Sunday, November 18, 2007

The First 24 Hours

When Linda arrived with the alpacas, she took me into the trailer and showed me how to put the halters on them so we could walk them into the barn. The first one she haltered and we passed that one over to Emma to hold until we walked to the barn. The second one I attempted to halter, then passed to J to walk to the barn. The last one I haltered and walked to the barn. Zack wanted to walk one but we worried he would have a hard time with it so he hung onto the leash with me.

We brought the alpacas into the barn and then out into the pasture. They instantly started eating the grass. We have been so happy with how well it came in and seeing the alpacas enjoy it we know our work to put it in was worth it.

Linda helped us herd up the alpacas so that we could get Snowstorm into the alpaca chute where she could show J how to cut Snowstorms toenails. J is in charge of the medical stuff (being that he is an RN). J will cut the girls nails another day. It was a bit of a struggle to get Snowstorm into the chute, seems he is very stubborn and he is a big alpaca. I'm glad Linda was there to help.

Linda gave us the fleece from all three animals from this past years sheering. I was so excited to get that! I was not expecting it but have wanted to get my hands on some alpaca fleece. She also gave us all the ribons the 3 alpacas have won, and their records (medical records, transport records and show records).

After Linda left we set out to feed the alpacas. We had seen one farm where they took a plastic pipe, cut it in half and let the alpacas eat off of that. The reason to do that was that is lessens the chance the alpaca will choke on their grain (which can be a complication). Also, you can flip the pipe over when not in use and the flies cannot sit on it. We liked the look of that set up and put that in our barn. But, these alpacas had never seen it before, they were use to eating out of bowls. We put the grain out and they would not come into the barn. We tried many different things. J was able to get them to eat out of his hand when he walked to them in the pasture and they would follow him to the barn but not go in. He took herding poles and guided them into the barn. They stayed for awhile but would not eat. The kids and I tried moving into the pasture so the alpacas might want to go into the barn to escape us. Nothing seemed to work. We left for a bit to see if they would eat after we were gone. We came back about an hour later and they had not eaten. We let the cats out of the cage and left the animals for the night hoping the alpacas would eat once we were gone.

The next morning (Sunday) we went out to the barn around 7:30 a.m. The alpacas were in the pasture. My Father-in-law said he saw them laying down just outside the barn door, where they apparently slept. They seem very skiddish of our barn (maybe it is too different then they are use to). The grain was still there, they had not eatten any of it, even though they knew where it was.

I took the scoop for the grain and put the grain in it, then went out to the pasture and coxed the girls into eating out of the scoop. I had seen other farmers do this, and Zack did it at one of the farms we visited. Victoria was the first to eat, then finally Kateri joined her. I made sure Snowstorm stayed back as the pregnant females need this grain, his is optional. I was able to get the girls to eat all their share. J fed Snowstorm, some Snowstorm ate out of J's hand, and some Snowstorm ate off the ground.

At one point during the feeding it sounded like Kateri sneezed. I wondered if she was mad and was actually spitting (they will spit when mad). I looked and on the road there was a jogger going by - she had spit! She was on the alert. That jogger had not made any sound that I could hear. These alpacas are in tuned! Victoria watched the jogger until he was out of sight.

We have gone out there to visit the alpacas several times today. I went for a walk around the pasture and the alpacas would come out to the fence near me. The cats did too. In fact Tiger escaped through the fence, she is so small she could fit. I worry about her going on the road so we will have to keep a very close eye on her. Fluffy is too big to fit through the fence, but she is a climber and I bet she will learn how to get out (she climbed a tree on Friday, Zack was so upset yelling "call the fire department we need a fireman" she did end up climbing down herself). I did see the kittens in the pasture where the alpacas sniffed them. Tiger didn't seem to notice, but Fluffy did hiss at the alpacas. The alpacas sniffed and walked away. Hopefully they will all get along, they seemed ok (especially for a first meeting). I have read Alpacas like cats, and they seemed to be fine with the kittens there. But alpacas do stomp as a defense and those kittens are small (especially Tiger who is a runt and not very fast). So far so good.

We will see how feeding goes tonight. One thing we have noticed is that the alpacas are more likely to come into the barn if the front barn door is open (the alpacas come in through the back). Then they can see through the barn. The problem being if the barn door is open the kittens can get out and Fluffy likes to hide under cars. I worry Tiger would not know to move if a car did come near her. We will have to try some different things. I think tonight we will lock the kittens in their cage, then feed the alpacas with the barn door open. Leave them alone for awhile. If the alpacas eat, then later we can let the kittens out of their cage and close the door so all is safe overnight.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Congratulations, Cara! How exciting! I'm glad your herd seems to be settling in well.

Just a BTW: My DD Molly was born on Kateri Tekakwitha's feast day (the one for whom your alpaca was named). Her middle name is Catherine b/c of this. ;-)
~Lisa H from Oct '99 PG

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