Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sound the alarm

Three times last night, and at least another two nights in the past week I have woken up to the sound of the alpaca warning alarm. Alpacas make a strange shrill sound when they feel they are in danger. The kids and I have practiced making this sound ourselves but we can't get it down. I need to get out my camera and put it on video one night when they are doing this so you can hear it. It's like nothing else I can describe. The first time I heard it, I thought it was a strange bird making the sound, it took me a bit to figure out it was an alpaca making the sound. It's nothing like their usual hum or grunts.

Our farm is guarded by our loyal guardian dog, Spot. Spot is a Great Pyrenesse, a typical dog used for guarding herds of animals. He isn't a herding dog, or even the usual house guard, a guardian dog is unique. Their work hours are nights. They stay awake all night and bark at anything. This means if I step outside after dark, Spot will bark at me. All I have to do is announce to Spot "it's me" and he knows my voice and will stop barking. But I know, even if I step out into the garage to bring some trash out, if it's after dark Spot will bark. Before dark he just grins at me. On our farm we are used to Spot barking periodically throughout the night. We live deep in the woods, there are deer, opposum, racoons, squirels and so forth out there. Years before we had our alpacas there was a bear on our property (I think that was about 7 years ago). Spot's job is to bark and usually that is enough to make whatever animal out there decide to walk (or run) away. The biggest threat to alpacas is loose dogs. Insurance companies are quick to say that most claims are due to neighbor dogs that got loose and hurt an alpaca. Spot would deter any loose dog from coming near our alpacas.

In addition to Spot, the alpacas have their own way to protect themselves. When visiting an alpaca farm some puppies got loose into the pasture and those moms tried to stomp them to death (thankfully the puppies were fast, but it was close). Those moms mean business.

I have found a dead opposum and a dead mole in our pasture. I'm quite sure it was Spot that killeld them, but it could have been one of the moms stomping it to death.

If the alpacas sense danger, they will sound their shrill alpaca warning call. This not only warns the herd that there is danger, but warns the intruder to leave. It seems like there is always the same alpaca making this sound. Up by the boys, our gelding Snowstorm is the one who does it. Back here by the girls, Snickers will do it. Snickers will even sound the alarm when I come back from a walk in the woods with our house dog Quinn. She is quick to sound the alarm. I find one will sound the alarm, the others will all look in the same direction, right at the threat. I can always tell where the intruder is, because they all stare at it.

I don't know what has been out by the pasture lately that has caused the alarm. It could be as simple as some deer that are walking by. We did have a doe who had twins a couple years ago. They reside in our neighbor's yarn, but often pass through our land. It also could be a dog who has lost it's way. I haven't been able to see what is out there. Whatever it is, it is in the woods behind the pasture. I can't see past the pasture to know. I hope whatever it is leaves soon because waking up three times in a panick wondering what might be hurting my girls was enough to really ruin a night's sleep.

1 comment:

Ertman-Trowbridge Family said...

Oh, boy . . . That's like having a baby all over again getting woken up that often! I hope you can get some sleep tonight. My guess would actually be deer. They are on the run right now. We have had more than usual on our property lately. We have our family who reside here, but there have been a lot more than that.

But, of course, it could be a serious threat like coyote.

Or a non-threat like a turkey and company.

Regardless, I really hope you and the family can get some sleep!

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