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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Lila's Constructive Day

Lila spent yesterday afternoon and seven hours today with Linda at the Lavender Cottage sewing. She has a natural talent that Linda is trying to encourage at only the cost of materials.

Pajama bottoms

Dress that she says "looks like a potato sack".

I like it.


And if she wants to make sacks for our potatoes that is fine with me!

(They still need to be planted)





I think our amarillys is confused with all our cold weather. It decided to bloom again.

The blooms were so big it got top heavy and came crashing to the floor from its perch on the window sill, so we now have a bowl with blossoms gracing the table.

Next post will be about our big Sam Fin, promise Danny!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Alpaca Shearing

On May 10th, we experienced our first alpaca shearing event.  We weren't sure exactly what to expect, but were educated through the process quickly and learned how to improve upon our organization for next year.

First, you need to catch an alpaca.  Will was our alpaca wrangler and he did it gracefully!

You catch one, convince them they need to step on the plywood and then you pick them up, someone gently grabs the head and pushes it down while the handler lowers the animal.  It actually can be done fairly gently.
(the picture is fuzzy because everyone is in motion!)
You need to have a spot where the alpacas can be tied; the legs are hobbled together and the animal stretched out on a mat or plywood. 
Someone needs to be at the front of the animal holding the head down and when the front legs are shorn they need to be held out and up as well.  It takes a minimum of three people in addition to the shearer to function. We actually had five.

Joanne, on the opposite side of the shearer, is collecting and bagging the fiber.  Ideally there is someone steadying the hind legs as well, like the photo below.

 While the shearer is working, others are busy scissoring tails and topknots; giving vaccinations, trimming toenails and trimming down teeth.  We didn't plan ahead about the teeth but don't have many that are overgrown but will be ready to go for next year.  
Will has the dremel tool required and I will steel myself to do it!

 It unfortunately turned cold the day after shearing and everyone huddled together in the barn for a few days.

Waiting their turn.
The final product! 

Things we learned:  
  • An unhappy alpaca can keep up a constant scream for twenty minutes.  
  • An unhappy alpaca can spit and drool regurgitated fermented gut contents for twenty minutes (this smells and looks like baby excrement). 
  • Sometimes it is necessary to learn a new skill like suturing a big cut and it is okay to feel discomfort.
  • It is good to work with people that you like because you are in close quarters with one another

Things to improve for next year:  Ear plugs might be nice for the person holding the head, keep a bunch of rags handy to sop up the alpaca spit/drool, we need more lighting in the barn, get a mat to put on top of the plywood, keep a suture kit handy for larger cuts, keep the first aid kit in the barn with you instead of running for what you need, evaluate teeth prior to shearing and be prepared to grind overlong teeth down, 
and eat lunch earlier!

It took us eight hours to shear twenty alpacas and it was a long day.  Starting earlier next year and being better prepped will keep our time down.  
We also had a set of twin lambs born just as we were going in for lunch!  

I think I was sore for days....

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Deja's Lambs....the end of lambing season!

Today, in the midst of Sam Fin's Birthday party, Deja Vu graced us with the birth of solid black twin ewe lambs! We watched her laboring all day which culminated in her mothering up to Nala's ram lamb Rum. She cut Rum away from his mum and spent about an hour licking him and nuzzling him. When he started nursing on Deja I decided to intervene and locked the little bugger in a jug with his real mother away from Deja's prying ways. About an hour after this, Deja gave birth to a solid ewe lamb. She was eating the sac and licking away at her when the second arrived with little warning.....I cleared her face since I was there and then Deja cleaned her up. I moved them to a jug and re-joined the birthday festivities....thank goodness Will and my Mother were around to help out!

Better pictures later....their fleeces are longer and slightly looser curled but not dog haired at all....I can't wait to see what they are like. I need My friend Karen to come visit and help me with fleece evaluation!


Thursday, May 16, 2013

No deep thinking...just fluff

Elle's ram lamb...the first born.  He has very long legs!
He is a bit on the shy side.

This is his brother. His legs seem short in comparison, but I think more average.
He is pretty sweet and a bit goofy.
He looks a bit Ewok-ish.

" again?"

"Um...Mother...I have to tell you something!"

 "My Mother says I can't talk to strangers!"
Zanzibar's big fellow....his name is "Muckle Mull".
Zanzibar won't let me anywhere near him.
She is even more freakish as a mother.

One of Elle's girls.  The Gulmoget markings are coming out stronger now.

And then there is Rum.  Rummy tum tum.
He is a love. and a butthead. and a sneaker outer of fences.
and a chicken chaser!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mum's Day, no matter what your species!

Today's weather was rather nasty. Woke up to cold blowing snow, and the lights flicked on and off several times which led me to fill up several jugs of water to have on hand....just in case. Always works like a charm because we didn't lose power.

Around 4:30 I went outside to check on the maternity sheep. Gaia was in full blown labor. Ran inside to grab the camera and watched the whole birth. Will post those photos separately.

Gaia and her twin ram lambs! One moorit (brown) and the other black. Almost identical markings and consistent fleece from shoulder to britch. Horn buds on both I think....

Zanzibar and Mull (he is going to be gray!).


Elle's girls.

Will, Lila and Rum. One week old now.
The count stands at four rams and two ewes..four black, one gray and one moorit.
Only one ewe left....Deja we are counting on you to bring up the ewe to ram ratio!

Really? Don't hold your breath!