It's been 6 days since LadyBug delivered her cria. As I mentioned in my last post, the little guy was really struggling the first day, so we contacted our vet and left him in her expert care for the weekend. Having shown signs of improvement, we brought the two of them back to Pronkin' Pastures on Sunday evening. It all felt pretty precarious that first day - he was still quite wobbly and he still didn't seem very keen on nursing (though he would try if prompted). On top of that, LadyBug seemed quite agitated being confined to smaller digs while her baby gained strength. She was humming and pacing constantly - which made us wonder if she was stopping long enough for her baby to nurse. So we made some adjustments and let LadyBug and her cria into a larger pen with a select group of females that would be pleasant to the baby, but not overly interested to the point that they were interfering with LadyBug and her baby.
Slowly but surely, he seems better each day. We see him nursing on his own more and more, and happily following mom around the pasture. Each day we are adding a few more females to the group with them. We are even seeing him run and play a little bit.
Though we are not out of the woods, yet we are feeling relatively confident that he will make it, so we have finally given him a name!
We are pleased to introduce Rudy of Pronkin' Pastures...
This afternoon, Rudy will see the vet again for a plasma transfusion which we hope will help keep him on the right track! Keep your fingers crossed for Rudy!
The wait is over
Finally at 368 days gestation, LadyBug delivered her cria! Now is the part where I just don't know what else to say... We're delighted? Yes... well, sort of... We're worried? Yes, definitely. We're frustrated? Yes, that too...
So, here's what happened. LadyBug delivered a lovely looking, rose gray, male cria. By all appearances, he looks healthy and good. He is of average weight (14.25 lbs), his temperature was normal, and there were no signs of anything out of the ordinary. He has the coloring and markings of his daddy - and he's super adorable! So yes, we are delighted!
But for whatever reason, he is really struggling. He is weak, lethargic and simply not interested in mom, in nursing, or in anything. I spent the day doing everything I knew how to do to help, but all to no avail. And this is why we are worried. It's also why we are frustrated... What happened? And why? We already lost Laurel's cria (delivered early and stillborn).
So LadyBug and her baby boy will be spending their first night together at the veterinary clinic where he will be cared for and monitored. LadyBug will be milked and he will be fed her milk and a 'super formula' via feeding tube. He will also be treated with antibiotics and whatever else necessary to boost his energy. Please keep your fingers crossed for our little guy and LadyBug.
Raising animals is not always fun
There are a lot of things we love about raising alpacas - and today is a good day to keep those things in mind. Farming can be hard work, but is also rewarding, satisfying, sometimes delightful and heartwarming... but it can also be deflating, disappointing, heartbreaking. Sadly, today was one of those days...
We had a busy day today - a good thing! The sun was out. We had a steady stream of visitors. We were diligently watching and waiting for the birth of LadyBug's cria. We were hopeful that she might deliver today as she is now at 355 days gestation. But that didn't happen.
Instead, our sweet Laurel delivered quietly and without even being noticed by us or her herd - a full month early. Sadly, her cria was stillborn. We don't know for sure why, but we suspect that the severe heat we experienced last week played a part in this sad occurrence.
Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of this cria. We feel so badly for poor Laurel. Laurel has always been a sweet and attentive mother, and has delivered 2 of our best male crias - Alladin and Angus. As Laurel is getting a bit older, we already knew that this cria would be her last one. We had hoped that she would deliver a girl to follow in her footsteps. We are so sad...
So here we are, now at day 355 of LadyBug's pregnancy and we're still waiting for her to give birth to her cria. Although 345 days is considered average, gestational lengths vary, and there is no reason for us to worry. We just need to be patient.
Thankfully, LadyBug and the rest of the herd have been shorn! Our recent heatwave was hard on them, but we did our best to keep cool - including playing in the water from the hose and trying out the kiddie pool. Luckily, our heatwave has broken and we back to enjoying our typical Pacific Northwest temps.
These guys would have been miserable if they were in full fleece! Imagine wearing a 2 - 5 pound wool coat in 90 to 100 degree temps.
So shearing day came just in the nick of time. We hire a professional shearer. She and her capable team do the shearing and toenail trimming (and teeth trimming if needed). Our family and friends help with alpaca and fiber handling. We had a great team and were able to get 42 alpacas sheared in a day!
It's a relief to have shearing done for another year. The next step will be to skirt and evaluate all those fleeces and prep them for processing. More on that process later!
The blog always takes the hit...
As I mentioned in my last post (last summer!), life on the farm is always busy! Sadly when things get busy, the first thing that gets neglected is the blog, website and social media. So here I am again - playing catch up! So here's a short recap of the happenings...
No sooner was Gracie born (last August), when just a day later Lillibet (aka Little Lilli) delivered her cria!
Little Lilli is an experienced mom and has always had quick, trouble-free deliveries and healthy active babies. This delivery was no exception and we are delighted with this dark brown male that we call Levi.
The birth of Levi concluded the 2020 cria season at Pronkin' Pastures! 3 boys, 1 girl... again. They are maturing into very nice young alpacas. :)
And now, cria season is upon us again! We bred 6 girls last summer (in 2020), but are expecting 3 to 4 crias this year. It appears that 2 of the girls didn't get pregnant - and one we are not certain about. So, first up, we have LadyBug due to deliver anytime! At the time of this writing she is at 346 days gestation. Gestational length in alpacas varies, but 345 days is considered average. LadyBug was bred to Brock - a male we purchased last year, so this will be the first of his offspring on our farm. We are excited to see the outcome of this pairing!
So I'll end this post for now as I need to go check on LadyBug. Stay tuned for more recap as I try to catch you up over the next couple of days, and for news on the newest addition!
We've been busy!
Cria season has been keeping us busy here at Pronkin' Pastures!
We started with Little Sandy Farris - a bit of a difficult delivery and a little slow to get going. We ended up bottle feeding him the first 2 days to keep him going, but since then, he's been up and running (literally, running)! We love how he is maturing and we love his sassy, silly personality.
Just as we felt good about Little Sandy Farris' progress, Janey delivered her baby. Like Tiki (Little Sandy's mom), Janey is also a first-time mama. At 337 days gestation, she delivered easily and without issue, except that her baby is the tiniest we have ever had born here - just shy of 10 pounds! Another boy, Harley (his dad is named Triumph), was born small, but healthy and robust. He was up and active right away, and looking for mama's milk...
Unfortunately, Janey's milk did not come in, so we were back to bottle feeding. Though we bottle fed powdered colostrum to Harley the first day since he was unable to nurse, we didn't feel good about how he was doing. Due to his diminutive size and lack of mom's colostrum on his first day, Harley had his first vet visit on Saturday. He was given a plasma transfusion to jumpstart his system and provide some immunity.
It's been a tough go with little Harley, but he is persistent and we will be, too, with his continued care and bottle feeding. He is now almost a week old and we are getting quite attached to him!
We had such high hopes for Janey in our breeding program, and she is proving to be a sweet and attentive mama, but because of her milking issues, this will be her only experience with motherhood. We are so disappointed.
That brings us to today! A happy day! At 342 days gestation, Serena delivered a lovely, healthy and active.... GIRL!!! Can you tell we are delighted?
Serena delivered seemingly effortlessly. She was just starting at 9:21 am and just 20 minutes later (by 9:40 am), she had delivered!
Born at a robust 15.8 pounds, baby was up and on her feet within 20 minutes and looking for milk soon after!
It's been a long day. More on baby 'Gracie' to come!
First Cria of 2020
We are excited to announce the birth of the first cria of the 2020 season at Pronkin' Pastures! Meet Little Sandy Farris!
Besides being the first cria of the season here, Little Sandy is the first baby for his mom, Tiki, and the first offspring for his dad, Alladin! We are delighted and think this pairing was a real success!
Are you wondering about his name? He is named after our veterinarian! This was Tiki's very first delivery and she was having a bit of trouble, so we called Dr. Farris who came out right away and helped Tiki through the process. We are so thankful, and thus decided to name the little guy after her. Though Tiki and Little Sandy had a bit of a rough start, they are both doing quite well now!
Little Sandy is the only cria right now, but he won't be lonely for long! We are expecting 3 more babies before the end of August. Tune in again soon for details!
Did you hear it?
Earlier this month local radio feature reporter, Rachel Belle of Kiro Radio in Seattle, paid us a visit! She interviewed us for a local travel piece about Whidbey Island - and she wanted to include us! The story aired on KIRO Radio last week. We are flattered and delighted to share it!
Conducting visits on a regular basis, I talk about alpacas all the time, so this shouldn't have been any different, but I suddenly became nervous when the microphone came out. Rachel is a true pro and did a great job editing. :)
Hit the link below and then scroll down just a bit to hear the interview. Hope you enjoy it!
The season finale!
The last cria of the season has arrived! At 352 days gestation, Leilani delivered her cria today!
Leilani had a speedy and trouble-free delivery - 18 minutes start to finish! Baby is robust, seems healthy - and look how cute!!!
Leilani is a first time mom, but is already handling it like a pro! She is patient, gentle and very attentive to her baby.
I have to admit to being a bit surprised by this cria's very light color, though... Leilani is dark brown and Dad (Camilio's X-Man - aka Manny) was dark fawn with white markings on his face. This baby is lighter in color than both of it's parents.
Sadly, Manny passed away last month - just a day before his 17th birthday, so this cria is extra special... Scroll down a few blog posts to learn more about Manny. We are delighted to have one last cria to follow in Manny's footsteps. And as you may have guessed, it's a boy!
Though not what we expected, we love his pretty coloring. It's hard to tell in the photos, but he is a beautiful light golden color all along his top side, fading to white on his underside. We look forward to seeing how this little cutie matures!
Ranger has a new buddy!
We are excited to announce that at 344 days gestation, Damaris delivered her cria on Monday! A darling little male covered in curly white fiber!
Even though Damaris is brown, we were not surprised by the white baby. He takes after his Dad, Accoyo America Triumph, who is solid white.
Just 2 hours earlier, Damaris is resting (relatively) comfortably in the shade.
Though she was spotted resting comfortably just minutes before, delivery started a few minutes after noon. Damaris delivered quickly and seemingly effortlessly. Look at the time-stamps on the photos!
Be warned, the group of 5 photos below are of the actual delivery... Please scroll past if you wish.
After the 5 delivery photos, there are more photos of the baby.
Damaris delivery - start to finish was less than 20 minutes!
The entire female herd was on hand to greet the new arrival. They are curious and very gentle with the baby.
We are always delighted - and relieved - to see the cria up on its feet and nursing right away. Damaris is a particularly patient and nurturing mom, and this cria seems robust and healthy.
Young Ranger will be this little guy's companion growing up. It's nice to see them together from the start! It's a little too early for play, but we expect to see them running around the pasture soon!
Are you wondering why we haven't announced his name? That's because we won't be naming him. His new owners will give him a name! Both Ranger and his mom Little Lilli, and this little guy and Damaris, have been sold! They are staying here for just a few weeks until they move to their new home.
The next cria due (and the last of the season), is Leilani's. Leilani and Damaris were bred on the same day, so we expect her cria any time now. Our fingers are crossed - we're hoping for a girl. We want little Clarissa to have a pal, too!
It's been a tough week...
With farming, and especially raising animals, we always know there will be ups and downs. We have been fortunate to have lots of 'ups', but last week we faced our share of downs...
We said good-bye to our eldest male, Camilio's X-Man - aka 'Manny'. He passed quietly on the day before his 17th birthday. He was a sweet and gentle male and will be missed here. Manny was our 'go-to' guy when weaning the young boys - always a gentleman leading by calm example. We felt comfortable putting the weanling boys in with Manny - where they would feel safe as they began the transition from the female herd in which they were born to the male herd where they would grow into adults. Manny has sired two of our favorite animals - Janey (turns 2 this summer) and Alonzo (who is now in our breeding program and is sire to Ranger). Manny has one last offspring due to be delivered by Leilani in August. It should be a stunning cria.
We also received bad news on another herdsire, Finnegan. At shearing time, a large lump was discovered on his right side. It was completely camouflaged by his fleece, so we were quite surprised to see it when he was shorn. Finnegan was behaving normally and the lump didn't seem to be bothering him at all, but of course, we did want the vet to take a look at it. Our vet did her best to remove as much of the lump as possible and sent a sample of it to a lab for testing. Sadly, test results revealed a very aggressive cancerous tumor. Poor Finnegan will not recover from this and will be euthanized in the near future. :(
While the vet was here to see Finnegan, we also had her take a look at little Clarissa. I had noticed the day before that she was not acting normally, but attributed her lethargy to the heat. But the next day she didn't seem better, so doc suggested taking a look at Clarissa, too. Thank goodness for that! Turns out, Clarissa was a bit dehydrated, but tests from the blood sample taken also indicated that many of her numbers were not what they should be. Clarissa was given IV fluids on Wednesday and again on Thursday to help with the dehydration. That helped a bit, but just not enough. So on Saturday she was given a plasma transfusion. We think that may have done the trick! Clarissa is back to nursing, and each day seems more like her old self. Keep your fingers crossed for her, but we are optimistic that she is on the road to recovery.
We hope this is it for the bad news... We have 2 more babies coming in August and are hoping for smooth deliveries and healthy babies. We'll keep you posted.
The results are in...
At long last, we had the vet come to the farm to do ultrasounds on several of the girls we bred last summer. With shearing coming up this weekend, we really needed to know which girls are pregnant and which are not. Unfortunately, the results are not what we had hoped for.
Destiny, it turns out, is not pregnant. Nor are LadyBug and Ava. And while we didn’t really think she was, we had Lotus tested as well, and confirmed that she is not pregnant either.
Mariska might be pregnant – we are watching her. Ultrasound testing at this late stage of pregnancy is difficult because the cria should be rather large, so the equipment only sees a small part of the cria at a time (making it difficult to tell if what is being seen is actually a part of a cria or something else). If Mariska is pregnant, she should deliver very soon, so we will just keep watching on this one.
But the most exciting news is that Leilani and Damaris are both confirmed pregnant and due to deliver mid-August! Leilani was bred to our boy, Manny; while Damaris was bred to Triumph. Both these boys are getting up in years so we are so thrilled to know that we are getting one more cria from each one of them. Both girls were bred on the same day, so should deliver around the same time in mid-August.
Damaris is 14 years old and this will likely be her last cria, but with the breeding to Triumph, we think this has the potential of being one of her best crias in terms of fiber quality!
Leilani is 5 years old this summer and we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of this cria. Bred to Manny, we think this will be a great genetic combination. Manny has sired many lovely cria including our own Janey (daughter of Lilah) and Alonzo (son of Mariska), and we think this pairing with Leilani has the potential to produce another aweome cria! And if we are really, really lucky, there is even a slight chance the baby could be black! Regardless of color, we can't wait for this delivery!
A welcome surprise!
Little Lilli delivered her cria yesterday! Big (20.4 pounds), healthy and active; we are delighted! Did I mention beautiful? This baby really is... Or maybe handsome is the better adjective as it is a boy! Meet Ranger!
We are almost always present for births on the farm, but this one we missed. Little Lilli was at 346 days gestation, so we knew we were taking a chance, but we had an appointment off island in the morning that we could not cancel. So we left her unattended for a few hours, and wouldn't you know it, that's when she delivered. We last checked on her at 8:00 am and all was quiet, but when we got home at 1:30 the new baby was there to greet us! Delivered, dry, on his feet and nursing! Great job, Little Lilli!
We are so happy with this little guy - and thrilled to see the very first offspring of Alonzo! Way to go Little Lilli and Alonzo!
We love Lily and her babies, but there is always a bit of stress the first week or so after she delivers her cria. Lily tends to be a bit lackadaisical in caring for her cria; and her cria tend to be independent and friendly followers of other alpacas in the herd. Turns out, baby Clarissa is no different from any of Lily's other crias in this regard!
So we are constantly checking... Are mom and baby together? is baby nursing? is baby too hot/too cold? and on and on it goes! So, we are happy to report that little Clarissa is doing well! She is gaining some weight, getting stronger, and behaving like a healthy cria! Look at her go!
We have exciting news!
The first cria of the season has arrived! Calla Lily delivered a beautiful little girl yesterday. We are delighted to introduce you to baby Clarissa!
Lily carried her cria for 339 days - which is a tiny bit early, but great for Lily as she has a history of delivering very early. The baby is showing some signs of being a bit premature, but she is big and active!
Born early in the day, it was still cool and damp out so I dried her with a towel and then warmed her with a hair dryer. I left her covered with a warm towel for just a moment while I checked on Lily as she delivered her placenta - and look what I found when I returned! Up on her feet, walking, and dragging that warming towel right along with her!
For the first part of the day, we left Lily and her baby in the upper paddock with just a few alpaca friends so that mom and baby could get acquainted and bond. Lily has been a good mom, but had some issues with bonding with her crias at first, so we want to make sure that there is not too much outside interference so they can get off to a good start.
Destiny (Lily's 5 year old daughter) and Lily are very bonded. I expect these (now 3) girls will stay a close little group.
We were able to let mom and baby into the larger grassy area a little later in the day.
Lily and Clarissa retire to the smaller upper paddock for the night - again with just a few friends as we don't want too much outside interference. It's been a long and stressful day, but we are hopeful that our girl is off to a good start! Tomorrow we will introduce her to the rest of the herd.
About the author:
Always an animal lover, alpacas entered my life in 2005.
I enjoy all aspects of life with alpacas - from caring for them, to training them, spinning and knitting their wonderful fiber, photographing them, and even writing about them!