Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Dog Beach in March

We took Roz and Lola to the dog beach near Pere Marquette in Muskegon last weekend since the weather was so nice and warm and sunny. I thought we would be the only crazies at the dog beach with their dogs in March, but there were at least a dozen other dogs with their humans there. It was a gorgeous day and we all had a lot of fun. Rozalyn made a new friend, a 120 lb, 15 month old mastiff named Meatball. It was nice having another large breed dog there for her to play with. Sometimes I get nervous that she will accidentally hurt the smaller dogs. Lola was a little timid as this was her first trip to the dog beach, but she seemed to have fun. At one point, Roz was chasing her and Lola took a few leaping bounds out into Lake Michigan. I don't think she realized that it got deeper and found herself in water up to her neck. She froze and just stood out in the waves looking at us like "please come save me!" After us calling her for about 2 minutes, she finally attempted to jump on top of the water without success and then ran back to the beach. It was really cute. Here are some pictures of our adventure. I can't wait to go back when it is even warmer and we don't have to wear jeans and sweatshirts!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Does Your Belly Hang Low?

Spring is upon us and the birth of cria is right around the corner. Our first two girls that are due and Bellesa and Lady. The alpaca gestation ranges anywhere from 335-350 days, but can really go another 15-20 days either way. Also, alpacas gestational lengths tend to be longer in the spring and shorter in the fall. The shortest gestation we have had on our farm so far over the last several years is 327 days and the longest was 367 days (waiting over a year is a very long wait!). We try to base our girls estimated due dates on their gestation history if we know it. If they are a maiden, or we do not know it, then we estimate early at 335 days.

Bellesa is 311 days along today and tends to birth at the earlier end of the alpaca gestation spectrum. Bellesa is an older girl who was imported in 1997. She has lived at the same farm since coming to the US, so we have a pretty complete and detailed health and breeding history for her. She has had 8 cria to date and her gestation lengths have been as follows: 336, 340, 321, 328, 349, 338, 342, 337. I anticipate that Bellesa will give birth right around 335 days (her average being 336). She is bred to Peruvian Macusani. I am really hoping for a grey cria. She has been bred to Mac 4 times in the past and out of those 4 cria, 2 have been rose grey, 1 has been silver grey, and one has been light fawn. Bellesa has always been bred to grey males and out of the 8 cria, 5 have been silver or rose grey, and 3 have been fawn. Also, out of those 8 cria, 5 have been males and 3 have been females, so I think she is definitely due for a girl (although I wouldn't mind getting a boy out of this breeding)....hopefully grey! In her health history, it says that her belly and udder really get large and hang low the last month or two of pregnancy and that she starts laying around a lot more, which we have really noticed. She will kush out in the pasture with the other alpacas and doesn't bother to get up to follow the herd when they move on. Also, while everyone runs in from the field for grain time, Bellesa slowly waddles her way in. Here are some pictures of the very pregnant girl.

Here is a picture of Bellesa very early in pregnancy:
Here are some pictures of Bellesa 10 1/2 months pregnant.

Notice Bellesa's big round belly below:

Lady is the next due. She is 298 days today, but she tends to birth at the later end of the gestational spectrum. She has had 4 cria to date, but we only know the gestational length for 3 of them and they are as follows: 358 (summer), 350 (fall), and 367 (spring) days. You can see that Lady's gestation lengths seem to be affected by the seasons somewhat. So far, lady has had 2 males and 2 females. Cria colors have ranged from dark silver grey, fawn, beige, and white. She is bred to Incan Alchemy, a medium fawn male from Flying Cloud Alpacas. I am hoping for a little fawn girl. Lady's belly tends to get really big and round and hang low the last 4 months of pregnancy. Here are some pictures of the pregnant girl. Can't wait for the arrival of this cria sometime in May.

Here is a picture of Lady when she is not pregnant:

Here are pictures of Lady and her 10 month pregnant Belly:

I tried to get a picture of Lady with her 3 living offspring, Smokey (DSG), Appalachia (Beige), Riphaeus (White).

While I was outside over the weekend, I snapped some pictures of the whole herd. Here they are:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Ultimate Pooper Scooper

We finally decided that it was time to add a new toy to our farm to help us accomplish farm chores more quickly and efficiently. We brought our brand new Cub Cadet Sub Compact Tractor home yesterday. We shopped around a lot looking for the best deal and what type of tractor would best suit our needs on our farm. We looked at new and used tractors including John Deeres, Kabotas, Massey Furgusons, AgCos, and Cub Cadets. Although it would be great to have a tractor large enough to do our own hay (currently we have a neighbor who harvests it for us), we decided that a smaller and less expensive tractor would fill the rest of our farm chore needs for now. We looked at many compact and subcompact tractors and decided that we could accomplish the same jobs on our farm with a subcompact that we could with a compact (which is a little larger) and save some money. While I really liked the John Deeres...mostly because they were a pretty green, and Noah liked the Kabotas, we decided on a Cub Cadet. It had many of the features that Noah liked on the Kabotas and it was a little less expensive. What really sold me on it was the spring promotion that they had going on which included a free grass/leaf collection system (a $2200 value)! We have some pretty old trees on our property that look beautiful in the summer and fall, but drop leaves like crazy towards the end of the year. Raking leaves the last two years has been a horrible undertaking and with us having a baby this fall, I am really looking forward to just vacuuming up the leaves instead of breaking my back raking! To check out more information on the tractor follow this link to Cub Cadet's website:

Sc2400 TLD Sub Compact Tractor

We plan to get lots done around our farm this spring and summer using this tractor. It has a front end loader which will make scooping alpaca poop and cleaning out the stalls in the barn a breeze. It will also be a quick trip hauling poo down to the compost pile. We also plan to use it to clean up the pile of rubble that is left from our barn fire from last fall. We also plan to construct a separate drive way into our hay field (right now the hay tractor has to drive through our front lawn to get to the field), which the front end loader will come in handy for. We are getting a post hole attachment for the tractor so we can dig holes for posts for our new barn. We also plan to split some of our alpaca pastures and fence in our yard for the dogs. When we originally put our paca pastures in, Noah dug every post hole (over 100) by hand. It was quite the chore....he is looking forward to using the tractor this time around. We will also use the tractor to cut our lawn. It came with a 60 inch mower deck and drives up to 9 miles an hour, so our several acre lawn should take much less time to cut now. It will also be nice for hauling things like wood and rocks and for doing some landscaping. Of course this fall, we plan to use it to pick up leaves and then this winter we will use it to plow our driveway. In the future, Noah would like to get a rototiller and grading attachments for our pastures (there are all kinds of cool attachments you can get for this thing), but we have spent enough money for now. Now it's time for spring cleaning around the farm! Here are some pictures of the new tractor. Notice how nice and new and shiny it looks. I am sure it won't always look that way once it is put to work on our farm.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Catching Crias on Camera

After spending the winter without our nice picture camera (both lenses broke last fall), we finally bought a new lense for it! I was so happy to have it back in working condition that I headed right out to the pasture and started snapping away. Here are some updated pictures of our 2009 babies.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Rozalyn

Rozalyn turns one-year-old today! I can't believe we have already had her for almost a year, yet it seems like she has always been a part of our family. She is doing well and is weighing in at 125 lbs and is almost 34 inches tall at the shoulders. She probably won't get any taller, but will put on a few more pounds before she is done growing. We plan to have a little party for her tonight (if you didn't already know, our dogs are like our children....although my mom keeps telling me...wait until baby comes...the dogs will be dogs again). Anyway, Roz will get a special dinner treat and have some new chew toys and bones to unwrap. Here are some pictures of her over the last year:

3 weeks old
9 weeks old
12 weeks old
14 weeks old
4 months old
5 months old
9 months old
Here are some pictures I took of both Roz and Lola this week. Roz is of course almost a year old and Lola is 8 1/2 months old.