Thursday, September 6, 2018

And Then There Were Two

If you read last month's blog then you were introduced to Asteria, Mango's little girl who was born while we were working at the Farmer's Market. Surprise! She has grown so much in the past month and has been very entertaining for us as we've been watching her discover and develop her talents for running and pronking, which is an action closely resembling the bouncing gait of the cartoon creature, Pepe LePew, a skunk! Rich likes to go out into the pasture after evening feeding and sit in an old rickety chair watching her play. She has become very friendly with him, sniffing his hands and legs up close while she makes her little curious humming sound.

During this past month while we've been observing the antics of Asteria we have also been on baby watch with our lovely brown Leezza. She had been bred to Arte, the herdsire of our neighbors, the Wurm family, at Windfall Farm. Since Artie was a newbie at this breeding thing we weren't sure if it actually "took" the first time so we had to rebreed Leezza to him a few weeks later. So we had two separate due dates a couple of weeks apart. Leezza seemed to be getting bigger and more miserable each week since Mango delivered Asteria. On several different days I was sure that it was going to be "The Day" only to be disappointed. Then on August 28th when I went into the barn shortly after 7 a.m. I didn't see Leezza waiting with the others for her morning grain supplement. A quick peek into the barnyard revealed Leezza laying down humming and clicking. At first I didn't see the new cria hidden behind her heaving body. Then I stepped out to see a perfect little baby struggling to sit up with the membrane still clinging to her.

This tiny little thing was struggling to her feet within a few minutes of my towel drying her and very shortly was zeroing in on her breakfast. None of the usual fumbling around under mommy looking for the tap. She was ravenous and knew exactly what she was after and where to find it. A patient Leezza stood there until the little one was through even though I suspect she was hungry for her own breakfast that was waiting in the barn.

Rich is now outnumbered by all of the females on the farm. We have our dog, DeeDee, five female alpacas and me. Rich only has four male alpacas on his team, but he seems to be a happy man!

In keeping with our Greek mythology theme, we have named the new little one Artemis. Artemis is the goddess of the hunt and wild creatures, and nocturnal beings. That's fitting since Asteria, her month older cousin, was named for the goddess of shooting stars and celestial beings. 

It's only been a little over a week since Artemis entered the world and the two girls are fast becoming besties. They both love to speed around the pasture in a merry chase and quite often it is the little one who is in the lead! She seems to enjoy starting the chase and Asteria always takes the bait and takes off after her smaller cousin. On these balmy evenings we love to sit on the deck sipping wine and watching their joyful antics. These are some of my favorite times on the farm; pure serenity and happiness.

That should be the end of my blog but I couldn't resist this bonus picture of the doggie female in the family. DeeDee is almost two years old now and you would think she would have left her puppy habits behind. We thought so, too. The other evening when we went to the store we left Dee inside because it was so hot outside. One of the pillows that we use when laying on the floor was left out  instead of being propped up against the wall out of the way, like we usually do. When we returned from the grocery store an hour and a half later this is what we found:

DeeDee wasn't the least bit ashamed of what she had done. In fact she just continued to lay there in the fluff gazing innocently at us as if to say, "I didn't do it!"

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Blue Ribbon Week

I was reading an article the other day by a psychologist who posited the theory that social media may be responsible for the rise in depression and suicide. This psychologist wasn't talking about bullying, which we already know to have been ruled responsible in courts for several teen suicides. I'm talking about the myth of the perfect life that many of us are perceived to have based upon our posts on Instagram, Facebook and other sites. Let me first say that my own life is no more perfect than anyone else's. The reason that it may look that way on social media is that I was raised in an era when parents taught us that we should not "air our dirty laundry in public." That is, if one is having problems at home, personal, financial, or otherwise, one doesn't go around telling everybody one knows about it and one certainly doesn't publish it in the news media for strangers to read about or watch! In fact, I was told about the Victorian social norm that  a "lady" should only have her name in the paper for three events: her birth, her marriage and her death. Anything more than that is a scandal. Imagine applying those standards to today's social media outlets.

That early training possibly explains why I have mostly posted short, positive bits on Instagram and Facebook for the past few months. Not that anything serious was wrong or that I was depressed or anything like that. Between the demise and death of my father-in-law, Ed, in January and minor health mysteries of my own, I just haven't felt inspired to write on my blog. So, sorry to those who actually enjoy reading my musings on farm life and occasionally life in general. Mysteries solved, I'm fine and the past week has left me with so many sunny events to write about since, lucky me, my life has a lot to be thankful for.

We have been so lucky to have been discovered by a lovely young woman, Cate, who had a strong desire to show alpacas at the Seneca County Fair for one of her many 4-H projects this year. She called sometime last winter and asked to talk with us. We got together with Cate and her mom, Joni, and discussed everything that would be involved in the project so she would fully understand the commitment. Then in April, Cate began coming out to the farm to learn about and work with the alpacas. It's been a long process that I will talk about in future blog posts but this week it came to it's final end and she was the alpaca show at the fair.

Last Sunday Rich and I loaded up Aristotle, who would actually be shown in the ring, and Dionysus, who was to be his companion.  Dio was a necessity since they have such strong herd instincts and they would be the only alpacas at the fair. That's right, when I said that Cate was "the alpaca show" at the fair it wasn't a typo. She was the only one showing alpacas so I guess you know the outcome of the judging. She walked away with all the prizes!

Cate and Aristotle doing the obstacle course

Seriously though, she earned every trophy and ribbon she won. Cate came out at least 4 times a week during the first three months to work with the animals. That meant a drive of 1/2 hour over and 1/2 hour home and a workout of at least an hour. In addition to this she was showing sheep and rabbits and babysitting. She came out on April 21 and spent the entire day helping us shear the animals. She was also a graduating senior with plans to attend the pre-veterinary course at Findlay University this fall. In addition to all of this she was last year's Seneca County Fair Queen and had many duties to carry out that were connected to that honor. We have so enjoyed working with Cate this season and are hopeful that this will result in having a few more 4-H kids come out to work with the animals next year, too.

In my next blog I'll talk more about Aristotle's and Dio's experiences at the fair but I want to end this blog with an even bigger event for the week. I know, it's hard to believe that there can be anything bigger than this for the alpacas, right? But yesterday early afternoon, after selling our products at the farmers' market in Tiffin in the morning, we came home to this lovely sight:

Mango had not only delivered her cria a week early (like she has her other two boys) but she gave us a girl this time! If that's not deserving of a blue ribbon I don't know what else is. After having six males in succession born on the farm we finally got lucky on the seventh one and got a lovely little fawn colored female. She was already up and nursing when we got home and was mostly dry. From this we estimated that she was born somewhere between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. Mango, that wonderful mama, was standing patiently while horseflies swarmed all over her and let the little one nurse contentedly. Rich and I discussed names and decided to keep with the Greek mythology theme. Her name is Asteria which means star a name that features in several Greek legends. We didn't go back to the fair last night like we had originally planned. We just sat on the deck watching Asteria get her land legs as she explored the her new pasture world.


Rich's new little girl.