Sweet Harmony Farm blog
I think our blog could use some happy thoughts!
Today I thought I'd write randomly about our alpacas' many different personalities.We are sure having a very snowy February! Hope you all are staying safe while clearing snow and ice from your driveways and barns.
The two girls we have left, Alana and 'Trixie', are totally bonded and inseparable. Trixie definitely is more dominant, although both alarm when needed. Their new trick is to watch me clean the barn and to get my attention, they'll start rolling. They alternately roll and then stare at me, pleased with themselves. This continues until I laugh, stop what I'm doing, and give them pellets as a treat. :). Sometimes, they'll stand at their hay bin and stare at me with their most pathetic face until I give in. Sometimes Trixie will follow me right into the tack room.
Alana is our shyest alpaca but she will now eat from my hand. She is very tall and can easily 'gazelle' right over the hay bin from a standing still position. Her beautiful rose-grey fleece looks pink in the sun. When I first saw her, I knew I had to have her.
Dan was scratching Trixie's neck and she sniffed his hand. When she realized he did not have any pellets, she spit in his face.
Henry..... oh Henry ......I wheel over the poo barrow after I finish up on the girls' side and Henry comes right over, sticks his head in there, and takes a good long sniff. Eeewwwww! I have to chase him out several times before he finally stops. When I have to catch him, he rests his head along my shoulder.
Henry is our Barn Clown and is usually up to something. :)
Sol loves to watch me and follow me in the barn. While I'm bent over fluffing hay in the bin or checking to see how much water is in the buckets, he'll put his head on my shoulder. Julio used to do this also. Sol has earned a special place in my heart. He came here with some sort of injury to his hips (?) and has trouble walking and is still quite thin, so we're always checking in on him. He is dominant towards the others regarding hay and feed yet very well mannered around we humans. He lets me hug him too.
Arlo has the sweetest alpaca face, like he's always smiling. When he chews his cud, his little round face looks like a cherub singing. He is sweet, sweet, sweet. To me, he will always look like a cria. I often call him my Little Man. He really does not like his feet touched at all and will cush quickly when we try to trim toenails. Arlo and Bo's toenails seem to grow the fastest.
Daji is so shy still that when I put out hay, he comes to me first, I'll pull out a handful from the feeder, and I hold out the handful for him to munch on. Then he'll step in closer and try to eat from the feeder with the others. He is easily pushed out by the others. He is also very sweet. He does not like to be caught by us humans and whimpers.
Desi will usually let both Dan and I give him a hug and does not mind humans at all. Desi will alarm when he senses danger, so we've deemed him our Guard Alpaca. He is a big alpaca and super strong. When he eats pellets from our hands, he is so enthusiastic he almost bites our hands.
After 5 years of living here, Coty will finally eat from our hands, sometimes. Coty is our tallest alpaca, very calm yet shy like his momma Alana, and struts beautifully when he walks. His fleece is my favorite.
Copper loves to talk in an adorable high-pitch squeal, often. He talks quite a bit while at the hay feeders. Copper is also quite the clown, much like his big brother Henry. Copper and Henry are quite the pair together, instigating humorous trouble.
Earth also loves to talk and is still our most talkative alpaca. Sometimes it is a loud squeal, but usually it's a long, drawn out, deep humming. I tell him he sounds like a sheep. He is very sweet and gives me kisses every day. He will also tug at my jacket when trying to get my attention. He chews hay very slowly and I love to watch his little mouth.
Bo loves the barn so much that he is almost always the last to leave and the first to return. Bo is allergic to the many flying insects. He looks pathetic during the summer since he scratches the fleece right off his face around his eyes. Poor Bo. This summer I will try something homeopathic for him. And Bo loves to have his picture taken! When he sees me with the camera, he stands still and poses. I love spinning his fleece.
Falcon is a very quiet alpaca. He is always observing whatever is going on, quietly, and bothers no one. He prefers to cush in the back corners of the barn where the straw is. But when we bring out pellets,watch out! He is right there, nosing his way in, making sure he gets some.
North is another big, calm alpaca, with lots of lovely, maroonish fleece. The fleece on his neck is almost as long as the fleece on his back. He loves to be scratched behind the ears and down his neck. He eats hay from my arms as I load it into the outside feeder. He follows Dan around on the tractor while he's moving snow in the paddock, jumping and pronking.
Speaking of moving snow, we really miss Guinness right now in the depths of winter. He used to get so excited when Dan brought in the tractor. He'd lay down in front of the bucket and roll and roll and roll. None of the other pacas will do that. He seemed to prefer us humans to his alpaca friends. lol. I also really miss his momma Dreamer and all her sass and spunk. She'd spit on a moment's notice in her alpha way, but also welcomed my neck scratches and hugs.
Bear came to us with a bit of a shoulder injury. With our fairly flat pasture, much different than the farm he was living on, he was running within a week. He tries hard to be Alpha, head of the herd. He has a dominant personality and isn't afraid to let the others know it. He has lovely silvery-black fleece. His voice has a growling sound to it, which is how we nicknamed him Bear.
Cowboy is a very sweet little guy with lots of thick, soft, medium fawn-brownish fleece so we call him Peanut. He's very quiet and bothers no one like his papa Falcon. He doesn't mind us scratching and touching him, but is surprisingly strong if we try to catch him for shots or shearing, etc.
Eragon, aaahh Eragon. He is a nice boy and likes to pal around with Henry. He sometimes joins Henry in his sniffing the poo barrow shenanigans. His face and curly topknot even look a lot like Henry's. You'd think they were brothers but they are not related at all. He is usually quiet but will shyly eat from my hand. Dan kind of refers to him as 'the forgotten alpaca' since he doesn't have any paca personality traits that stand out nor is he ever sick. He's a good boy! His very dark rose-grey fleece looks fabulous in the sun.
I hope you all enjoyed the tour of our pacas' personalities! Next time I'll talk fleece colors. :)
Blessings to all of you on New Year’s Eve.
Our farm has had a very rough 2014. Our year did not start well, and it certainly did not end well.
In late October, we lost our wonderful Guinness, suddenly. And then a few weeks later we lost his beautiful mother, Dreamer, to pneumonia brought on by her age. I owe them a tribute, but am still too devastated to type up their stories.
The rest of our alpacas have all adapted well to their sudden loss of herdmates. I continue to hug them all each and every day, finding solace in their beautiful eyes and souls.
I am sending you all wishes for a wonderful and fabulous 2015.
It's that time of year again to sing a happy tune. Merry Christmas Everyone!!!
The Fiber Twelve Days of Christmas
On the twelfth day of Stitch-mas, my true love gave to me:
Twelve knitters knitting
Eleven cones a’ winding
Ten orders shipping
Nine rugs a’ hooking
Eight yarns a’ dying
Seven needles felting
Six sample cards
Five spinning wheels!!!
Four pounds of fiber
Three nuno scarves
Two socks on one needle
And a yarn store that understands me!
Originally posted 7/22/14 .....................
As you may already know, last December we had alpaca ladies join our farm.
We had spent months trying to figure out how we could inexpensively build a new barn and pasture area for them. We talked to other farms who house both males and females for tips on how to keep them separated, the hardest task of all. Knowing well that farming is much more difficult during the winter, we devised a plan of how to get them shoveled out relatively easily so that we’d be able to get them water and hay.
In the end, the quickest, easiest, and most efficient method was just to divvy up the barn by moving one of the gates to block off the pens next to the tack room, run a line of fencing from the back corner of the barn to the back pasture fenceline, and then run fencing down the paddock with 2 handmade gates on either end. Done.
The girls, or rather The Ladies as Dan calls them, have the smaller side next to the tack room. The boys have the rest of the barn, the bigger side. It’s not that much bigger! I swear it was much cozier this winter for them. With a smaller space and a few more alpacas, all that extra body heat must have helped.
As it turns out, after the initial Meet and Greet, the boys just couldn’t care less about having girls on the other side! They are always, always, much more interested in me bringing them hay than who’s on ‘the other side.’
Wow!! It's so good to be back! I was having some computer problems with my ole computer ~ yes, yes, ahem, it's running XP ~ and was unable to do admin functions here on my own website! But thanks to my brother, who convinced me and helped me to do some updates for another reason, voila!!! I'm here!! Thanks Mark!!
All has been well here over the summer and I plan to be back soon with fun stories from our little alpaca farm. :)
Sometimes, despite your best efforts and intentions, things just don’t go as planned. Spring arrived, and Shiloh was not able to regain the use of her back legs. Loving animals means your heart gets broken when they cannot be the beautiful creatures they were intended to be. More sadness came to our farm in mid-April, as the decision was made that it was best to let Shiloh and her wonderful spirit leave our world.
We had created a setup in the pen with a sling and pulleys so that we could sling Shiloh up with the least amount of stress to her, as well as to us. She really didn’t like being in the sling. She always much preferred that Dan lift her by her hind end and balance her on his leg while he sat on the small hay feeder. From there she could stand up using her front legs and see all around the barn, see ‘her girls’ and sometimes she’d even put weight on her back legs. Dan and I would massage her back and hips and massage her back legs and feet, trying hard to get the blood circulating. Then we’d gently work each leg, bending it and straightening it, forward and back and out to the side. Dan would even take that rear leg and pull it forward so that Shiloh could scratch her chest, like a real alpaca. :)
Shiloh actually liked us doing all this massage. When we’d arrive at the barn she’d get a really excited look on her face when she saw Dan and would try hard to get herself up, her front end anyway. When she saw us get the sling ready, she’d get an ‘OH NO!’ look to her. With Shiloh in the sling we could work her legs a little easier and she could move around a teensy bit. Anything to get her muscles working. I did reiki on her every day. We gave her homeopathic remedies for healing and pain relief, banamine for pain and swelling, MSM to build muscle, crushed B12 tablets to regenerate her nerves, and of course alpaca pellets as a treat. We kept her in the pen with lots of straw and a warm coat, and put up an extra tarp to keep the cold and wind off of her. We did this all winter long, every day.
In return, she gave us happy looks, a never-give-up attitude, and a very loving spirit. She will never be forgotten.
RIP my friend.
I really don’t need to explain to anyone that it’s been a brutally cold winter this season. Temps have often been near zero and with the wind it’s well below zero. The tips of my fingers go numb within a minute or less of scooping up frozen beans. It’s a nauseating feeling. I run into the tack room to get out of the wind, take off my gloves, and shake my hands wildly to get the feeling back. If I’m on the boys’ side, I usually run to Guinness or Arlo to put my fingers into their fleeces. This time of year the alpacas’ fleece is usually about 3+ inches long and it’s toasty warm down by their skin. Guinness will usually grunt and look up at me quickly, surprised by the sudden cold. I wish they’d stay still long enough for my fingertips to get as warm as their skin, but usually it’s just long enough to get the feeling back.
On the plus side, we haven’t had as much snow as we’ve usually had the past several winters. On those odd days where the wind is calm, the sun is out, and it’s over 20 degrees, I am able to open up the ‘big door’ for the boys. They love it! It’s so dark in the barn with all the tarps up along the front opening. Plus, it gives me another way to get into and out of the barn to scoop all the paca poo.
Over on the girls’ side it’s a bit different. We’ve been keeping the tarped gate closed and their ‘big door’ closed most of the time, trying to keep poor Shiloh warm. Shiloh stays cushed in the pen, on piles of warm straw, and wears a lovely coat. She can wiggle around fairly well using her front legs but doesn’t leave the pen on her own.
Shiloh came to us somewhat mobile. She’d been injured back in October at the farm she’d been living at and went down, and then spent a week recuperating at the vet. For the next month she needed assistance getting up and overall seemed to be improving. When she first arrived here at the beginning of December, she just needed a boost to get up but could do a wobbly walk. After several days, Shiloh was getting up on her own! We were thrilled and thought she was basically recovered. NOT. The intense cold came on suddenly and within days she needed a boost to get up again, and just as quickly needed help just to stand. And then, she couldn’t even stand. Her front legs work just fine, but her back legs do not. It is incredibly sad for us to see her so helpless.
Shiloh is considered a ‘down’ alpaca. In the mornings and mid-day, I massage and rub her legs as best as I can to get some feeling into them. I do reiki on the part of her lower spine where her actual injury appears to be. Her wonderful owners have provided her with all kinds of homeopathic remedies, vitamins, banamine [a livestock medicine to reduce pain and inflammation], etc. In the evening, Dan lifts her by her hips and she stands. He sits on the hay feeder with her hips in his lap and her back legs somewhat dangle. We then rub and massage and stretch out her legs and feet trying to work the muscles.
Shiloh is one very co-operative alpaca. It is amazing how she just lets us ‘do what we have to do’ with really no complaints. She has the best disposition of any alpaca ever! The downfall is this: she is a rather large-framed alpaca. She is not fat, in fact even after all this she still body scores very well, but she is much too heavy for us to lift her easily; in fact I cannot lift her at all if she isn’t assisting and quickly trying to stand on her own. This makes therapy rather difficult and is certainly slowing down her healing process.
It’s time for us to make a sling. Dan has put something together and we did a successful test run with a hay bale last night. It will still require both of us to get her into the sling and lift her. Once she’s in the sling and Dan doesn’t have to hold her up, we will both be able to work her legs much better. Her muscle tone in those weak back legs will improve. She will soon be able to start standing on all 4 legs with the sling helping her to keep her balance. And then, she will be able to run again on her own. That’s the plan, anyway.
We refer to Shiloh’s condition as an injury, but it’s actually the affects of the dreaded meningeal worm.
Happy New Year Everyone!!! Bright Blessings for a happy, healthy, and prosperous year!
Thank you all for reading our little blog. We very much appreciate it.