Friday, April 30, 2010

I Love Crias

Crias are so great. I just love to watch crias as they discover alpaca life. They usually run everywhere; they are so excited to discover what's up with the world. We had three crias this past Fall and they are such good buddies. They love hanging out together and comparing notes about their moms, the other alpacas, and just life in general.

This is a picture of Emily when she was about a week old. She and another cria are soaking in some sun.

Emily is the cria on the left.

Our three crias that were born in September/October are shown below sharing some dinner conversation. Nox is on the left, Dulcinea in the middle, and Jack on the right.

Below is a picture of Wailea on the day she was born. It was a little cool that evening so we quick put a cria coat on her right after this picture was taken.

Shabazz is shown in the picture above with his mom, Sakura, on the day he was born. Mom's just making sure everything's going okay.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Some Math

A friend of mine sent this to me.

"And thus, dear students, we have arrived at the formula for understanding women."

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Featured Alpaca of the Week: Sakura

I'd like to introduce you to Sakura. What a sweet lady Sakura is. And the best alpaca mom you'll ever find. She just loves being a mom! And it's so easy for her, too. She is incredibly patient and extremely strong and healthy. I've always liked Sakura's "Beatles" forelock.

Sakura has had four cria; Shabazz, Emily, Shazamm, and Dulcinea. Each cria's birth has been easy as pie - in fact, with Sakura it's always been you look out and there's a new cria in the field nursing! No muss, no fuss. And she just looks at you like, "What are you getting all excited about?"

Here's a picture of Emily and Sakura a week after Emily was born.

Sakura's fleece is buttery soft with a micron count of 25. I've got about 8 lbs of it that I'm in the process of skirting. I can hardly wait to see the resulting yarn! It's very dense fleece and will be absolutely dreamy blended with merino and silk.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Little Diversion from Alpacas to Cats

Tafu (an acronym for Talks Alot and Follows Us), our cat, claimed this basket as hers last fall when we had harvested a bunch of green tomatoes from the garden just before a freeze and put them in the basket in the sun in the window to ripen. She insisted that we remove the tomatoes so that she could use the basket to sun in. Then she grew bored with the basket and didn't sleep in it all winter. I've been thinking of moving it back out with the gardening paraphenalia.

She must have been reading my mind. This morning she crawled into the basket to reclaim it as hers. She just barely fits.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Alpaca Love

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A picture is worth a thousand words: Here's two thousand words.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Endophytes on the Mind

Who knew? The county extension agent tells us we can test for endophytes in our pasture grass (yes, I've got endophytes on the brain). Endophytes are fungi that live symbiotically in fescue and apparently are bad for alpacas to eat during the last trimester of their pregnancies. They can cause abortions, thickened placenta, and other problems with the pregnancies. But we can send a sample of the pasture grass into a lab at the University of Kentucky to test for endophytes in the fescue that makes up the majority of our pasture grass. So now I have this mental image of some lab worker taking a scapel to a piece of grass and slitting it open to find a horrible little alien looking wormy thing inside that jumps out and hisses (ATTACK OF THE ENDOPHYTE!)

I was looking through my collection of alpaca pictures and found this one of Valentina with her cria Wailea on the day that Wailea was born. Wailea was born with one normal kidney but the other kidney was not attached to the bladder so when the abnormal kidney filled the urine would just disseminate into her little body causing horrible infections. We would treat the infection with antibiotic but the infection would reoccur every two weeks. When she was two months old, we had the vet remove the abnormal kidney. She seemed perfectly fine and looked like she was going to have a totally normal alpaca life until she was about six months old when the scar tissue from the kidney removal operation blocked her intestines. She died at six months.
Excuse me, I'm going to go have a little cry now.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Featured Alpaca of the Week: Valentina

Meet Valentina!
She is our alpha female and protects the herd from any perceived danger. She particularly does not like dogs and will charge them and try to stomp them when they are in the pasture with the alpacas. Valentina LOVES, LOVES, LOVES pellets and will let you rub her neck. She always seems to have a piece of hay sticking out of her mouth. She's had three crias: Wailea, Likes to Run, and Nox. Valentina's fleece won Color Champion in the 200r Nationals.
With Spring definitely making up it's mind that it is time to settle in, there has been a flurry of activity around the little ranch! We will be shearing the alpacas on May 15th. That is always a fun day. And all that lovely fleece! We've got MANY boxes of fleece that need to be skirted and sent off to a mill to be processed into yarn and roving. I'm thinking I'll do half and half so that I'll have yarn ready to dye and put up for sale and also some roving to dye as well!
We are considering which herdsire to breed our dams to. We have the fabulous Bruxo line covered and are considering breeding to a Prince Mahagony son so that we have that line covered as well. We had three fine crias born last September/October (all Macgyver babies) so we're thinking it's time to get some other strong genetics into our herd.
Learned some very interesting things about our pasture grass this past week - our grass is mostly fescue and we learned that fescue harbors endophytes that can cause complications to pregnant alpacas; especially if they ingest it during their third trimester. We've read articles that say the boys will be fine on it but the girls wouldn't do so well. Options are to toally recondition the pasture or keep the pastures as is and dry lot the pregnant females during the last trimester of their pregnancy.

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