Sunday, November 25, 2007

Safer feeding time and chores

This morning I got Snowstorm to eat out of the cut PVC pipe. I put his grain in his bowl, and let him smell it (as I do every morning). Instead of putting it on the ground as I have been, I stepped backward towards the PVC pipe. Then showed him as I poured the grain into the pipe. Initially he stepped back when I poured it. I put the bowl leaning up against the pipe and then I backed out of the way. He stepped foward and ate. He was happy to have his grain!

Chores with alpacas are pretty minor. I choose to feed them grain twice a day. I prefer this so that I check on them at least twice a day and it spreads out their food. It is possible to feed them grain once a day, or no grain at all (there is debate on the necessity of grain, but because we are breeding for good fiber, we feel grain and fiber nutrients are important for our alpacas). In the morning I feed them grain and fiber nutrients. I have been feeding the kittens extra canned food at this time too (more so for Tiger who is so very small but Fluffy is active so I'm sure it helps her too). The kittens have dry food out all the time. And I check all the water to make sure the alpacas buckets are full and the cats water isn't frozen. That is all I usually do in the morning. It takes maybe 10 minutes max.

In the evening I again give grain to the alpacas. Then I usually scoop poop. Some farmers scoop poop everyday, others less often. I find once a day to work well for me, then it is a small chore (but if I miss a day it isn't terrible either). Our alpacas all use one spot so it is very easy to find and scoop. I knew the alpacas had small poop pellets, but I did not realize they poopped as much as they do. I thought since they ate so little grain that there would not be that much poop, but I forgot about all that grass and hay. I put all the poop in a ditch that was dug in the woods. We plan to use it as fertilizer (it is supose to be one of the best fertilizers).

While doing my chores the alpacas follow me around, as does Tiger the kitten. Tiger usually sits right by me. Fluffy runs around and investigates what I do but also runs up trees and chases leaves. The alpacas seem fine with the kittens. They watch where the kittens go and smell them occassionally. Today when I was cleaning I found Tiger laying right by Kateri. It was like Kateri was mothering Tiger, watching over her and blocking the wind from her.

We have a mat area in the barn which is intended to help insulate the alpacas against the cold. In general alpacas tollerate the cold very well (hot weather is difficult on them, cold is not such an issue). But with the cold weather of Michigan, most local farmers have some sort of mat insulation and/or staw in the barn to give additional warmth. Today when I was finishing up my chores I noticed some hay that had spilled onto the mat. We keep the hay in a kiddie pool in the barn for the alpacas to eat, but as it the nature with hay, some spills out. I decided to sweep it off. After I was done, the alpacas came in and sat down inside the barn. They have been sitting and sleeping in the pen just behind the barn. I guess they were waiting for me to sweep ;)

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