Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Swift Kick...Ouch!

When it comes to survival skills, alpacas don't have much going for them. Sure they can run, but when it comes to close combat, their major weapons are spitting and kicking. Sure they buck up and occasionally bite, but they mostly rely on their rancid spit and a swift kick. Neither of these are much of a deterrent when it comes to humans handling alpacas as the stinky spit washes off and because they have padded feet instead of hard hooves, their kicks are normally close to painless. Unfortunately, one of our alpacas, Paisley showed me otherwise last night. Paisley is the only suri alpaca on our farm of huacayas. I have been told that suris tend to be more high strung and skittish than huacayas and we have found this to be true...at least in Paisley's case. She is getting more used to us, but is still rather hyped up and crazy if we touch her. Well, last night, I was innocently walking down a line of feed bowls, putting pellets in each one. This is normally a chaotic time of day because all the alpacas are screeching and spitting at one another as they try to claim a food bowl. Well, I was walking along and out of nowhere, Paisley ran in front of me to try and claim a bowl. Then other alpacas came charging after her to claim the same bowl and I am only assuming she attempted to kick them (she is one of my favorites, so I like to tell myself that she wasn't aiming for me). Well I was wearing shorts and her kick nailed me right on the bare front of my thigh. It stung like crazy and left an instant imprint of an alpaca foot print on my leg. It also scared me because she hit the bucket I was holding as well which made a loud bang. Of course, I was a huge baby about it and started crying. Then Noah got frustrated and yelled which made me cry even harder. Really, I was acting like I was 3 years old, but I had had a long and tiring day at work and was already feeling frustrated about some other things, so maybe a good cry is what I needed. We went in the house and put ice on it. It was so crazy, I had a red raised up foot print right on my leg. Alpacas have a padded foot and two toes, like this.
I of course had to take a picture for the blog.

While alpaca farming is usually relaxing and enjoyable...sometimes it can be a pain too! Ouch!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Boys Find a New Home

Riphaeus and d'Artagnan went to their new home a week and a half ago. We had high hopes for these little guys, but unfortunately, they are just not what we are looking for in herdsire quality males on our farm. Because we have 7 babies due on our farm this year, we thought it best to make room and find them a new home since we won't be using them in our breeding program. Luckily, they are both friendly and absolutely adorable, so they found a good home where they will be pets and companion to a horse who just lost his horse buddy due to colic. We will miss Riph and Dar, but luckily we can still visit them as they went to live with one of my co-workers, who happens to be an animal lover too. So far, they are doing well in their new home and getting lots of love and attention from kids who take riding lessons at the farm. I even got to see pictures of them posing with lots of kids on someone elses FaceBook page today. I am so glad they went to a good loving home!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Growing Up Chicks and Ducklings

Here are some updated pictures of the chicks and ducklings. They are growing fast! There are 8 chicks left (Rozalyn accidentally stepped on one and squashed and killed it...considering she weighs over 130 lbs and her feet are as big as my hands, I suspect the chick didn't suffer). There are 10 ducklings left. Again, Roz tried to play too hard with one and squashed it. One was half the size of the others and seemed to have something wrong with it and didn't make it and another one disappeared. It is funny, the roosters and male ducks follow the mommy hen and duck around. The roosters seem to help care for and protect the chicks, but the male duck beats up the ducklings and is always trying to mate with the mother duck. Men! Our female Indian Runner duck has built another nest on the other side of our house and is sitting on eggs again, so we will see if these ones hatch.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cria Shearing- Happy and Alchemy

Last week, we sheared our two cria before we left for vacation. We wanted to make sure they didn't get too hot when we were away and Noah wanted to get some practice in as he has been asked to shear cria for a few other farms. The cria did great during shearing. Noah made his own new pulley system to tie them down; you can buy them for hundreds of dollars online. I am always amazed at how crafty and innovative Noah is. I am luckily to have such a handy man around. Unfortunately, our new shears weren't working quite right, so it took us 2 or 3 times longer to shear them than normal. Either the new cutters we bought weren't sharpened well or something is wrong with the shears. Noah is going to figure it out when we get back. Because they weren't working well, we had to go over the crias 3-4 times to get them shorn to the skin, so they don't look that great. Alchemy looks better than Happy. Here are some before shearing pictures.
Here are some after shearing pictures. We are still trying to decide what color Happy is. Her neck above has some dirt on it, but underneath, we did find a small silver grey spot. We are thinking she may end up light rose grey, but she is such a strange color. I loved Alchemy's fiber when it came off of him....it was so crimpy and bright.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Breeding Season has Begun

Alpaca breeding season has begun at Ashton Stone Alpacas. We normally breed alpacas between June and September on our farm so we have babies due mid May through mid September. We like to avoid the cold Michigan weather months. We are boarding a couple females who are at our farm for breeding. We have also started breeding our own females. So far, the only one of our own who we have bred is Lady. Alpacas are most receptive to getting pregnant 2-3 weeks after they give birth. Lady and Bellesa both gave birth 3 1/2 weeks ago. We decided to wait to breed Bellesa. She is an older girl and is underweight. Since she is nursing Happy, she could use some time off. We don't plan to breed her unless we can get her weight up. So far, she is doing well. We have her on alfalfa hay and 3 cups of high energy grain per day and she seems to be putting on some weight.

We bred Lady last weekend. We always have such a tough time deciding who to breed all our alpacas to and the more alpacas we get, the more difficult it gets to find the perfect herdsire for each of them. After much discussion, we decided to breed Lady to IVF Red Hot Fiesta this year. Lady is full Peruvian and we normally breed her to other full Peruvian boys, but this year, we decided to try something different since we have plenty of other full Peruvian alpacas on our farm right now. Fiesta is an adorable little rose grey male. He has taken blue ribbons at every show he has attended and has taken color champion at every show but one. He is the son of the elite grey sire A of O Silver-Celebration (deceased). Fiesta's dam is a AOBA Nationals blue ribbon winner. Fiesta has herdsires like Leon, Bueno, Don Julio, Quicksilver, Silvino, Shaquille, and Jericho in his background. He is truly an elite grey alpaca. Lady has thrown grey in the past so we can't wait to see what we get! Lady is our best foundation female and Fiesta is an awesome grey alpaca, so I am hoping they will be an awesome match and produce something wonderful for us next year.

This is Fiesta's first year breeding. Some males catch on to the techniques of breeding much faster than others. Fiesta is still trying to get the hang of it. He did get the job done last weekend though on a drive-by breeding, so we will see if it takes. We are keeping our fingers crossed. Lady has always gotten pregnant in one or two breedings. Here are some pictures of Lady (full fleece and still pregnant a few weeks ago) and Fiesta.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Naughty Boys and New Barn

I plan to blog more about the barn in another post, but it happened to be in the background of these pictures. Noah has built this new 30 x 30 barn all by himself which is just amazing to me....I am so blessed to have such a talented and hard working husband! I can't wait to move the animals, hay and supplies in when it is finished!

But the real reason for this post are the naughty boys. Riphaeus is 13 months old now and d'Artagnan is 11 months old now, even though he is the bigger of the two boys. These boys have a pasture to themselves right now and I often hear and watch them play fighting. It is very entertaining to watch. They spit, bite each others heads, legs and necks and neck wrestle and throw each other to the ground. Sometimes they do get angry with one another and really try to take the other one out, but for the most part, they are just playing. These little boys may be going to a new home this weekend. I will miss their silly antics out in the field. Luckily we will have a whole new crop of cria to watch play this summer. Here are some pictures Noah caught of them the other day.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Happy and Little Alchemy Update

Our little crias Macusani's Happily Ever After (Happy) and Incan Alchemy's Peruvian Panacea (little Alchemy) are 3 1/2 weeks old now and doing very well. They are growing everyday...especially Happy. She was born 19.6 lbs and already weighs 29 lbs. Little Alchemy was born 19.2 lbs and weighs 23.5 lbs now. I suspect he is growing at a slower rate because we are bottle feeding him instead of him eating from his mama....but Happy seems to be growing at an extra fast rate too. They are so cute playing together. They run through the field, jump on each other and neck wrestle. They remind me of Rudolf and Clarice from the old Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer claymation movie. They are so cute together!

Alchemy's fiber is looking really good already. We are very impressed and hope that he matures well. He has a tight little crimp and dense fiber already. We would love to use him for a herdsire some day if he turns out well. Happy's fiber is less dense and crimpy, but very fine. She is very fuzzy. It looks like she may be light rose grey after all. She has a lot of greyish white fibers coming in at the skin throughout her fawn coloring, which will make her rose grey. We plan to shear both babies in another week or so. Here are some updated pictures of the little ones at 3 weeks old.