Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day

Hope everyone out there is having a nice relaxing long weekend. No rest for the weary here at the farm, as we have made it a top priority to shear the majority of our herd this weekend. While shearing we noticed two new cria having a wonderful time in the barnyard, here is a short clip.

Boys will be Boys from goldentouch on Vimeo

Scales don't lie!

I am a firm believer that the most valuable tool with newborns is a scale. It takes all the guess work out in determining if a baby is getting enough to eat. Even thou a cria is readily nursing and nursing often it doesn't always mean they are getting enough to eat. That proved to be the case with our last born boy of Sweet Kiss. He was born last weekend and was a champ in the nursing department, he never needed assistance and mom is a very attentive girl. I weigh my newborns on a daily basis and sometimes twice a day to make sure that they are gaining enough weight. The first 24 hours he gained 8 oz. which is very good because it is common for the first couple of days to either lose a couple of oz. or to have only a slight gain, but after the first couple of days you want to see about a 1/2 lb. increase. After the first 24 hours his weight gain was very marginal at best 2 oz. and then on Wed. of last week he didn't gain an oz. So I decided it was time to supplement using a recipe of:

Whole Milk
Half and Half (extra calories)
Plain Yogart (to keep normal bacteria in the gut)
Karo Syrup ( 1 tsp. to sweeten the mix)

I attempted to give him his first bottle Wed. afternoon using a regular baby bottle with a cross cut in the nipple. I was surprised he readily accepted it without a hesitation and eagerly drank a full 10 oz. bottle. He gave me the look afterwards like what the heck have you been waiting for. He is supplemented with 3 bottles a day every eight hours and after two days of doing this his weight gain is 12 oz. a day. I have been half expecting this as Sweet Kiss's last two cria also needed supplementing for the first couple of weeks. I was hoping this time it might be different as I started her on a special lactating supplement. I don't think it is that she doesn't have the volume of milk because she has a good size udder and I can readily express milk without any difficulty. I think her milk is on the thin side more like skim milk vs. whole milk. With her past two cria supplementing was only necessary for a couple of weeks and then they would reject the bottle, so he will be supplemented until he tells me it is no longer necessary. Scales are a valuable tool

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Hairdresser by day dentist by night!!

When you have a farm you certainly learn to wear many hats. Some days you are a nanny other days a carpenter and one never knows what the days challenges will bring. Yesterday while shearing one of our female alpacas "Tee-Tee" we noticed her teeth were in need of trimming. Now I have seen this done and have read up on it as much as possible. We have the OB Wire to do the job but this is one job that I was not looking forward to doing. It was important to get her teeth done because she is going to be bred this weekend and it is essential to get her in tip top shape and address all of the husbandry issues before breeding. She was shorn, vaccines were done, nails trimmed and the only other thing that was needed were her teeth to be trimmed. To trim the teeth you need to make a notch in the side of the first tooth with a dremel and then using the OB Wire you literally saw through the teeth. I know just the thought is giving you the willies. It is important that the mouth be held open with a rolled hand towel and another person is needed to roll the lips back so they don't get cut. A third person is needed to spray water on the teeth as the sawing generates tremendous heat. Well I'm proud to say we successfully trimmed Tee-Tee's teeth and it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be so the new hat for the week is dentist.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Congratulations are in order!!

I'd like to congratulate Roger and Shirley of Dartmouth on their first cria to be born on their farm. Every birth is so exciting and there really are no words to fully describe the experience but a first born is just extra special. It is such a magical moment and I'd like to thank Shirley and Roger for having the confidence in me to assist them with their first delivery. May this be the first of many wonderful memories to come. Enjoy every moment!

What a Beautiful Day!

Hummingbirds from goldentouch on Vimeo

The sun is shining, alpacas are being born, and the humming birds are doing what they do best. So far today has been a great day and we just wanted to share a short clip in celebration of the weather.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Shear Today Gone Tomorrow

With the weather becoming a bit more stable, and the temperature on the rise it is time to shear our herd. Shearing can be a stressful time around the farm between keeping the equipment in tip top shape and the animals comfortable and cooperative. It still amazes us to this day how different an animal can look after a fresh hair cut. Stay tuned for before and after photos of our herd as we work towards getting them all in tip top shape for the summer.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Expect the unexpected!!

This morning while doing routine feedings I checked on the two girls that have due dates of May 25. Both were very comfortable and ate their breakfast without hesitation. I also flipped up their tails to look for signs of impending birth and there were none. I went back to the house and returned a half hour later to finish doing water buckets and scooping. I was greeted by a solid chocolate male cria that had just been born in the last few minutes. Sweet Kiss had given birth and was standing over her new son. I was taken by total surprise. He is a healthy guy and was up on his feet in 15 minutes, he also was nursing totally unassisted. His weight is 20 lbs. 8 oz. I'll post some pictures by this afternoon.

Hummingbird nest!

I wanted to share a photo of a hummingbird nest I was fortunate enough to find. A couple of years ago we were moving stuff into the barn and a hummingbird kept dive bombing us. I knew there must of been a nest somewhere close by and sure enough in a maple tree close to the barn on a low hanging branch. The nest was only about 6 feet off the ground and I took a peak and there were two little eggs the size of peas. At the end of nesting season I did some research to see if the nest would be re-used and they do not so I have the pleasure of having it. I keep it safe in a ring box. The nest is delicately lined with sheep wool and moss that grows on trees in the yard.
Ever since finding that nest I am very careful about trimming low hanging branches in nesting season. If it must be done I inspect the entire branch to be sure I would not destroy the next generation of hummers. So for all of you that attract the hummers please be sure to be extra careful when trimming tree branches.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Calling all bird watchers!

The hummingbirds are in full swing at the farm and it is so much fun observing them. These tiny little beauties are so territorial that they spend 95% of their time guarding their food source. They remind me of little soldiers, dive bombing all other hummers that sneak a drink creating a spectacular show.
The baltimore oriole's have also arrived, they start to show up when the apple tree blossoms begin to open. I've also noticed that they love the maple tree leaves as they transform from bud to leaf. I have tried putting oriole feeders out for but they don't use them, they do however love the hummingbird feeders.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Up date on the new kids in town!

It is hard to believe that two weeks have past since my new alpaca babies were born, time sure does fly by. They are both doing great and are growing like weeds in the pasture. We have not settled on names yet for the new arrivals but when we do I'll be sure to post them along with up dated photos. I'm trying to pick a theme for the boys and one for the girls; I have a good idea on a girls theme but not the boys yet.
We also have two other females approaching their due dates Nayla and Sweet Kiss, so we are back on cria watch. I was called out of town for four days last week and I have to admit I was a little nervous leaving them. I know they were in very good hands with my family but I always like to be there for the delivery. I'm glad to say they listened to the chat I had with them before I left and are still hanging in there. I thought about playing the Wilson Phillips song (my other two girls were listening to) "Hold On".

Monday, May 7, 2007

Tee-Tee Delivers!

Well Sunday morning was Tee-Tee's day, I think she was jealous of Silverlee having her baby first. I was out at the barn early Sunday morning checking on Silverlee's new son and noticed that Tee-Tee was very uncomfortable. She was restless, getting up and down and over all just not very comfortable. I proceeded to get all my essentials ready and went in to alert my husband of the impending birth. Finally at 7:35 a.m. she started with strong contractions and I could start to see front feet and then finally a head. It is always a relief to see the correct presentation of a baby. This baby was very large and she was having a hard time passing his shoulders. I quickly assisted with some k-y jelly to help ease and help straighten out the legs and with some GOOD tension delivered the rest of this big boy. He weighed in at 23 pounds!!!!!! He was up nursing within 30 minutes of delivery. There will be no stopping this bruiser. He makes Siverlee's baby look like a light weight.

Herdsire - Teddy

Here at the Farm we have been experimenting with creating short videos of our animals. Below is a recent video we shot of one of our new Herdsire's, Teddy. We believe that this will become a great tool in showcasing our herdsires as well as Alpacas we have for sale. Check it out and let us know what you think.

Herdsire Teddy from goldentouch

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Silverlee delivers!

Well our shearing day got delayed this morning to greet our newest member to the alpaca herd.
This morning I went out to feed and Silverlee had no interest in eating grain or hay. While everyone else was chowing down she quietly just layed down. I could tell she was very unsettled as she went to the dung pile and then would return to lay back down again. This continued for several hours until about 9:20 she started with contractions. I had got all my essentials ready and just kept a very close eye on her from a safe distance. I didn't want to distract her from the task at hand but wanted to be close enough that I could intervene if possible. Sure enough after a couple of good pushes I could see the front feet and head and that point she was having a little difficulty with the shoulders as the front legs were crossed over not letting the shoulders relax. I gently uncrossed the legs which allowed the shoulders to come and the rest just slid right out. In the photo he is only seconds old. He has been weighed and is a bouncing 15 lbs. 2 oz. He has already nursed and starting to work out his "sea legs". I will up load some more photos through out the day.
As I said mother nature has a way of letting us know that life is just unpredictable. I was confident that Tee-Tee would be first to deliver and boy did I call that wrong.

Our First Born this Spring

Friday, May 4, 2007

We are in a holding pattern!

Yes, we are in a holding pattern and I'm not talking about a flight but my pregnant alpaca girls. Both my girls Tee-Tee and Silverlee are holding on. I think they are secretly listening to the song "Hold on" by Wilson Philips. Tee-Tee looked pretty uncomfortable this morning. She wasn't so quick to come for her morning grain, and instead hung back a bit and just watched everyone else come to the breakfast table. She eventually did come and only ate a small amount. I think we are pretty close. Silverlee won't be far behind Tee-Tee either, she has a full udder and her vulva is elongated and puffy She too is spending more time rolling and off by herself. The minute one of the other girls gets to close she lets them know that she is not happy about it. They also share the same rolling spot and this morning they decided that they wanted to roll at the same time, it was cute to watch as they both tried to roll and neither one of them was happy about the other being there.
I also checked on my other two girls that are due closer to the end of the month and they too are showing some physical changes. Maybe they will totally throw me off guard and deliver before Tee-Tee and Silverlee. Mother nature has a way of doing things like that.

Our baby chinchilla has a name!

Well I like to name my animals with a name that suits their personality or look and today our new baby has earned his name, "Houdini" He is less than a week old and he has discovered how to escape from his cage bringing much distress to his mother and me.
Last night I woke up and heard mom a little noisier than usual so I thought something might be going on and sure enough Houdini was on the loose. I promptly returned him to his distressed mother only to find him on the loose again this morning. They are in a special chinchilla cage but I think I'm going to have to move them to another cage until he grows to the point where he can't squeeze through. I have a couple of cats that are great hunters and they won't think twice about giving him a run for his money.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Quick update on all things big and small!

Well we will start with the smallest of new things on the farm which is the hummingbirds. Last Sunday was our first sighting of these wonderful little critters and I have counted four different males and today we spotted our first female. Within a couple of weeks I'm sure this place will be "humming" with them.

The new baby chinchilla is doing fantastic, mom is taking great care of him. Yes, he is a boy and I haven't thought of a name for him yet but once I do I'll be sure to pass it on. I only pick him up once a day just to check him out and make sure all is well. It is not good to over handle them when they are new born. Mom doesn't seem to mind it at all, she has been handled quite a bit herself so I'm sure she knows I am no threat.

Tee-Tee's pregnancy is still holding on and she gets more grumpy with each passing day. Her official due date is 5/10/07 and she usually goes 7 days prior so that would bring us to tomorrow. We will see if she holds true to form.

Shearing season kick off this weekend!

Shearing season is finally here and we will begin this weekend. We are fortunate we shear our own alpacas and sheep and can work when the weather permits. I remember last year we had such warm weather in April, a couple of days hit close to 90 degrees and we got an early start on shearing because of that heat wave. This year our Spring has been very cold and wet, the weather was actually more reasonable in Jan. It is ideal to shear when the animals are dry and when they won't be freezing after they have been shorn. So this weekend looks like the turning point not only in the milder conditions but a long stretch of dry weather is on the way. We will first start with our herd sires as their fertility can be affected by the heat. Our very pregnant girls will be done after they deliver as long as the weather doesn't get too hot for them. This year we will also tip shear the cria, the soft ends of the fiber act as a magnet to vegetable matter making the fleece difficult to clean.
I love the look of our alpacas after they have been shorn, they go from looking like huge fluffy teddy bears to long skinny necked E.T.'s.