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