Saturday, October 13, 2007

Turkeys are here to stay!

Well we see the turkeys just about every day. Some days they come right up into the side yard and we watch them from our dinning room window. They also spend a lot of time in the back pastures. There must be an abundance of food for them to keep them here for this long. Most people say turkeys don't stay in one area very long, they are always on the move. We are enjoying them and boy are they getting big.

Cocoa Pebbles reunited with the herd!

Cocoa Pebbles finally got to return with the rest of the herd and boy was she happy. After a week and a half of confinement it was a great day for all of us to let her return with the herd. She had finished her antibiotics, all of the swelling had subsided, no temp and a good appetite was a prescription for freedom.
Last night at dusk she started to pronk with the spring cria and young females. It was so much fun just to watch her run and kick up her heels. It was tragic to lose her cria but I am ever so thankful to have her.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Hummingbirds Are Gone!

With the change in seasons our hummingbirds have moved on to bigger and better things for the winter. We look forward to them coming back next Spring. In the mean time, here is a small collection of some of the footage we captured this summer. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

"Sweet Annie" update!

Annie and Mom are doing just great! Mom is very attentive over her expect in the nursing dept. She loves being with her and when I take her out to put her on the scale mom is not happy but she is not crazy about her nursing either. Interesting situation! I think part of the problem is she is a first time mom, secondly there was so much confusion the day she delivered and the day after with Cocoa Pebbles (who just happens to be her best friend). She is probably talking to Cocoa Pebbles saying if you let her nurse off you then I will keep an eye on her.
We will continue to work on it and see what happens, but in the mean time Annie is being supplemented and thats okay too. At every feeding she is put on mom and then given a bottle to top her off. It is not that Mom doesn't have any milk, she has plenty she is just not very patient.
Today Annie weighed in at 16 lbs. not a huge weight gain but gaining and that is the most important. She is very alert and active and as sweet as they come.

Cocoa Pebbles update!

Cocoa Pebbles is feeling much better today. The swelling on her bottom is reduced almost 75%. She also has the sparkle back in her eyes and wants out of her pen and get back with the rest of the herd. I think in the next couple of days she will be able to do just that as long as she doesn't spike a temp.
She has been through so much in the last few days and I'm so happy she is recovering as fast as she is.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Cocoa Pebbles goes into labor!!

Not long after returning from Springfield and settling in with the new cria I noticed that Cocoa Pebbles was not acting herself. She wasn't crazy about eating her dinner and she was content to go off and lay by herself. She was due as well and she too would be another first time mother. I kept a close eye on her watching for any signs of labor. At 3:00 a.m. I went out to the barn to feed Annie and check on Cocoa Pebbles, sure enough she was in labor with the head and front feet already out. Unfortunately it was obvious the cria was already dead. I dashed back to the house to get my husband for assistance. We were unable to get the shoulders of the cria to pass. I knew this was a huge problem and vet assistance would be needed. I also knew that she needed to go to the vets clinic in the event a C-section would be needed. My heart broke for the cria but my attention was on mom I did not want to lose her too. My vet is 45 minutes away so rather than call him at 3:30 in the morning we decided to hook up the trailer and get ready to head there and call him on the way.
By the time we reached the vets Cocoa Pebbles was very stressed and very uncomfortable. My vet did a great job and was able to get the cria out without a c-section or dismemberment. Cocoa Pebbles had some tears and did quite a bit of bleeding after delivery. The next concern was to stop the bleeding and not to have a prolapsed uterus. My vet explained that when they strain as she did they loose calcium and having a low calcium level can also cause a prolapse. She was given I.V. fluids with calcium, antibiotics, along with other meds. I stayed at the vets with her most of the day and brought her home in the afternoon when we thought it was safe for transport. There was still a chance for a prolapse and of course bleeding so she needed to watched closely. I'm happy to report she is doing well. The swelling on her bottom is reducing and she is eating and all bodily functions are working. She is still very very sore and is cautious how she gets up and lays down. She is in barn in a private stall along side Splash and her baby. It was important to keep her quiet and very clean. She has been a trooper through all of this and I'm happy she is going to be okay, as long as things continue on this track. She will not be bred again for at least 6 months to give her body plenty of time to heal.
It sure has been an emotional roller coaster the past few days, extreme highs and lows in less than 12 hours. But at the end of the day I wouldn't trade this life for anything different.

Introducing Bittersweet Annie

Bittersweet Annie's arrival on Sept. 30, 07

The last few days have certainly been an emotional roller coaster. It all began with a very hectic schedule over the weekend, we had an information booth for the New England Alpaca Fiber Pool at the Big E and a wedding in Boston on Saturday night. We planned on driving up to Springfield early Saturday morning and run the booth until 2:00p.m. run to the hotel to change and then dash to Boston for a 6:00 wedding. After the wedding we drove back to Springfield and planned to run the booth all day then break down and return home Sunday evening. All was going as planned and running smoothly until my cell phone ran at 6:30a.m. Sunday morning. I knew immediately something was going on. I quickly learned we had a new baby born and she was already dry and sitting in a cushed position. There was only one problem, she was laying in between my two pregnant dams and there was a little bit of confusion on who the mother was. Both of these pregnant girls were first time moms so just picking up the baby and see which dam follows you wasn't working. After several phone calls back and forth it was determined to be Splash's baby. They were put into a stall in the barn to have some quiet bonding time and to be monitored to be sure the cria was nursing. Several hours had passed and the cria still was not nursing, not that she didn't want to, her mom was just not cooperating. New moms can be like that the first few days. Of course I was anxious to get home to meet my new cria and help with the nursing situation. I know the family members at home couldn't wait for me to get home either. I had them give her some powdered colostrum to hold her over until I got home. Everyone here at the farm did a fantastic job over seeing things for me. They kept me in the loop at all times and dedicated their day keeping watch. Thank you!!!
Annie weighed in at a bouncing 14 lb 8 0z. She is still be supplemented with a bottle but is doing quite well.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hummers on the Move!!

Well it is that time of year again when the hummingbirds start leaving on their long journey South. This year in peak season I was filling my hummingbird feeders three times a day, going through 15 lbs. of sugar a week. That is a record breaker for us, last year I was going through 10 lbs. a wk.
I will continue to keep my feeders up until the end of October for any birds passing by that might need to stop in and catch a drink. Wishing them all a safe journey and I'll be looking forward to seeing them again in the Spring!

Westport Art Group visits the farm!

Last Thursday the Westport Art Group visited the farm for a morning of painting. I was impressed to see a turn out of about 25 painters. Everyone was free to roam the farm and paint anything that caught their eye. At first I was worried that they wouldn't find enough interesting things to paint but that quickly changed as everyone seemed to settle right in. At the end of the class the instructor lined all of the painting up and critiqued them. Most of the paintings were of the alpacas but the donkeys and sheep caught some of the lime light as well. Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time and I hope they plan another field trip next year.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A Big Thank you!!

For all of you that sent me private emails on Samantha, THANK YOU. Your kind words have meant so much.

Turkeys, Turkeys, and more Turkeys!!!!

For the last couple of weeks we have had a group of hen turkeys with their young hanging at the property. This morning I went to let the dog out and when I looked they were all in the yard. My tough cat "Mercedes" was stalking them. I quickly got the camera and took some pictures. There was a total of 35 and it was quite the site. They stayed in the yard for a few hours then migrated through the female alpaca pen back to the woods.
I've talked to several people and they say they normally don't stay in one place. I'm happy they have been here as long as they have. I know we have an abundance of food for them to eat, so they probably hate to miss a meal.
For all of you that follow this blog you know in the Spring we had Tom Turkey here and we would hear him gobble. We always saw him alone, never in the company of hens. Well he certainly did his work and although we didn't see him with the hens they certainly caught up with each other.

Invasion of Wild Turkeys

Today we finally caught some photos of the wild turkeys on the prowl.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Broken Hearts!

On August 27, 07 we lost our "old gal" Samantha. Samantha was a 20 year old female alpaca that we have owned for the last 6 years. She was blind and because of her blindness we had developed a very special bond. She was the farm favorite to all that came to know her. Despite her blindness she was so trusting, always calm, and not afraid of new situations.
It all began last Sunday, I was out with the girls in the afternoon to give them a belly hose and she readily came over for her turn. She was her normal self. I went back out at 4:30 and I could tell she was in abdominal distress. She would stand and then immediately lay back down and kick her hind legs out to the side. Then to start the whole process all over again. My husband and I moved her to the barn in front of the fan. I took her temp which was normal, she was not hot to the touch. I immediately gave her some probotics to get her ruminant working. I also gave her some banamine for pain and a shot of antibiotic. I wanted to cover all the basics especially when you don't know what your dealing with. There wasn't a change in her diet, she never had loose stools, and she was always covered for meningeal worm. She seemed to settle down and very couple of hours I checked on her. She was laying in a cushed position, she was bright and alert. I went out just around 11:00 and she had moved herself out of the barn and was laying in the barnyard under the trees. She was still bright and alert. I felt confident she was feeling much better so I retired for the night. At 6:00 a.m. I found her dead. She was still in the same area and there was no signs of struggling. My heart was broken. We decided not to do a necropy on her as she had lived a very full life and their life expectancy is 20 -25 years.
She was a very special girl and I can't tell you how much I miss her. She will always hold a very special place in my heart and I'm thankful for the lessons she has taught me. She is one of the reasons why I am so passionate about my alpacas.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Positive pregnancy tests!!!!

Using our new preg tone ultrasound machine we confirmed 4 of our alpaca girls that had recently been bred. The girls we tested had been bred about 40 days ago to our new herd sires. This is exciting news not only for the girls but for the males as well. They are just starting their breeding careers and it is important to know if they have viable sperm. So it's official we are dropping the Jr. and they are simply our herd sires!!! GREAT JOB BOYS
We will continue to check the girls once a month for the next couple of months to be sure they do not slip their pregnancy. Having this technology at our fingertips is a great asset.

Vacation to Bar Harbor, Maine

We took a four day vacation to Bar Harbor, Maine and had a great time. It is one of our favorite places and we go every chance we can break away. Having a great love for the ocean and the woods it makes it an ideal vacation spot for us. One of the highlights was a sunset horse drawn carriage ride through Acadia National Park. We also went on a whale watching trip and not only did we see whales we also saw tuna jumping out of the water. The only thing missing was our fishing poles!!!!
The weather was much cooler in Maine giving us a gentle reminder that Fall is just around the corner.
Check out just a few of the photo we took while there.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Nice Little Rain Storm

day into night from goldentouch and Vimeo.

Bar Harbor, ME

We just recently spent a few days in Bar Harbor, ME . We are in the process of uploading some pictures we took along the way.

To view our gallery, head to

More coming soon.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Cat vs. Fox

Last night proved to be an interesting evening. It was about 9:30p.m. , all the chores were done for the day and we just settled down to chill out when we heard this gut wrenching screaming from the side yard. It was a familiar sound but normally you hear it from a distance and even at that it gives you shivers. This screaming was so close to the house I had to go and investigate. The yard was in total darkness so I jumped on my John Deere Gator and quickly drove over to the side yard with the head lights on. I found my cat "Mercedes" standing off a fox, they were only about 10 feet apart. The fox was startled and quickly ran off into the woods. I was amazed at my cats calmness, she was not intimidated and didn't even want to come in the house. By her reaction it seemed like a common occurrence, I guess that is why she is 8 years old and still with us.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Ultrasound technology comes to Golden Touch Farm!

We have been breeding back alpacas that had their spring cria with two new jr herd sires. When we started using the boys we knew it would be important for the girls to be confirmed pregnant to prove our new males and not to lose valuable time with the girls. Originally we were going to have the vet come out with a portable ultrasound machine and confirm one way or the other. After much discussion we decided it would be a great investment to purchase our own ultrasound technology equipment. We purchased the preg tone, it does not give you a visual reading but gives you an audible tone either positive or negative. The preg tone has a 99% accuracy rating. With having this technology at our finger tips we will be able to check females on a monthly basis to be sure they have not slipped their pregnancy. It will also be great for maidens who routinely send mixed signals in the breeding department.
I just started to use the preg tone the other night so I started with females that I knew were very pregnant and maidens that I knew were not pregnant. I wanted to start this way so I could get a good feel for the machine and placement of the probe to be sure my technique was spot on. I have to say it has been very accurate and I'm highly impressed. This weekend I will start to check the girls that have been bred back and hopefully we will confirm them positive. How exciting!!!!

Time flys when your having fun!

It's hard to believe that it has been almost 2 weeks since I last posted to the site. It's not that things have not been happening on the farm there just hasn't been time to post. We have had family staying with us from out of state and our much treasured time together is so limited we want to absorb as much time as possible.
One of the high lights of the vacation was a deep sea fishing trip and although not many fish were caught the sighting of whales was abundant. They are just magnificent creatures. Enjoy the quick clip of them.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rainy days!!

The rain today is such a welcome sight (for most of us). For all farmers hoping to get a good second cut hay, the rain is a must. Second cut hay is like green gold for farmers, it is what we all want to fill our barns with for winter. First cutting is much more coarse and for picky alpacas with a soft palate there tends to be more waste. This rain today is great because it will really soak into the ground. When you only have a brief heavy down pour from a passing thunderstorm most of the water runs off offering little relief to growing crops.
When I say the rain was a welcome site for most of us, it wasn't for my spring cria. The four boys (Storm, Blizzard, Ice, and Slide) were laying in the barn with their heads hanging out the door way. They looked like children who were just told that they couldn't go out and play.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Slow and Steady

Slow and Steady from goldentouch and Vimeo.

Here is a video of a praying mantis enjoying our new deck.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Helping the alpacas beat the summer heat!

Alpacas tolerate the cold temperatures much better than the heat so when temps are soaring along with the humidity we take extra measures to keep them as cool as possible. One of the first things we do is to be sure all of our alpacas have been shorn, their fiber is extremely insulating and would cause an alpaca to over heat very quickly. If you have ever worn alpaca socks you would understand why it is so important that all animals are shorn before the dog days of summer take hold. We also run fans in the barn to help circulate the air and be sure the barn floor is clean of hay as hay acts as an insulator. It is a must that they have access to shade and are not forced to stay in the beating sun. When we clear woodland for pastures we always saved some of the bigger trees so there would always be shade available. Lastly and the most favorite is to give belly hoses. Alpacas love the water and when it is extremely hot they come running to get their turn in front of the hose. When doing belly hosing it is important not to wet the top of the backs as the sun will create steam and this will make the alpaca much warmer. We only wet their undersides which they truly love.
Keep cool everyone!!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Shearing season ends with great excitment!

For the last 4 years Chris and I have sheared our own alpacas with Chris being the master shearer. I have been the assistant and handled all of the husbandry needs such as vaccines, nail trimming, worming injections, and teeth trimming. Our complimentary skills have made us a great team. I have always wanted to be able to shear with the confidence and skill that Chris has mastered but every time I picked up the shears I felt like I had a lethal weapon in my hand and was always happy to hand them back to Chris to let him finish the job.
Well this year things were different, when I picked up the shears they no longer felt like a lethal weapon. They actually felt comfortable in my hand and I was also confident with the alpacas anatomy. I sheared my first alpaca in record time with minimal second cuts (fiber that is). This was a great milestone for me and I look forward to shearing season next year as we plan on both shearing at the same time. Looks like it could get a little competitive.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Jr. Herd sires won't be called Jr. for long!

With Spring cria season behind us we have been busy working with our two new Jr. Herd sires. They eagerly began their breeding careers several weeks ago and it looks very promising. The girls they have bred continue to spit off any attempt at breeding, a very good sign for pregnancy. I will confirm the girls pregnancy by ultrasound just to be sure and when that happens we will drop the Jr. and they will graduate to Herd sire.

Cooler temps and gentle rain!

We have much appreciated this rain we have been getting last night and this morning. Normally we do not go into drought conditions this early in the season and when your trying to grow a new pasture the rain is a welcome site. I only wish the orchard grass we planted would grow as well as the weeds. Weeds seem to grow in any conditions and it is important to keep them at bay so it doesn't over shadow the newly planted grass. We have been monitoring this closely and if we have areas of weeds that are overbearing then we remove them with a hoe.

Monday, July 2, 2007

5 Short Farm Clips

There is a project at to make a video with 5 short clips that otherwise wouldn't be used. Here is our submission to the project.

Golden Touch Farm: 5 Vignettes from goldentouch and Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Penny Tour

Here is the Penny Tour of Golden Touch Farms.

The Penny Tour
from goldentouch

The different faces of Golden Touch

A lot of visitors to the farm always comment on the different faces they see scattered across the grounds. Each week we are going to start posting one of the faces you might encounter on your next visit.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Swarm!

Check out this quick clip of the Humming Birds swarming the feeder!

The Swarm! from goldentouch on Vimeo

Friday, June 22, 2007

Space Invaders!

Ok well they aren't from space and they aren't unwelcome but the hummingbirds do not like the competition. We have had a family of Baltimore Orioles enjoying the feeders. Hopefully this summer they stick around.

Under Attack! from goldentouch on Vimeo

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Make hay while the sun shines!

Yes, that is what were have been doing, making hay. We have reserved two fields for making hay rather than just using them for pasture. This was our first cutting of the season and our yield between the two small 1 acre fields was 170 bales. The hay had been drying for four days and yesterday was baling day, just before the rain. It is a great feeling making your own hay and I know we will appreciate it much more when winter comes and our animal friends are eating it. We are going to fertilize those two fields now with the hopes of getting a great second cutting.
The rain today was a welcome site. Our hay was safely stored in the barn and our newest field was just planted several weeks ago. I am still amazed every time I walk out there how it has gone from very thick woodlands to this beautiful open field. In our quest for returning this land to pasture a beautiful HUGE flat rock was discovered. This rock is approximately 9 feet tall and 4 feet wide with a smooth finish, a perfect rock to have sandblasted. With the assistance of 3 excavation machines and two very experienced machine operators this rock was successfully moved from the field to the center circle of our driveway. We are now deciding what will be engraved on this new land mark.

Congratulations to Roger & Shirley!

Yesterday about 11:00 a.m. Roger and Shirley of Dartmouth, MA had their second cria born on the farm. It was another beautiful female and I wish them all the best with their growing herd. Enjoy every moment!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Confused Identity!

I have a Baltimore Oriole that has taken up permanent residents at the hummingbird feeder. I normally have seen Oriole's stop in for an occasional drink but this one in particular is caught at the feeder at least 6 to 7 times a day. The hummers are not happy and hover around him but it does not phase him in the least. I'd love to know what his blood sugar is.
I have been trying to get a photo or video of him in action but he is rather camera shy. I will be persistent and it will be posted the minute I catch him.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Interest in Birds????

Feeding Frenzy from goldentouch on Vimeo

Well we have certainly had an interesting week when it comes to bird watching on the farm. We had a wild tom turkey hanging around the back fields. I've tried to get close enough to him to get a picture but he is just too smart for me. I have seen turkeys pass through before but he has been hanging out for a whole week and I hear him every day early in the morning and later in the early evening.
We were also visited by a Yellow Warbler, he was gracefully singing on a Spirea Bush close to the house. He was also using the hummingbird feeder as a perch. They are a beautiful bright yellow with rusty streaks on their breast. Absolutely beautiful!
The other interesting visitor was a Great Crested Flycatcher. He has been spotted by the pond close to the house and after doing some research they usually stay in the woodlands and are more often heard than seen. I have spotted his twice this week. He is a rather large bird about 9"and has a gray throat with a yellow belly. His beak is also broad and long. They also use snakeskins in their nest lining.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Hold your head high!

I'm extremely happy to report Nayla's cria is doing fantastic. He now holds his head without difficulty and is running around like there was never an issue. It is a great feeling to watch him run and play, it's so great that I have trouble getting other stuff done because I just want to be at the barn and enjoy him. I am still getting up once during the night to go out and do a check, not that he really needs it. I know if I didn't I wouldn't get a good night sleep because I would be wondering if he was okay. When you work so hard at something its hard to let go because you don't want to have the slightest set back. So until I know that I can get a good nights sleep without making a trip to the barn then I will continue to do so.
Today we will both hold our heads high!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Rainy Day on the Farm

Rainy Day on the Farm from goldentouch on Vimeo

We have always noticed that with different types of weather, the farm takes on a whole new feel to it. We shot this video around the farm about an hour ago, during the rain. Enjoy!

Cria watch is finally over for the Spring!

Nayla finally delivered her cria Saturday morning about 8:30 a.m. I was in the barn earlier in the morning and she ate her breakfast and didn't seem overly uncomfortable. I was going to run some errands and I always make a stop at the barn before venturing out. Low and behold she had just delivered her baby. He is another white male weighing in at 19 lbs. 4 oz. His neck muscles appeared to be somewhat weak as he had some difficulty holding his head upright. I have been working with him around the clock for the last couple of days to be sure he is nursing and supporting his head and I'm happy to report he is doing much better. He now holds his own head without any difficulty but I will continue to monitor him very closely until I'm sure he is out of the woods. I'm sure this is a result from positioning while he was in utero.
I feel like I can relax for a short time now that cria watch is over for the Spring. We will now get busy on breeding these girls back and do behavior testing to confirm pregnancy.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Garden

Over the last week while waiting for our last Spring time cria we started planting our vegetable garden. This year, feeling overly ambitious we decided to go 45 ft x 25 ft. Do not be surprised if in a couple of months we are advertising free vegetables here on the blog. Hope you all had a good relaxing weekend.

Friday, June 1, 2007

The waiting seems endless!

Yes we are still on cria watch at Golden Touch Farm. We have one more Spring cria due and the waiting does seem endless. Nayla's due date was actually a week ago and here she is still very much pregnant and miserable. She has had two cria previously and each as come within a day or two of their due date so I'm not sure what the hold up is. Maybe she looks at the other three cria running around and figures its a lot easier being pregnant than looking after them when they are racing around the barnyard like grey hounds.
I can sympathize with her though as she is so uncomfortable, she doesn't like any of the other alpacas next to her and she spends most of her day by the water bucket. I give her extra belly hosing as I know how much she loves it. I wish there was something more I could do for her. I like to go out there and sit with her and she cushes by me and gets her neck rubbed or her cheeks scratched. Her and I share a very special relationship as Nayla came to me when she was three days old as a premie (premature born) and I was her mother. We have an incredible bond and I don't like to see her so uncomfortable.

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.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The hummingbirds have arrived!

This morning we had our first sighting of a male hummingbird at our feeders. It is always such a delight to see these little wonders for the first time of the season. What a great way to start the day!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

We had a baby today but it is not an Alpaca!

We are still on cria watch and as I said in the beginning a "watched pot never boils" boy isn't that the truth. The interesting thing is the pot that I wasn't watching had a baby today, a chinchilla baby! One year ago we bought a young pair of chinchilla's as pets for my daughter and the whole family has enjoyed them. They are easy to care for and very friendly. Well this winter we had a accident and lost our male "chin". I apparently did not latch the cage well and we had all gone out to dinner only to return and found my male golden "Spencer" had been playing with them as if they were tennis balls. The male had died from stress and the female would have died if we didn't come home when we did. I felt horrible about it and we had planned on getting her another companion. So it was an extra special surprise that she gave birth today and the baby has the same smokey gray color as the father.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Turning woodland back to pasture

Over the last couple of years we have been slowing reclaiming the pasture land on our 18-acre farm. Our farm was built in the mid 1800’s and at one time was a very viable working farm. When we purchased the farm 10 years ago it had not been farmed in over 20 years. The trees and bittersweet vines had taken over except for two pastures on the north side that were used by the 90 year old farmer next door. Our latest project has been going on for two years; it is a 3 1/2 acre parcel directly in back of our female alpaca pasture. This one has been the most challenging, as it was very dense with undergrowth and vines not to mention the trees. We had a friend that was interested in the wood and he has been cutting down the trees. Slowly but surely we could start to see the light at the end of the tunnel and just this week we were able to bring in an excavator to stump and remove the rocks (Westport is known for its rocks). It is looking fantastic and we will be able to plant this Spring. Got to love progress!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Pregnant girl up-date

Tee-Tee is still hanging in there. She is spending more time rolling and just laying around, I would suspect if won’t be too much longer for her. Silver-Lee’s udder is just starting to fill and her vulva is now puffy and elongated. She is also pawing at the ground and doing more rolling.
Waiting for cria is on one hand very exciting and on the other nerve racking. You can’t wait to see what your breeding selection produces and with a pregnancy of 11 1/2 months it is a LONG WAIT. Then on the other hand you always worry what if something goes wrong, what if I’m not there and she needs help. You tend to run all these scenarios over and over in your head and it can keep you up at night. I can’t tell you how often I’m out there watching every move they make and checking in on them with the barn cam. I’m sure my family members think I’m crazy at times. They are probably happier when the birth finally happens than I am. I can't help but be over protective of by alpaca girls!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The sun is finally out in New England!

The sun is finally shinning and it is a great day to be a New Englander! Just when you think that you can’t take any more of the cold lousy weather the sky clears and the warmth of the sun brings everything to life. All the alpacas are basking in the sun, the birds are singing, everyone is out and about with smiles on their faces, yep it makes you happy you’re a New Englander.
We have spent the last couple of days getting the girls pasture ready to re-plant. The barnyard has been extended and the rest of the females have been moved off the pasture and reunited with the other pregnant girls. We have harrowed, limed, and fertilized and just before the next rain we will seed. With all of the girls going to be on dry lot for the next six weeks or so we were in the need of purchasing more hay. Our estimates for the fall were great and we had enough to get us through but with another six weeks to go we know we needed more. I had made some calls to local resources and everyone was out of good second cut hay. We were planning on going to N.Y. and buying a load there but I happened to run across an ad in the local newspaper advertising second cut. I figured it was worth giving the number a call to see what he had and low and behold it was like green gold so we purchased 100 bales. It was great that he was local and it saved us a haul to N.Y. The best part about it was he was a great guy and I’m sure I’ll be buying more hay from him in the future.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Calling all hummingbird enthusiasts!!!

Despite the cold weather it is time to get your hummingbird feeders out. According to the hummingbird migration charts they have been spotted in Conn. close to the Mass. Border. It is important to have your feeders out before they arrive, as hummingbirds will first stop at the feeding grounds that they have been feeding at the previous year. Over the years we have proven that theory as our population of ruby throated hummingbirds has grown tremendously, giving us at Golden Touch Farm and visitors great entertainment. At the peak of the season we can routinely count up to 15 hummers fighting over one feeder. We have 5 hummingbird feeders out that hold 2 cups of sugar solution and these will empty in a 24-hour period. So if you love these little delights get your feeders out and be on the lookout, they will be here soon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cria Watch Continued

Tee-Tee spent some extra time at the dung pile today and did quite a bit of rolling around and that is about it. I think she knows she has my attention and is doing all of these things intentionally and laughing to herself. I should have told her April Fools day is over. The weather is still lousy, raw spitting rain and windy. I have all the confidence in the world that no matter what she will deliver her cria in the barn and not in the barnyard. Tee-Tee is a fair weather girl and at the first sight of rain she always heads to shelter. I'm happy for that as I have some girls that would rather be out in any kind of weather rather than be in the barn. I took another look at my cria kit today just to be sure that I wasn't missing anything I might need when the time arises. I have added a WeatherCheater cria coat to the kit, that will be a must have if the weather doesn't break. I have a WeatherCheater for two of my older adult alpacas and they have worked like a dream. One of my older herd sires actually gained 11 pounds over the winter wearing his coat so I am sure it will work great for the cria.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Nor'easter is over and cria watch continues

The worst of the Nor’easter is over and I’m happy to report we had very minimal damage. With having over 50 large trees in our back yard alone I thought we would of lost some but luckily for us we only had some small branches down. I’m also taking care of my neighbor’s farm who is on vacation in Florida, lucky them. There was no damage at their place either. Yesterday in the afternoon we also took a ride to the beach to check out the surf. I have to say it was impressive and I could only imagine what it was like in the height of the storm, which occurred, in the wee hours of the morning.
This morning the female alpacas were also happy the heavy rain and wind had begun dieing down. Cria watch continues here at Golden Touch and although Tee-Tee looked a little uncomfortable this morning I think she is going to continue to hang in. She ate her breakfast and then quickly went out in the barnyard to roll and then just laid down while everyone else was happy to be out stretching their legs.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

We are officially on cria watch!!

We are officially on cria watch and I wish the weather were going to be a little bit more seasonable. We had a nasty rainstorm last Thursday in the Northeast and today a Nor’easter. Did someone really say it was spring? They are predicting 2”-5” of rain (at least not snow) and heavy winds of over 50 miles per hour. The girls who are getting close to their due dates (plus their best friends) have been moved down to the main barn, much closer to the house and equipped with a barn cam. I feel more secure having them so close by and with the aid of the barn cam I can check on them all the time without disturbing them. I have two females with due dates of 5/10/07. Silverlee usually gives birth right on her official due date and my other female Tee-Tee usually goes a week ahead of time. Tee-Tee has already bagged up and her vulva is elongated and puffy, I’m suspecting she may deliver earlier than her usual week before although they do say a watched pot never boils. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on her progression or lack of.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Alpacas pay a visit to the local middle school

Alpacas go to local middle school. The kids at Westport Middle School were recently studying South America and Golden Touch Farm was invited to bring some alpacas to give the kids some hands on learning. Dante and Teddy were the chosen boys to attend and I must add they were extremely well behaved. Six classes, 150 kids very eager to learn all about these beautiful creatures which most had never heard the word alpaca let alone touch one.
A few days before our scheduled arrival I provided the teachers with a fact sheet about alpacas, covering all the basic details of where they originated, size, life expectancy, daily care, etc. I also put a couple of photos on the sheet so the kids could have a visual of what to expect. The presentation started off covering the country of origin, facts of why we no longer import alpacas into the US and what we do with their luxurious fiber. I brought along a bag of raw fiber, alpaca yarn, and some of the finished products that we have made. The kids were totally engaged and I was amazed at all the research they had done and the great questions they asked. It was a very rewarding experience for me to be able to give back to the local community and you just never know one of these kids could grow up to be a Camelid vet.

Check out our farm website at for more information and some galleries of the animals