Sweet Harmony Farm blog
Oh my. The past few weeks, we have been experiencing the best autumn weather, ever!!
The dew is usually dried off the grass by late morning. I’ve been wheeling down a bale of hay around noontime. Everyday, several alpaca noses greet me at the gate while I wheel the bale in and follow me excitedly as I plunk it down alongside the paddock fencing. The boys love to cush around the bale and mindlessly munch in the sun all afternoon. In the evening I pick up what’s left and put it into their feeders, fluffing it up as much as I can. By then they’re usually pronking about in the pasture.
Changes have been coming to our little farm. Our little farm is growing, growing.
Several weeks ago, I blogged that our adorable little CopperMoon had come home. He arrived with his little shy friend Adagio, which we are calling Daji, and another friend, Falcon. Copper and Daji are average sized alpacas and a bit cautious of their new surroundings. Falcon is a smaller sized alpaca, calm and quiet, but he definitely can take care of himself. The usual meet-and-greet over the fence with our herd went well. We let the newcomers into the small blocked off area to the side of the barn so they could further acclimate themselves. After a couple hours, we opened up the gates.
That was a mistake. Within minutes a horrifying scene emerged while Desi, Coty, and North all insisted on asserting their dominance all at once over the 3 new arrivals, namely shy little Daji. Dan and I managed to separate the 3 offenders rather quickly. I scolded them and lectured them on manners. I know that others will laugh and tell me that this is normal behavior for livestock. I still see it as a nightmare scenario.
I knew my lecture would do no good. Dan and I sectioned off the barn and secured a small pasture area. I knew we had a problem that wouldn’t right itself on its own. We phoned our vet immediately. Luckily she was able to come to our farm a few days later. On a beautiful sunny morning, my 3 ‘big boys’ were gelded. All is calm and quiet again on our little farm, well, for the most part.
We now refer to Desi, Coty, and North as ‘The Sisters.’ :)
In a few weeks our girls, Dreamer (momma to Guinness, Bo and Arlo) and Alana, (momma to Coty, Henry, and Copper) will be home! More fun on our little farm is sure to happen.
Do you all remember when our little Copper Moon was born?
Well here he is now!
In my never-ending attempts to be more organized, I recently came across these lovely, hand-made, wooden shawl pins that I forgot I still had:
These were hand made by the since retired owner of an alpaca farm in Maine. They are about 2 and ¾ inches wide. The lighter wood is maple and the darker wood is purpleheart. They look beautiful attached to a shawl or scarf or even as a decoration on a hat.
Lovely aren’t they?? I only have the four that are shown, 2 in maple and 2 in purpleheart.
Each shawl pin is $27, which includes the cute box they are pictured in as well as shipping within the continental U.S. If interested, please email me with your Paypal address and I will send an invoice; the shawl pin will be shipped once your payment is received/cleared. :)
The camera is working again! Definitely operator error folks, so we'll just leave it at that. :)
In honor of the camera finally working, the first picture is for you, Lisa! Here in front is Desi in full fleece, just before shearing this year:
And the second picture is for you Val! This is adorable little EarthWind&Fire, whom Dan and I call Earthling, in full fleece:
And for all of you, here are all of our fiber friends! The first picture is missing Guinness; he was probably just out of camera range. The second picture is missing Bo. Bo was probably in the barn. Bo loves his barn. Yes, our beloved Julio is in both pictures. Enjoy everyone!
Things are still strangely quiet on our little farm. I just can’t explain it but it all seems so oddly quiet. The alpacas have their occasional moments of rough housing and it’s odd not to see Julio step up. Sometimes Guinness intervenes. He’s a little guy though so this doesn’t always happen. I tell him he’s a very good boy and give him a hug.
There is still no clear alpha but I think it’s Cavalier. He obviously doesn’t mind the rough housing ruckus. He’ll just stand there and watch while he eats hay or grazes, if he even watches at all. If he’s cushed he’ll just continue to chew his cud and ignore what’s happening. Maybe it isn’t such a big deal to him or any of the alpacas. Maybe I’m just overreacting. Most of the time it’s as it’s always been, very quiet out there.
I’ve been asking Cav, whom I often call Big Bear, if he’s the alpha now. He doesn’t respond. But when I say ‘hey A-Man!’ he looks me right in the eye in surprise as if to ask ‘What, Who, Me??’ His expression makes me smile and laugh. Finally I’m laughing again.
The other night we heard the strangest noise outside. Were raccoons fighting? We had no idea. We heard the strange noise again and tried listening for other noises. Nothing. Dan said ‘I think the alpacas are alarming!’ Alpacas make a loud, high pitched noise when they feel threatened. They do not make this noise often. This could not be good.
We quickly turned on the outside lights to the barn. We saw that all the boys were in the paddock, standing perfectly still with their necks straight up. All of them were staring at the main gate. They had stopped alarming now that the light was on. The only alpaca who had ever sounded the alarm was Julio and he hadn’t done that in a very long time. The hair was standing up on the back of my neck.
We couldn’t see or hear coyotes, nor dogs, nor a bear. The alpacas will curiously follow wild turkeys along the fence line but turkeys are not out late at night. When deer or the occasional moose come through the alpacas couldn’t care less. Dan took the flashlight and cautiously walked out towards the gate.
And there, in front of the gate, waddling by without a care in the world was a porcupine. Oh geez! My wimpy alpacas alarmed at a silly little porcupine.
Who sounded the alarm? Usually it’s the alpha/guard but we didn’t see who alarmed and we haven’t got a clue.
Ahhh, the Who’s The New Alpha Game continues on.
Home of the Free, Because of the Brave
Happy Fourth of July Everyone!!
It’s been a long month since Julio left us. Thank you all for your compassion and kind words. Dan and I and the alpacas have all been getting into the new routine, the new normal.
The alpacas have been very quiet. They’re certainly not loud animals but they have seemed strangely quiet around me. I’ve watched them to see who the new alpha will be. Sometimes at night, for the first several days, we would hear fighting out in the pasture as the herd goes about the task to re-organize itself. With very little fanfare, I’d say it’s Cavalier, who we call Bear, who is the new leader. He’s the strong, silent type, with a very watchful eye. Guinness of course will help out. Nobody ever bothers Cavalier nor Guinness.
I’ve also been quiet. I quietly go through the daily routines in the barn, scooping poo, re-filling water buckets, fluffing and putting out fresh hay, and opening or closing the big barn door and windows depending on the weather. The alpacas all quietly mill around me as I work. Slowly I’m getting back to my usual chit-chat with them.
A few days after Julio’s passing, I was doing a headcount. I counted and counted, walked around to the back of the barn a few times to double and triple check, re-counted in the barn, and kept coming up with 11 alpacas. I was almost in a panic when I realized ...... when I remembered why there wasn’t 12. I collapsed onto the hay bale feeder in tears. A few paca noses sniffed at my head and face; I wish I knew who it was.
The alpacas mourned too. I’d often find Guinness cushed in the straw, exactly where his buddy had been cushed. He’s always let me scratch and hug him and seems to enjoy it more now. I can generally scratch and hug any of my alpacas, yes some more than others, but lately all of them are letting me scratch them without a fuss. There’s solace in that. They would hang out quietly around the barn and paddock and wouldn’t go near the other pasture for at least a week. All except Guinness. He’d come over to the spot where the dirt is still fresh and cush for a while near his friend.
My garden is close by to the fence line where Julio rests. As I’ve been planting and watering seedlings the alpacas have slowly come back to that pasture to see what I’m doing and to keep me company while I work. The other morning several of them were already grazing nearby. As I approached the garden, Coty and Henry came right up to the fence and greeted me with upright ears. Slowly the others did too. Good morning boys! After sniffing me, Guinness walked over to the dirt patch and cushed, and rolled. Coty saw him and joined him, then Henry. The three of them banged into each other and kept rolling. Then the others all pig-piled and joined in, cushing and rolling and bumping into each other. Bo ran over from the barn to cush and roll too. The alpacas all seemed to be having so much fun. Huge clouds of dust emerged. After a few minutes they all jumped up, shook off the dust, and ran off to find some nice grass to eat. All except Guinness. He stayed cushed for awhile, near his friend.
It is with deep sadness and a very heavy heart that I tell this story.
On Sunday morning, we lost our dear friend, our alpha, Julio.
It wasn’t a complete surprise. Julio has not felt well for a very long time. But he was a strong boy, always feisty, spunky, bossy, and definitely had the most personality of any of the alpacas on our farm. After shearing the weather turned insanely cold, rainy, and windy. Our poor Julio came down with pneumonia. He appeared to be responding to the antibiotics.
But on Sunday morning when we went to the barn, he was clearly in distress. Coty and Desi ran over to us, gave Julio a quick sniff, and ran off to join the others in the pasture. I love my animals. I don’t want to let them go. But Julio was obviously telling me it was time. Our wonderful and kind vet, Amy, came right over. I softly rubbed his ears and reminded him how much we love him. Julio quietly and gently left us, crossing over the Rainbow Bridge.
Dan dug a hole in the pasture and we placed him in, with lots of straw and a few sticks. Julio liked to chew on sticks. While I said a prayer, I saw Earth and Coty watching. They’d all been respectfully staying their distance this whole time. I nodded to Earth and he came running, then Coty, and all the others. The herd cautiously walked around the hole, sniffing into it, and each of them dropped down to roll. It was as if they were all saying one last goodbye. They each had a few bites of grass and then ran back to the other pasture.
All except his lifetime buddy, Guinness. Guinness stayed cushed after he rolled a few times, watching us, not wanting to leave his buddy. Animals create bonds with one another. And animals mourn; yes, they really do.
RIP, my friend.