Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day weekend... a day of rest?

Once again the weekend finds us helping friends with shearing. We possibly have one more day in June and then we are done! We left the house Saturday before 7am and went to two different farms for shearing. My job this weekend was to get the fleece and place it on a sheet for skirting later. Although this doesn't sound difficult by the time 72 animals are shorn I was ready to stop!! That was my primary job, but there is always lots of other little things to do, like placing the rope on the legs and sweeping.... lots of sweeping. I have knee pads that I wear but I still have bruises on my knees. Shearing is always fun, but I am always glad that it's over. I was exhausted on Sunday. The picture above is from last years shearing, thats me in the purple. The alpaca is First Lady. They are stretched out and it really doesn't cause them any pain. It is usually over in about 5-6 min.

Now back to my herd. Just Jack is growing fast, he has gained about 1 lb per day and is up to 25 lbs. He has lots of energy and runs circles around Daisy, literally. He tries to get her to neck wrestle too, which is really cute, he doesn't budge her. When they were in the pasture on Sunday he tried to get Jenis to neck wrestle too, without success. But he was giving it his all!

Nadine is on day 338 today. See has made a small bag, but I don't expect her to deliver until sometime next week. This will be her fourth cria and the other three have gone to around day 345, so we still have a few days. Besides it is a little chilly and rainy here, it should start to warm up tomorrow. She has been bred to a grey male in hopes that we will get a grey (girl) out of her. Both of her grandparents on her dams side are grey, so it is possible.

Update on Gonzo. I heard back on the blood results and he doesn't have lyme disease or heart worms. He still is very stiff in the front legs so I picked up some doggy pain killers at the vets on Friday. Its hard to say if they help. He does move around some but he is still stiff, I don't know if I didn't give him any if he would just lay in the same place all day. He will run to chase a rabbit and his appetite has never been bad.

I did have enough energy this weekend to continue my spinning project. I am spinning Lady's fleece and plying it with some red Kid mohair that I purchased. It came out pretty good.

You can check my etsy site this week. I will have picture of it and it will be for sale as soon as I get it off my bobbin and washed.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A week has already flown by!!

I can't believe that one week ago today it was snowing and we were getting ready for shearing. We have had weather all over the spectrum this week, snow, sun and rain. The alpacas are all taking it in stride. When I go out to feed in the morning usually Annabelle is shivering a little, but once she starts eating and converting the hay to energy she is good to go. Besides, the sun hits their side of the barn first, as long as it is shining.

I had the vet up here on Tuesday she checked out Gonzo's legs and drew some blood. She was thinking he might have lyme disease, but the test came back neg. so we still aren't sure why sometimes his legs hurt him. But he is up and running around for now. The vet also trimmed Brunos front teeth, and checked Yubans. Yuban's baby teeth didn't fall out, so now he has two rows of teeth. He still has one that hasn't surfaced that is kindof in the bottom of his mouth, so we will wait for it to come through then pull them all at once. Don't worry, he will be asleep for the process.

This picture is of Mousse our herdsire and Misty who is about 12 months old. I took it on Saturday when I put them out in the pasture. Misty may be young but she is always the one at the fence flirting with Mousse. Misty is the one with the fuzzy ears.

This is Jenis, I took the picture just as she was getting up from her dirt bath. She was our first cria born on our farm and now she is going to have one of her own in July. She is bred to a black herdsire, so we will see what color we end up with. Before she was bred, she was very friendly and liked to have her neck scratched, but not anymore.

This weekend is more shearing at other farms, I will let you know how that goes.

Monday, May 19, 2008

And baby makes 16!

What a busy weekend!!! On my last post it was Tuesday and it snowed about 8 inches, it also snowed all day Thursday.... about 8 inches more. Our shearing day was Friday and despite my best efforts (I put fans up in the barn after it stopped snowing on Thursday) all the fleece was still pretty wet. But, we have had our shearing day scheduled since Feb. so there was no putting it off. Paul the shearer and his helper Darcy got here about 6:45 on Friday morning. I wasn't even done with the chores yet, but I would rather they be early than late. By the time we got the mats and the ropes set out and the last load of animals from another farm got here, plus all the help arrived it was about 8:15 when we started and it was about 25 deg. outside... a little chilly. I was able to take some pictures on Wed. between the snow storms so here are some before and after pictures.
Misty and Tessa (taken Wed before shearing)

Lady, Annabelle, Nadine, Jenis (taken Saturday after shearing)

They all look funny without all that fiber. Boy am I glad that it is done for the year. My garage has fiber spread out everywhere, drying out. Daisy was one of the last to be shorn, but she seemed to take it all in stride and no signs of baby.... yet.

We finished shearing at our farm about 11:30 so we had lunch and and most of the group headed to another farm to help with their shearing. I had kid duty so I picked up my kids and took them where they needed to go, then headed back home to check on Daisy. It was about 2:30 in the afternoon and everything seemed fine with her so I went to the other farm to help out. We finished up at around 5pm. When I pulled in the driveway I could see Daisy cushed (laying down) in her paddock with little ears sticking out on top of her back. I headed to the barn and there he was, a beautiful boy!! He got up and started nursing so I knew he had been on the ground for a few hours. I had to check the placenta to make sure it was all there and it was cold, more evidence that he arrived a few hours before, here is a picture of Just Jack! The picture at the begining is with his mom.

Just Jack - catchn' some rays
I think his color will be the same as Daisy's, which is great, it is my most popular yarn. The next one due is Nadine and I have a few weeks to wait for her.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

No baby yet!

Well it has snowed here all day LONG!!! It is melting pretty fast, but I bet we got 8 inches. Things are very muddy and my alpacas look like they have taken a bath and need a good wringing out.

Daisy held off for another day and I am thankful for that. For some reason she didn't eat her pellets tonight, but she didn't want Nadine to have them either, so a spit fight ensued. Nadine ended up with the pellets and Daisy started in on the hay. She was actually up and moving about for awhile this afternoon. Maybe tomorrow will be the day. I have a little cordless camera set up in the barn with the monitor in the house so if I can't see her I just have to check my monitor. It saves a lot of time running back and forth to the barn.

We have two Anatolian Shepard guard dogs Remus (girl) and Gonzo (male). Gonzo isn't feeling well today, I think he might have pulled something in his front leg. He usually loves to run and play with Remus on the three acres that we have fenced for them, not today though. I am going to have the vet check him out when she is here to check out the baby.... whenever that might be. If he was a regular kind of dog I might put him in the car and take him down the mountain.... Anatolians really don't like leaving the place they are responsible for guarding. They also don't like riding in cars or trucks.

Gonzo is the one in front, Remus is probably looking at a bug (she likes to do that) and the alpaca is Annabelle. Of course this was last summer, right now it is all white or muddy brown!

Gonzo and Remus are great guardians, we do have bears, mountain lions, coyotes, foxes and regular neighborhood dogs. Remus likes to bark at lots of things, like diesel trucks coming up the road, but if Gonzo barks it is probably worth checking on. Last summer I was feeding in the boys barn and heard him barking, so I checked it out, and there was a bear coming down the hill. Of course I gave him lots of praise for chasing off the bear and I swear he was smiling! Seriously though they really do take their jobs seriously, they don't leave the pasture area, they are not house pets. Remus doesn't like thunder and lightning she visibly shakes and tries to hide between your legs. I have long legs and she is a big dog, its kinda like going for a horse back ride.

Tomorrow the weather should be better, but 60% chance of rain for Thursday. Maybe tomorrow will be the day for Daisy.

Monday, May 12, 2008

My first blog!

I have never blogged before but it sounds like a good idea, to let people know what is going on. My plan for blogging is to let whoever is interested know what life is like on a working alpaca farm or ranch, whichever you prefer.

I will start with current stuff and will fill in the blanks eventually. Right now we are awaiting the arrival of Daisy's cria (baby alpaca). She is on day 336 which doesn't really mean anything except that she could have it any day now. Her first cria Jenis, who is due in July was born on day 323 but most of my girls have gone past day 345. Usually alpacas give birth between 10 am and 2 pm, but there again if she decides to have it at midnight who am I to stop her, that time is just what is usual.

Right now Daisy's mood is grouchy!! She tends to lay around a lot and when she gets up either to eat or go to the poop pile (those are the only reasons she gets up) she will spit at any of the girls who get within 10 feet of her. That is not how she usually is, so that is one clue that the time is near. Another clue is that she is making a bag and her teats are filling up, which is even a bigger clue. I really hope that she doesn't have it tomorrow, we are supposed to get SNOW, yes you read it right SNOW on May 13th. I do have a cria coat and we have heaters in the barn but it is hard for the cria to regulate its own temp during the first 2-3 days. Plus, for some reason the wind has been blowing lots and that goes right to the bones.

I really hope she doesn't have it tomorrow, but has it before Friday. We are shearing on Friday. We have another farm bringing their animals here, so we will be shearing about 30 Friday morning then we head up the mountain to another farm where we will be shearing about 40 more. Then on Saturday we head to another farm to help out with their sheering. And, we repeat the whole process next weekend too. It is a lot of hard work, but it is enjoyable being around friends and everyone pitches in.

To explain shearing.... we hire a shearer, ours comes from New Zealand. We catch the animal and bring them one by one to the shearing mat that has been set up. There are four loops, one for each foot, we get them on their feet, someone pulls the rope tight and we gently lower the alpaca down, they are secured there and we can trim toenails or teeth and give shots or any other herd health stuff. The whole process takes about 5-6 minutes and the alpacas don't seem to mind to much. Probably because they are getting all that fleece off and it is hot. I do think they are a little embarrassed though.

I plan to get pictures of Daisy's cria and also of shearing. I will post them on my next blog update