HISTORY 15

HISTORY 15

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




September 15, 2002

Thank goodness Atlas seems to be doing very well indeed! He weighed 17.1 lbs this morning - quite a weight gain for two days! Rick says we must have misread the scale on the day he was born, but I can visualize in my mind exactly what the scale said, and I don't think we misread it at all. Still, I can't imagine a cria gaining 6 pounds in two days, so we MUST have misread it. We're both very puzzled by it all.

Atlas and Sobata have taken up residence in the upper barn - I suspect it's because we seldom go up there and they aren't as likely to be hassled by us as they would be if they stayed in the main barn. We want to handle Atlas every day so he becomes accustomed to being touched, so that he isn't as skittish as the rest of the herd, but when he's in the upper barn, there isn't any way we can catch him.... it is open on two sides, so he can run off in either direction, and the openings are too big for us to close off. We should have thought of that when we built it. *sigh* Maybe we'll have to enclose one more side. Rick thinks they went up there because the goats got into the lower barn. The alpacas do not like being around the goats, although we were assured by other breeders that goats and alpacas are compatible animals.

We got quite a surprise this morning when we went out to feed the animals. The goats had somehow opened their gate and were happily ensconced in the alpaca barn! I distinctly remember that Rick locked the gate when we left the goat field last night, so the only thing I can think of is that they nosed the J-shaped latch off the gate wire so that it fell aside. Since they have nosed the feed bins off their supports, I know they can do such things without a lot of effort. Fortunately, the only gate to the outside world is latched where they can't reach the latch. The goat gate into the alpaca yard, though, is just hung on a wire. We may have to change that, if it happens again and isn't just a fluke.

Dr. Hott will be coming out next week to give Sobata her rabies shot. We may have him give Clovelly, Molly, and Ricardo their shots, too. Then it will be time to think about re-breeding Sobata. We're very pleased with Atlas - although we obviously would have preferred a female - so perhaps we'll go with Solomon again. The only reason not to is that he entered two Jubilee shows and didn't place in either one, so we may want to go with a show-stopper. Macusani's Majesty is in New Jersey... quite a long way to travel for a breeding and will probably be very expensive, but it might be worth it if we get a wonderful cria out of it.

I know I'm supposed to give Atlas some shots... C D & T? A D & E? Rabies? Dectomax? I just don't know. I ordered another Alpaca Neonatal book - maybe it will tell me what I need to know about how to care for crias. The book we have isn't all that helpful.

I've heard of another anthelmintic (worming medication) called Synthanthic that is used on goats. The story I heard is that it "gets" all types of worms - and if that's the case, I would like to find out where to get it and whether or not it can be used on alpacas.

October 13, 2002

We heard back from the Alpaca Registry. I had sent in the form and the fees for registering Atlas, and when they didn't arrive back here in a week or two, I called them to find out why. Turns out I hadn't sent enough money! So I gave them a credit card number, and they said they'd send out the bar codes that I need for the blood sample. And they sent it out to me and I find out that our cria is NOT named Atlas, but is named Seneca (our second choice) because someone else already picked the name Atlas! Rick says he may be Seneca on paper, but he's Atlas in the barn! heheh!!

We had our first alpaca sale on October 12, 2002. It wasn't much... we just sold a gelding, Kimball. I really didn't want to let him go, but if we're in the business of selling alpacas, then all our animals have to be for sale. The buyer was as taken with Kimball as I am, and after falling in love with him, she just had to have him. "He's so cute in the face," she said! So we've had our first sale, and that was very nice. We won't make a profit this year, but we have some income!

October 28, 2002

We just might have sold Seneca (Atlas)! We've sent out the contract to the prospective buyer, anyway. It will really be neat if we sell TWO alpacas this year!

We had the vet out last week to give the goats, Sobata, and Ricardo their rabies shots and to give the goats and Clovelly a CD & T shot. Poor Clovelly just about had a heart attack... she's so frightened. She gave the alarm call the whole time she was being held for the shot. I felt so sorry for her!

Bob Ciszewski brought his herdsire Solomon over on Sunday (yesterday) to behavior test Clovelly and to breed Sobata. Clovelly seems to have passed the test. She ran from him, but she didn't spit at him. She started to kush, but changed her mind and kept running. Bob said she passed the test and he thinks she's still pregnant. That's a relief!

When we brought Sobata into the garage -- oops! I mean "barn" -- to prepare her for the breeding, she came in and promptly kushed. We couldn't get her up to get her on the scale, and we really wanted to weigh her before the breeding. I was eventually exhausted and went inside to rest a bit before Bob and Solomon arrived, and apparently Rick got her to the scale and weighed her - 129 pounds. Then while Solomon behavior tested Clovelly, Sobata kushed where she could watch what was going on - boy, was she ready for Solomon when he got to her! However, the poor guy didn't seem to know which end to mount! Bob had to pull him off her head! Then when Solomon finally got around to the right end of Sobata, he couldn't seem to aim properly... Bob had to get down there and aim him by hand! Rick wrapped up Sobata's tail in vet-wrap, so it was out of the way, but Solomon just couldn't seem to find the right place to penetrate! Finally Bob got them all connected up an stood back to wait. After about 10 minutes, he went back to check, and Solomon was no longer connected! So we gave it up. Bob will come back in about 12 days to behavior-test her - or to rebreed her.

We called Double "O" Good again to find out about Sarai. Still no response. Once again, we left a message on their machine. They must be pretty busy folks! We're also running short of hay, and couldn't reach the hay man until today. We'll be able to pick up another truckload of hay tomorrow afternoon, thank goodness! We're down to our last bale! Hay is very hard to get this year, because of the drought. It is apparently hard to get all over the country, either because of drought or because of flooding. I've heard that in some places, though, the 800 lb round bales are going for as little as $12.00 a bale... and so are the smaller, 125 lb rectangular bales! Guess it all depends on what part of the country you're in. Here, hay is still $2.00 a bale, if we can get it at all.

Dr. Hott, the vet, will be out here again on November 7 to give Molly and Clovelly their rabies shots and to give Seneca an insurance exam. I think the buyers will sign the contract, and the agreement is to get the insurance exam within 10 days of signing the contract. Since I have no idea when they'll send the contracts back, I already went ahead and made the appointment. If I don't get the contracts back by the 7th, at least Molly and Clovelly will get their rabies shots!

November 21, 2002

The check arrived, the insurance papers were sent to the buyers. The registration certificate arrived and was sent back with the transfer information. It's a done deal, and now we are officially agisting Seneca until he's old enough to wean. We'll keep him for a whole year if the buyers want us to... we guarantee a year's agistment so buyers can get their farms together if that's what they need to do. That's what Almost Heaven did for us, and we appreciate it enough to pass it on to others!

There is one fly in the ointment, though. Seneca's legs seem to be going knock-kneed. Other alpaca owners tell me this is because we aren't getting enough sunshine for him to get all the vitamin D he needs. I bought some A, D, & E injectible, and planned to give that to him as soon as the weather clears up a bit. But now folks are saying I shouldn't give that to him because it might have too much vitamin A in it, and vitamin A is cumulative in the body. I don't want the condition to get any worse than it already is, so I have a call in to the vet so he can advise me.

Rick put up sides on the goats' lean-to, so now it is a three-sided shelter. I was having a really hard time getting him to feed the goats enough hay to keep them going, because he thought sure they were doing well enough on the browse in their field. I finally told him to check their bedding. They are eating it because they're so hungry! He finally did that this morning, and was surprised to find that they really are eating it. So he gave them three flakes of hay today instead of just the one he had been giving them. He commented to me that this means the two goats are eating more than the six alpacas! We agreed it must have something to do with efficiency, even though goat berries are hard to distinguish from 'paca beans. (Ever notice how we give food names to animal manure? "alpaca beans," "goat berries," "horse apples," and "cow pies," for example!) In any event, he'll be giving the goats three flakes in the morning, and I'll give them one every night along with their grain, and maybe they won't have to eat their bedding any more. I would like to get another couple of wethered goats, though. They are so much friendlier than the alpacas! They're always wanting their chins scratched and their necks rubbed. Buddy, the older goat, likes to taste everything he comes close to, so when we go down to feed them, he nibbles on our coat tails, on the hems of our trousers, and would nibble on our hands if we'd let him! Jasper, the younger goat, walks directly in front of us when we're going down to the shelter. Not five feet in front, but directly under-the-feet in front! He wants to be touched, and he doesn't make any bones about it! Sure wish the 'pacas were this friendly!

Rick also found out today that the goats DO drink water. Their bucket was empty in the morning for the first time. Usually I give them a fresh pail of water every night, and they don't need to have it refilled in the morning, but this morning they did. So he's decided to run electrical wire out to the goat barn so we can put in an electric water bucket. It will keep the goats' water from freezing. We already have the electric buckets in the alpaca barn and in the alpacas' run-in shed.

Time to give the alpacas and goats their Safeguard for this month. The last worming of the season, I think. They also need to have their nails clipped. Last fall, Rick put down lots of topsoil on the pasture, and while it isn't enough to grow grass, it is enough to mean the 'pacas don't have to run around on stones all the time. This means their nails aren't getting ground down, so now, almost a year later, it looks like we're going to have to clip them. Our alpacas seem to have gotten wilder and wilder since we've had them, and catching them for shots and nail clipping has become a real chore. I think this may be because we don't spend enough time with them. We only interact with them for about 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening, when we're feeding them, watering them, and cleaning up after them. Apparently that's not enough. Only Forrester will still eat out of our hands, and I'm sure that it's because we haven't offered to let the others do so ever since we sold Kimball. There are just too many of them for the few hands we have available to feed them with!

More later...

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