Rick and Terry Simpson
HC 79 Box 52-E
Romney, WV 26757
(304) 822-3494

August 25, 2001

We've had an exciting 6 weeks, which is why I haven't posted here in all that time. The guys ate all the grass in our field, so we built a temporary pasture using the orange construction fencing so we could let them into another area outside the regular pastures. But we had to stand out there and watch them, because this pasture wasn't secure - anything at all could get in. However....

One morning Rick let all the 'pacas into the temporary pasture and went off to town without telling me he did so. I laid down to take a nap, not knowing the 'pacas weren't in their secure pasture. I was sound asleep when both Tawny and Greta started barking to beat the band, startling me awake. As I stood up from the bed, I could see Forrester just wandering down the driveway! Talk about panic! I ran to the front door and opened it, which panicked poor Forrester, and that didn't help. Kimball and Kirk raced into the enclosure in front of the barn to keep track of what was going on. Tawny and Greta, left in the house, barked like the house was afire!

I was able to get in front of Forrester without spooking him, and herded him back toward the barn... but then what? I couldn't very well just open the gate and hope he went in, lest I lose the other two as well. I herded him down toward the temporary pasture, but I couldn't see the opening from which he had escaped. Backing up to the gate, I opened it and stood beside it in such a way that he couldn't get by me without going into the enclosure. As soon as he saw that the gate was open, though, he RAN inside and put his head over Kirk's back... safe again! Poor guy was probably scared out of his wits!

We finally got a fecal sample to the vet, and he says they have worms, so we tried giving them Panacure paste. Boy, they didn't like that at all! So I ordered the pellets to use as a top-dressing on their grain, and then we waited for it to arrive.

Meanwhile, our last bale of hay turned out to be moldy, so we had to get more immediately. But phone calls to the guy from whom we bought last time never received any answers... we had to look elsewhere. After several days of rather frantic phone calls, on the very last day (that is, the day we gave the 'pacas the last flake from the last good bale), Rick found someone who could not only sell us ten bales of hay, but ten bales of last year's second cutting! We were delighted, because everyone we've talked to about it says that the second cutting hay is much better than the first cutting. There was only one problem with it: no one told our alpacas it was better than the old stuff, and they wouldn't eat it.

After much discussion on the subject, we decided that they'd eat it if they got hungry enough, and so we left them to it. Eventually they did start eating it, and now they eat it as quickly as they did the last batch.

Meanwhile, one of our grandchildren came up to spend a week with us. It was lots of fun having her here, but after she'd been here only a couple of days, I was cleaning up a paca bean pile in the pasture and lost my footing. I managed not to fall, but I really wrenched my back, and could hardly move. After a couple of days of this, I had to send my granddaughter home, because I couldn't really interact with her and she was bored silly. Sigh. Maybe next time will be better!

Then the 'pacas somehow escaped from the temporary pasture again... all three of them, this time. Again, I was asleep and Rick was in town. (After this, I was convinced I wouldn't nap when he went to town, believe me!) Fortunately, Rick arrived home just as the 'pacas got to the end of the cul-de-sac up where our son has his cabin, and Rick was able to herd them down toward the barn, where I stood inside the enclosure trying to entice them in with my little cup of grain. They all came back in promptly, as if they were relieved to be back behind the fences. I think they weren't at all happy about being "free" because they had no idea where they were or what to do.

Our Sobata had her cria - a beautiful 18 lb boy whom we named Kipling. He was about 2 days old when our agisters noted that he hadn't urinated at all, and that he was straining. The next day, when he still hadn't urinated, they took him to the local vet, who had no idea what to do. He sent them down to southern Virginia to a camelid vet. That vet said that she would probably have to perform surgery, since there was no way to tell what was causing the blockage. I okayed the surgery, but she called me the next day - a Friday - and told me that he seemed much relieved and was dripping urine, so she wasn't going to operate. The next time she called, on Monday, poor Kipling was in a bad way. The vet anesthetised him and then opened him up to find that his bladder had burst. She repaired it, but said she didn't hold out much hope for him. He died later that day.

The vet wanted to do a necropsy, but with her bills and the bills from the local vet, and the burial fees and the antibiotics for Sobata (who had developed a runny nose) and Sobata's rabies shot... well, it was too much for our cashflow to handle, so we couldn't let her do it on our dime. She was welcome to do it if she really wanted to know what the problem was, but we couldn't afford to pay for it. She apparently didn't do it. But when our agisters went down to pick up Sobata, the vet gave them a lock of Kipling's fleece to bring back to us. Both Rick and I were really touched by her thoughtfulness.

Sarai was due to have her cria on July 26th, but she hasn't delivered yet. On August 20, Lee called to tell me that she recalculated the gestational period according to some chart she'd found, and according to that chart, Sarai was due on August 20! But as of today, she still hasn't delivered.

I found a great source of Diatomaceous Earth at a great price. It's $27.00 for 50 lbs, plus shipping. When shipping is added, it came to $51.00, but I would have had to pay at least $50 plus shipping for 50 lbs from anyone else. If you're interested in getting some DE for your own herd, contact foodstr2@airmail.net or visit the web page at http://www.internet-grocer.com/diatome.htm or call Phyllis at (903) 356-6443, or write to or visit Best Prices, 1737 Cascade Street, Mesquite, Texas 75149,. Shipping was prompt and the bag arrived in good shape. I still mix it with the PDZ to keep down the insect population at the bean piles.

Kimball, Kirk, and Forrester will all eat from our hands now, and Kimball will let us pet him if he is distracted by food. They don't like the fans, and they don't like being sprayed, and they don't like the wading pool, so I'm not sure what we're going to be able to do for them if it really gets hot. Someone suggested we put them in a small enclosure and wet them down anyway, and we just might do that. They seem to be unconcerned with the heat, but alpacas are such stoic animals that you wouldn't even know they're uncomfortable until they fall over! They do like the two-sided shed we build for them. We have a water bucket out there, and tossed in a flake of hay, and they seem to like to spend evenings out there rather than in the barn. At night, though, they cush on the road we had cut into the pasture so we could move the wheelbarrow from the barn to the compost pile without having it tip over from the slope of the hill. And they take dust baths on that road, as well as in the barn.

Frankly, it looks pretty much as if things are going along in what I'd consider a "normal" manner. The guys like the Panacure pellets just fine, and don't waste any time gobbling them right up. On Tuesday August 27th, Lee is going to come over and show me how to give the 'pacas SQ shots so I can give them the Dectomax they need to protect them from meningeal worms. Then I have to contact the vet and see about getting them rabies or whatever other shots they need.

Forrester still looks like a weanling... he's very small, compared to the other two. Kimball has turned into the herd bully, with Kirk still standing aloof and presenting his profile. But it's Kimball who looks like he wants to bare his teeth, and who makes all the noise when the other two get in his way at the feeders! I'm trying to get some good pictures of them, but they aren't making it easy for me. They'll stand and look at me, but then their little faces are somewhat obscured in the head-on image.

Kirk has the brown spot on his neck.
The Boys
The Boys

I'll post the cria's picture as soon as I can after it's delivered!

More later!

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