Saturday, June 28, 2008

Better Hay

J found some "alpaca hay" in the paper that was for sale in a nearby town. He snatched it up quick as we have been looking for some good hay (not only were we running low on hay, but the hay we had was not very good, it was geared for horses, much too brown and full of stalks, not ideal for alpacas). This hay is much better (orchard grass). I could tell when he opened the trailer that it even smelled different. It is more green, and was grown for alpacas (a nearby alpaca farm, Moon Stone, had asked this farmer to grow hay for them, they had some additional hay that they advertised for sale, we just happened to stumble across it).

It's hard to see in the picture, but this hay is much more green than what we had:

Here are the alpacas eager to get a taste of the new hay (you can see some of the brown/yellow older hay on the ground):

The alpacas swarming the new hay (Kateri was the smart one, she went to the other bucket while the others all gathered around the same one):

Boy Barn Improvements

J had this week off of work, which translated into getting a lot of work done on the farm. He had some dolomite delivered. Here's the big pile of it:

He used it to put in an approach in the back of the boys barn:

And for flooring inside the barn:

This is how it use to look (dirt and hay on the ground):

It has worked really well in the main barn that we decided to do that in the smaller barn too.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I love their sweet faces. As I've gotten to know them, there faces show their personality. Some of these are better shots than others. I wanted to get a face shot of all of them, so for some I had to settle for a less than ideal photo (I don't think Kateri's photo or Victoria's is very good). I put them here from youngest to oldest.

Lightning is our baby. He's curious, and energetic. Wants to play with us but doesn't want us to touch him.

Maddie is the next youngest. She is quiet and low key. She's not one to play around, she also tends to be a loner. She will often be in the pasture by herself. She is the easiest to get close to and is doing the best at halter training of all the young ones.

Maxito is fairly quiet like Maddie. He's the one who has been on our farm the shortest amount of time and I think still isn't use to us. He is the one most likely to spend the night out in the pasture rather than in the barn. He must like the fresh air.

Sommerfield is playful and is the one who is most likely to pronk in the pasture with lightning. She will come over by you if she thinks you have treats, but hates being touched or being haltered. She's going to be difficult to get ready for shows.

Snowstorm is our gelded male. We love his fun smile. While he is one of the bigger alpacas, and can be incredibly stubborn, he is also a big baby. He loves treats and will come nearby just in case you might have one for him. I took this picture while he was sniffing the camera to see if it included any treats.

Kateri is shy and standoffish. She has become even more ornery the further along she gets in her pregnancy. The farm we bought her from said she was very protective of her cria last year (her first cria). We expect she will be like that again. She is the mother hen of the group. She watches out for Lightning sometimes more so than Sancha does.

Victoria is often the first one to greet you at the gate. She is incredibly curious to the point of being nosey. Whenever anything is going on at the barn she has to be standing by to see what's happening. She is also known as a "pig" in that she'll eat all her grain and then try to steal from anyone she can. She is a bit overweight and we have had a heck of a time trimming her down. Snowstorm can be a pig too and since they have the same mother we wonder if it's a genetic quality. I love her new hair do:

Sancha is our eldest alpaca. She seems to be a good mother but is more standoffish about her cria. When she arrived at our farm Sommerfield was weaned but with her and Sancha would often spit Sommerfield off (as she will cling to her mom). She tends to Lightning but gives him a lot of freedom too. Sancha was very ornery with us, but ever since Lightning was born she has warmed up to us. She will now take treats from us. We don't know if she was just ornery because she was pregnant or if she appreciates how we helped with Lightnings delivery (it was a bit rough on her). Sancha appears to be leader in the group. When she walks to the pasture, others follow, and when she walks back to the barn, others follow. It's weird to watch because they do not make any sound. All the sudden Sancha will look up and walk to the barn and others will do the same.

daily routines

Seems the alpacas have set into a daily routine. After the moms get their morning grain they all separate to graze.

Maidens go to one hay basket:

Boys go out into the pasture (I find it especially funny that Lightning seems to know he's a boy and hangs out with them):

moms stay in the barn and munch on hay in there:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Food, Poop, and Pasture

There are different alpaca feed grains on the market for alpacas. We use Kent feeds, as that was the one almost all the farms we visited used, including the one we bought our first 3 alpacas from (it worked well to keep them on the same feed).

We store the grain in a big tin garbage can:

It looks similar to dog food or bird food:

They also eat grass (preference is for orchard grass which is what we planted along with blue grass and Timothy). Unfortunately our pastures are small for the number of alpacas we have. We started out with 3 alpacas and intended to alternate pastures. Now with 8 alpacas, they were eating on both. We decided to close one off and water it a ton. Can you tell which one we are watering and letting grow:

For poop, we use a wheelbarrow and put in out in the woods. From the drive you can't see it at all (it's behind the pine tree completely hiden):

Then up close (it's not very tall, more long and low, the grass is growing out of the older poop):

Alpaca poop is a great fertilizer. It also has almost no odor. Their urine does have a scent but that soaks up into the ground fairly quickly. We are going to use to poop to reseed our pasture. J has created a poop mulcher which he plans to debue this week. I'll try to get pictures of that when it happens.


We have two alpacas due with cria in July. Their bellies are starting to hang and we can see movement. Emma and I have a guessing game of what color the cria will be, and who will have the bigger baby. I vote for Kateri, but Emma says Victoria will have the bigger one. I think Kateri looks more pregnant, but then Victoria is a bit overweight so might hide a bigger baby easier.



Friday, June 20, 2008


We hope Sancha is now pregnant. Lord Stanley went home last weekend. We tried one more breeding and Sancha spit and kicked and clearly did not want to participate. Alpacas will spit off the males when they are pregnant (often people "spit test" a female as a pregnancy test). We will wait a couple weeks then see if the vet can test her (ultra sound or blood test).

Alpacas are tricky about pregnancy though. Neither a blood test nor the ultra sound is completely reliable. And a certain percent of pregnancies are absorbed by the mother (so they were pregnant but then are no longer pregnant). This can happen even later on in the pregancy and since you can't really see they are pregnant until near the end (about 10 months in) it is very easy for a female to not be pregnant when you thought they were.

On that note, Victoria and Kateri are looking very pregnant! They are both due mid-July. We can't wait!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Now he's full of it

They said Lightning would perk up after he got the plasma. We didn't really believe it because he seemed plenty perky. But he is pronking much more now, and trying to play with the other alpacas. Maddie wants nothing to do with playing with him, though Sommerfield will sometimes run in the field with him.

One evening the kids and I got him running in the pasture. The kids started running and he started following them. Then we sat in the middle of the pasture and he would run straight at us and then turn at the last minute, playing with us.

Here he is mid run:

And here he is walking up to us (they are curious creatures and will come up to you to see what you are doing, though they stay just out of arm's reach):

Alpaca IgG

I'm not even going to pretend to know much about this. What I do know if that after an alpaca is born it is recommended that they have a blood test call an IgG. This tests their immunity. We had Lightning tested and his IgG was low. This is not a complete surprise given he did not nurse in the time frame that is supose to happen (he was slow to stand, and slow to nurse).

Because his IgG was low it was recommended that he have a plasma transfusion. This will give him immunity. Otherwise he could get sick very easily and we don't want to risk his life.

To give him plasma they put it directly in his abdominal cavity. We had to take him to vet for this. We drove him in the car as he is small enough, and it was less gas use than the truck and trailer. J held Lightning on his lap while I drove. It was quite comical. I waited for people to give us odd looks but I don't think anyone noticed. At the vet we ran into a trailer with three alapas in the back who we said hi too. Lightning noticed a horse in a pasture that he loved! I mean he really liked that horse. Funny boy.

At the vet they shaved a section to put in the plasma. We were not allowed in the room when this took place, so we waited. Afterward he ran around the waiting room.

I took these pictures a week after it was done, so it's harder to see (the fiber is starting to puff over it). You can sort of see the section that was shaved just above his rear leg:

Barn dog?

Our dog, Dottie, would love to be a barn dog. If she thinks I'm going to the barn she jumps around in a circle and tries to come with me. I rarely let her because the alpacas don't like her, nor does Fluffy. But sometimes I can't resists because Dottie wants to come so much. She loves Fluffy and can't believe Fluffy doesn't like her.

Dottie is a ten year old English Setter, but at times she acts like a puppy. One of those times is when I'm going to take her jogging with me, the other time is when she comes to the barn. She jumps and runs around like a puppy she gets so excited. Her tail even wags when she sees Fluffy. Fluffy, though, hisses and tries to scratch Dottie.

Here is Fluffy trying to stay away from Dottie:

Flies or gnats?

word in the alpaca community is that these things that I thought might be barn flies are actually gnats. I thought they were kind of big to be gnats, but I guess they grow bigger in prime conditions. Alpaca owners all over the country are complaining about how bad they are this year (phew! At least this isn't the norm). We are keeping up with all we have been doing with the bates, tape and DE. It seems to help but still, I wear a hat everytime I go to the barn as I hate them flying around my head. They don't seem as bad in the barn in front of the fans so at least the alpacas can get a break.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

hanging out

On a hot day all the girls (plus Lightning) are hanging out in the girl's barn. From left to right: Maddie, Sancha, Lightning, Kateri, Victoria and Sommerfield laying down behind the hay bucket:

Boys in the boy barn (Snowstorm and our visiting Lord Stanley):

For some reason Maxito is almost always by the gate between the boy and girl pastures. I don't know if the bigger boys won't let him in the boy barn or if he chooses to watch the girls instead:


Fluffy loves hanging out in the barn (and she seems small since she is no longer pregnant):


Along with summer is warmer weather and that means over heating alpacas, stinky summer heat and flies.

Alpacas are extremly vulnerable to overheating. Their fiber is so warm that in the winter they do well. Summer is rough on them. Even shorn, our alpacas are feeling the heat (it's been in the 80's and very humid). We have fans going in the barns. I filled a pool and put that in the girls pasture (so far only Sancha has gone in it). And we frequently spray their bellies with cold hose water. Most of them love this! (Maddie and Sommerfield run away, they do not realize what they are missing).

The hot humid weather makes one wonder how stinky it is. Alpaca people told us Alpacas do not smell (not like other cattle). And I agree that there isn't a smell you would notice driving by. But I do think there is an odor. The barn just smells like warm hay. The compost/poop pile out in the woods doesn't have a scent. But the poop piles in the pasture have a mild smell. I think it's their urine that has the mild odor. Since it drains into the ground it doesn't last or get worse.

I have started sprinkling lime on the compost/poop pile as that is supose to help neutralize (not only get rid of any odors but also limit weeds).

Flies are a big pain. The flies we have are smaller than house flies, but bigger than knats (they maybe what people call barn flies). The alpacas have fly bite marks on their ears, which we put a lotion on to deter the flies. We also have taken a three prong approach to combating the flies. We have sticky fly tape for those buzzing around:

We have jugs that are supose to attract the flies but then trap them (they worked so well we bought more):

And I'm using Stall Dry that I sprinkle it on the poop piles in the pasture. It is supose to soak up odors and kill fly larva (it has DE in it - diatomateous earth ?sp?). Suposedly the DE is sharp and cuts up the fly larva before it can turn into a fly. I'm not completely convinced of this but I do know the flies were all over the poop piles in the pasture before I was using the DE and now there are only a few flies. I also clean up the poop piles 2x a day which helps a lot too.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


We are happy that most of the grass we planted last fall has come up. Unfortunately the alpacas are eating it as fast as it grows so it's kept quite short and they keep looking for more. We have also had a dry spring which has made the grass grow slowly.

For the most part the weeds and plants that we dug up and picked out last summer have stayed away. I did have to pull about 1/4 of a wheelbarrow full of ferns out of the boys pasture. Nothing compared to what we pulled last summer/fall. The only place they grew back was in the part that had been woods (rather than what was overgrown pasture). I did notice that they did not grow as fast or as big as the ferns in the woods so maybe we at least stunted them. Hopefully they won't continue to keep coming back.

Here are the girls from this morning grazing on what grass they can find:

Lord Stanely herdsire for Sancha

This weekend was date weekend for Sancha. Lord Stanley from Autumn Alpacas, LLC, came for a visit.

Pictures from his visit:

We were shocked how big he is! Especially his feet. They almost look like Llama feet. He's huge even next to Snowstorm (who we thought was so big). I wonder how big this cria is going to be given Sancha is also a bigger alpaca.

2002 Peruvian Lord Stanley (Champion Conan Son)

Lord Stanley is a 6X Color Champion and our signature herdsire. He is off and runnning in the cria production department. His first 3 offspring took Get of Sire at the '08 WOTC and Mirage just came back from the Indiana Invitational Show (level V) with a blue and Fawn Color Champion. **Update-Mirage just did it again, she took first at IAOBA out of 12 and finished ahead of a Jeremiah offspring. She then went on to take the Reserve Color Championship. His first son, Slick has alreadt notched 2 Color Championships as well.

Stanley capped off his stellar show career with a First and Color Championship for fleece at MAPACA. In another notable performance at OABA, Stanley got the nod over his 1/2 brother who also has 6 Color Championships. Isn't sibling rivalry great?

Stanley has inherited brightness, uniformity and a high frequency crimp from his sire, Conan, a nationally known herdsire who now resides at Dos Donas in Missouri.

Currently Stanley has 10 cria on the ground with more than a dozen on the way. So far he has produced from white to brown and a couple of multi's. He has tree trunks for legs and recently tipped the scales at 234 Lbs. To top it off he has a black face and black points.

Stanley just sheared a remarkable 13.5 Lbs and is now available for moblie breeding. This Get of Sire winner has already produced multiple Color Champions. One of his daughters just won Fawn Color Champ at the Indiana Invitational so he is stamping out winners at the hightest level shows (Level V over 1100 alpacas) Now you can let him do the same for you farm.

1st Place 2008 WOTC Get of Sire
1st & Color Champion 2006 MAPACA-fleece
1st & Color Champion 2006 IAOBA-fleece
1st Place 2006 MOPACA-fleece
2nd Place AFCNA Nationals-fleece
1st & Color Champion 2005 MIAF
Best in Show 2005 MIAF
Judge's Choice 2005 MIAF
1st Place 2004 MAPACA-fleece
1st & Color Champion 2004 MIAF-fleece
1st Place 2004 Michigan Breeders Show
2nd Place 2004 MAPACA
1st & Color Champion 2003 OABA-fleece
1st Place & Best Crimp 2003 Northern Illinois
1st Place 2003 MIAF
1st Place 2003 MIAF-fleece
1st & Color Champion 2003 Llamafest
2nd Place 2004 PAOBA

Stud Fee: $3000 6X Champion
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