We always look forward to our shearing days. It's hard physical work, but lighthearted and fun - with friends both new and old.
This year we have 43 alpacas to shear and find ourselves a little short-handed in the helper department! Would you be interested in lending a hand? It's a great opportunity to get hands-on with the alpacas and learn about them while taking part in this amazing process. We need some muscle getting alpacas on the shearing table as well as some helping hands at the fiber skirting station. No experience necessary - just a willingness to learn. In exchange for your help, we provide you with as much knowledge as possible, a hands on alpaca experience that you won't find elsewhere, and a hearty meal.
If you have any interest in participating, please contact us. We have 2 shearing days scheduled - one in late May and another in early June that could benefit from a helping hand!
firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-879-1164
It's been years since posting to the blog! I enjoyed doing it, but found it very difficult to find the time... With so many folks on Facebook, I started posting there occasionally - just to keep those interested in the loop. But I'm told that not everyone looks at Facebook! There is a lot going on at Pronkin' Pastures lately, so I'm going to give it another go here. It will likely still be infrequent, but you'll get the important updates.
So the news for now is that our first cria of the season has arrived! On May 11, we were delighted with the delivery of Rocky of Pronkin' Pastures !
Born at 357 days gestation, Lillibet - aka Little Lilli - is the proud mama of this adorable little guy!
Rocky is sired by our Black Ryder and has inherited his dad's intense gaze!
Little Lilli and Rocky stayed dry and undercover the first day as it was raining and wet, but Lilli was happy to take her new baby out to the pasture on Day 2! She enjoyed the sunshine and green grass as Rocky met his new herd and explored!
Next to deliver is Sweet Mariska - due late May / early June. We'll post here, but if you are looking for updates before then, be sure to visit Pronkin' Pastures on Facebook!
Sunday marked the end of our 2014 birthing season with the delivery Lily's cria. This delivery was wrought with anticipation, so the successful delivery is a relief - and the fact that it's a lovely little girl is cause for celebration!
We had not intended to breed Lily as she has proven to be a difficult mother. Lily has consistently delivered her crias prematurely. They have all survived, but it has always been a lot of hard work and aggravation for the first few days getting the baby strong and getting Lily to allow it to nurse. After the first couple of days all is well and Lily ends up bonding with her baby and being a good mom, but those first few days have been a real challenge.
The first time she delivered early, we attributed it to being a first time mom. The second time it happened, we attributed it to shearing day stress (both of her first two deliveries occurred just 3 days after shearing each year). So on the 3rd breeding, we left Lily out of the shearing day line-up so as not to stress her into early delivery. That helped - and she carried the baby about 10 days longer than she had the first 2 years - but she still delivered early. We could no longer accept excuses. Lily was to be out of the breeding program.
So... how did she end up pregnant? Good question!
Last year, we had a very nice herdsire named Triumph here to breed to our Caelia (Lily's mom). We bred Triumph to Caelia several times, but for some reason Caelia never got pregnant. However, during the time that Triumph was here, we had a 'gate incident'. One of our gates was not latched properly and 3 girls got into the paddock with Triumph. Ughhhhh.... Of course Lily (the only girl we didn't want to get pregnant) was one of the 3 girls that got in, and the only one of the 3 to get pregnant!
Triumph went home and Caelia never did get pregnant. And then this spring, we had to make the very difficult decision to have Caelia put down. Caelia had developed an abnormal growth that was affecting her ability to urinate (any possibly her ability to concieve?). It had probably been there for some time, but we never saw symptoms until it had grown large enough to affect her in a very serious way.
So the breeding we wanted for Caelia never came to fruition but was 'received' by her daughter, Lily. In all these years, this is the only unplanned pregnancy we have ever had. Maybe things happen for a reason? Call it destiny?
We think so! With thoughts of Caelia and remembering that this breeding was intended for her, we are proud to present Destiny of Pronkin' Pastures!
We are thrilled to report that Lily carried this baby full-term, and delivered a very robust 21.4 pound girl!
And unlike what has happened with the premature deliveries, Lily is proving herself to he a nurturing and attentive mom right away!
With the successful delivery of Destiny, Lily has earned her spot back in our breeding program. We are thrilled to have her 'back'!
I have held off on telling you the details of our most recent birth so we could conduct our little guessing game, but the time has come to fill you in! No one guessed the correct mom/baby combo, but I can tell you that Pronkin' Pastures definitely feels like a winner with this cria!
First... It's a GIRL! After getting 4 boys and just one girl this summer, we are thrilled to be working toward balancing out the boy/girl ratio a little bit.
Second.... Mom is Lilah! We love Lilah and are thrilled to have her female offspring in our herd. We can't say enough about Lilah - she is a color champion and at 10 years of age continues to produce a lovely fleece. She a terrific mom that delivers quality offspring. Lilah has been a member of our herd for a few years, but for a number of unanticipated reasons (none Lilah's fault), has not been successfully bred on our farm until last year, so we only have one cria by her (she came to us pregnant), and it is a boy.
The birth of an alpaca baby is just amazing and I was able to capture some good photos, so I wanted to share - but, since not everyone is comfortable seeing all the details, I have hidden the photos. If you would like to see the actual delivery, click the links... If not, just skip on past the links below and see our beautiful new addition!
We are proud to present 'Leilani of Pronkin' Pastures'! (pronounced lay-LAH-nee)
News of the new arrival spread quickly, and Leilani and Lilah had visitors first thing the next morning. Our visitors enjoyed an up-close and personal experience. We thank them for sharing the following photos of their visit!
Visitors that have been here before can attest to Lilah's interest in meeting guests. It looks like Leilani may follow in her footsteps! We invite you to stop by and see her!
We are pleased to announce that the 6th cria of the season arrived today! That's all I'll tell you about it for now... I won't tell you it's gender or the name of the momma!
Instead, we decided to conduct a little contest! It's just for fun and there is no science to it. Just GUESS... Which mom delivered AND What is the gender of the baby. Is the new mom 'Lilah or Lily'? AND Is the baby a boy or girl? For the person that posts the closest guess, I'll mail you a 2015 Pronkin' Pastures photo calendar.
Here are some details to help you guess ....
Is the new mom 'Lilah or Lily'? AND is the baby a 'boy or girl' ? The first person to guess correctly will receive a 2015 Pronkin' Pastures photo calendar. To enter a guess just 'leave a reply' (below) and post your guess in the comment box. Do it before Sept 1 to be eligible to win. We will post all the details on the birth and new arrival on Sept 1st! Good luck!
UPDATE: Thank you to all that played along! Unfortunately, we didn't get a correct guess. Our new mom is Lilah, and it's a girl! Since we didn't have a winner in this contest and Lily is due to deliver next, we'll send a calendar to whomever got the gender correct - so Lisa and Ann Marie if it's a girl, Judi if it's a boy. Stay tuned!
It's always fun when farm visitors come back for a second or third time. Sometimes the gap between visits is a day or a week, and sometimes it's much longer - but most of the time returning visitors will remember one or two animals that were special in some way.
Two years ago, Forrest worked his way into many hearts so I thought I'd give an update on him.
As many of you will recall, Forrest was a preemie. We fought a tough fight with him his first couple of weeks. While he wasn't strictly bottle fed, there was a lot of hands-on with him. He grew into a very friendly and inquisitive boy, but then we became worried that he may be turning a little 'too friendly' which can sometimes be a problem with male alpacas. His forward nature was incredibly endearing at 20 pounds, but it would not be so cute at 200 pounds! Sadly, we began limiting interaction with him so as not to encourage inappropriate behavior.
For more photos and info on Forrest's birth and precarious start, scroll down to previous blog posts from June 2012.
At 2 years of age, Forrest has comfortably settled into the 'Big Boy' pasture. He does not get nearly the amount of interaction with guests, but we are proud to report that he has matured into a very nice, well-mannered and properly socialized boy. He still loves attention and to get a neck rub every now and again, but he is not so inclined to lean on, or rub up against, people. Because he still loves to interact, I have decided to begin clicker training with him. He is a perfect candidate! You can expect to see a little more of Forrest in the future. For now, here he is at 2 years of age...
This has been a fun summer for us because we have had so many babies born this year. Never before have we had so many in a single summer! They are a joy to watch as they grow up and their personalities become apparent. We delight in their antics!
We have 5 crias right now, but are anxiously awaiting the arrival of 2 more.
Lilah is due any day now, and Lily is due at early Sept.
Ok, I'm going to try it again! I love blogging about what's going on here at Pronkin' Pastures, but have such a hard time finding the time to do it. Everyone wants to know about the babies, though, so I'll jump right in and get you up to speed on this year's arrivals...
The babies started arriving on June 4 when our lovely young Daphne delivered her first cria - a handsome light fawn male that we have named Beau (French meaning handsome).
Our first cria of the season was quite a challenge. Daphne delivered a little earlier in the season, but later in the day, than we expected. On her 339th day of gestation, I had been checking on her up until just before 2:00 in the afternoon. Typical gestational length is usually around 345 days, so 339 days is not too far out of the park. But deliveries late in the day are uncommon, so when at 2 pm, Daphne was showing no signs of imminent delivery, I quit checking on her for the day. Much to my surprise, when I went out to the pasture at almost 4:00, Daphne was in the process of delivering her placenta. The baby was laying in the shade - cold and apparently lifeless. I picked him up expecting the worst, but was treated to a lift of the head and opening of the eye, so I rushed him to the barn where I worked frantically warming and drying the little guy. His body temperature was critically low, but with perseverance and, I think, a bit of luck, we were able to bring him around.
It was touch-and-go for the first week or so with this little guy, but our efforts have paid off. As of today, Beau is healthy, active, and growing! He has a very easy-going disposition, and many visitors have had the pleasure of getting their hands into his wonderfully soft fiber!
Just as the worry of caring for little Beau started to subside, our sweet Willow thrilled us with the delivery of a richly colored dark brown cria on June 21st. It too, is a boy, but we were delighted to see the dark color that Willow was able to produce.
Willow is a no-drama, no-fuss, kind of girl. No big story to tell about this delivery - just the arrival of an exceptionally nice young male. He is all we had hoped for when we bred Willow to Ryder! We are hopeful that he has what it takes to earn a spot in our herdsire line-up when he matures.
He is officially named Lucas, but we call him 'Luc'.
Next up? Milo! Arriving on July 3, and also without incident. Maddie is an experienced mom and true to form, delivered her baby and and cares for him like a pro! At first glance Milo looks quite a bit like Luc, but once you get to know them, they are very different. Luc is calm and mild mannered; Milo is the troublemaker of the group. He is forever pestering, poking, or jumping on someone out there. He loves to run and jump, and is quite entertaining with his antics!
At this point, while we are loving the quality of these crias, we are getting a bit disappointed in the boy/girl ratio.
Then along comes a ladybug... Yes, a ladybug!
On a warm and sunny Saturday morning 2 weeks ago, our first set of farm visitors for the day arrived. I took them into the paddock area to get closer to the girls and babies. While we were talking, I looked off to the side and noticed that Sweet Mariska had separated herself from the herd and was showing signs of discomfort. I excused myself to check on her, and yes, it looked like labor was starting. I returned to the group of visitors and explained to them that births are usually fairly quick and uneventful, and that we could just stay where we were and watch from a distance.
As I was talking to them, a ladybug landed on my shoulder. One of the visitors pointed it out, and I tried to gently flick it off. The ladybug was going nowhere, though; it seemed quite content to stay on my shirt. Another person in the group suggested that I leave it where it was and said that ladybugs signify good luck - maybe this was a sign that we would finally get the girl we so wanted. As it turned out, we did! Shortly after that, Sweet Mariska presented to us (in front of a crowd of visitors) a beautiful fawn colored baby girl! One of our visitors suggested LadyBug as a name. We like it and think it suits her perfectly. So LadyBug it is!
We had a day of non-stop visitors, and all were delighted to see the newborn alpaca. The video clip below was taken by one of our visitors as LadyBug attempts her first steps!
Sweet Mariska and Laurel were bred the on same day last summer, so it was our hope that these two girls would deliver around the same time, but that was just not to be. While Mariska delivered at 344 days gestation, Laurel needed a bit longer...
We waited on pins and needles for Laurel's cria, and finally on Aug 11 (at 360 days gestation), Laurel's baby finally made it's appearance. A robust and active little boy. Meet Alladin of Pronkin' Pastures...
We have had a fun and busy summer with these 5 crias, but we're still not quite done. Both Lilah and Lily have babies on the way, so we still have a chance to work on that boy/girl ratio and hope for at least one 'gal-pal' for LadyBug. Stay tuned...
It's been so much fun getting your photo submissions in response to my last post! Thanks to everyone that has participated so far. Here are a few I'd like to share.
As you can see, it's a fun and different experience. For those that have not been to Pronkin' Pastures, we invite you to visit!
Speaking of visiting, we are holding an informal 'Open House' this weekend. Stop by for a cup of hot apple cider and a visit with the alpacas. And if you need to do holiday shopping, our store will be open and is packed full of goodies, too!
We hope to see you soon - both in person and in photos! Keep sending your photos in for a chance to win a $20 Pronkin' Pastures gift certificate.
It’s been a busy, busy year. We have enjoyed visiting with guests and introducing our alpaca herd to all of you!
As many of you know, I love taking photos of the farm and animals. One thing I find lacking in my photos, though, is YOU! It seems that I never have my camera available when visitors are around - and there have been so many fun photo opportunities and special moments.
So, I am asking you…
Have you taken photos during your visit to Pronkin' Pastures? Would you be willing to share them?
I would love to see your photos - particularly those that have visitors and alpacas in them - and add some of them to the website. To encourage responses from you, I am offering a little incentive… a $20 gift certificate.
Just send me an email with your farm visit photo attached. Be sure to include the text 'Farm Visit Photo' in the subject line of your email so that I don't mistake it as something with a dangerous attachment. Include in your email the date you visited and any other info about the photo that you would like to share. For each photo you send, your name will be entered into a drawing. On Dec 31st, one name will be drawn to win a $20 gift certificate for use on any item in the store.
Hope to see your photos soon!
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 their wonderful fiber, photographing them, and even writing about them!