April 5, 2005
The last few months have been relatively uneventful, thank God. Camella seems to be fully recovered from her bout with meningeal worm, except that she has trouble pivoting on her back feet. Looks like we were in time with all the meds!
We've noticed that Molly has grown exceedingly thin. It's hard to tell under her coat of fleece, but Rick had occasion to catch her and try to do a body score (no hope of getting her on the scale). He was so dismayed by his findings, he called me to check her out, and I had to agree. She is horribly thin. She doesn't have worms, though, so I'm not sure what the trouble is. She gets as much to eat as the other 'pacas do. We haven't seen First Lady nursing in quite some time, so we aren't sure whether she's weaned or not. If not, she should be!
Last month, we noted that the girls were losing the hair on their noses. I ordered some Zin-Pro powder, and we've been adding it to their feed at the rate of 1/4 teaspoon per animal. It's hard to tell whether it's doing any good... or whether it's still too soon to tell.
There was a huge windstorm on Sunday, April 2. At about 5:00 in the afternoon, the wind blew the top half of the tallest tree on our property right off the tree. The part that fell missed our fence, thank goodness, but fell across the road and up the hill. When it fell, it snapped the electricity wires and broke a telephone pole in half. The electrical wires were flailing all over the place and started fires in several places, although because of the direction the wind was blowing, our farm wasn't in any danger. Rick called the fire department, which came up and put out the fires and evidently turned off the power to the electrical wires, because the sparking stopped while they were here.
(Click image to see a larger version)
Sunday night, we ate hot dogs by the light of a couple of kerosene lamps. Rick fired up the woodstove, so we kept warm enough, but we went to bed early. If you can't be on the computer, can't watch TV, can't read, and can't see well enough to accomplish much of anything, going to bed is the only thing left to do! :)
On Monday, Rick rigged up some lights to the generator so we'd have enough light to read by after dark. He can't get the truck past the tree, so after we've used the last bale of hay on the porch, he'll have to take the wheelbarrow through the pasture to the haybarn to get more. The alpacas and goats both have about 3/4 of a bucket of water, and I've saved 4 gallons for the animals as well as washing up. I saved 3 gallons of water for Rick and me. Late in the day on Monday, Rick realized he could get water from the spring just on the other side of the fallen tree, so he took a 5-gallon bucket and filled it. We got enough water to refill two 1-gallon jugs and give us a bit to wash our hands in. He filled it again, and the alpacas and goats split it.
Finally, about 10:30 am today (Tuesday, April 5th), the guys from the power company came up and fixed the power lines. They weren't required to cut up the tree that was across the road, but since they had to get it out of the way in order to get to a turnaround, they did. Rick will have plenty of wood to chop this summer!
On a brighter note, we're taking all the girls to Double 'O' Good on april 14th to have the three older girls bred. Rick asked Ernie Kellogg, the owner of Double 'O' Good, to shear them, check their teeth and nails, and then to breed them all to Black Cloud. First Lady will go along with the other three, since we can't have her here by herself.
Ernie wants copies of registration certificates for all of them, and wants assurance that they've all had their rabies shots and are up to date on their dectomax shots. We're capturing one alpaca at a time, giving her dectomax and panacur; catching her the next day for the second dose of panacur, and then the third day for the last dose of panacur. We'll have all four of them up to date when we take them to Ernie's on the 14th of this month.
Dr. Hott, our vet, couldn't make it out to our farm between now and the 14th, so we're loading up the alpacas and taking them to him so he can give First Lady a rabies vaccination and a CD&T shot. The others won't need updating 'til August, and by that time, the girls will probably be back home.
Well, we've been pretty lucky so far this year. No major problems with any of the animals, although Greta (one of our dogs) did find a way out of the yard again, and went down the hill and killed three hens and two guinea fowl belonging to a neighbor. Thank goodness he's not the vindictive type!
June 9, 2005
Well, this has been an interesting spring. On April 13, Rick and I were trying to get the trailer hitched up to the truck so we could take the four alpacas down to Double 'O' Good so that three of them could be bred. I was standing behind the truck, because I only have vision in one eye, so don't have any depth perception. I have to look straight down at the hitch and ball to be sure they're lined up. Anyway, Rick accidentally hit the accelerator instead of the brake, and ran right over me into the trailer. The trailer ran into the bank at the side of the road, and then bounced back over me. So I got run over by both the truck and the trailer. Fortunately, no wheels got me, so all I did was gash one leg pretty badly and get a serious burn on the other leg. The rest of me is battered, bruised, black, blue, and bleeding, but not broken anywhere, thank God.
So Rick immediately called 911 (well, after he pulled me out from under the trailer. It is held up in the front by one tiny little wheel on a slender little post, and we were both afraid it might collapse and drop the trailer on me.). The ambulance eventually showed up and took me to the hospital, where I got my leg cleaned (which hurt more than the gash itself did) and I got sent to surgery before the leg had time to hurt from the gash. I guess maybe it was an hour and a half from the time I went under the truck til the time I went under the anaesthetic. I was released the next morning, although it was plenty hard for me to even walk.
My hips, back, and right arm were so sore I could hardly move them, but they gave me crutches and sent me home. I went back to the doctor every week for followup, and he finally took my stitches out on May 24. I expected that to hurt, but it didn't... I'm luck to have such a gentle doctor!
So the next day, the day I came home, Rick got a neighbor to guide the truck hitch onto the trailer ball and to help him get the alpacas into the trailer. Then he took them on down to Double 'O' Good.
Not three weeks later, Ernie Kellogg called us to let us know that he had buyers interested in buying our two girls who are proven dams (Molly and Clovelly). We did sell them, but we sold them to Ernie so he can sell them for enough to cover the breeding fees and their maintenance. So now we have only Camella and First Lady. We signed the contracts the first week of June (or maybe it was the last week of May) and sent them off to Ernie. The sales will really help us with our medical bills. Rick parked the trailer down at Ernie's farm, so he wouldn't have to drive it back down there when we go to get the animals, so I don't know what shape it's in today.
The hospital sent its bill and said that Medicare wouldn't pay anything til our auto insurance company paid. We hadn't even considered notifying our auto insurance folks... it was, after all, just a freak accident on our own property, and no one but me was hurt. But the rules say I have to do that, so Rick called them. Before all was said and done, the insurance agent advised me to sue Rick. "Your insurance premiums are trashed anyway," he said, "So you might as well get what you can out of it." Amazing!
Within a week of the accident, Rick sold our two goats, Buddy and Jasper. It's interesting that I miss those two little guys. When I went out to feed the dogs yesterday for the first time since the accident (Rick has been feeding them) I didn't hear the goats bawling to be fed, and it seemed very strange!
I went to my primary care physician, who told me she wanted me to get an MRI of my hips, back,and shoulder, but her receptionist didn't make the appointment, so that's still to come.
I look out at our pastures, and they are all lush and green... with weeds, not with grass. In a way, I hope Ernie sells Camella and First Lady, too, so we'd be out of the 'paca business. I'll miss them, for sure, but taking care of them is getting to be a bit much. We didn't clip their nails all year because we weren't able to calm them enough to get them to stand still. I know I went to Marty McGee Bennett's training session at the Paca Fun Farm, but apparently the only thing I retained was how to catch an alpaca with a rope. It is easier, and the alpacas are calmer, than when we just catch them in our arms. But they won't stand still for their injections, so that's a fight every month. Before we took them to Ernie's, we also gave each of them 3 days of Safeguard paste to make sure they didn't have any other worms.
Oh! Completely apropos of nothing, I was told about a VERY cute little llama song at http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/llama.php. If you click the link, it will open in a new page so you won't have to leave here. It's a flash file, so it takes awhile to load, but I'm pretty sure you'll be as taken with it as I am!
Well, that's about it for now. I'll let you know whether we sell the other alpacas, and I'm pretty sure that if we do, we'll be out of the 'paca business altogether. :(
July 24, 2005
Still no word about whether the other two 'pacas have sold, so I guess we're still alpaca farmers, at least in name. It's sad to lose them all, but I really can't take care of them by myself while Rick travels, and he loves to travel too much to give it up. Our respective medical problems have brought about a great disappointment, but I suppose there will be something else in store for us as soon as this adventure is over. There always has been! <grin>
The CT scan and MRI scan showed no problems with my back, but since the lump in my back is clearly there, the doctor has recommended physical therapy on the assumption that the lump is just a muscle knot. And I go back on Tuesday the 26th to see the surgeon who put my legs back together - it should be my last visit to him. (I hope!)
I started physical therapy, and the therapist says one of the muscles across my buttocks is terribly tight and is causing the lump in my back. So I'll be going 3 times a week for at least 4 weeks.
The insurance compay paid almost all the medical bills, and what they didn't pay, Medicare paid. I think we got stuck with maybe $1,025.00 worth of medical bills altogether!
The insurance company called me and asked for pictures of my wounds. It's been 13 weeks since the accident, but we took the pictures and sent them in, and now they're going to evaluate them and decide how much to offer me as a settlement so I don't sue Rick. I'm still amazed by all that!