Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rose's Adventure

It's been Rose's first week on our farm, and already she has everyone wrapped around her! Here she is standing by the fence, sniffing the kids before we take an adventure hike in the woods (an adventure hike is what we call wandering on paths in the state land behind our home. They aren't marked trails, and each time we take a new way, it's an adventure. There are 100's of acres of state land to explore back there. We put on play clothes and hike for hours out there). Our house dog, Quinn, loves Rose too.

(while it looks like the kids' have Rose's head stuck in the fence, they don't. Rose put it there to get closer to them.)

Rose is very sweet, and very friendly. She's pretty too :)

I'm impressed with how she already eats grain! It seems the cria born on our farm take awhile to eat grain. Here is Rose, at barely two months old:

Copper is just over a month old, and only lays by empty bowls:

Rose had an adventure of her own, on Monday evening. On Monday a cool front came through, and the evening hours brought cooler temps. As I predicted, the cria love the cooler weather, it incites them to pronk (run and jump) all through the pasture. Their pasture goes around the side of our house, down a hill. The cria love to run up and down that hill (must be the native Peruvian in them ;) seeking out as close to a mountain as they can). We had concerns when we put this pasture in, that at the bottom of the hill on our house, we have two basement windows. In the year we've had them back there, we've had no problems. I have accused a couple of them of looking through the window to watch tv with the kids (nothing like looking out the basement window and seeing an alpaca face!). But it didn't seem to affect the alpacas at all. Well, on Monday evening, Copper was chasing Rose, and Rose was running at full speed. They do this most cool evenings. They love running and playing. She was looking behind her at Copper, and ran straight into one of the basements windows! We heard the smash, but did not know what it was. Emma was outside and saw the entire thing happen. Emma called us outside, yelling that Rose ran into the glass window. What are the chances that exact thing could happen! We instantly ran out and checked Rose all over. We worried she might have shattered glass stuck in her. She has a little cut on her lip, but no other physical injury. She was clearly shook up though. She huddled right next to her mom, and appeared a bit in shock. Poor girl! It really scared her. When we looked at the window, only the outside pane of glass shattered (the window had two panes). The inner glass did not, so glass did not go inside the house. It was the window in my fiber room. I can only imagine glass shattered all over my fiber :( or worse, Rose could have fallen through and sliced her neck! It could have been a very horrible situation. Thankfully, other than being shook up, Rose is fine. We picked up all the shattered glass outside (had to dig up some of the ground to get all the pieces). We put plastic over the window. Even with the inner pane still in tact, some of the broken pieces were stuck in the window frame and we couldn't get them out. We will replace this asap. And, we will be putting up a fence barrier. I know it's highly unlikely this could happen again. It was a fluke thing. But still, better to be safe than sorry.

In a bit I'll post some pictures of the window patched up and the hill.

Here are some pictures, now that the glass is cleaned up and the window patched.
Inside my messy fiber room:

Outside patched up:

The hill:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I'm having a heck of a time figuring out which colors I like best for this blog template. I like the browns and greens, since that's natural, and it's the colors of our farm logo. I like the green for the links, but it's hard to get that green link color to show up on both the blog post background, and the other background. So please, bare with me as I mess with these colors every couple of days. I'm not trying to mess with anyone. Just trying to get it how I like it best.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Dream!

Today I had the chance to start spinning Greyt's fiber. What a dream!!! It's spins up so nice.

Here is the cloud of fiber to spinning wheel:

Beautiful smooth strand of yarn:

I know some of it is because J did such a great job flicking this fiber. But, the color is incredible, and the fiber is soft and smooth.

The picture does not do justice to this amazing color. The grey shines through like a glimmer of shine. The brown tones look like a deep chocolate color. I knew I wanted a rose grey animal, and his color is all I dreamed it could be. And the soft smooth texture of the fiber spins into a nice even balanced strand of yarn. And... and.... I love this fiber :)

Niddy Noddy, sort of

As I know I've mentioned before on my blog, I don't like using a Niddy Noddy. A niddy noddy is a gadget that is suppose to help one make a skein of yarn. Well, I seemed to just get my yarn all messed up into a massive knot, I never got a nice skein. Instead I use my swift to make a skein. I'm sure there are reasons you aren't supposed to do this, but it works for me. Here is the yarn I made from Victoria, going from the spinning wheel to the swift, to make a skein:

After putting the yarn into a skein on my swift, I soak it in hot water, and hang to dry. This helps set the twist. Here is some yarn skeins hanging off my skirting table in my basement:

The reason there are two skeins, is because I like to ply a small skein of yarn with an alternate color. This gives a contrasting color, to use as an accent. For example, when I knit a hat, I like to have a contrasting yarn for the bottom, as a stripe or edging. I plied a strand of Victoria yarn with a strand of off white, for this contrasting yarn:

Here is the straight Victoria yarn (sorry for the bad picture, not sure what happened):

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Preparing Greyt's fiber

After shearing, the next step is skirting. I have a wonderful skirting table that J made for me. It's in our basement, in the storage/furnace area. Skirting means to remove the debris, the hay, sticks and anything else that got caught in the fiber. After skirting, I like to weigh the fiber out into 4 ounce lots. I find if I weigh it before spinning it, I can get two strands almost the same length, to ply into yarn. It's a big pain when one strand is significantly longer than the other. So far, weighing ahead of time has helped get this pretty close.

I wash two of the 4 ounce lots, so that I can spin up two strands to ply into yarn. After the fiber is washed, I dry the fleece on my skirting table. Here is some of Greyt's fiber, laying to dry:

I wash it in the kitchen sink in a mesh bag (the mesh bag is laying between to two 4 ounce lots), then dry, with a fan running under the table. I've found this is enough to help dry it faster, but not so much commotion that it sprays the fiber all over the place.

I washed Greyt's fiber up last weekend, knowing I was near done spinning the ball of Victoria yarn. It takes a few days to dry, even with the fan running below the table.

My amazing husband started flicking the fiber for me. Here it is raw:

And flicked:

I admit it, he does a better job flicking than I do. I think he has more patience with it. I just want to spin it, I rush through flicking.

FIber Update

Here are pictures of me finishing up spinning yarn, from fiber we got off of Victoria. You can see how it goes from fiber cloud to strand of yarn:

Here I am plying two strands of yarn:

Once I finish plying this, I will wash it, and wind it into a ball. It will be ready for sale at that point (unless J snatches it up to knit something).

The next fiber I want to spin is Greyt! I have been eager to spin his fiber since I first heard he was coming to our farm. I think it will be so fun to spin rose grey.

Fiber room

Part of me is embarrassed this is so messy, but the fiber addict in me, LOVES it! Fiber, fiber, everywhere!!

Straight into the room:

And around the corner, to the left side of the room:

If you are wondering, I have the bags open on the top for a reason. If the bags are sealed, and there is some moisture in there, it can mold and ruin the fiber. So I leave the bags open, and they stay nice and fresh. Our dogs don't go down there, and the kids stay out of my fiber room. So far, I've had no accidents of fiber escaping.

I plan to do the same thing I did last year, bag all the really nice blankets into zip lock bags. Last year I did 4 ounces per bag, and that seemed to work really well. I sell it on ETSY in that amount, and it seemed to work fine at fiber fairs. I also like it because then I can grab 2 bags and make a skein of yarn. It's already weighed out then, I just spin one bag into a strand, the other bag into a strand, and ply.

I keep thinking some rainy weekend I'll sit down there by the skirting table and make up the bags. I can skirt, and weigh, and label bags all in one shot. I know it doesn't take that long, especially when I rally up some help. Emma is a great skirter. I need a rainy weekend when she's bored :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Spit testing

We've joked about an EPT test that we could use to test pregnancy, but the fact is, there isn't one for alpacas. There are several ways to test. One is the "spit test". This is where you bring a male to the female, and the male will try to breed her. If she responds by acting mean and crazy (running, spitting and kicking), then she likely is pregnant. It's called the "spit test" because often the female will spit at the male. If the female is receptive to breeding, they are open (not pregnant). This is not always reliable, because a female can be ornery even if not pregnant. Also, a female can think they are pregnant (such as if they have a retained CL - this is when an egg is released to be fertilize, and sort of sticks there, but actually never was fertilized), or if the female is just plain confused (which can be a problem with maidens). Another method is a progesterone test. I've heard there are several problems with using this one. One is that a retained CL could raise the progesterone, yet the female is not pregnant. Also, progesterone fluctuates throughout pregnancy and is not a definitive test alone. Another options is ultra sound. This sounds like the perfect option, but reliability depends on the experience of the vet doing the ultra sound. Many vets are not experienced enough to accurately read the u/s. It also can only be done at certain points in the pregnancy. It's surprisingly difficult to find a pregnancy on an alpaca, even with an ultra sound machine. Also, the down side is this means a vet appointment, and expense. Our vet is very good at doing ultra sounds, so if we do opt to have one done, at least we are getting an accurate one done. I have heard of several farms going in together to buy an ultra sound machine. They train each other in how to use it. That way they can do ultra sounds, but don't have to pay vet fees each time. Our first year as alpaca owners,, we had our vet come to our farm to ultra sound our pregnant girls. Over the years though, we've relied more and more on the "spit test" method. Our foundation girls are extremely easy to read in a spit test. We know how they act when open, and when pregnant. Maidens are more difficult and Maddie was a bit of a challenge for us last year. But we were right, she was pregnant. Though the down side to this method is that we could believe a female to be pregnant, but if she's not, we could end up losing out on a year of breeding. While this is more likely to happen with the spit test method than the ultra sound, at this point, this is a risk we are willing to take. Of course if someone were to buy one of our bred females, we would take her the the vet for an ultra sound confirmation. But for our own farm purposes, we feel very confident in our spit test.

One interesting thing with alpacas is that the female can get pregnant, but then absorb the pregnancy. This can happen even a couple months into the pregnancy. For this reason, it's important to re-test a female to ensure she has held onto her pregnancy. We spit test periodically. Anytime a female is bred, we let the male spit test all the other pregnant females first.

So far this year we have bred Tehya to Navigator, Cafe to Georgio, and Sancha to Greyt. Tehya appeared to take on the very first try. Cafe took two times, as did Sancha. J spit tested all of them today, and all these girls appear to be pregnant. He also tested Snickers, who came bred to Conan. She also appears to be spitting off.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


We had many of our alpaca's fiber tested by Alpaca Stat, giving us a very detailed histogram report. Most testing facilities only test the butt end of the fiber, giving one number for the micron. The problem is, the micron can change over time, all throughout the year. The test we used tests the entire length of the fiber. This way you can see how different feeding methods affected their fiber, how their health may have had an impact, and anything else that happened over the last year. We have several animals that moved to our farm this year (Cafe, Navigator, Greyt). We could see when they moved to our farm and how that affected their fiber stats. We could see on our young ones what happened at weaning (their micron tends to climb when they are fed rich mother's milk, then the micron goes down when they are weaned). There are several things that the testing studies. I admit right up front that I am by no means an expert in this area. So I will keep this all very simple. J has done much more research and understands it far better than I (this is why he has more say in breeding decisions, and any new animal we acquire). The numbers that the report gives are: micron (sometimes abbreviated as AFD), standard deviation (SD), coefficient variance(CV), comfort factor (CF), length of the fiber (how much staple length the animal grew in a year), minimum micron and maximum micron.

The purpose of knowing this information is to make good breeding decisions. If you have a female who has a higher micron, you need to make sure to breed her to a male who is very fine. Fineness can be very hard to feel. We were surprised at the testing results of some of our animals, and it did affect our breeding decisions for this year. Or if you have an animal with low micron, but higher SD, breed them to a companion that brings a lower SD into the mix. Sure either trait could be carried on in the offspring, but if both of the pair have a high SD, the offspring is sure to have a high one.

Another good reason to know this information, is that we are breeding towards a goal. Our goal is to breed animals with incredible fiber. What does that mean? We set goals for where we want our fiber stats to be: for micron, we are looking for under 20 (or low 20's for darker animals), for SD, we are aiming for under 4, and for comfort factor, we want in the 90+%. CV is harder for me to quantify. My understanding is that a CV near the same number as the micron, will give the best handle to the fiber. As a spinner, I want fiber that is soft with a nice handle (feel).

Here is the national average:

National Statistics
AFD of National Herd
2007: 24.58
2008: 23.93
2009: 23.55
SD of National Herd
2007: 6.77
2008: 6.45
2009: 6.34

As you can see, our goals are more stringent than the national average. We want superior fleece. And as the national average gets better, we want to be ahead of that. We are constantly aiming to improve the alpaca's fiber with each generation.

The animal on our farm who best meets our fiber goals is Lightning! I admit, we've debated trading Lightning. Mostly this is because we have his mother, and because I'm not big on white alpacas. But, he has the fleece characteristics that we are breeding for. We can breed him to our darker colored females, and create the next generation of superior colored fleece animals.

Lighting's histogram:
Micron: 19.42
SD: 3.3
CV: 17.02
CF: 99.35%
These stats put him in the top 10% for white alpaca males his age (according to the EABS Fiber Standards for Sires, this is a PDF file).

Georgio also meets our goals:
Micron: 20.75
SD: 3.83
CV: 18.46
CF: 97.73%
Georgio is also in the top 10% for males his age/color.

The next most impressive histogram came from Cavalier:
Micron: 18.25
SD: 4.35
CV: 23.86
CF: 98.72%
Cav's report puts him in the best 25% for his age/color.

A close fourth is Rosco:
Micron: 18.54
SD: 4.4
CV: 23.73
CF: 98.45%

As you can see, the animals aren't perfect. Rosco and Cav's SD and CV is a bit higher than our goals aim for. But this is useful information when choosing breeding partners. I wouldn't breed Rosco to Cav, knowing this information. With each generation, we get closer and closer to our goals. With good breeding choices, we can get an offspring from Rosco that does meet our fiber breeding goals.

As for males, they say only the top 1/3 of males should ever be used as herd sires. With our males in top 10% and top 25%, they make this cut. While I don't have him listed above, Greyt also makes the herd sire cut. His numbers are higher than Lightning or Cavalier or Georgio, but he is also a much darker color. According to the EABS Fiber Standards for Sires (PDF file from Elite Alpaca Breeding System), for each shade darker than white, you can add one number. For example, if the cut off for a white male X years old is 18 microns, it would be 19 microns for fawn, 20 for brown, 21 for grey and 22 for black. The chart states, "The figures are for white huacaya males with coloured animals moving 1 micron and one percent for each color away from white through fawn, brown, grey to black." So while Greyt's numbers don't sound as impressive, given his dark color, he does have amazing fleece. The chart is broken down by age range, and by what top % the male meets (best 2.5%, best 5%, best 10%, and best 25%).

I would say there were some results that we were surprised at. I didn't realize Cavalier is as fine as he is. We knew Rosco was fine, but had no idea Cav's micron was so similar to her's. We knew Lightning had incredible fiber, we had his fiber tested last year. But it was great to see how well his fiber has held up over the last year. We had some disappointments too. Getting a report like this makes one rethink things a bit. There were things I thought to be true, that the report proves isn't so. Even things that judges said to us about our animals, that didn't pan out in the testing results. Like animals I thought we fine, but their micron is a lot higher than I would have predicted. While it is frustrating to feel like this, to think I don't know as much as I thought I did, it also shows me how important it is to test the fiber so that we do know for sure. This way we are making the best breeding decisions to reach our goals.

Since we got the histogram reports, I updated my ETSY shop. I want to make sure when people purchase fiber from us, that they know what they are getting. There were some animals that aren't as good as we thought, and there are some that are nicer than we thought. We want the price of their fiber to reflect the quality purchased. I want people to feel that they got their money worth.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Long Night

We chose the name Twilight for Maddie's cria. I know many people will think this is after the book series, it's not. None of us have read those books. We decided on the theme of night/darkness/mystery for Maddie's offspring. We had names like: Phantom, Starlight, and such as ideas. The kids and J saw the movie "How to Train a Dragon" and decided if Maddie had a boy, we would name it Night Fiery. A few weeks back, Emma thought of the name Twilight. We all loved it and added it to the list. We were sort of thinking Night Fiery or Twilight would be the name, depending on the sex of the cria, but no decisions were final until the cria was born. So much can change when you see that cria's face. Upon seeing this cria, all of us felt that Twilight is perfect for her.

We thought all was well with Twilight. The birth seemed uneventful and she was so full of life, she seemed great. On Monday night Zack has his baseball game. We went to the game, we were so happy the cria had finally been born. We came home to a very lethargic cria. I don't know if we caught her at a time she was sleepy, or if she wasn't getting enough mother's milk. We hadn't yet weighed her or given her the necessary shots.

She weighed in at 17 pounds - we were a bit surprised she was that big. She seemed small to us (after having Sancha's cria that are always around 21 pounds, we knew this one was smaller). Her teeth are there, but not as erupted as you would think for 374 days gestation. When she was given her first shot, she didn't even flinch. I was happy when she got feisty over the second shot. She needs to be at least a bit feisty to survive.

J ended up syringing some cria formula into her. We also gave her an enema. We hadn't seen meconium pass, and I've heard of times the cria doesn't nurse well until it does. After all this, she was much more alert. By then, it was after 9 p.m. The question became, do we get up every two hours to see if she needs more food, or do we let Maddie take over? Maddie was being extremely attentive. She spit at Spot through the fence if Spot even looked at the cria. Maddie screamed at us every time we touched the cria. And Maddie would not leave the cria's side. Even when we found the cria lethargic, she was laying at Maddie's feet. J tried to milk Maddie and found she has plenty of milk. That indicates to me that the cria has fed, at least some (for it to come out so easily).

I went to bed, thinking I'd be up a few times throughout the night. Around 12 or 1 a.m. I woke up to the sounds of thunder and could see lightning. I rushed out of bed and ran out to the barn to see how Twilight was. I found her, sitting sternal next to Maddie. Next to them was Snickers and Rose. Unfortunately, they were not in the barn, but they were together, with all four of the little girls right on the other side of the fence. Twilight seemed fine. While I wanted to put her in the barn, we have no way to shut them in this barn. And, I remember last year, the day Pocahontas was born, it rained that night. Twice I ran out to put her in the barn, and twice she walked right back out. At least this time the mom was out with the cria (Kateri sat in the barn looking at her cria in the rain!). Pocahontas was fine, and Twilight will be too. I think some times humans are too quick to intervene, and we really want Maddie to mother this cria. So, I went inside (now wet from rain), praying the cria would continue to do well, next to her mother.

Next thing I know it's the early hours of the morning, I about jump out of bed to check on Twilight, and J says "she's fine." She made it through the night. I hope she perks up today.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Surprise

The surprise I intended for today is this:

Her name is Rocky Rose. She was born in late April, making her almost 2 months old. She is a tuxedo light rose grey. Recently we were thinking how we'd like to add a tuxedo grey girl to our herd. We have females in quite a few colors, but no tuxedo grey girls. I am thrilled to have her here.

She and her mom, Snickers, have joined our farm.

Snickers is now bred to Conan, who is the grand-sire of Lily (a cria we had last year, that is now sold and living on another farm). We will have to wait until next year to see this Conan offspring.

Rose's sire is Snowmass Enlightenment. How exciting to add the Snowmass line into our herd!

Rose and her mom, Snickers:

This makes 3 new alpaca faces on our farm today!

Surprise on ME!

Maddie had her cria!!!

Here we had plans for today, J was on a trip for something :) a surprise I spoke about in yesterday's post. He had problems with the truck, and was stuck in southern Michigan. I was home with the kids. I went jogging for an hour this morning, then Zack and I took a walk in the woods for an hour. When we got home I checked on the girls. Maddie was in the barn, chewing cud. No signs of labor. We ate lunch and I was ready to relax. Zack chose to go out front and play in the sprinkler. He got bored, so I suggested he go out back and hose the alpaca girls down. They love that.

Zack said he went in the back yard, and hosed off the young girls. He was walking over to the pregnant girls area, and found a baby! Of course, as is so typical, the cria landed in the poop pile:

He yelled in the house "there's a baby!" I ran out of the house to see. Indeed, there was a black and white cria laying in the poop pile. By the time I arrived, the cria was starting to sit sternal, and Maddie was passing the placenta. As the cria was struggling to get up, I could see it is a GIRL! She looks like a mini Maddie.

This feisty girl instantly tried to walk, and in no time was ready to run around. She still had parts of the birthing sac on her!

Cute face:

I was amazed how alert, and how active she was already. I looked and saw that her teeth are erupted. Given how long Maddie's pregnancy went, the cria does not seem overly big or overly grown. Though her fiber is long. She seems to be healthy and doing very well.

The cria seemed to want to nurse, but Maddie was not very receptive. I was a bit concerned about this. I've heard sometimes maidens have a hard time nursing. The cria was running into the corners of the barn, and running into me, trying to nurse. I separated Maddie and the cria from the rest of the herd, thinking that might help. But, then Maddie ignored the cria and ate hay. Though, if I touched the cria, Maddie would scream at me. Maddie is always so calm, but as I suspected, she is a doting mother.

Maddie still was not letting the cria nurse, and the older girls wanted back into the barn area. So, I opened the gate, thinking maybe the older girls in there might prompt her to let the cria nurse. This appeared to help, or maybe it was just the passage of time, that Maddie was ready to consider that the cria needed her milk.

The cria had a few mis-attempts at nursing. The one time she fell out right between Maddie's back two legs:

Other times the cria was in the wrong spot:

After many mis-attempts, they seem to have worked it out on their own *Phew* I did not want to have to intervene. I think nature usually does know what is best. Here is the cria and Maddie, hanging out together:

Maddie seems to have everything under control.

We don't officially have a name for this cria. As usual, we need to talk about it and agree as a family what the name will be. We always have a list of names we are considering, but so much depends on what the cria looks like. So, we wait to make the official decision after the cria is born. Mini Maddie might be the most appropriate! But I'm sure that won't be the name.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

New Look

For no particular reason, I thought I'd change up my blog template. I felt like it was time for something new.

This isn't my Monday surprise. That is still to come :)

Summer Routine

Even though it is only one week into the kids' summer vacation, I feel like I'm already in a typical summer routine. Not much going on with our farm right now. Our spring furry of alpaca shows is over (with going to four this spring, we were busier than we've ever been), and all the new construction is completed (new hay shelter, new girl's shelter, new fenced in area etc.). We are into cria season, but with only one of the four due this year on the ground, and him being a month old now, we've hit a lull.

Typical days include morning feeding, afternoon hose spray down to cool them off, and evening feeding. I clean up the girl's poop everyday to minimize parasites and keep the pastures clean for new cria. The boys area I clean up every three days. (It's supposed to be ideal to clean at least every three days for parasite control. It has to do with the life cycle of the most common parasites, the eggs won't hatch within three days. While cleaning up poop everyday is certainly more ideal, every 3 days is almost as good. I also find that 3 days worth of the boys' poop is one wheel barrow full. If I wait more days, then I have to make more than 1 trip, and with it being 1/3 of a mile round trip to the boys' barn and back to our poop pile, 2 trips in one cleaning session isn't my ideal). I also clean out the barns every three days. The alpacas pass over the stalky hay and leave it as scrap on the ground (alpacas are picky eaters and won't eat the stalky stuff).

And there is cria watch. J is worse than I am, sitting outside just watching and waiting. Here is our pregnancy updates:

Sancha had Copper a month ago. He is growing very well and seems to be a happy healthy cria. He would like a friend to play with. He tries to rough house with the pregnant girls, but they won't play along. Here he is running into Victoria:

Sancha tends to be ornery when pregnant, and very protective when she has a newborn. Right now is the time when she's the most friendly. Her cria is growing and doing well. As long as we leave him alone, she's fine. She was re-bred but it's so early on she's not acting pregnant yet. Here she is happy and friendly (it also helps that J just fed her carrots and she thinks I'm coming out with more carrots for her):

Maddie is 373 days pregnant. This is our longest pregnancy on record. J said all he wanted for Father's Day was for Maddie to have her baby. I pleaded with her, and Zack wished upon crossed fingers. But no baby:

Kateri is on day 331. Last year she delivered on day 338, so she could have this one within the week! I'm not counting on that, but since we are watching Maddie with an eagle eye, no harm watching Kateri too. For all we know, Kateri could deliver before Maddie. Kateri sure is getting big:

Victoria is on day 317. In the past she has delivered near day 350 every time (either a few days before or after). But, we have a feeling she may go early this year. She's showing more than she ever has before (which is how Kateri was last year when she delivered earlier than usual). She is starting to have funny breathing (fast). In fact the other night we thought she might already be in labor. We were quite worried about a premature cria. J felt her ligaments and said she seems more loose than Kateri or Maddie. She has wax on her nipples, which often indicates birthing within 2 to 4 weeks. Four weeks would be just before day 350, but 2 weeks would be before 335 days, which would be considered premature. I'm not so picky which day they deliver on, I just pray for healthy full term cria.

We do have a surprise coming to our farm on Monday. But, I'll wait until Monday to post about that.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


This weekend J hauled 101 bails of hay, stacking them into the hay barn. Of course he did this on Saturday, when it was so hot and humid. Seems the really hard jobs need to be done when the weather is least desirable. I thought I was so unlucky to have to work on Saturday, but missing hay hauling wasn't quite so sad.

Here is the hay stacked:

Now I can hardly even get to the grain:

I may move the grain back into our garage, so that it's easier to access.

Now we have plenty of hay, good hay, to feed the alpacas.

My scare

After I picked Zack up from Lego Camp, I went home for lunch. When I arrived home, I went to check on Maddie. She's on day 370 of her pregnancy, that cria just has to be born soon.

I arrived in our backyard to see many of the yearling girls sunning themselves. I looked over at the pregnant girl pasture area and see most of the moms, Sancha and little Copper, Kateri, and Victoria, but no Maddie. Maybe she's in the barn having that baby! I run over to the barn, no Maddie. I scan the entire fenced in area and see no Maddie. Where could she be? I finally find her, laying on the hillside sunning herself. She was laying very still. I ran over to her calling her name, in fear she was struggling with a birth. Nope. She heard me and jumped up. She was just sunning herself, no need for alarm.

She then went way out into the pasture area to graze:

ok, even I can't see her way back in the pasture, try this one:

It's still hard to see her in the shadows of the trees. She's way back there, all by herself.

While for some alpacas this might indicate impending birth, it's not usual for an alpaca to separate from the herd when ready to go into labor, for Maddie, this is not unusual. She has always been one to go out and graze on her own. She's the most loner of an alpaca I've ever seen. So it means nothing.

I do have to say if orneriness is a sign of impending birth, then Kateri is going to have her cria very soon. She has been a very crabby lady the last couple of days. I've caught her in several spit fights just in the last two days. She is one crabby mom. She also is getting very big:

Last year Kateri delivered on day 338! I had forgotten it was that early on. While that is well within normal delivery dates, we do think Pocahontas was a bit premature. Her ears were bent for several weeks after her birth (they were soft and not fully firm) and her teeth were not erupted like our other crias have been. Kateri is a very doting mother and cared for her very well, so no harm done. We think Kateri ran out of room, being that Po was the exact same weight as Tehya at her birth (she was born on day 342, Kateri's first was born on day 360, she keeps getting earlier and earlier). Day 335 for this pregnancy will be on June 25th. I would not be surprised if she has that cria next weekend. She could have this one before Maddie gives up hers!

I never thought I'd see the day Victoria looked this pregnant:

It might not be very impressive in a picture, but trust me, her belly is hanging lower than I've ever seen for her. I remember the day Victoria gave birth to Shelby (her second cria). That morning we were at the barn, checked Victoria over and left the barn thinking "I hope she's pregnant". She did not look it at all. Though keep in mind, Shelby was only the 2nd cria born on our farm, so we were newbies. Still, Victoria did not show, and had no signs of impending birth. We were pretty sure Kateri was going to have her cria that day. She was humming at lot, and her back end was very loose. What a surprise when Victoria had Shelby first! J found Shelby in the poop pile, so we all ran to the barn. Then when Victoria was delivering the after birth, Kateri had Tehya. What a day for those two! The funny part is they both have Goldsmith as their sire, so I call them "the twins". Victoria has delivered on day 355 (her first), day 347, and day 354. So day 350 as her due date is right on, she delivers a bit before or after that. She's due July 23 and I expect she'll make it to that or nearly to it.

I spoke in a previous post about possibly inducing Maddie. We've read some on doing this. In my previous post I linked to a forum discussion on the pros and cons of inducing. We consulted our vet, and I have to say we are very lucky to have a vet who is wonderful and very knowledgeable on alpacas. Many alpaca farmers can't find a good vet. We are very lucky. Our vet reports that the information she has learned in reading and training, is that inducing is not recommended. She said studies indicate an increased risk of prolapse uterus, and tears, to the point some times the female can never have another cria. It's not worth that risk. Our vet was willing to do a c-section, but we declined that. We are seeing movement, so I do not think Maddie or the cria's health is at risk at this point. Though I do worry the longer this pregnancy goes.
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