The Latest Scoop
5 May 2010 - China finally delivered her cria. She was born at 1:30 PM and weighed 20 pounds. As with her other 2 crias, China delivered easily and we are happy that baby is bright, alert and active. Her name is Calla.
The sire is MLS Peruvian Sebastian, owned by Rose Mogerman of Alma Park Alpacas in Jackson, NJ.
We are just thrilled with our new little girl and look forward to watching her grow up.
1 May 2010 – We had our boy Alder gelded yesterday. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in terms of his recovery period but he seems his usual self today.
However this morning he kept looking at me with this quizzical expression as if to say ”Something’s different but I can’t figure out what it is”.
Meanwhile, we continue on cria watch with China who is at day 351.
26 April 2010 -We continue on cria watch for our China Girl who is at day 346 gestation. Given her history of 2 previous births here, she will probably deliver toward the end of this week or over the weekend.
Meanwhile, her unborn cria is giving me fits as it dances around under her tail. When she is either kushed or lying with her rear legs in a sideways position, her whole rear end is in constant motion with cria movements. It’s as though the cria is trying to kick its way out.
Even though I don’t expect her to deliver for a few days, I still feel compelled to check on her frequently. With nice weather this is not a problem as she will be either in the pasture or resting in the barn porch area and I can easily see her from the house. But we’ve had rain these past few days and she is spending much of her time deep inside the stall. This makes for some wet trips back and forth to the barn.
20 April 2010 – With our China Girl at gestation day 340, cria watch is in full swing here with frequent checks to keep an eye out for the onset of labor. Often this can be done from the house but if she is inside the girls’ stall, I have to make the short trek to the barn in order to see her.
China is a small-framed girl and appears weary with her advanced stage of pregnancy. She has a definite waddle to her walk. However, she can move fast when she wants to. Cosmo has been bugging her and she is quick to bite his ear if he gets too close.
This photo was taken last year, 4 days before she delivered Belle. China shows that despite being heavy with the last stages of pregnancy, she can still be up for a pronk with the best of the crias.
17 April 2010 –Our cria is an independent sort of guy. When out in the pasture, he will wander off by himself and does not always follow his dam and the other adults when they take a break from grazing to go sit on their barn porch. For the time being, he is “an only”---having no other crias to play with.
Yesterday all the alpacas were out in the pasture when suddenly a terrific rain storm came on. I was in the barn doing chores and when the alpacas came running in, it took me a few moments to realize that Cosmo had not come in with them.
By now the downpour was torrential with lightning and thunder. I saw Cosmo out in the pasture, obviously terrified and afraid to move. As I ran out to get him, I could hear his high-pitched little squeaks. By then, his mom Barbi had realized that he was still out in the pasture and came running after me. It took a few moments to catch him as he went running off when he saw me barreling down on him.
Poor little guy was soaked to the skin. Out came the heat lamps and towels and I promptly dried him off and left him with Barbi in a pen with the heat lamps on. He was soon dry and fluffy.
Today, he is more clingy than usual, not straying too far from his mom’s side. I hope that he has learned a lesson---to follow the herd.
14 April 2010 - Our cria’s official name is Shadowberry’s Cosmos. His farm name, or the name we will call him, is Cosmo.
While some have asked me the origin of our names here, fellow gardeners will recognize that we are giving our crias botanical names to reflect my love of gardening. Usually the official scientific name, but sometimes, in the case of Alder, the common name is used. This is our third year of births here, so this is a C year.
Having a “system” makes it easier to narrow down the choices when it comes to naming crias.
Cosmo continues to progress and we continue to monitor him closely, checking his weight, temperature and activity level daily.
11 April 2010 – We had a slow start yesterday with our little preemie. Barbi was becoming impatient with his fumbling efforts to nurse. The little guy was trying so hard---his legs would tremble with the effort to stand under her. She was also tired of having us 2-leggeds handle her teats in order to milk her.
Finally, about 11 AM, something clicked and he latched on. After seeing him nurse several times during the day, we could breathe a sigh of relief and feel that he was on the right track.
Today, he appears even stronger and his tendons appear to be tightening up a little. He continues to become easily chilled at night and overheated during the day when out in the sun so we continue to watch him closely.
9 April 2010 – Yesterday was a bright, sunny day and I was busy working in the yard. When I went into the barn before lunch to check on the pacas, the girls were all in their stall, gathered around---a cria. My first thought was “Who’s your Mama?” I knew I would be dealing with a preemie and which mom it was would determine the degree of prematurity. It soon became apparent that Barbi, at gestation day 317, was the mom.
Quickly reviewing my notes in my cria kit, I noted that the first problem to correct would be hypothermia, then dehydration and hypoglycemia. The cria’s temp was only 93.2 and being born in front of the fan didn’t help matters. What did help is that it was a very warm, sunny day and I put him out in the pasture to warm up. As soon as he warmed up enough to be fed, I was able to milk out around 20 cc from Barbi. Now Barbi can be somewhat of a shrew, but she somehow knew that I was trying to help her baby and stood quietly for me.
I fed the cria with a small syringe, also inserting my finger into his mouth. My thinking was that by sucking on my finger, he would associate sucking with milk. I was pleased that he had a strong sucking reflex. Also pleased that he weighed 15 pounds and had no apparent respiratory problems. Otherwise, he showed the usual signs of prematurity---teeth not erupted, droopy ears, down in his pasterns.
Between the second and third hour after birth, the cria became very lethargic and was unable to remain in a sternal position. He was also showing some labored effort with his breathing. I wedged him between 2 boxes in order to maintain him in a sternal position, continued milking what I could from Barbi and began thawing the cow colostrum from my freezer as what I was getting from Barbi was milk and not colostrum. It is not uncommon with a premature delivery that the dam has not developed colostrum. I also gave him a few dabs of Karo syrup to get more glucose into his system.
By late afternoon, Baby had rallied and was actually taking a few shaky steps. He knew where to go to nurse, but was not strong enough to stand long enough to make contact and Barbi resisted my efforts to help.
After a long night of feeding the cow colostrum every 2 hours,plus milking small amounts from Barbi (I could only get milk from one teat) we faced a chilly, windy, overcast day and the cria’s temperature was a little below normal range. So out came the heat lamps which I attached to their pen. Baby does appear stronger, although still quite unsteady on his feet and unable to nurse. I am continuing feeding every 2 hours with whole cow’s milk with a small amount of yogurt added. He takes the bottle readily, then will stand and go over to try to nurse. I can hear smacking noises but he is really not latching on sufficiently to get much of anything.
So we are cautiously optimistic and taking it all hour by hour. Our vet came out today to check him over and leave some antibiotics which we are giving as a prophylactic measure.
Another long night ahead. I’m cautiously confident---but not confident enough to name him yet.
Poop and ruminations---
The latest scoop and reflections from around the barn
7 April 2010 - Welcome to our website. I will from time to time be reporting on what’s happening on our alpaca farm as well as musings on our life here.
I am sometimes asked how we ended up here. Some years ago Tom was being reassigned to Carlisle for a 10-month tour at the Army War College and I set out to look for housing. Through a chance meeting, I learned of a country property that was available for rent. As I had long wanted to eventually live on a farmette, this would give us a chance to experience country life. I jumped on it and we moved in for the 10 months.
A year later, circumstances made it necessary for the owner to sell the property. We bought it, rented out the house, gave a local farmer free use of the land, and eventually returned after Tom’s retirement from the military. Our children have grown up and moved on and here we are---alpaca farmers.
Tom presently works as Director of our county’s Recycling and Waste Authority. I have been at various times a child welfare caseworker, a stay at home mom, an RN and now home full time with our alpacas.
Life is a journey with many twists and turns along the way. If we are open to the paths that present themselves, the journey can turn out to be quite interesting, giving us whole new worlds to explore.