Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Snowy Winter Sunrise

This morning was just one of those beautiful winter mornings. The sunrise, new fluffy snow on the branchs of the trees and complete silence outdoors.  This post doesn't require a lot of words to describe the beauty we experienced this cold winter morning.  Enjoy...

Sunrise view from our house's deck.

Sunrise at the barnyard

A beautiful winter's morning
Got Hay?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

R.I.P. Renoir

Renoir Rose Sept.12, 1998 - Jan.25, 2011

I hate to post bad news, but today is a sad day.  This morning we found Renoir laying in the shelter dead.  We don't know what he died of. He was 13 years old and was showing signs of an aging Alpaca. He looked as if he had been cushed and was chewing some hay before he passed.  He also looked bloated. So without a necropsy it is hard to say what might have happened or if it was just a natural death.  He did not show any signs that he was in distress or not doing any of his normal daily alpaca habits. I did notice he was humming to me the other day, but I knew he was hungry as he was standing by the feeder waiting for his hay to be delivered  by Gary. He stopped humming and started to eat once Gary put the hay in the feeder.
We don't like days like this on the ranch. We love to experience the birth of the crias, but the death of our alpacas are very hard for us. He is our second adult alpaca that we have lost since owning  alpacas.  We also lost a cria this past spring (our first).  It just doesn't get any easier. We always look at ourselves and question if we missed something or was their something else we could have done for them. We just have to accept the fact that it is the cycle of life and it will happen again.

Renoir Rose in full fleece.

Thing, Renoir & Sugar Ray
Renoir will be missed by his best buddies.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Update on Fame & Fortune

A quick update to let everyone know that Fame & Fortune is doing wonderful.  Here are a couple of pictures with her Alpaca jacket on. She is no longer wearing that jacket as she is not cold anymore.

Fame with jacket

Monday, January 17, 2011

"Fame & Fortune" our special needs Alpaca was down this morning!

Our special girl Fame & Fortune

This morning while doing the chores, Gary had walked into the girls pen first to give them their grain.  He rounded the corner of the shelter and seen our poor Fame laying sideways in the feed trough and shivering. He managed to wrestle her out of the feed trough and to get her into the cush postion.  Fame is a large alpaca and she weighs in at 185 lbs so this is not easy to do all by yourself.

The feed trough that Fame fell in

Fame was shaking. Gary yelled for me (which I did not hear him), so he came out and told me what was going on. He grabbed a blanket and the old sleeping bag. I ran in to see her.  We got her covered up and we both sat down to start rubbing her and to decide how to proceed. She is outside of the building cushed on snow and ice with the wind  picking up. We needed to get her moved into the building and under the heat lamp. I also needed the Alpaca first aid kit, so I could take her temperature. So Gary went back to our house to get the first-aid kit, while I stayed with Fame trying to warm her.  When he got back I took her temp and it did not register on the digital thermometer. I knew then that she was hypothermic. An alpacas normal average temperature is between 98 and 102 degrees. We do not know how long she had been laying there exposed like that. Alpacas retain their heat by cushing in the straw. She could not get up to cush. Also  for their digestion system to function, she needed to be up and/or cushed to regurgitate. She was sounding a liltte raspy.

In order to move her we had to get a blanket under her, with Gary & I on each side to lift and carry her. So I folded one of the blankets and Gary rolled her onto her side, while I pushed the blanket up and under her. He then rolled her back my way and grabbed the end of the blanket. We were able then to put her back in the cush postion. We lifted her and carried her into the building. Then we covered her up, got her a bowl of grain to eat.  She ate the grain which was a good sign. I went back to the house now to get some warm water to see if I could get her to drink. In the meantime Gary was working on warming her up with his propane heater. He would lift the sleeping bag and warm the blanket under it for her, then put the sleeping bag down on top of the warm blanket.. He did this all the way around her several times.

Gary warming Fame
I brought the water back and poured into a bowl for her, but she didn't want any of it.  After about an hour of warming up she started chewing her cud again. She was not shivering as hard.  I decided to take her temp again, but it was still not registering anything. So we kept taking turns staying with her and working on warming her.  She also started to try to eat hay. She still was not trying to stand.  We seen she was improving though and she felt warm under her blankets and on her sternum. She was also under a heat lamp. We decided to leave her covered up and we would check her in a little while. Gary & I went back to the house to warm up as it had been a cold morning. The time is almost noon.  We decided to have a quick bowl of leftover potatoe soup for lunch, then head back down to Fame and the alpacas. We ended up being gone for about an hour. When we got down there, Fame had gotten up and was outside of the building again and laying in the snow tangled in her blankets. Gary managed to get her up again, which she tried to run away. Her legs are still not strong, so she fell again. Gary got her up again and he walked with her while keeping her steady on her feet.  Before long she was walking on her own. We managed to get an adult Alpaca blanket on her as she was still shivering, but she was standing and eating hay.  We watched her again and decided to leave her be. We have been checking her every hour or so and so far she is up and eating. She has stopped shivering. I haven't taken another temp, but that is okay as she would try running from me now. I can't say I don't blame her. Fame is a fighter, that is for sure.  I will keep all of you posted on her recovery.

We are supposed to be under a snow warning and  very cold weather tonight through tomorrow morning. So we will have to make sure that she and all of the other alpacas stay warm by having plenty of straw for bedding and lots of hay to eat tongiht.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Alpaca Eye Problems and an update on Meadow our LGD

For those of you worried about our dog Meadow, she is doing well, as her wounds have all healed nicely. We did hear a couple of coyotes yipping at dusk last night and the dogs all responded with loud barks to let them know that they are here to protect us and the Alpacas.  Our neighbors have been hunting coyotes and I heard gunshots this morning from the general direction that we heard the coyotes last night. I'll have to check with them to see if they shot any. In the meantime I am going to blog about my Alpaca's eye problem.

One of our studs named Woody has been having an eye issue ever since we started haying them this past fall. The Alpacas like to bury their head in the hay to get to the finer bit & pieces on the bottom (hay chaf).  Here is a picture of Lou doing just that this morning.
Lou eating the hay chaf
They will push all of the hay out of the feeder and onto the ground.  Woody will still bury his head even when it is on the ground.
Woody trying to get to the small stuff.
Because of this, Woody has an eye that has been really irritated.  He might have an allergy to something in the hay, but it only effects the one eye. 
Woody's eye with hay stuck to it.
This is his outer eyelid as Alpacas have two eyelids. Every morning we "clean" it out.  Now that it is below freezing temps all of the time, his eyelid is usually frozen.  Gary holds him, while I take a warm wet compress to unfreeze his eyelid, and then I wipe out the "puss" and clean it up. I flush his eye with Saline water, then we put an antibiotic cream into the corner of his eye.  Some of the other Alpacas get a little white in the corner of their eyes, but nothing like Woody's eye as seen in this picture.
Woody's eye
After cleaning it up he goes right back to eating with his head buried in the hay.  Somedays his eye is clear and other days, it is like this.  I can't wait to have green grass and pastures again. No more eye problems!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Meadow, our Maremma guard dog is injured!

Well, we have started out the year here on the ranch with a dog who looks like she was in a fight with another dog, coyote or (?)  We went out this morning to do chores and Meadow was in the hay building laying on an old sleeping bag that she had made into her bed on top of some bales of hay. She will usually come out to greet us when we walk up the road to the Alpaca pens, but today she didn't.  I went to the building after petting the other two dogs, Pan and Furio who greeted us. There she was looking up at me with dried blood around her left eye and some blood along her muzzle and wagging her tail, happy to see me.

Meadow's injuries

I went over to her to see what had happened. At first I thought maybe she had gotten tangled in some old barb wire fencing that we have here on the property (we try to pick it up whenever we find it), but no, that wasn't it. It looked like something had tried biting her. There wasn't any puncture wounds, but something had broken the skin.  My husband and I checked out the other two maremmas to see if they had been injured or looked like they had gotten into a fight with her. Furio the aggressive maremma that we own, will defend anything that he thinks belongs to him. He will usually share with Meadow his littermate. There was a dead mouse laying in front of him, but no other sign of a dog fight with neither Pan or Furio. The next thing  my husband and I did was walk around the pasture fences to see if we could find any signs of a fight, such as blood or some sort of animal tracks. We found nothing.  The only conclusion that we came up with, is that this happened down by the river or in the woods.
We brought Meadow back to the house to clean up her wounds and treat them with some antibiotic cream. She has been lying in the house today eating up all of the attention (and of course special treats) that she is getting from us.  We will keep an eye out for whatever it might have been. Hopefully "it" looks worse than her. We are sure that Meadow was doing her job, protecting us, the Alpacas, goats and chickens from whatever the "threat" was. Maremmas are known for defending their livestock to their death. They are an awesome breed.
Meadow's injuries after being cleaned up. 
Gary & I wish everyone a very Happy New Year.