Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ashton Stones Peruvian Riphaeus Royale

We finally decided on a name for our newest cria. Last Tuesday, our girl Lady Liberty gave birth at 367 days to an 18 lb full Peruvian white male out of Our Peruvian Snowstorm of Irish Valley Farm Alpacas. Lady's first crias was named Smokey, probably for his modern dark silver grey fleece. We named her second cria Appalachia (because she was born the day that the Appalachian State Mountaineers beat the University of Michigan in 2007 in football in a huge upset and we are huge U of M fans). As an after thought, we realized that her first two offspring are named after mountain ranges. We have decided to continue the mountain range theme and named our newest cria out of Lady, Ashton Stones Peruvian Riphaeus Royale. Montes Riphaeus is a lunar mountain range. The Riphean Mountains are also mentioned by authors of classical antiquity, whose location cannot be definitely attributed within modern geography, but all sources agree that they are cold and blanketed with snow. We decided to add the Royale to his name as our little Riphaeus is descended from a long line of powerhouse herdsires such as Snowmass Millenium, Peruvian Felix, Peruvian Legacy, Peruvian Augusto, and Peruvian Hemmingway. Hopefully our little guy will live up to his name and do well in the show ring someday. Pictured below is Riphaeus's ribbon winning sire Our Peruvian Snowstorm.

As I mentioned in my last post about our cria, I missed his birth, but Noah luckily caught it all on tape and got some great pictures. Lady ate her grain as normal at 7:30am. She was still acting normal at 9:00am when I left for work. At 10:15am, Noah noticed that Lady was restless, changing positions often and standing over the poo pile, but not going to the bathroom. By 10:50am, the cria's nose began to appear with the sac still in tact as a bubble around the nose. Within the next 10 minutes, the cria slowly emerged with correct head and leg positions. When the cria was dangling by its hips, Noah broke the sac as the umbilical cord was about to break and the cria needed to start breathing. He said the sac was more difficult to break than he anticipated. It was thick and rubbery. The cria dangled for five more minutes as its lungs drained and then it hit the ground. Noah dried the cria off with towels as it was a little windy.

Here are the birth pictures (caution: they are graphic in nature).

Noah broke the amniotic sac at this point.

Riphaeus stood about about 50 minutes after being born and started nursing. His legs were bent in funny directions at the ankles, probably from being cramped inside his mama for so long. They have already corrected themselves now as he is getting exercise and running with the rest of the herd. When Riphaeus was standing for the first time, Lady passed her placenta. After letting mom and cria bond for awhile, we weighed him (18 lbs), weighed the placenta (because we were was 6.6lbs), we checked his mouth and back end to make sure everything looked normal. We also took his temp and respiration which were normal and put triodine on his umbilical stump. It took him more than 8 hours to dry completely and his fiber already feels dense, so we are hoping for show quality fleece. Riphaeus really seems to love to roll. His fleece was a dingy white from rolling before he even dried. Below Riphaeus is standing for the first time and the placenta is emerging.

Riphaeus is awkwardly trying to find the milk machine.

Riphaeus finally got the hang of it and even has a milk moustache.

Full belly. Nap time!

So far, he is doing well. Because Lady had really horrible mastitis in the past, her teats are very large and stretched out now. He only seems to be latching on well to one or two of them and we are milking them all out twice a day to keep them down so they are small enough for him to latch on. Because he has lost a few ounces here and there, we have been supplementing 2-3 times a day with either milk that we have milked out of Lady or with powder formula. Luckily we don't have to completely bottle feed him like we did with Apple, we are just supplementing to make sure he is maintaining/gaining weight and not losing too much. We suspect he may not be getting enough milk from Lady as he is only nursing off one teat regularly. We will continue to monitor his weight and health to make sure we have a healthy and active cria. Below are some fun birthday pictures of Riphaeus.
Riphaeus is already striking aa macho pose hours after birth.
Future Jr herdsire or just playing with older sister Appalachia?

Apple stood up and sent Riphaeus flying. He landed on the ground below.

Later that day, we let Riphaeus back out into the pasture with the rest of the ladies. Notice he is finally looking more dry in the pictures, but is dingy from rolling.

Don't worry...he's okay...he's just rolling.

Shearing Day 2009

Shearing Day was a success this year. We sheared 22 alpacas in 5 1/2 hours. We had 7 of our own alpacas present, 4 boarding alpacas, and 11 from Oak Haven Alpacas. We decided to share a shearer this year to make sure we both got a good shearing date and to reduce costs. Oak Haven brought their alpacas over the night before and we locked all 22 alpacas in the barn for the night because there was a threat of rain and the alpacas need to be dry when being sheared (although it did not actually rain). The night before, our barn sounded like a cow barn with all the loud humming which can resemble cows mooing at a distance. Pictured below are some of the alpacas waiting to be shorn that morning. We sheared in the large barn pictured to the left.

Our shearer is amazing. Very quick and efficient which reduces stress on the animals. He has shorn for us the last 3 years and when we were first getting into alpacas, we helped him shear at 4 other farms for experience. He arrived at 8:00am last Saturday and did not take a break until everyone was shorn by 1:30pm. We make sure to have all the shearing supplies ready the night before to help things run more smoothly.
Picture above is some of our supplies for shearing. We make sure to have large clear plastic bags, large leaf bags, small sandwich bags, markers, fiber bins (round fold up hampers), brooms and dustpans, shots drawn and ready, toe nail trimmers, dremmel, bloodstop powder, halters, knee pads, lots of towels (for holding the mouth open when trimming teeth and for alpacas that pee when they are being shorn), and old socks. Some of the alpacas scream and/or spit when they are being shorn. If they are a spitter, we place an old sock over their muzzle to prevent us being covered in dark green, oozing, smelly spit. All alpacas don't need the sock and it does not harm them in any way. Our Snowflake got the award for loudest,'spitiest' alpaca this year. She screamed like she was being murdered and brought up so much dark green smelly spit, she filled an entire sock. Pictured below is the filled sock. Very disgusting and was later trashed.

During shearing, we started with the two overdue females in case the stress of shearing induced labor (which for us did not work unfortunately...they both had their crias 3 days later). For shearing, we strap the alpacas legs and stretch them out on the floor. The shearer shears one side and then flips them and does the other (we are very careful when doing this with very pregnant females so we prevent uterine torsion). Other people help with flipping, holding the head and legs, pulling and breaking the ropes that the alpacas are strapped to, and collecting fiber. We collect the blanket first, which is the prime fiber and place it in its own bag with the name and date for each alpaca. We also take a small fiber sample to send away to have tested for each alpaca. Then we collect the "seconds" which are the rump, hips, and neck fiber and place them in a bag together. Then we collect the "thirds" which are leg, belly and face fiber which get trashed because it is often short and full of sand and debris. We also took one "show blanket" this year from our herdsire Smokey. For this, we spread out a sheet and the shearer shears the blanket in one complete chunk onto the sheet. Then we folded the sheet over the blanket and roll the blanket up in the sheet so it stays in tact. We later unrolled the sheet and are letting the blanket dry before we skirt it for a show. Also, when the alpacas are strapped to the floor, we give them any shots they are due for, trim their toe nails, and trim their teeth with a dremmel or OB wire if they need it.
Pictured above, Cinderella is getting a new hair-do and a pedicure at the same time.

Pictured above is Snowflake filling up the sock with spit. Pictured below is Jolly Roger getting a little taken off the top.

We also had some visitors on shearing day including a family who is currently putting up their structures and pastures and just getting started in the industry. I believe getting hands on is always a great way to learn and they were a big help! Shearing was a great success this year and we look forward to next year. Pictured below are all the alpacas with their new stylish do's. I think they were anxious to get out on the lush green pasture and in the sunshine with their new haircuts.