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

May 10, 2003

Well, it turns out my shoulder IS broken. I haven't been able to type, or I would have reported this earlier. So I am rather out of commission for awhile, until it heals. It's my left shoulder, and I'm left handed, so I feel pretty useless at the moment. I started physical therapy last week, and already I can see a difference in my arm's range-of-movement, so maybe I'll get better after all!

Rick got home from his brother's house on the Tuesday after I broke my shoulder, and took me to the doctor.... the next day, he was doing my normal alpaca chores (picking up paca poop, which hadn't been done since I broke my shoulder) and he threw out his back. Now he's in real pain, limping and taking lots of pain pills. Fortunately, he'll be going to the doctor again on Wednesday, and maybe they'll be able to give him something strong enough to really kill the pain!

Meanwhile, the animals are getting wilder and wilder. We can't catch them, so we can't halter them. It will be interesting to see how we fare on May 24th & 25th, which are our shearing days this year. One of our sons is coming up on Saturday, and another of them on Sunday, so perhaps we'll get all four animals done. It will take awhile, though, since the folks who will be catching and holding the pacas don't have any idea what they're doing, and we can't really help.

The barn hasn't been cleaned since March 14. Nor has the goat barn. The feed buckets and water buckets haven't been scrubbed out. We manage to get food and water to the animals, but so far have not been able to do much of anything else.

We did trap a stray black cat that has been hanging around. I don't know who it belongs to, but it had one very badly infected eye. We trapped it, took it to a vet, had its eye looked at, gave it rabies and distemper shots, had it neutered, and then brought it home and turned it loose again. It's eye still looks infected, but I doubt we'll be able to trap him again any time soon! He still hangs out around here... another good mouser, I hope!

The people who bought Seneca are planning to come "sometime in the next week or two" to pick him up. I invited them to come help with the shearing, but haven't heard back from them, so don't know whether they'll be coming. They just got their farm in Kentucky, and are now going about the country picking up all the alpacas they bought!

The alpacas, goats, dogs, cats, and our lonely little betta fish all seem to be healthy, if not happy. The dogs don't like not having their daily walk with Rick (he can't walk very far), and the pacas miss their daily carrot ration, but other than that, all is well in the kingdom!

May 29, 2003

Rick has thrown his back out again. This time, it's pinched the sciatic nerve and is causing great pain in his leg. He did this while picking up 'paca poop at the end of March - and it is still causing him pain. In addition to that, he's got to go to Baltimore sometime in the next week or two to have his thyroid gland examined. His doctor told him there was a problem, and sent him to a surgeon, who took a look and sent him to someone else, who took a look and sent him to Baltimore. Apparently there's a guy there who specializes in thyroid problems. I hope it isn't anything serious. We don't need any more problems!

We still haven't done the shearing. We haven't had two consecutive dry days - and we need three for the ground to dry out and the 'pacas to get rid of all the debris in their fleece. They go out in the rain and get soaked, then go into the barn and roll in the dirt... so they're all mud-covered. I have no idea how they get so much hay debris in their fleece, but there is so much of it that the fleeces this year are likely to be unusable. I guess we'll see.

Because we're having so much trouble physically, we've started talking about agisting our alpacas on other people's farms. What we'd like to do is give the agistors every other cria for as long as the animals are on their property, instead of paying monthly agisting fees. For example, we're expecting a cria in June - it is ours, whether it is female or male. Another cria is due in September. That one, if it is the same gender as the June baby, will belong to the agistors. If it is the opposite gender, then it, too, will be ours. We'll get the first female and the first male, then they'll get the second female and the second male, we'll get the third female and the third male, and so on. I've heard that this arrangement has worked for others, so perhaps we'll be able to make it work for us. We'd be sure the girls are insured, and we'd cover extraordinary veterinarian costs (but not the routine stuff - that would be part of the deal - they'd handle the worming, the nailclipping, the toothfiling, and feeding.) We'd also get the girls' fleeces every other year, and they'd get them in the alternate years.

The problems will be: first, finding someone who is willing to do this on terms we can handle, and second, creating a contract that will cover all the contingencies. We can't really expect it to cover acts of war, acts of God, or other such things, but we'll have insurance to cover those things.

June 2, 2003

We finally had two consecutive days of dry weather, so we were able to shear our alpacas. They didn't like it a bit. After not handling them all winter, they were all pretty wild. Sobata, as usual, kicked and spit and just growled the whole time she was on the shearing table! But we got it done. And clipped their nails and checked their teeth and gave them a Dectomax injection for worms and poured Cylence on their topknots for fly control. *whew*. Lee Brown came over to help, and Isaac Lewis, a sheep shearer, did the work. Seneca is the only animal we left facial and head fleece on.. their owners might want it there, and we wouldn't be able to put it back if we sheared it off.

Last year, just about this time of year, we took our Sarai to the Double "O" Good Ranch to be bred to Dark Cloud. She got pregnant four times and lost the cria within 60 days. So they called in Dr. Toni Cotton, who, I understand, is a leading expert on camelid reproduction. Dr. Cotton said Sarai has a uterine infection with lots of pus and a discharge. She said Sarai has massive uterine scarring all the way down to the cervix. And she said Sarai will never be able to get pregnant again. They're going to do a uterine biopsy tomorrow, and do uterine flushes for the next four days before they send her home. But the good folks at Double "O" Good said we can bring Molly up to be bred to Dark Cloud, instead. I dread thinking of the massive veterinarian bills Double "O" Good has incurred on Sarai's behalf. We'll have to dip into what's left of our savings to pay for this. And all she'll ever be is a fiber animal. $10,000 and all the vet expenses down the drain. It is so discouraging!

I'll write more later. Right now, I think I'm gonna go have a good cry.

June 4, 2003

This morning, when we went out to feed the pacas, we found our Clovelly, who was due to deliver in three weeks, dead behind the barn. No obvious signs of injury, so we await a necropsy to find out what happened to her. Unfortunately, our vet won't be available til 8:00 tonight, and we haven't been able to locate an alternate. I think I'm gonna go cry some more.

More later...

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