Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Is there anybody out there?

Did ya even notice I've been missing??

My life has been upside down for several weeks now. It even hurts to breathe, but on the good side, I've found a great way to work out my abs! Coughing!! Yup, about three weeks ago, I developed a sore throat, cough, terrible headache, etc. that just won't go away. I've had laryngitis for two weeks now and am finally becoming able to talk in a raspy, deep throat, sexy way. I can't hardly sleep at night and I don't like to lay down, even if I had a bed to lay in, which I don't, at least, not at the moment, because, I am remodeling my house. Yep, I rebought my house, for the fourth time, and added on a floor allowance. After over three years of debating what to do I finally went and did it. I am getting Pergo laminate flooring to replace my old worn out berber carpet. However, to meet my budget, I had to trim $2000 off the final price...soooo, I decided that my son and I could take up the old carpet, baseboards, and prep the concrete base.  How hard could it be? LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have a house full of furniture but everything, well almost everything, is finally packed away. The garage is stacked full and I had to rent a storage unit- one of those P.O.D. things, which are a really great idea, btw, since I haven't been able to get my pick-up truck running yet and I had no idea how we were going to manage moving stuff to a storage place several miles away. I was amazed when I was searching for a rental unit at the variation in prices. I got quotes from three companies and the delivery charge each way varied from $179 to $139 to $89 each way. Guess which one I chose? AND, I got a 16 foot unit for the same monthly rental price as a 12 foot unit. AND, there was a $50 discount being offered at the time. SCORE!! The portable-on-demand storage unit people, better known as 1-800-Pack-Rat, brought the unit to my house and it's parked just a few steps from my front door. Hopefully, I will be able to time it right and only need it for one month.

 My younger son and I have been working overtime trying to get this project done. At the same time, we are painting attempting to paint the entire house, but it's a huge job and I'm afraid that it's much more labor intensive than can be done in the short time frame we have, with me working full time (overtime, at that) and such a small labor force of my son, daughter and sometimes friends. Nights are just too short, especially when they are sometimes spent in the emergency room with my son after he wrecked my little Hyundai one night last week, for example.  My daughter and I were happily chatting and painting the living room when we got a muffled call on my cell phone. We called the number back and found out it was the hospital emergency room. No one could give us any information other than that my son was there, but my daughter knew that Trevor had placed the call because she had heard his voice before it disconnected. At least we knew he was alive, right? We found out afterwards that my son had knocked himself out and been transported to the hospital. When asked for emergency numbers, I realize now that he had been giving his own cell phone number, which turned up missing, and wasn't thinking too clearly. He's fine now, but he ran into a truck and  trailer that was slowing down ahead of him, and bumped his nose and mouth on the steering wheel. He's real lucky he didn't lose any teeth, and his two friends who were riding with him were okay too, but the poor car is a goner! (It's a sad fact that young people living out in these rural areas all seem to have accidents in their first couple years of driving.) This accident happened on the old Route 66 Highway and I spent the next day trying to find out whether the County Sheriff or the State Police attended the scene and had the car towed and to where? I finally located it in a small tow truck yard behind a motel in Moriarty. It's a small town!

I had to get a friend to pick it up- they charge by the day-and now I need to decide whether to buy another car, or not? Last year, in December, it was my Infiniti that got wrecked...

Anyway, that's the way it's been for the last three weeks or so...

but, did I forget to mention...

the best news?

Oh, yes!!!

One morning, I went out to the barn and there was another alpaca in the barn with Thelma and Louise! That's right! Louise had her cria! All went well and the baby was already dry. However, it was only 18 degrees that morning, on November 3, 2011, the coldest we'd had so far, and I could feel the chill on the poor little thing. I scooped her up (she was so light, so little, all legs and neck!) and it was so neat to hold her right away!
I think I look like a Russian peasant, er, shepherdess in this photo. lol.

Did I mention that on top of everything else, my camera completely quit on me. Oh, the withdrawals I've had, losing my camera! Thank goodness, for cell phones! LOL.

My neighbor, Lisa, posted on her blog about the cria birth and took some photos a day or so after. I think the spitting contest she mentioned was when Louise went into a post-partem heat about a week after the birth. I actually saw Thelma trying to mount Louise one day and they were screeching and carrying on something crazy. Louise kept cushing and Thelma stood on top of her, even rearing up on her two hind legs, trying to mount her. I don't know, but I suspect it's like the foal heat horses have after birthing, usually around nine days. Maybe for alpacas, it's seven days later.

What especially amazed me about the alpaca herd behavior was how much like an aunt Thelma was towards the new cria. On cold nights, when I went out to blanket the little gal, I noticed that Thelma and Louise cushed side by side with the cria in between them. They have always stood together and now the cria moved freely around them. It was only when she tried to suckle Thelma, that she'd get a gentle kick to tell her she was at the wrong milkbar. And Sandy was there, right from the beginning too. I could tell that she worried about the little cria's safety because she always wanted to stay out at night and be right in the pen with the three alpacas. I was glad because I worried terribly about coyotes going after the tiny newborn.

Notice the tips of the cria's ears are white? I think they may have gotten a little frostbite from the cold morning of her birth.  She is 24 hours old here. Even now, they are still white on the very tips.
Especially in the beginning, Mom and cria hummed to each other- a soft little errmm back and forth. I'm so glad Louise is such a good mom. I worried so much before hand and when I saw the cria that morning, I called two Alpaca farms I knew and asked them for advice. They both said that, as long as everything was good, not to worry. One advised giving an enema and iodine on the umbilical, the other said it probably wasn't even necessary. After having two foals born on my ranch and both mares retaining the placenta and needing vetting, I was very relieved to see the frozen placenta on the ground all in one piece. And, since this was only a weekafter Yalla's vetting, I didn't want another huge vet bill. It was over $340, when Annie delivered Yalla, for the vet to come out and run a colostrum test and give Annie shots. This little cria looked super healthy and, although I couldn't tell if it was actually getting milk, it was in the right place. They told me that alpacas seem to sip and lick in the beginning when they nurse rather than latch on and suckle. I decided to wait and see how things went before calling the vet. Every day, since her birth, I've noticed her getting bigger and stronger, so I am sure she is nursing fine. I'm glad the alpacas got their shots this past fall too so that the baby has some immunity too.

Every day, I go out and visit the alpaca girls for a while when I feed. They really look forward to me hand feeding them and I can actually catch them now. I have even taken their halters off. Of course, the small pen helps a lot but it seems that having the cria has settled Louise a lot. She is actually the calmer of the two now. I catch the baby almost daily too. They seem to have exceptional scent ability and the baby is always sniffing the bucket, the rake, or my hands. She still tries to get away from me all the time but I catch her and sometimes, I pick her up. I only let her go when she quits struggling. Then I play a little game with her while I feed the ladies. I go Hrrm... errrm... errrm, and she cushes right in front of me. Not only that, she lays down and rolls over, grinding dirt into her coat. Then she gets up and shakes off. She's so funny! She has done this four times now. It's cute the way she is always picking out a blade of hay and chewing it and then spitting it out. Soon now, I'm sure she's actually going to chew it up and swallow it. 

It's amazing how soft she is. I spoke with a mill worker a few months ago and they said that the cria fleece is the softest, most valuable fiber. However, whereas a farm owner told me that they shave the crias quickly because of how messy the coat is, the miller told me to let it grow a year or so until it is at least a couple of inches long. I think I'll stick with the miller since that is who processes the fleece. I realize now that Thelma and Louise should not have been sheared when they were because after the shearer was all done, he told me how short their fleece was. And the mill said they cannot process fleece shorter than a thumb's length in the carding machines.

I like the next photo of my alpaca herd showing all their behinds. Louise is filthy, Thelma really looks like a camel, and the baby has her makeshift blanket on. I blanketed her every night for the first few days because we had  the freezing cold weather and then a snowstorm, but thankfully, it didn't seem to harm the baby at all.
Yalla's not the baby at the barn any more. Btw, she has gotten over the pigeon fever but her chest is still all scabby. I am waiting til the hair grows out and it falls off naturally rather than pulling the gunk off and risking opening up a scab. She looks like she has actually done some growing lately too. Very soon now, after all this remodeling is done, I will start her education in earnest. It's time she learned what being a good horse is all about.

Ah, but did I mention the cria has a name? Yes, she does. I immediately started calling her Sophie. But I like Rosie too. So she is named Sophie Rose. And, she could also be called Iman, because she is black, beautiful, and has a looooong neck, like David Bowie's model wife. LOL!!!
Last photo, courtesy of my son's girlfriend, was taken on Thanksgiving Day. Yep, I cooked a turkey and all the fixings for the family, all six of us!! And I was speechless, really!! :)