gave me a silver grey, a black bred to a fawn gave me a fawn, etc. So when I bred Annika last summer to my black herdsire, I had high hopes for a black or silver grey. After all, Annika has thrown either black or grey so far and had a gorgeous black the last time I bred her to a black. And I read somewhere that breeding black and silver grey gives you an 80% chance of getting a black or silver grey.
Well, I waited...and waited...and waited. Annika usually has her crias pretty promptly, not far from the 11-month mark. This time three weeks went by until this little one finally made his appearance. I happened to arrive on the scene at just the right time and got to see the birth from beginning to end. And WH-A-A-T--it looks like a fawn!
My initial disappointment changed to concern as he didn't act as lively as I thought he should. It took him closer to two hours to get up on his shaky, spindly legs and he didn't seem to be able to figure out how and where to nurse for another hour or so. But a day later he's hopping around in the pasture and seems to be OK. And even if he isn't the cria I was hoping for, he's still very special as he's the only cria I'm having this summer. And we'll try again next year!
UPDATE: Cody is two weeks old now and doing great. I love to watch him pronk in the pasture and everyone thinks he is so cute! I'm increasingly impressed with his fiber--even if it isn't black or grey!
Only hours old
With mom Annika
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Numerous times I've had folks ask me, "Do you take your alpacas to visit schools or anything like that?" I've always answered, "No, I haven't done that yet." I wasn't sure if that was an activity I wanted to get into. But when the first request came to bring alpacas to a graduation party, I agreed to give it a try. I decided I'd take Banzai and Hunter, the two boys that accept petting and never spit at me. "What did I get myself into?" I worried as the date came closer. How would the boys act stuck in a small pen in a strange place? I pictured all kinds of worse-case scenarios involving kicking, fights, beans in all the wrong places... Look, these are livestock, not dogs. But the evening went very well, and everyone loved the alpacas. Since then, I've been to several nursing homes and several local events with the boys. They have gotten used to jumping into the van. (Um, well...that's most of the time--once a husky maintenance man had to help us lift Hunter in when he decided to cush outside the van and refused to budge!) My favorite event was at a local retirement community where we set up our pen on a newspaper and plastic-covered floor right in the auditorium and gave an educational talk about alpacas. They also gave me the opportunity to sell products. Everyone had a wonderful time! Whew, you never know where owning alpacas might lead you!
Yeah, I did this when it was time to get in the van too!
Here we come!
I'm bored. Where's my pasture?
Monday, August 4, 2014
In March I wrote about Arianna, who had turned into a hostile, spitting beast when she got pregnant. Well, on the last day of July--late evening of all things--she gave me the neatest little fawn cria. Oh, dear, my third male cria this summer, but I couldn't be too upset with an easy birth and a gorgeous cria! Although he was only twelve pounds at birth, at three days old he is jumping around and gaining over a half pound a day. And is Arianna a spitter no more? Well...her behavior is much improved, but there are times when she still doesn't appreciate being petted. Will she never go back to her former friendly self? I would like to breed her again to one of my new herdsires, Banzai, but...I'd also like to see if I can get my sweetheart back. At least I have two weeks to decide!
Arianna's new little boy!
Monday, June 23, 2014
Last week was quite the week! My girl Annika gave me a gorgeous little boy on June 17. Since this was my first cria, I was relieved to have a normal birth. But this boy did not gain weight and after several days actually started losing a bit. I was in contact with a more experienced alpaca farmer and she couldn't figure out what was going on either. Frantic, I finally I emailed her a picture of Annika's teats as even in my inexperience I thought some of them looked huge. Here this poor girl has mastitis! Stupid me! I was on the phone with the vet when lo and behold my girl Rose who was due any day started having her cria! The vet thought I could treat the mastitis myself, but I had to run over for some meds. Then the nightmare began. I had never milked anything, and now I'm trying to milk a bucking, spitting, screaming alpaca! I couldn't get more than a few drops, which of course didn't solve the problem. It took one or two men to hold her, and I felt awfully cruel.
Annika's cria Victor
Finally my dad mentioned that he grew up milking cows by hand and maybe he could try. Well, after 50 years he hadn't lost his skills and it took some work but he got her milked out. She didn't fuss nearly as much and I could imagine her thinking, "Whew, these people finally figured out what they're doing!" How could I have forgotten about the former farmer right in my house? We still will have to milk Annika a few more times, and I'm supplementing the cria with a bottle, but I finally see light at the end of the tunnel!
By the way, thankfully Rose's cria was born uneventfully. But oh dear, another boy! At one day old he got diarrhea--what next? But he's gaining weight and now it seems to be cleared up. All's well that ends well!
Go for it, Diane and Victor!
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
When I first met Arianna, I knew I had to have her! She is a picture-perfect alpaca, with a great temperament to boot. I could pet her, hug her, curl up beside her...whatever! She was bred to Steeple View's gorgeous Aslan, so she should give me a beautiful baby this summer. How could it get better?
Don't even think about it!
It didn't. It got worse. Several months after being bred, this sweet, loving alpaca had turned into a angry, spitting madman--or madwoman, rather! Now she spits at me just for looking at her! Once I decided to take her on in a spitting match. Maybe I could show her who was boss! After spitting back and forth several times, she came after me like she was going to spit square in my face once and for all! You can guess who quickly retreated, and I was sure she was thinking, "Ha, ha! I won that round!"
Since this is her first pregnancy, I guess I'll give her a break. My mentor tells me that she should return to her sweet self after she has her cria. Hmm. I've declared several times after getting the spit treatment that I'm not breeding her again! But she'll probably give me a fabulous cria...will I change my mind? Well, folks, check back in July to see what's happening. See you then!
Monday, November 25, 2013
Years before I became an alpaca owner, I fell in love with these cute, furry animals. When the circumstances were finally right for me to buy alpacas, I jumped. After all, who wouldn't love to have gentle animals with big brown eyes and fuzzy heads? And taking care of alpacas is easy, I was told. Why they have one or two "bean piles" and you can just scoop them up--simple! So I buy a little rake and a big scoop and I'm ready to go!
Really? Huh! First of all, my six alpacas set up five different bean piles. And I can't believe how many beans these creatures produce! Hey, they don't eat that much--where is all this stuff coming from? Now I'm spending more time raking up beans than feeding and watering my girls. It's a losing battle. When I finally make my rounds and get up all the piles, there is my beautiful Serena depositing more beans where I started.
When the weather got cold, I naively thought that raking frozen beans might be simpler. If they dry out a bit and then freeze, they should be harder and lighter and easier to rake, right? Wrong! When I attack them with my rake, the silly things dance and bounce and roll all over the place. If I don't get them soon enough, they freeze in a hard pile and it would take a sledgehammer to budge them.
My little niece Katrina thinks it's great to rake beans! Although I can do it faster myself, I let her participate in hopes that she'll keep it up and when she is older she can be a real asset. Perhaps then we can win the battle of the beans!