Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Baby #2 - Ophelia

The story of this baby really starts with the birth of her mother, Lucy, about 3 years ago. What an adorable baby....whose name quickly morphed into "Lucifer". She was like a spoiled 2 year old. Baby alpacas are generally pretty curious about the humans who take care of them and will occasionally give kisses and act like the adorable little furry creatures that they are. Not Lucy! There was no love for us from the beginning. So we've learned to live with her underlying dislike (hatred seems a little strong) of 2 legged mammals. She was bred for the first time last spring to our farm stud Luciano. Once a female is bred, we occasionally will bring the male back to her to see if she still seems receptive and therefore not pregnant. Lucy was one of about 7 females bred last spring and so nearly every day Luciano would don his halter to be led to the girls field to either breed or be spit at (when we say "not receptive" we mean it!) As soon as Lucy heard the clinking of the halter (mind you, we hadn't even gotten it on Luciano yet) she went into full attack pose. Nevermind that we weren't testing/breeding her. She was letting everyone know, right down to the chickens, that she had been bred once (thank you very much) and once was plenty.

Fast forward to Spring '08. Lucy's due date was sometime the first week in May and so we'd spend what seemed like hours watching her abdomen for baby movement. Nothing! Normally you can kind of tell by the female's overall temperment if they are pregnant but Lucy is not so normal. We decided to shear her with everyone else so that maybe we could see the baby's movements more clearly on a shorn belly. Still nothing really definitive until the next day when adorable little Ophelia was born. Snow white ball of fluff with a brown tail and brown toes. We'd really like to show you a picture of Lucy and Ophelia but Ophelia is a chip off the old block. They know that a camera is just another way we're planning on killing them and they avoid it and us like the plague. To Lucy's credit she is a fiercely protective and wonderful mom. That's enough for us.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Baby #1

As promised, way back in May, the full story of our eventful spring! Yucatan was born 5/7 on a beautiful spring day to our farm matriarch, Fiesta.  We were thrilled to discover that he was a light sliver gray and better than that, absolutely healthy and lively.  However, his birth is only 1/2 the story.  While we were all reveling in his birth, giving him his first shot and dipping his umbilical cord, trouble was afoot.  Poor Fiesta prolapsed her uterus. This is highly unusual in alpacas and thankfully we were all right there to help.  But what do we do? First was recognizing the problem.  If this had happened our first year of farming, I'm not entirely sure that we would have known what was happening. Second was, of course, CALL THE VET! This is a big emergency.  We do not have a vet who will come to the farm so we are on our own in most situations.  Fortunately, our vet is great on the phone and she kept us calm while we tried to keep Fiesta calm.  The biggest issue was that there were only three of us to help; me (Amy), Jim and Zoe.  I had the back end, Jim the front and Zoe was either holding Yucatan (who insisted on running around) or doing multiple 100 yd dashes to the medicine cabinet. We were able to get the uterus put back where it belonged but it was a lot like putting toothpaste back into the tube.  At one point, I really doubted that I could do it and Jim (wonderful guy that he is)reminded me of the story of James Herriott (All Creatures Great and Small) and the sow with the prolapsed uterus.  That was all I needed for inspiration as I realized that Dr. Herriott was working in the dark, on a cold barn floor with no medicines.  And it was a really big pig!  From that point, I felt the Dr. Herriott was sitting on my shoulder.  Uterus back in place, we gave mom and baby some time to bond and nurse and then loaded both for the 1.5 hour trip to the vet.  There they lavaged Fiesta's uterus with antibiotics and trussed her so that she wouldn't re-prolapse.  What a day!  If we had only known that we had more excitement soon to follow.  I'll save that for another day.