June 6, 2003
Well, now I'm embarrassed. We misidentified the deceased alpaca... it was Sobata, not Clovelly, who died last Tuesday night. We know this because a new baby cria was born on our farm yesterday, June 6, 2003. It can't have been Sobata who delivered a cria, because she wasn't impregnated until October. Clovelly had been due on May 6, although I had it set in my mind that she wasn't due until June 21. This is a full-term cria - Sobata could not have delivered it because her fetus has only 9 months of gestation.
Kirby was born at 12:35 pm, just as we were getting ready to leave the house to go to Winchester, about an hour and a half away, to go to my doctor's appointment (a checkup on my broken shoulder). We thought it was Sobata, and we thought she was aborting. Rick said later that if it had been an aborted fetus, it would be "the last straw." I called and rescheduled my doctor's appointment, and Rick set about the business of helping "Sobata" expel the fetus. After about 15 minutes, the sac broke, and a fully formed head appeared - and shook from side to side, flapping its lovely long ears. This didn't look like a 9-month fetus at all!
After awhile, Rick stepped in again and helped to extract the cria because "Sobata's" labor seemed to be at a standstill. She kept kushing on her cria's face. Finally, Kirby was born, and Rick pulled off all the membrane and carried him down to the barn. He weighed in at 17 lbs, with all his teeth and toes, and a birth temperature of 102° Fahrenheit.
While we were contemplating this astonishing turn of events, it eventually dawned on us that we had misidentified the alpaca who died. It had to have been Sobata, not Clovelly. I had the embarrassing pleasure of notifying everyone that I had made that mistake!.
Here are a couple of pictures of him. He's about 45 minutes old in the first picture, still wet from birth - just getting his legs under him. He's about 3 hours old in the second picture - dry at last - with his mom, Clovelly.
Our number three son, Randy, came over to spend the evening with us, and arrived in time to help with the cria. Dr. Hott, our veterinarian, arrived about 9:30 at night, pronounced both mom and baby in great shape, and gave Kirby his Bo-Se and Bovine E. Coli liquid. We were so worried because we hadn't seen the cria nurse, although we had watched him try. He had trouble latching onto the teat, and when he finally did get it, Clovelly would move away from him and not let him nurse. Dr. Hott extracted some colostrum from Clovelly and said that Kirby must be getting what he needs or he wouldn't be doing as well as he was doing at the time.
I had ordered some frozen colostrum, just in case we needed it, and when I thawed it out, because we believed the cria wasn't nursing, it was all lumpy as if it had curdled. I was afraid it was spoiled, so didn't want to give it to the cria. Instead, I opened an envelope of Bovine Immu-Start powder, mixed that up, and had it ready just in case it was needed. Dr. Hott said it wasn't, so I suppose I wasted it, but it felt good to have a back-up just in case.
Kirby is a beautiful dark gray with a white face, neck, and legs. His legs are straight, he's an assertive little guy, and he looks at this point like he'll make a great herdsire. We'll have to wait to see what his fleece is like, but if conformation is any key, he'll be a top stud. We couldn't say the same about Seneca, who was born with knock knees. We gave Seneca A, D, &E injections over the winter, but until today, it didn't seem like they had any effect. His legs do look straighter today, and I supposed they've been straightening for awhile and we just didn't see it.
While we had the camera out, Rick took some pictures of Seneca. You can see how nice and straight his legs are. We had shorn him on Monday with the rest of the alpacas, but we had left a full head of fleece on him. Some folks like that look, and we figured his owners could remove it if they wanted it off, but they couldn't put it back if they wanted it there. Here are a couple of pictures of him with his new look. The alpaca behind him in the full-sized version is Molly, although she has her head buried in the ivy off-camera.
Yesterday was a beautiful day to be born! It was warm and sunny all day, with just enough breeze to help keep the flies at bay. Today is dark and dreary again - more rain - so I went out about 7:00 this morning to see whether Kirby was cold enough to put a cria coat on him. He was wet, so I dried him off, but he wasn't shivering, so I didn't put the coat on him. I did give Clovelly a little bit of sweet feed - not much, because I knew Rick would be out there feeding the alpacas breakfast in just a little while. I stayed out there for about 15 minutes, and watched Kirby try to find his mother's teats, and worried again that he wasn't getting the colostrum he needs. I didn't see any cria pellets on the floor of the garage, so I don't know whether he has defecated yet. Rick did see him urinating yesterday, so we know he doesn't have a bladder/urinary blockage as Kipling did last year. But we're keeping a close eye on him anyway.
I'll keep you posted on his progress. Isn't it interesting how a little miracle like the birth of a baby can make even the darkest times seem better? We were so depressed all week because we thought we had lost Clovelly and this spring cria... and we're still not happy about having lost Sobata. We could count on her to always produce true-black cria, year after year after year. We miss her, but with a new baby, losing her doesn't seem like quite the disaster it did earlier in the week.
June 8, 2003
Today the Lesperances came and picked up Seneca. He fought the lead and halter as usual, but once he was convinced they meant business, he settled down in the back of their SUV like as if he belonged there. The only problem is that they have a 9 hour drive in front of them... and that's a long time to leave a paca kushing in a car. They took the halter and lead with them... maybe they'll stop several times to let him get out and stretch his legs.
It's hard to believe this, but Rick has decided he wants another weanling gelding-to-be. He was so attached to Seneca! We've agreed that we have to get the youngest possible animal for the least possible price consistent with good health. I contacted the Ciszewskis first, but they want to keep their fall cria until they can tell whether he'll make a good herdsire. So I've contacted Magical Farms. It was embarrassing to realize that I posted my email to him on the public forum "Alpacasite!" I hurriedly posted an apology to the site... but forgot to change the subject line. So the request and the apology have different subject lines! I wanna hide my head here! LOL!!
Today I ordered a pink, a blue, and a green tear-away collar (velcro closure) to put on our black females. Right now, we know who Clovelly is.. she's nursing Kirby. We know who Molly is.. she's the other female on the farm. And we know who Sarai is... we'll be picking her up soon from Double "O" Good. So now, while we have them clearly identified, it's a good time to put different colored collars and nametags on them. We decided not to put a collar on Kirby... we won't have any trouble telling him from the rest because 1) he isn't black and 2) he has such distinctive markings.
Tried to call Wilkins Livestock Insurance yesterday and today to let them know that it wasn't Clovelly, but Sobata who died. Dr. Spaid at first said he had thrown away the blood sample, then called back to say they had it, but it had been sitting out for 2 days and was all clotted - and could we use it now? I have to get hold of ARI and find out. I emailed them, but don't expect an answer until Monday, if then. Probably will have to call them again. We're concerned that the insurance company won't believe us because of the difference in insurance amounts. Each of them is insured for her full purchase price... but Sobata cost us more than Clovelly did, and there's a difference of $6500 in coverage between them. We'll just have to wait and see, I guess.