Posts Tagged ‘Alpacas in Oklahoma’

Prep for Shearing Alpacas

April 5, 2011

If I had time I would be looking for my photo cord, but the truth is I just don’t. The alpacas are happily letting themselves in and out of the barn in the morning, but the boys didn’t want to stay out or use their three-sided shed last night, so today I had to do door duty for them. Last night was freezing cold but it is 10-15 degrees warmer in the barn this time of year and there is no wind chill. Yesterday we had gusts up to 40 mph but in the afternoon the wind stopped.

Tom and I were watching the news and I said, “What was that?” What it was, was no wind. It’s slated to start again later today. No matter really. The alpacas only mind it when it is cold and when it is warm the suri fleece lifts and they are air-conditioned. We should hit the sunny mid-60s later. The grass has greened up very nicely and with any luck we will get to open the new field this afternoon. They will have access to one of our little half-way house barns as well as the main barn for wind protection and shade and the new field has something else they have not been able to get near–up to this point: It has trees.

Oh, I almost forgot about the shearing in the title. We shear on Friday–how did I ever wind up with shearing on a Friday??? I think this means I have no helpers at all. I hope the shearer brings help. I am trying to concentrate on getting bags and labels and the CDT shots about half of the herd needs ready. We will also give vitamins and weigh both alpaca and fleece I am nervous. Last year’s shearers weren’t so wonderful. Read down in my blog history if you want to know how awful it was.

I feel as though I am going in for a new hairdo myself. I wonder if the shearer does people too. If he does a good job, I’ll ask. Oh, and if you’re in the vicinity come on by and I’ll put you to work.

Alpacas–Johnny and Cassandra

June 19, 2010

Jeepers! It’s HOT! With crias on the ground and the weather in the mid-nineties and the humidity way up, we are counting our blessings that we built where we did. There is an almost constant breeze, frequently a wind, that blows up the ridge from the trees and keeps the barn lovely and cool. The insulation under the apartment and in the overhangs doesn’t hurt either. There is another benefit to living in air-conditioning over the barn.

In the meantime, the crias are growing by leaps and bounds.

Johnny, over 30 pounds now, will be four weeks old tomorrow

Johnny is already 30 pounds and won’t be four weeks old until tomorrow. He already considers himself quite the macho guy. This is one fantastic young boy.

Cassandra is younger by far, but the two of them are starting to play under her mother’s watchful eye. Jenni doesn’t want Johnny to get too rough. She’s growing by about one-half pound every day, despite the heat. Jenni is a very good mother.

Cassandra is only a baby, after all. She looks like a little deer to me. She was born June 14.

Darling Alpacas–Crias are Here

June 15, 2010

What would make a person who likes to travel, who has trouble sitting in one spot, who seldom worries about much, who likes to sleep in get up at 6 a.m.,  and spend three weeks waiting and watching anxiously?

Spring crias. Finally they are here and I am once again breathing deeply and relaxing.

They are wonderful and their mothers have everything under control with little or no help from us. Two were born at Fox Run Suri Alpacas. Those were the easiest since Carla and Don Llewellyn did the watching and waiting and delivering like the experienced alpaca people they are. Carla was here for our first delivery at our ranch here in Zena, Oklahoma, and all Tom and I had to do with the last two was watch in amazement.

More details about our darlings is coming soon, but here are the photos–one birth to go.

Zena's Peruvian Accoyo Topaz

Zena's Peruvian Cullinan

Zena's Peruvian Stage Door Johnny

Zena's Peruvian ZephyrZena's Peruvian Cassandra still wet, but on the ground three weeks late

Zena's Peruvian Cassandra

Advertising Alpacas

May 7, 2010
The Cria Demand Their Grain

The Cria Demand Their Grain

We are working, trying to get our ranch set up for our June 10 Grand Opening. The Grove Chamber of Commerce will host a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. and we will be officially classified as one of Grand Lake’s official attractions. There are not the same event, but both are part of the promotion of an alpaca ranch. We plan to have a little shop with fleece, yarn, alpaca bears, and finished alpaca products. Whew! So much to do. Eventually we hope that most of the things we sell will be made from our our renewable alpaca fiber. We are biting purposely biting off more than we can chew, I think–but watch us grow.

Watching Alpacas–TV Broken

May 5, 2010

We bought a new RCA 32″ television in November from Walmart. The plate on the back says it was made in August 2009. In early March it decided we didn’t need a picture; last week it decided we didn’t need sound either. Now you may ask why we kept it around until the sound quit. Simple, we moved and I put the receipt in a “safe” place where Tom couldn’t lose it. The television didn’t move, I just came to join it and Tom in Oklahoma.

No matter, right? Walmart stands behind the things they sell. Wrong. We tried to exchange the television for a working model and were informed: 1) It was a DirectTV problem but they would not even test the set. 2) We had had the set for 93 days and their cut-off for returns was 90 days. No problem, right? They gave us a number for RCA so we could deal with them. Small problem though, the number doesn’t work and good luck finding a real person on the internet. So now we are down to the little ancient television in my office, the one that was old five years ago that we only brought to Oklahoma because it plays VHS tapes.

Once things calm down here, I expect to suddenly discover the receipt. In the meantime, does anyone have a contact for RCA? The good news is that since we can only watch the tv in the office, we no longer seem to need the new tv as much. The bad news is that I have missed American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, The Biggest Loser, and The Amazing Race and I think I may care a bit–just not enough to check on the internet to see how everyone is doing. So for this time being, at least, we are out hundreds of dollars.

In the meantime, there’s the Alpaca Network out the windows.

Alpaca Blog Update–About Comments on “Alpaca Sadness”

May 3, 2010

Thank you to everyone who took a peek and maybe shed a tear yesterday. 111 people clicked on “Alpaca Sadness” and made it the most read blog I have written by far. After sharing it, I felt reconnected with all that is good about people.

Several people commented, saying things that had never occurred to me as I wrote. “It is about the strength of mother love and appropriate that it was written just a bit before Mother’s Day.” Jesse would not leave her cria. She had carried it for ten months and she knew it was hers, alive or dead, for better or worse, forever, eventually she went on without it because there was nothing else she could do.

“It is about friendship and how girlfriends stick with you.” Thanks to Laguna and Tika. You go girls. When I watch the alpacas out in the fields, it is as though they were joined by some kind of invisible floss. They move in groups like ladies going to the powder room (or to the poop pile), hum to each other, watch out for each other, comfort one another. I guess friends are good no matter what your species. I am delighted to see that my beloved alpacas care about each other. For additional information on this, read my earlier blog about alpaca family groups.

“It’s life and death.” What can I say to expand on that? Life on a ranch is all about life and death and a connection to land, earth and sky and water and weather. It feels good to be here with the gentle, sweet alpacas. Even in sorrow we are truly blessed. As someone told me, it’s important to not pretend that there is never a tragedy and that bad things never happen. Life continues and is affirmed. We are expecting more 16 babies this year. I hope they are all strong and healthy. We will never forget that one.

Thanks to everyone. I’m working on a giveaway for my followers. Fleece, yarn, clothing? Something alpaca. We’d like to share our bounty with you. Watch this space.

Here Kitty, Kitty–waiting for Godot Alpaca

May 2, 2010

April 14 came and went. It’s been blustery, cold, and snowy up in Utah and Kaatakilla (named for the Incan moon goddess) was just not ready. We are still awaiting the birth of her full-Accoyo suri cria. Every day I think to myself, “O. K., today’s the day.” Now it is May 2 and still nothing. The little entity moves around and kicks poor Kat from the inside but refuses to arrive no matter how hard we wait and we still don’t know what color the nursery should be.

April in Utah this year seems to have meant no spring at all. Our house is still on the market and we are trying to decide if a new realtor is the answer or if the one-two punch of bad economy and nasty weather is somehow not his fault. Spring is here in Oklahoma, but not in Utah.

I hear that alpacas can “hold off” a pregnancy and I think I’m believing that’s true about now. Please Kat, one healthy, beautiful cria at your earliest convenience–a boy or girl would be just fine.

Oh, and for those of you who thought this blog would be about cats, here’s Bristol…

Bristol samples alpaca drinking water. Is it better than cat water?

Bristol samples alpaca drinking water. Is it better than cat drinking water?

Happier Alpacas

May 1, 2010

After our sad times, we are moving back into happy times. Two crias are due in Utah (yes, we still have alpacas there), three are due here in Oklahoma, and one is due in Michigan. We have a nice vet in place here and with the recent rain, the fields are green, green, green.

The house and barn look close together from this angle.

The house and barn look close together from this angle.

How do we raise alpacas? Do they take a lot of care? Our idea is to keep their environment as natural as possible but to supplement so they can add to their diet at will. Except for grain. Alpacas will eat grain until they burst, so we monitor their intake carefully.

We currently have four fields, about six acres, and four paddocks with four stalls currently set up in the barn. The alpacas can come and go within reason. On windy or rainy days I always say they are in and out like yo-yos (since they are not terribly fond of that weather. We were fortunate to miss the worst of the storms last night. Tornadoes, thunder, lightning–it all passed to our south and into Arkansas.

The crias try to decide if the grass is greener...

The crias try to decide if the grass is greener...

Usually Carmel Sundae leads the herd in and out. The girls in the next pasture over keep an eye on her for clues about potential danger and Carmel usually sleeps near the barn door in the paddock so she can keep an eye on everyone. I think Divinity misses Zeke, who is across the barn with the soon to be yearlings, so she is usually the first in and the last out. I would like move her in with Demelza her previous cria, but Divinity is a grain fiend and will keep everyone in Demi’s group away from the grain, frequently spitting a spray of that grain as a warning that she gets hers first.

I am wondering what will happen when Caramel Sundae has her cria next month. She will move away from the main herd for a short time and will then be in with the new moms. Can she lead from the sidelines?

Alpaca morning in Oklahoma

Alpaca morning in Oklahoma

Alpaca Sadness

April 30, 2010

A lot has happened since I last took blog in hand. We experienced one of the most horrific shearings I’ve ever heard of with shearers arriving after 9 p.m. It lasted until one-thirty a.m. and, sadly, three days later he had a still birth. While I might have blamed the shearers, given the events of that day, it was probably a blessing in disguise. The poor little one was an abomination far smaller than it should have been with sad little white glazed malformed eyes and a cleft palate.

Perhaps we should try to hide that the sad little creature was born and pretend it never happened, but even these small mistakes are a piece of the fabric of life.

I noticed that Jesse was missing from our daily grain feast and saw her alone, out in the field and my heart instantly knew something was wrong. She lay there three feet from her newborn cria, confused. She had never delivered a baby. It didn’t move, had never moved and would never move and she couldn’t leave it. I had been told by a friend not to suddenly remove a cria in this circumstance and stood back a bit waiting and uncertain of just what to do.

After a bit, two of the other girls, Laguna and Tika, came for her. In its own way, it was a beautiful thing. Jesse slowly got up and they escorted her quietly to the barn, one on either side. She did not look back. I quietly and respectfully removed the little creature from the rise in the field where it had been born. We buried it with its head facing west since the Indians say it is better when the Great Spirit comes for it. It was a very sad, yet awe-inspiring day.

Shearing Alpacas 101–past midnight

April 12, 2010

Ain’t life fun? Sometimes maybe not, but if it works out in the end???

We sheared alpacas Saturday night, or was it Sunday morning. Two days later we are all bleary-eyed except Tom, and maybe the shearers. The alpacas and I are still dazed.

Friday I picked hay, straw and all manner of stuff out of 26 fleeces. Saturday I did fine tuning picking. We had our helpers in place and we waited for the shearers to arrive in the afternoon as planned. 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6p.m.–our volunteers started to leave. We sent our ranch helper home at 6:30 since she has a family and we fed our alpacas hay, which they promptly absorbed into their fleece by rolling and rolling and they spread it everywhere–so much for all of our work, and we don’t know yet what we will be able to salvage to show or sell.

People who know me from twitter are aware that I began dissolving sometime between 8 and 8:30. I called our alpaca shearing central and she tracked them down. It seems the farm/ranch before us had 46 alpacas instead of 23, so it took a little longer than planned. Our shearers arrived at approximately 9:10 p.m.! Only Tom and I were left–he was 9/10 asleep and I was a total basket case. The shearers wanted to get the shearing done. Somehow it was done, but I’m afraid to even look at the fleece and two days later I haven’t even entered it all into the record. Near the end Tom was reporting post-shearing weights that were higher than pre-shearing weights.

We did not get to give the post-shearing vitamins we had ready–no one to do that job was left. It was all we could do to identify who was being sheared and label the bags. So much for being prepared. People, please let the shearers know how many alpacas you have–the real number including any from neighboring ranches that you might have for them to do. There is no way to plan for something like this. We knew we would be later in the day, but we never planned for shearing past one a.m. The alpacas all screamed–it was past their bedtime and a couple were so groggy I was afraid they would never recover. …and we try so hard to keep stress to a minimum.

Still, they are shorn and it is done for a year. I’ll report on the fleece in my next blog.

The shearers were good and there were no nicks or cuts, but I suspect it will be next week before we know what the true effects of this nocturnal nightmare will be. Personally, I am trying to schedule time to be downright ill. Not a very good experience for our first shearing.

No pictures, sorry. No pre-shearing, full fleece photos for our website. Now excuse me, I’m going to faint. I’ll let you know if we have any fleece from our prize alpacas in a few days. The good news is that we are all still here.