Friday, July 16, 2010

Last Cria for 2010

Every year up to this year, I've been disappointment when the last cria for the year was born. It was like we waited and waited and waited, the cria came, and there was all this excitement, but then there was nothing to look forward to (being that it will be a year before the dam has another cria, that's too long to already start counting down to the due date). This year has been different. I've had a bad feeling that something bad was going to happen. First I was just sure there was something wrong with Maddie or her cria. It didn't help when she went over 370 days with her pregnancy. Nothing like making me wait in worry. Nothing was wrong. Maddie and Twilight are doing great. Then Victoria gave us a scare this past week. Our last cria for 2010 was born this morning, and for once I'm relieved cria season is over. I want to cherish these little ones for now. I'm sure come next year, I'll be more than itching for cria season again!

This last cria was a special one. It is out of our favorite girl, Victoria, and the first cria out of our male, Tucker.

Tucker (sorry this is an older picture, Tucker is currently in Ohio, so I can't get a current picture, he'll be back on our farm by next year):



Victoria (I love her shiny maroon color, and how woolly her face is, so far all her cria have had very woolly faces, which I love):




There is no perfect alpaca. There is always something that could be improved upon. With Victoria, it's crimp. She has very little crimp (which we've been told is a common trait from her sire). Crimp is the wave in the alpaca's fiber (I'll post another time about crimp and what it does in yarn etc. but this post is already too long to go into that now). I've often said a Victoria with crimp would be a show stopper. Then came Shelby, and she sure was! Tucker has now been to several shows, and the only negative ever stated is that he's not as fine. Victoria has fineness, that she passes onto her cria. We were hoping for the perfect combination: a cria with Tucker's crimp, and Victoria's fineness. If we could hope more, we were hoping for that gray gene to be passed on, but that was only icing on the cake. There was also a chance for black, which is one of my wishes too, as I'd love a true black boy. So we bred Tucker to Victoria and hoped for the best.

We first noticed something odd with Victoria in how she was carrying this cria. With previous pregnancies, you could hardly tell she was pregnant. The day she delivered Shelby, we weren't 100% sure she was even pregnant, we couldn't see any belly on her. Last year with Cavalier, no belly again. This year, even early on, we could see a belly. As her due date came closer, I worried she wasn't carrying this cria quite right. It was like she had a tire around her:



We witnessed Kateri's entire labor on Saturday. We saw everything from her early signs, to the final delivery. This left fresh in our mind the signs of labor. On Tuesday, we were quite sure Victoria was going to deliver. For lack of the technical terms, I'll just say her back end was puffy, just like Kateri's had been on Saturday. We could see what I've heard other alpaca farmers call "alien butt". This is when you can see the cria poking on the mom's back side. Victoria was visiting the poop pile frequently, with little poop, and lots of straining. She was restless, getting up and down a lot, just like Kateri had been in labor. She was grunting, and sometimes laying on the ground and grunting. At 1 p.m. I took Zack to see a magic show at the library, I had previously promised him I would do this. I figured by the time we got home, Victoria's cria would be here (J was at home, keeping a very close eye on everything). When we got home, no baby. I sat outside and watch Victoria for awhile, and all that behavior we had previously seen had stopped. She was back to usual Victoria.

I continued to keep a very close eye on Victoria. By Tuesday evening, around 8 p.m., I went out to check on her, and she was back to straining over the poop pile, and grunting. If J had been home, I would have suggested we give her some pain medication. He was at work, so I decided not to attempt on my own. Victoria seemed uncomfortable though.

Wednesday I was home most of the day, and kept a close eye on her. She'd go through periods of time, several hours at a time, when she was acting like she was in labor. Then it would stop for a few hours. She seemed uncomfortable, and I worried how long this had been going on, but the pain wasn't horrible. I figured it was pre-labor or braxton hicks contracts. Thursday I went into work, leaving J on Victoria watch duty. He witnessed the same things I had seen on Wednesday, there were times you could swear she was in labor, with grunting and straining, then other times she acted normal. Thursday evening he agreed with me that some pain medication would be a good idea. Victoria seemed uncomfortable and unhappy. It wasn't getting better, in fact she seemed more uncomfortable. I felt so bad for her. By this point it had been two days of this for her. When J pulled out a book to check dosage for the pain meds, he came across a section that described the signs of uterine torsion. Oh no - stuff like "straining over the poop pile but labor does not start"!!!! Now I was really alarmed. The book suggested taking the dam (mom) for a walk, to see if that settles the cria into place for birthing. If the behavior continues, you need to get her to a vet. A uterine torsion is when the uterus turns, flips around, and prevents birthing from being possible. Sometimes it will correct itself (often times the dam will roll on the ground and sometimes this does correct it). Other times it cannot correct itself without vet intervention (either a manual exam or sometimes a c-section is necessary). The cria and dam (mom) can die, depending on the severity of the uterine torsion. So, we haltered Victoria and gave her some pain medication. Then J walked her around the pasture for almost half an hour. By this point is was getting dark, so we headed to bed. J didn't think it was uterine torsion, but was concerned by the length of time she has been so uncomfortable.

Friday morning when I woke up I though Victoria was dead! I looked out our bedroom window into the pasture where I saw Victoria laying, neck and head on the ground, in the entryway into the paddock. She seemed motionless. This is not a usual place for her to lay, not at all. I ran out there to her, to find that she wasn't dead, just sleeping. But she also was not herself. She let me walk up to her and touch her without her getting up or moving, she just laid there. Victoria is friendly and usually pretty good tempered, but even for her, this was unusual behavior. I consulted J and we decided she needed to see the vet. I'd rather go all the way to the vet to hear "no uterine torsion" than to go through this day and all weekend worried sick about her. We waited an hour for the vet office to open. Then we found out our vet was not in, no large animal vet would be in today.

To shorten this story a bit, I'll just say J did a quick exam on her, took her for another walk, and I left for work. I was at work only a very short time when J called to say Victoria was in labor, he could see her amniotic sac emerging!!! Yeah! No uterine torsion *phew*

Due to what I had planned at work for this day, I opted not to rush home. I could have. I am very lucky in that I have a very flexible job and could have. But, I do have to get my work done and the thought of rescheduling everything sounded like a lot more work, so I completed my day at work, then came home to see this:



He is a tuxedo dark rose grey. He has his father's face and gray on his legs like his sire, but his body is a maroon brown like his dam (mom), yet with grey sprinkled throughout. We are very excited about his color and that he has really nice crimp! His fiber looks shiny like I remember Shelby's being, but as J said so well, he has even more crimp than Shelby.

Here you can really see the gray on his legs:



Some more pictures of him that I took:





The other cria are very curious about him. Rose came over to smell him:



And in true Rose style, she came over to give me a kiss too!

1 comment:

Noah and Jillian Schwander said...

Congrats Cara and Justin! I was not on the computer at all yesterday (I was in Lansing taking teenagers on a MSU campus tour all day)....so I didn't see until this morning! I am so glad everything was okay. I hate having that gut feeling that something is wrong. It makes you miserable! He is such a cutie! I was right on the grey part...just off on the gender : ( Congrats! Can't wait to hear what you name the little guy.

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