This morning, I went out to feed the herd as usual. The little boys waited for me inside the barn, with their characteristic "hunger" humming. They tend to whine a bit in the morning when they are ravenous (even though they have free access to the pasture and hay). Nikko poked his head in through the barn window to let me know that he was ready for breakfast, too. He knows that his trough gets filled next after Brutus and Asterius.
Finally, I picked up the bucket of feed for the ladies and let myself in through the gate where they were waiting for me, Took in front, followed by Leezza and mother-to-be, Mango. When I got closer to Mango I noticed something strange; she was foaming slightly from the mouth. This wasn't mouth breathing like they do after they have spit at each other. It was definitely foam. I had seen this on other animals in the past when they had eaten a weed or plant that didn't agree with them. Something as simple as clover, which they love, can cause foaming when they eat too much of it. But Rich had eradicated the clover from the pasture where they are currently living. This pasture is pretty much free of weeds and such. Mango ran inside the condo with the others as soon as I filled their feed troughs. Her appetite seemed normal as did her behavior. The next thing that occurred to me was that maybe this might be the day that she delivered her baby! Since it's her first its reasonable to think that she might be a bit stressed by the new feelings of the contractions and pressure.
I prepared some the last of the tomatoes (I pulled out the vines yesterday) and popped them into the oven to roast. Then I got my camera and my book and settled down in the air chair on the back deck to observe Mango for the next hour. With Callie resting in the sun nearby, I read a few chapters and waited. Nothing. Mango happily grazed in the pasture, rolled in the dust and just generally enjoyed the sunny, cool fall morning.
Callie and I gave up and went back inside to finish the chores that I had on my daily agenda. Though I kept looking out of the window toward the pasture, hoping for a new cria, Mango wasn't going to deliver today.
Yesterday, my friend, Rhonda from Grass Run Alpacas just south of here called and stopped by with a couple of friends. She brought along another alpaca owner who I had met on shearing day down at Rhonda and Myron's farm, and the little boy she babysits. This adorable little blond guy is two-years-old and totally fearless when it comes to alpacas. Hayden trotted right into the barn and pasture as soon as I opened the gate and boldly walked up to our Brutus. The amazing thing is that neither Brutus nor Asterius shied away from Hayden. They seemed curious about the glowing mane of blond hair on the strange little "animal" that was Hayden.
I brought out a small bucket of their favorite treat, sweet feed, and Hayden repeatedly dipped into it, grabbing tiny handfuls to feed to the boys. He would hold up his little fist full of feed and say, "Alpaca," and the boys would nibble away.
Hayden alone is an adorable child; add in two young alpaca boys and I could have watched their interaction all day. It was a delightful visit and Hayden can come back anytime!
Meanwhile, we are still watching and waiting; and Mango is growing bigger and bigger.