Sunday, June 15, 2014

A New Member of the Herd and Some Possible Excitement!

I anticipated an exciting day yesterday, but today promises to be even more exciting...maybe. Earlier in the week Rich and I had made a little trip over to New Haven to visit Patrick at Glengary Alpaca Farm just to "take a look" at a pregnant black female that he wanted to sell to a good home. When Patrick and Robin had made an earlier visit to our farm to help us assess the quality of a few of our animals and advise us on the direction and goals of our operation, Patrick told us about this particular female, Marianna. We were politely interested and after much discussion, Rich and I thought we would just consider the purchase. Of course, once Rich saw her he fell in love with her much the same as he had with our dear departed, Firenze. That "hippy hair" topknot and the beautiful black fleece seems to be one of Rich's weaknesses. So yesterday morning we drove over to pick her up. 

Marianna, is about 12 years old and has beautiful, shiny, soft, and true black fleece. She has huge, sparkly, black eyes and a petite triangular face. Patrick was uncertain of her actual due date since he obtained her from another breeder who is downsizing; but based upon what facts he actually knew and an examination of her by a vet and his own extensive experience, Patrick felt that she would be due in late July. As we already have found out they can sometimes come earlier than their due date.Needless to say, Rich and I are excited to be expecting three crias in the late summer and early fall.

She was a bit reluctant to leave Glengary Alpaca Farm and balked at the gate when she saw the open trailer on the other side. Patrick, Rich and I naturally assumed that the hesitation was due to fear and we eventually coaxed and prodded her into the trailer.

At one point, Marianna even kushed in the field just short of the final gate...

We finally arrived at her new home and released her into the pasture, observing to see how the others would accept her into the herd. Of course Nikko was sooo happy to have a new girlfriend to add to his harem that he excitedly hopped his front legs onto the fence for a better look. Marianna quickly reacted with an air puff spit warning into his face and he backed off. The others gathered around for a closer look.

After the initial introduction the herd apparently decided that Marianna was ok and they all wandered out into the pasture to graze happily in the sunshine.

We also moved the two little boys, Asterius and Brutus, into their own pasture after they had gotten a chance to welcome Marianna. Asterius seems to be quite content there but little Brutus kept looking over the fence to the female pasture and making a little hummy whine. I think he misses his big sister, Mango, with whom he seems to have bonded with in recent weeks. This morning he is not so vocal and I think he will be over his loneliness soon. 

Last evening we hosted our friends, Karen and Dan, for a cookout and wine tasting on the deck. It was one of those perfectly sunny, just-right-temperature evenings that we get often enough in Ohio to make us love the place and forget the totally horrible winter that just passed. We always enjoy their company and we always enjoy introducing friends to our herd. We served simple hamburgers from the grill and lots of strawberries fresh-picked from the garden just that afternoon. A little cheese, a little wine, and chocolate covered strawberries for dessert. What could be better?

This would seem to be a perfect time to end my journal entry for the day. Just a wish for a happy Father's Day would be a perfect finish. However, an hour ago when Rich and I came out, intending to run into town to pick up lunch at KFC to take to his dad on Father's Day, I took my camera over to the pasture fence to snap a few pictures of Marianna, who was alone in the field at the time. As I observed her I noticed some odd behaviors. She was straining at the "poo pile" with no results and walking away with an odd stiffness in her back legs. She walked awkwardly over to the dust hole with her tail poked stiffly out behind her and I noticed that her female parts were greatly swollen. She pawed the dust pile and dropped down on her side and rolled then sat up with her rear legs to the side instead of kushed under. Overall she seemed very uncomfortable and for the last hour she keeps repeating this same strange behavior. I sent Rich off with my best wishes for his dad and decided to stay and observe Marianna because she is showing clear signs of labor and impending birth of a cria!

The poor girl keeps returning to the pile and nothing happens. She grazes a bit then rolls in the dust and lays down half on her side, occasionally giving a low distressed hum. Since our only two crias were born last fall with no visible advanced signs of labor, which sometimes happens, we have not ever been able to observe first hand the actual birth. Her health records show that Marianna is an afternoon birther, having delivered all past crias in the early afternoon. I am not going to miss this one so here I am, sitting in the shade on the deck, watching alpacas graze and blogging. 

P.S. I have also read that, like pregnant human females, alpaca females can exhibit signs of labor for hours then stop and not deliver for a couple of more weeks. Eh! Who knows.

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